2023 IHSA State XC Championships Preview - 1A Boys


By Michael Newman


Class 1A Individual Runners to Watch


Gavin Genisio, Benton; Isaac Teel, Pinckneyville; Jackson Barrett, Tuscola; Josiah Hortin, Tuscola; Isaiah Hill, Elmwood; Gabriel McLain, Benton; Will Foltz, Tuscola; Nicholai Martino, Winnebago; Will Fusion, Cerro Gordo-Bement; Weston Forward, Rockford Christian; Drew Moser, Clinton; Elijah Teefey, Pleasant Plains; Andrew Perry, Eureka; Cole Buchanan, Benton; Dylan Howell, Cerro Gordo-Bement; Isaac Crumrine, Riverton; Evan Cook, Decatur St. Teresa; Dean Witzig, El Paso-Gridley; Patrick Hilby, Aurora Central Catholic, Carson Maroon, St. Joseph-Ogden


Class 1A Individuals Preview


Gavin Genisio is the defending champion winning his title running through a rainstorm. Weather hould be a little more pleasant. Isaac Teel and Genisio have raced the past three weeks with the wins going to Genisio. Genisio ran 14:24 at the Peoria Invitational finishing ahead of all the Tuscola runners. Will that same scenario happen again?


IL XC Speed Ratings State Meet Projections


Teams Previews


Tuscola and Benton were the teams to beat as we started the season. Tuscola running a two second split at FTTF made believers in them. Benton has improved getting closer to Tuscola. When Tuscola lost one of their top five runners, the race becomes a toss-up.


Read all about the 30 teams listed below.



Sectional Runners – Gavin Genisio SR, Gabriel McLain JR, Cole Buchanan JR, Mason Tieffel SR, Kaden Blades SO, Seager Sanchez SO, Briggs Miller FR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2022 (5th)

Overview – We got a preview of this weekend’s Class 1A State Meet race where Tuscola finished ahead of Benton by 50 points. Improvement took effect for the Rangers where they are even approaching Saturday. Benton has three all-state runners back that should finish higher. Gavin Genisio cannot go higher. He is the defending Class 1A champion and should be favorite to win again. Gabriel McLain could be among the top 10 runners. Cole Buchanan finished 30 seconds behind McLain last week and should be all-state once again. Their 4-5 runners with Mason Tiefel and Kaden Blades finished within three seconds of each other. The Rangers will have three low numbers up front which for most of the teams will be tough to beat. The gap last week between Buchanan and Tiefel was 42 seconds. It would be great if that gap closes down 15 seconds to get those two runners close to the front three. The team title will come down to a difference of two points. Benton has the runners to accomplish that.



Sectional Runners – Josiah Hortin SR, Jackson Barrett SR, Will Foltz SR, Xander Neamtu JR, David Hornaday JR, Lucas Coll Rubino SR, James Jonas SO.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2022 (12th)

Overview – Tuscola steamrolled the competition in September at the St. Joseph-Ogden Classic 20-86 over host St. Joseph-Ogden. We go ahead to last weekend where the two teams met each other at the Decatur St. Teresa Sectional with Tuscola winning by only 15 points. This team is having a banner season winning regional and sectional titles for the first time. Now, the Warriors travel to Detweiller Park to challenge for the 1A state title. They finished 12th last year. A big loss for this team is that one of their top five runners, Blake McLeese, could be lost for this race due to a stress fracture. He did not race the past two weeks. Tuscola will get low numbers up front with Josiah Hortin and Jackson Barrett finishing in the top five and Will Foltz finishing in the top 10. There was a gap of 72 seconds between Foltz and fourth runner Xander Neamtu. There was another 39 second gap to fifth runner David Hornaday. McLeese not running could hurt Tuscola’s chances for a state championship. They do still have the talent to capture a state championship but will need their best races to accomplish that.



Sectional Runners – Isaiah Hill SR, Aiden Faulkner SO, Mika Nelson JR, Reed Florey JR, LJ Higgs SR, Garrett Webster SO, Darwin Herman SO.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2022 (11th)

Overview – There last four races have the Trojans in position to challenge for a trophy Saturday at Detweiller Park. They lost to Eureka by nine points at Amboy. Elmwood easily won the Patriot Invitational and then won by eight points the following week at the Peoria Notre Dame. Last week at Elmwood, the Trojans finished second but just by three points behind Eureka. They have a nice combination of a great runner in the front with a good pack to support. Isaiah Hill was the individual champion last week running 14:59. He should be among the top 10 runners in Saturday’s race but where will he finish? Elmwood had an eight second split between Aidan Faulkner, Mika Nelson, and Reed Florey that were 45 seconds behind Hill. LJ Higgs was another 29 seconds back. Moving Higgs closer to the pack would be a plus. The pack is the key if Elmwood is in position to win a trophy. They do have the team to accomplish that.



Sectional Runners – Andrew Perry SR, Carson Lehman SR, Brady Monk SR, Jacob Skutt SR, Timothy Rogers SO, Connell Roth SO, Nathaniel Otto SR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2022 (9th)

Overview – The Hornets is a team that have the talent that could finish among the top three teams in this race. The key of keeping their top five closer together puts them in that position. Andrew Perry finished fourth last week to lead Eureka with teammates Carson Lehman and Brady Monk within 18 seconds of their front runner. Jacob Skutt and Timothy Rogers ran within five seconds of each other last week but were 30 seconds away from their top three runners. Their overall split on the top five was 55 seconds which is right t their seasonal average. Perry and either Lehman or Monk could finish in the top 25. Their split should be nearly 55 seconds. That is a natural. Having a split under 50 seconds put the Hornets in a place where they could win a state trophy.


Peoria (Notre Dame)

Sectional Runners – Max Kirby FR, Joe Ehrhardt SR, Andrew Elward SR, Jake Heberer JR, Owen Magner SR, Dax Duffy SO, Ben Yontz FR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2022 (2A-16th)

Overview – The Irish seem to be peaking at just the right time. They have run good down the stretch including finishing third nine points behind Eureka and Elmwood. The racing against those two other teams throughout this season should pay off on Saturday. Maxwell Kirby and Joe Ehrhardt have both moved to the front and could finish in the top 25 at Detweiller. Andrew Elward finished 10 seconds behind the two and should be close. The gap behind the rest of the team was 46 seconds. The Irish had an overall split of 63 seconds at Elmwood. Their average on the top five this year has been 56 seconds. Keeping their split near their average or under that positions them closer to Elmwood and Eureka.


St. Joseph-Ogden

Sectional Runners – Carson Maroon SR, Aden Armstrong SR, Jack Fisher JR, Lance Retz SO, Mason Guido JR, Colin Burnett FR, Nate Farney FR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2022 (18th)

Overview – The Spartans got to within 15 points against one of the top 1A teams last week at Decatur St. Teresa finishing second behind Tuscola. SJO is running their best at the right time and could challenge for a trophy. Carson Maroon and Aden Armstrong finished within three seconds of each other and could both finish in the top 25. Jack Fisher has improved and could run with his teammates, which would be a plus. Lance Retz was 28 seconds behind Fisher. The sophomore moving closer to Fisher will give the team a boost. The team had a 60 second split last week getting them closer to Tuscola. It could go lower this weekend giving this team a top five shot.


Pleasant Plains

Sectional Runners – Elijah Teefey SO, Jack Willenborg SR, Ryan Driskill SO, Cole Payne JR, Braeden Galloway FR, Ethan Griminger JR, Jacob Crater JR.

Last State Meet Appearance - 2022 (25th)

Overview – A team that we should see among the top 10 on Saturday. Lowering their top five split should be something to watch if this team wants to finish in the top five. Elijah Teefey has improved from his freshman year where he finished 107th in this race to this year where he finished third last week at Elmwood. The sophomore is someone you should see finish in the top 15. Jack Willenborg finished 15 last week and could move closer than 20 seconds would be a good thing for the Cardinals. The team’s top four split was 56 seconds at Elmwood. Their five runner split was close to two minutes which could be too high in this race.



Sectional Runners – Isaac Teel SR, Landen Boman SO, Christian Queen SO, Landen Carter JR, Jesse Winter FR, Brendan Conway JR, Zach Teel FR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2022  (17th)

Overview – The Panthers should be among the top 10 state teams and could finish higher in Peoria. Isaac Teel finished second in last year’s state meet and again will challenge for the state title. Pinckneyville has a solid pack behind Teel with a split from second runner Landen Boman and fifth runner Jesse Winter was 61 seconds which could pay benefits in this race. They have been an underrated team this fall. We will find out how good this team is in this meet.


Rockford (Christian)

Sectional Runners – Weston Forward SR, Andrew Kurien JR, Evan White SO, Blake Lindberg FR, Joel White SO, Sam Walsh SO, Zac Wesseln FR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2022 (14th)

Overview – The Royal Lions will look to improve on last year’s 14th place finish and should accomplish that. Weston Forward has been one of the top runners in Class 1A this season and will challenge for a top 10 finish. Andrew Kurien is having a good breakout junior season finishing 11 seconds behind Forward at Oregon. It won’t be a surprise if he finishes in the top 25. Evan White leads a 3-5 pack that had a 40 second split and should help Rockford Christian in this meet.


Niles (Northridge Prep)

Sectional Runners – John Kipp SR, Brady Kataoka SR, James Barder JR, Peter Kipp SO, Brennan McNamara SR, John Masaka FR, CJ Pronek SR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2022 (8th)

Overview – The Knights ran away to win the Kankakee McNamara Sectional and put themselves in position to finish in the top 10 on Saturday. John Kipp and Brady Kataoka were within 11 seconds of each other with Kipp winning the sectional title. James Barder, Peter Kipp, and Brennan McNamara give Northridge Prep a solid pack behind their front two runners. The team is at their 55 second split heading into this race. The Knights were at 55 seconds last week.


El Paso-Gridley

Sectional Runners – Dean Witzig SR, Lukas Holderby SR, Isaac Porzelius JR, Drew Cooper SO, Pierson Romersberger JR, Israel Nowark SO, Caleb Graham SR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2022 (10th)

Overview – The Titans could be a surprise in the top 10 with a good race this Saturday. Dean Witzig put himself in great shape for a good race after finishing second at Elmwood. We should see him finish in the top 15. The team had a top 5 split of 83 seconds. Their 2-5 split led by Lukas Holderby was 42 seconds. Watch for their pack closing to under 75 seconds for this team to move closer to the front in this race.


Georgetown (Notre Dame de la Salette)

Sectional Runners – Marco Cruz SO, John Brauner JR, Daniel Sullivan JR, Andrew Gross JR, Marcel LeFevre JR, Joseph Mackin JR, John Reen SR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2022 (27th)

Overview – The Lions made their first state meet last year where they finished 27. The experience of that race will benefit them on Saturday and then in 2024. All of their runners in this race are underclassmen. Their packing mentality is strong with Marco Cruz and John Brauner leading the way both running 16:24 last week at Decatur. Daniel Sullivan led the next pack that was separated by 18 seconds. Their top five split last week was 51 seconds. The Lions have improved in the final meets of the season and should drop their split even more. Don’t be surprised if this team finishes in the top 10.


Aurora (Central Catholic)

Sectional Runners – Patrick Hilby SR, David Valencia JR, Ben Bohr SO, Tom Keller SR, Russell Abner SR, Kevin Lillwitz SR, Jacob Gay SR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2022 (13th)

Overview – Aurora Central Catholic came close to Rockford Christian in last week’s Oregon Sectional finishing second six points behind. The Royal Lions. Patrick Hilby had a great track season which has generated how he is running this fall. Don’t be surprised if he finishes among the top 10 runners. Ben Bohr stepped up as a freshman as a second runner but finished David Valencia by 12 seconds last week. The two runners with each other gives the Chargers a boost. Their split behind Valencia last week was 61 seconds which will be good for this team. ACC could be a surprise finishing in the top 10 with a good race.



Sectional Runners – Nicholai Martino JR, Joseph Erb SO, Blake Linder SO, Daniel Hodgdon SO, Aiden Vazquez SO, Hudson Pope SO, Cole Thomas SR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2018 (16th)

Overview – This is a team that will be a power in 2024 with six underclassmen running in this race. They finished third 12 points behind Rockford Christian and six points behind Aurora Central Catholic. The Indians could finish ahead of both teams in this race. Sectional champion Nicholai Martino is running his best at the right time. We should see him among the front runners in this race. Joseph Erb continues to improve in his second year of high school running and could surprise some in this race. The pack between the front and the pack led by Blake Linder is over a minute, but only six seconds between the next three runners. Good things could happen to Bago with a normal race on Saturday.



Sectional Runners – Sam Springer SR, Coriell Green FR, Maddox Dare JR, Riley Damm JR, Zachary Golden SR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2007 (14th)

Overview -One of the surprise teams to advance out of the five Class 1A sectionals after finishing a solid sixth at the Elmwood Sectional. This will be the first time that the Panthers will run in the state meet since 2007. Sam Springer is their solid top runner that could find himself finishing in the top 25. Coriell Green was 16 seconds behind Springer in last week’s race. He could be among the top 40 runners at Detweiller Park. Their top 5 split was 141 seconds last week. That needs to come down for Delavan to finish among the top half of this race.


Port Byron (Riverdale)

Sectional Runners – Braeden Bode SO, Tyler Lockaby SR, Cael Hinde SR, Andy Murray JR, Gage Gaulrapp SR, Conner Musser FR, Adam Benoit JR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2022 (2nd)

Overview – Some fans have been surprised that Riverdale, who graduated three all-state runners from their second place team, is in this position. The Rams reloaded finishing fourth at the Oregon Sectional and returning back to Detweiller Park. Braeden Bode, who was on the state team last year, leads this squad and could finish in the top 25 in this race. That pack behind Bode is strong with a 36 second split separating the next four runners led by Tyler Lockaby. The split difference between Bode and Lockerby was at 67 seconds.


Decatur (St. Teresa)

Sectional Runners –  Evan Cook JR, Nathaniel Babcock JR, Matt Auburn JR, Gus Striglos SR, Andrew Larry FR, Carter Boyer JR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2022 (6th)

Overview – There were doubts at the end of last year that the Bulldogs due to graduation would not make it back to state meet Saturday. St. Teresa just has one senior on this small roster to make it back to state finishing sixth in their own sectional. Evan Cook has emerged as a runner that could finish in the top 25 on Saturday. Their pack consisting of Nathaniel Babcock, Matt Auburn, and Gus Striglos were 45 seconds from Cool. That three runner split was 19 seconds. The gap between the top four and the rest of the team is close to two minutes. It could hurt their chances for a top 15 finish.



Sectional Runners – Charlie Link SR, Lucas Dreisbach JR, Tyson Skinner SR, Gus Schultz SO, Wyatt Goossens JR, Alex Bomleny SR, Jacob Gibson SR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2021 (30th)

Overview – The Panthers were within 10 points of Riverdale last week at Oregon. Erie-Prophetstown could be one of those surprise teams in this meet. Charlie Link has been the premiere runner for this team all season and with a good race could finish in the top 25. Lucas Driesbach leads the next four runners that have a 39 second split. Narrowing the margin between Link and Driesbach from 55 to 40 seconds could benefit this team at Detweiller Park.



Sectional Runners – Drew Moser SR, Talan Thrasher JR, Colin Jameson JR, Justin Droke FR, Oliver Goar SO, Abel Koritz SO, Nolan Rhodes SO.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2001 (22nd)

Overview – Clinton has not been down this road for a while qualifying for the state meet for the first time in 22 years. The Maroons are running with momentum finishing fourth last week at Decatur St. Teresa. Drew Moser has been their top runner all season including finishing eighth last week. Moser is a runner you might see in the top 25. Talan Thrasher is a solid second runner staying within 30 seconds of Moser. The next four runners were within 20 seconds last week of each other. That pack was 51 seconds behind their #2 runner Thrasher.


Elgin (Harvest Christian Academy)

Sectional Runners – Luca Bryja SO, JJ Gonnam SR, Jimmy Bernaeyge SR, Tyler Linta SO, Jack Welsh SO, Caleb Gonzalez SO, Lucas Pagan FR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2022 (7th)

Overview – It seems that the Lions always tend to peak at the end of the season. They showed that again last Saturday at the Kankakee McNamara Sectional when they finished only 29 points behind Northridge Prep. Luca Bryja, JJ Gonnam, and Jimmy Bernaeyge all finished in the top six within 15 seconds of each other. It is a pack that we could see all finish in the top 50. A gap of 55 seconds from three to four, and an overall at 98 seconds puts this team in an underdog role but also a team that will run their best race of the season.



Sectional Runners – Jackson Kruse FR, Brayden Shepard JR, Thomas Morgan SR, Matthew Benoit SR, Jeremy Szepelak SO, Joshua Thorson JR, Brycen Steffen SO.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2021 (13th)

Overview – The Tigers did not qualify for state in 2022 but have reloaded to make it back after finishing third at Kankakee. They have two solid runners in the front with Jackson Kruse and Brayden Shepard. Thomas Morgan is within 10 seconds of these two runners. Herscher only had a 46 second split on five last week and can benefit of some teams implode in front of them. A young team that the experience of this weekend will pay off in 2024. Six runners are underclassmen in Saturday’s race for the Tigers.


Tolono (Unity)

Sectional Runners – Eli Crowe SO, Camden Fairbanks SO, Collin Graven SO, Bryson Denney SR, Carter Tiemann SO, Ryan Hutson SO, Alex Mowrer JR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2019 (19th)

Overview – The Rockets have not raced in the state meet at Detweiller Park since 2019. They are back this season qualifying out of the Decatur St. Teresa Sectional. They will be around for a while with six underclassmen in their top seven. The Rockets have a top 5 split of 56 seconds led by Eli Crowe. Camden Fairbanks is a solid runner behind Crowe that gives them a strong 1-2. The pack behind their top two led by Collin Graven only has a five second split on four runners. This team could be among the first 15 teams only if that pack moves up. The potential is there for Tolono Unity to make some noise in 2024.



Sectional Runners – Hunter Ponce SR, Wyatt Doyle JR, Noah Smith SO, Anthony Hardin SO, Noah Crump FR, Erick Scroggins SR, Talon Blas JR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2018 (24th)

Overview – The Shells made it back to state since 2018 and made it to state out of the Benton Sectional finishing fifth. Hunter Ponce and Wyatt Doyle were within a second of each other and lead this team. There was a 56 separation before their 3-4-5 pack led by Noah Smith finished within six seconds of each other. It is hard to tell whether Ponce or Doyle finish in the top 50. The team has potential to better their last finish at the state meet in 2018.


Sterling (Newman Catholic)

Sectional Runners – Lucas Schaab SR, Lucas Simpson SR, Wyatt Widolff JR, Carter Grummert SR, Zachery DeForest JR, Ryan Welty SO, Max Sagel FR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 2022 (22nd)

Overview – The Comets just made it back to the state meet finishing sixth at the Oregon Sectional just 10 points ahead of Rock Island Alleman.. Lucas Schaab and Lucas Simpson finished within 12 seconds of each other to lead the Comets last week. Their overall top five split could be a concern in this race. It was 140 seconds last week. The split needs to come down for improvement on last year’s finish.


Lombard (Montini Catholic)

Sectional Runners – Nolan Ferris JR, Nino Pesola FR, Connor Kaefer JR, Andrew Vreeland FR, Adriel Garcia FR, Gavin Conway, Owen Ferris FR,

Last State Meet Appearance – 2014 (20th)

Overview – It was hard to see the Broncos making it back to the state meet after losing their senior leader Hugh Flannery to an injury after a meet at the end of September. Montini persevered making it to the state meet for the first time since 2014 and accomplishing that with five freshmen in the top seven. Nolan Ferris has been the team’s top runner all season. He finished fifth last week and could be in the top 25 this week. The Broncos have a 60 second split on their next four runners led by Nino Pesola. This is a young team that will be among the top teams in Class 1A next fall.



Sectional Runners – Jonathan Witzman SO, Edgar Garcia FR, Hunter Douglas FR, Jack Castleman JR, Tobius Raines SR, Brayden Craig JR, Ethan Mueller FR.

FIRST State Meet Appearance

Overview – Murphysboro enters the number of IHSA teams to run in the state meet. The Red Devils race state for the first time after finishing fourth last week at the Benton Sectional. Their top three runners are either freshmen or sophomores. Sophomore Jonathan Witzman led the team last week running 16:10. Freshmen Edgar Garcia and Hunter Douglas were within 35 seconds of the sophomore. The team’s top four split was only 39 seconds. The Red Devils top five split was 108 seconds at Benton.


Elmhurst (Timothy Christian)

Sectional Runners – Tyce Plaisier SR, Gio Molina SR, Ryan McKenzie JR, Rich Meszaros JR, Josh Bemister, Nate Bemister FR, Jack Gudgel JR.

Last State Meet Appearance -  2022 (26th)

Overview – The Trojans again will make the trip down to Peoria after finishing fifth last week at the Kankakee McNamara Sectional. Tyce Plaisier is the top runner for this Elmhurst school finishing tenth last week. He is a runner we should see finish in the top 50. Gio Molina is the second senior on this squad finishing 21 seconds behind Plaisier last week. Timothy Christian had a top 5 split of 72 seconds last week. If their pack moves up on an average of 10 seconds per runner, the Trojans could finish in the top 20.


Belleville (Althoff Catholic)

Sectional Runners – Sam Hiller SR, Ryan Schillinger JR, Ethan Schillinger JR, Joseph Talafuse SR, Michael Ruocco SR, Ryan Haar SR, Sebastian Talafuse FR.

FIRST State Meet Appearance

Overview – The Crusaders make it to the state meet for the first time after finishing third last week at the Benton Sectional.  It was a solid top four pack that had a 12 second split with Sam Hiller, Ryan & Ethan Schillinger, and Joseph Talafuse part of that group. Their overall top five split of 70 seconds has a good change to go lower in this race.



Sectional Runners – Hayden Swiney FR, Caiden Cook FR, Connor Gross SR, Parker Ridgeway FR, Reid Tilley JR, Zachary Tilley SO, Bo Knopp JR.

Last State Meet Appearance – 1984 (19th)

Overview – It took a while for the Indians to make a return trip to Detweiller Park. DuQuoin did it by making it by 12 points to advance out of the Benton Sectional. The last time the Boys team advanced was in the 1984 Class A Meet. It won’t take that long for this group to return. Six of their top seven runners are underclassmen. Freshmen Hunter Swiney and Caide Cook were the team’s top runners last week. Their split on five runners was near two minutes in that Benton race


Palos Hills (Chicago Christian)

Sectional Runners – Noah Luke SR, Jed Batayola FR, Davis Crevier SR, Deacon Kosloskus JR, Gage Kosloskus FR, Isaiah Jones SO, Andrew Williams FR.

FIRST State Meet Appearance

Overview – This is the first state meet race for the Chicago Christian Boys team after finishing sixth last week at the Kankakee McNamara Sectional. Noah Luke has been the team’s top runner all season and could be among the top 30 finishers in this race. Freshman Jed Batayola leads the pack behind Luke. The team ran over a three minute split in last week’s race but should come down Saturday morning.