Boys Preseason Countdown, Complete from 1-30

6. Providence

This is the highest-rated pack-running team in the countdown, and the Panthers have enough depth to make that work (although there is a small drop-off from their 1-4 group to the 5-6-7 runners). That was reflected in their track results, too, with 3 returners clustered in the 4:30's and another 3 (including a few that didn't make the top 7 in the fall) in the 4:40's. The Sutter brothers, Tanner and Logan, should break 16 in the upcoming season, and if the rest of the team maintains its split this team has the potential to make the top 5 in the 4A meet - but cracking the top 3 will be very hard to do without a low-points front-runner. Still, this could be the season that the Panther boys finish the season ranked as high as the girls team, which hasn't happened in a while.

  • Returning Ranking: 5th
  • 3-Year Improvement Rating: 20th
  • 5-Year Improvement Rating: 17th
  • Returning 3200 Team Ranking: 7th
  • Returning 1600 Team Ranking: 3rd
1) Tanner Sutter 16:14.00
2) Logan Sutter 16:19.00
3) Hayden Blalock 16:31.00
4) Andrew Kiss 16:34.00
5) Sam Cohen 16:52.00
Average Time: 16:30.00 Total Time: 1:22:30.00 1-5 Split: 38.00
6) Russell Engle 17:02.00
7) Sean Mccaffery 17:07.00

7. Cardinal Gibbons

When I saw the Crusaders ranked 13th for returning 5K teams in the database, I said to myself, "Yeah, right. That's not going to happen." In truth, of course, even the best programs take a step backward when they graduate 5 of their top 7 runners. Cardinal Gibbons would not have been the favorite in 3A, but this year the school is moving up to 4A anyway - that makes this a good season to "rebuild" (in truth, programs that are strong and deep really just reload with the next wave of runners already on their rosters) while getting used to the new level of competition. And the competition will be stiff: the team will be in the PAC 6 4A conference, which puts them in the loaded Midwest 4A regional, which has 4 teams in the top 10 of this countdown. There are three more seniors in the projected top 7 for this fall, so the team needs to develop young talent ASAP. For this year, though, the track times posted by Connor Lane and Connor Peeples, along with the team's demonstrated ability to improve from year to year, show that the Crusaders will be just fine in 2015.

  • Returning Ranking: 13th
  • 3-Year Improvement Rating: 5th
  • 5-Year Improvement Rating: 5th
  • Returning 3200 Team Ranking: 10th
  • Returning 1600 Team Ranking: 5th
1) Connor Lane 15:45.90
2) Connor Peeples 16:00.59
3) Sam Grelck 16:25.00
4) Ben Wendt 17:18.50
5) Devin Adas 17:42.00
Average Time: 16:38.40 Total Time: 1:23:11.99 1-5 Split: 1:56.10
6) Logan Suchniak 17:47.40
7) Connor Stephens 17:58.20

8. Apex

The Cougars can sneak up on you - they may not do anything spectacular early in the season, but then when things really matter they are right in the thick of the competition. Apex graduated three runners from the team that finished 4th at the 4A state meet, but along the way they have been developing some young talent to fill in. A deep roster during track season was a very good sign, and returning leaders Derek Duin and Ben Savino both put up strong times outdoors (Savino is the 7th-fastest returner in the state in the 3200). The one apparent weakness on this team is the gap from #4 to #5, but that can be fixed with a good summer. Expect more of the same from the Cougars this fall as they seek to repeat their top-5 finish.

  • Returning Ranking: 7th
  • 3-Year Improvement Rating: 7th
  • 5-Year Improvement Rating: 12th
  • Returning 3200 Team Ranking: 8th
  • Returning 1600 Team Ranking: 6th
1) Derek Duin 16:07.00
2) Ben Savino 16:09.40
3) David Cart 16:44.00
4) Lawson Benfield 16:49.80
5) Austin Lalicker 17:20.70
Average Time: 16:38.18 Total Time: 1:23:10.90 1-5 Split: 1:13.70
6) Andrew Boland 17:21.20
7) Bailey Braswell 17:32.00

9. Jordan

Another candidate for "most underrated program" - over the last 3 years, the Falcons have averaged a final all-classes ranking of 22nd. That happened despite consistently being in the most difficult regionals in the state, first the Mideast 4A and then recently the Midwest 4A; that's how the 25th-best team in the state, considering all classifications, could miss the state meet in 2014. That early end to the season should provide motivation for the 6 runners that return from that squad, which includes 6 sub-17 runners (something only 3 other teams in the countdown can claim). Track results were solid and very consistent with the look of this returning Jordan team: a tightly-knit pack (with an astounding 18-second 1-6 split) that lacks a true front-runner. If the Falcons improve as a team over the summer, though, their pack should score low enough to get the job done. Side note: this is the 4th Midwest 4A team in the countdown so far, and we still have 3 to go...

  • Returning Ranking: 9th
  • 3-Year Improvement Rating: 13th
  • 5-Year Improvement Rating: 15th
  • Returning 3200 Team Ranking: 15th
  • Returning 1600 Team Ranking: 10th
1) Quinton Meyer 16:39.73
2) Matthew Staehle 16:44.95
3) Samuel Terry-Edmunds 16:46.28
4) Austin Rooks 16:49.89
5) Justice Scott 16:51.88
Average Time: 16:46.55 Total Time: 1:23:52.73 1-5 Split: 12.15
6) Wesley Ellis 16:57.58
7) Casey Thompson 17:08.00

10. Cary Academy

This team is a classic example of how much track season can help prepare for cross country. Returning 5K times and Improvement Rating would have the Chargers in the top 20, but an excellent spring has pushed them all the way to this spot. This is a deep squad with a stellar 21-second split from their 2nd to 7th runners, and they also sport a rising star in Coleman Mitchell (4:27 and 9:38 for the rising sophomore, the latter ranking him 30th in the country for his class). If "The Streak" is going to end in the NCISAA 3A classification, this is the year it will happen, and this is the team that can get it done.

  • Returning Ranking: 14th
  • 3-Year Improvement Rating: 24th
  • 5-Year Improvement Rating: 19th
  • Returning 3200 Team Ranking: 5th
  • Returning 1600 Team Ranking: 11th
1) Coleman Mitchell 16:01.77
2) Chase Coley 16:58.50
3) Shreyas Ashok 16:59.00
4) Tommy Bright 17:07.20
5) Nathaniel Jones 17:08.40
Average Time: 16:50.97 Total Time: 1:24:14.87 1-5 Split: 1:06.63
6) Jack Pullen 17:18.20
7) Dylan Lamphier 17:19.10