Northwest Indiana Cross Country Previews
Updated: Aug 18
Who's gone: Matthew Streeter, Josh Dennington.
Who's back: Cole Dolson, Sr.; Evan O'Connor, So.; Jackson Tuck, Jr., Josh Tuck, Jr.
Outlook: The semistate champion Trojans placed 17th at state with four runners back. Streeter took fourth at semistate and 40th at state. Coach Tim Ray is deflecting the attention away from his team in usual fashion, tabbing Crown Point and Valparaiso as the top teams. "We are going to try to do the best we can to be competitive," he said. "They did a good job this summer working hard. There are a ton of question marks going into the season, and all we can hope for is staying healthy and trying to get better every meet."
Who's gone: Alex Arce, Kyle Thibideau.
Who's back: Bryce Noble, Sr.; Charlie Watson, Sr.; Ryan York, Jr.; Christian Dahn, Jr.
Outlook: The Greater South Shore Conference champions return four lettermen from a team that placed 10th in the semistate -- Arce was their top finisher that week -- and they look to make it back to New Prairie in October. Noble was a state qualifier in 2019 and coach Steve Foulds said York is capable of making state.
Who's gone: Lucas Guerra (Georgetown).
Who's back: Nick Shamel, Jr.; Austin Ridderholf, Jr.; Caden Andreatta, Jr.; Garrett Lewis, Jr.
Outlook: The good for Highland is only one key runner. The bad news is it was Guerra, the state runner-up who is headed for Georgetown. Additionally, coach Rob Lukowski is now the girls coach at Crown Point. He was replaced by one of his former runners, Cristian Zendejas, who inherits no seniors or sophomores, but welcomes nine freshmen who all have a shot at being in the top seven. "The expectations for this season are to allow each athlete to learn the ins and outs of what it takes to be a strong cross country team and understand the process of succeeding in running," Zendejas said.
Who's gone: Bruce Leipart.
Who's back: Joe Meagher, Sr.; Ryan Mattel, So.; Owen Stankich, So.; Thomas Martin, So.
Who's new: Felix Lopez, Fr.; Kolin Gladney, Fr.
Outlook: The Brickies return five of their seven, including their No. 1, Leipart, from the group that missed semistate by 15 points. Mattel and Meagher both ran in the semistate individually. Stankich and Martin both juggled cross country and soccer. Lopez and Gladney, both top 10 finishers in the Lake-Porter Conference eighth grade meet, could jump right into the mix. Lopez is already a sub-five-minute 1,600 runner. Seniors Jonah Wells and Kaiden Click will be looked to for leadership.
Who's gone: Justin VanProoyen.
Who's back: Brady Vroom, Sr.; Fritz Olthoff, Sr.; Logan Boersma, Sr.; Trevor Eeinegenberg, Sr.; Nolan Bowman, So.
Who's new: Josh Wondall, Fr.
Outlook: The Vikings placed 13th in the semistate, led by Van Prooyen, an individual state qualifier, their sole graduation loss. Vroom, a state hopeful, heads the experienced cast and Wondall is expected to step in as a contributor. "While we don’t have big numbers, with a year of time together and development, the whole team is moving forward and we are hopeful to stay healthy and run deep into the post season," coach Jorge Ramos said.
Who's back: Kyle Gorski, Sr.; Blain Rush, So.; Carter Welkie, So.; Noah Kniefel, So.
Who's new: Kade Koselke, Fr.
Outlook: Coach Tricia Wozniak hopes for a few more runners to provide some flexibility. "I believe that they also can make it to regionals if they can keep up the good work." Wozniak said.
Who's gone: Jason Palicka.
Who's back: Jackson Bakker, Sr.; Ben Keeton, Jr.; Seth Bakker, So.; Lee Coleman-Lark, Sr.; Nathan Hayden, Jr.; Vaughn Huber, Sr.
Who's new: James Snow, Jr.; Joshua Reck, Sr.; Josh Breitenreiter, Jr.
Outlook: Lowell uncharacteristically fell short of the semistate last season, but coach Jake Rakoczy looks to run another week if not two, with only one runner from its top seven to replace. Bakker looks to improve on a 10th-place finish in the semistate and Rakoczy believes Keeton has the potential to finish in the top 25 individuals at New Prairie. "We have had a productive summer, and are optimistic going into this season," Rakoczy said. "Our goals are to compete for a conference title -- Munster will be tough to beat -- and to advance through the state tournament. Ultimately, we want to be in the mix to potentially qualify for the state meet.
Key Losses: Josh Baltes, Tristan Balmer, Alex Cicero.
Key Returners: Brenden Oden, Sr.; Ethan Walden, Sr.; Dan Reshan, Sr.; Dan O'Laughlin, Sr.; Kyle Newcomb, Sr.
Outlook: Baltes, a state qualifier, was among three seniors, but the Cougars have an older core with varsity experience back. "It's a great group of hard-working young men mixed with a nice infusion of youth," coach John Arndt said. "We should see excellent growth and development from our boys." NP made it to the regionals last season.
Who's gone: Keaton Olson.
Who's back: Joel Bryant, Sr.; Jimmy Dillabaugh, Jr.; Nathaniel Malchow, Jr.; Riley Clark, Sr.; Charlie Moye, Sr.; Gavin Ellis, Sr.; Owen Lashenik, So. Nathan Nova, Jr.
Who's new: Caleb Marconi, Sr.
Outlook: Valpo may be the most upwardly mobile team in the area this season. It placed eighth in the semistate, 22 points off the final state-qualifying spot, but has six runners back from that team, in addition to Nova, who missed most of last season with a foot injury. Marconi had a breakthrough track season at 800 meters, according to coach Aaron Crague, running sub-two minutes, and was the highest placing non-senior in the event at the Crown Point Regional. "We basically have the same two goals every year -- to stay healthy and improve from last year," Crague said. "We feel like many of our runners made a lot of progress during the track season so we would like to stay injury-free, continue to build off that growth and compete well every weekend."
Who's gone: No one.
Who's back: Bailey Ranta, Sr.; Bree Gentry, Sr.; Catherine White, Sr.; Ciara Bonner, Jr.; Liz Hibshman, Sr.; Alyssa Dunlap, Sr.; Makenna Handley, Sr.
Outlook: Chesterton was the top team in the area most of the season, winning conference, sectional, regional and semistate titles before stubbing its toe at state and finishing a disappointing 20th. With so much experience returning and some additional talent that's expected to push for varsity positions, Trojans coach Lindsay Moskalick will gear training to have the team running its best when it returns to Terre Haute at the end of the season. Chesterton should vie with neighbor Valparaiso for supremacy this season. "(We) hope to continue to improve this season and see some big performances from the girls throughout the season, to have fun and enjoy a more normal season of racing," Moskalick said.
Who's gone: Jaelyn Burgos.
Who's back: Caitlyn Derwinski, Sr.; Rhena Kiger, Sr.; Ellie Pycraft, So.; Destiny Lopez, So.; Melaina Adamovic, So.; Lilly Hacker, So.
Who's new: Reilly Lustina, So.
Outlook: New coach Rob Lukowski inherits six returning regulars from ninth-place team at the New Prairie Semistate, but Burgos was an individual state qualifier. "The girls have been working really hard this summer and they feel like they have something to prove," Lukowski said. Lustina has never run cross country, but was the only distance runner to advance to regionals in track season.
Who's gone: Madeline Kartz.
Who's back: Maria Davenport, Sr.; Sabrina Seims, Sr.; Mia Sarkey, So.; Melanie DeVries, So.
Who's new: Malia Butler, Sr.
Outlook: The Wildcats have four runners back from the squad that was 19th at New Prairie. The return of Butler, who missed last season, boosts their chance of getting back to semistate.
Who's gone: Lilliann Butler.
Who's back: Ella Hornak, So.; Mikayla Fuentes, Sr.; Adriana Arouz, So.; Addy Black, So.; Kylee King, So.
Who's new: Gianna Rodriguez, Jr.; Olivia Garcia, Sr.
Outlook: Watch out for the Brickies, who missed the semistate by three points with a group that included four freshmen. Hornak, Fuentes and Arouz all made it there individually, while Black and King 'showed terrific growth' as freshman, according to coach Ty Artherhults. An already solid lineup adds Rodriguez and Garcia, who are both projected to make an immediate impact.
Who's gone: Hal Frieden (Manchester).
Who's back: Emma Bell, So.; Audrey Campbell, So.; Em Wilson, Sr.; Liv Sheehy, Jr.;
Who's new: Addi Johnson, Fr.; Julia Barlog, Sr.
Outlook: The Kougars placed eighth in the Chesterton Regional last season and return six of their top seven, led by Bell, who had 'one of the best seasons in KV history,' coach Lane Lewallen said, narrowly missing a state berth with a 16th-place finish in the semistate. She is joined by Campbell, 'a fierce competitor' and another cross country-soccer combination athlete, Wilson, the team captain and a 'terrific veteran leader who runs her best in big meets,' and Sheehy, last year's No. 5 runner. Lewallen is excited about Johnson, a middle school star who has looked great in the summer and projects to have a major role. Barlog, a first-year senior runner, is also expected to have an impact. "We look to be deeper and stronger this year and hope to equal or better last year’s team results, and if we stay healthy, we have a great chance of doing that,” Lewallen said.
Who's gone: Kelsie Rennier, Rain Walker.
Who's new: Jersie Bartels, Sr.; Avery Hendrixson, Jr.; Addi Gorski, So.; Miranda Wozniak, So.; Mackenzie Schultz, So.
Who's back: Carlie Perriti, Fr.; Sydney Hudson, Fr.; Jade Pryor, Fr.
Outlook: The Tigers return three of their five top and have a little wiggle room with a roster of eight. Bartels is coming back from knee surgery, so she's not quite up to speed yet.
"I have a great expectations for these young ladies," coach Tricia Wozniak said. "They are hard workers, they do what's asked and never complain. Last year, the whole team would have qualified for regionals if not for COVID-19. I believe that they will use their upset from last year and achieve that goal."
Who's gone: Abby Martisek, Emily Thomas.
Who's back: Carly Davis, Sr.; Taylor Kosiek, Sr.; Natalie Kransky, Sr.; Rachel Narjes, Sr.; Sydney Churlla, Jr.; Addie Roth, Jr.; Nikki Vollrath, Jr.
Outlook: The Indians placed 23rd at state and bring back five of their top seven, with plenty of varsity experience. "(We expect to) compete with the top teams in our area and make it to state again," coach Morgan Kleinaman said.
Who's gone: Sage Mougin, Bri Hooton, Holly Wykoff, Alexis Lichtenbager.
Who's back: Lilly Zelasko, Jr.; Ilayna Baltes, Jr.; Audrey Henning, Jr.
Outlook: Zelasko looks to return to state individually, while coach Julie Beakas looks to have the Cougars get to the regional as a team. A promising group of freshmen are expected to make a big impact on a small roster of about 10. "COVID killed us on recruiting last year, and we had no new freshmen, so no sophomores this year," Beakas said. "The past couple years, we have been qualifying a team's worth of individuals to the Chesterton Regional, but haven't been able to pull off the official team advancement, so we're shooting for that this year. "
Who's gone: Morgan McCulloch, Emilee Craigin.
Who's back: Allayna Gue, Jr.; Lisa Lopez, Jr.; Soraya Loubriel, Sr.; Amanda Purnick, Sr.
Who's new: Hannah Walsh, So.
Outlook: The Indians (14th at semistate) graduated their top two, including McCulloch, a state qualifier, so varsity spots are available. Portage has a big freshman class with nine ninth-graders. "Goals are the same as every year for us," coach Jay White said. "The rookies will need some 5K race experience. It's a big step from 3K at middle school, training-wise as well."
The Northwest Indiana Cross Country Preview Show can be found at the following link: https://youtu.be/9yaBUdObslM