IHSAA State Meet Preview: Boys Individual Race

(From left to right, Noah Bontrager, Clayton Guthrie, Cameron Todd, Kole Mathison, Anthony Provenzano, Aidan Lord, and Ty Garrett. Graphic by Owen Fink)

IHSAA State Meet Boys Individual Preview

State Meet week is here and anticipation is building for the 416 runners that advanced to the state finals either on a team or as individuals. MileSplit Indiana is previewing every aspect of the IHSAA State finals races throughout the week ahead of the State Meet on Saturday. Today, we preview the individual boys race that could see records fall, and national caliber athletes take the stage at LaVern Gibson.

The boys individual race may not be too dramatic at the top. Carmel's Kole Mathison has had a stranglehold on the top spot all season long. There are potentially 28 athletes fighting for about 12 podium spots and that part of the race could see a ton of action. The boys field may not be as top heavy with national talent like the girls, but there are still plenty of stars out there to make this meet one for the books. 

Here's how the boys individual race could play out as boys fight for titles, top 10 finishes, and podium spots with the hopes of going home with a medal!

Individual Title Favorite 

Kole Mathison - Carmel - 1st at Regional and Semi-State

One of the top runners in the nation this year and one of the most accomplished athletes in Indiana distance running history, Kole Mathison is the undoubted favorite of this individual boys race. If you ask Kole, he will tell you he just wants to score one point for his team and we feel he has the best chance of anybody at doing just that. Mathison has the best time of any Indiana athlete this season after running 14:51 at the Nike Twilight meet, that meet was also held at LaVern Gibson. He is the highest returner from the state meet one year ago and he has only been beaten 3 times on Indiana soil (against all Indiana competition) in the last three cross country seasons. After winning two state titles this previous track season, Mathison has one more individual achievement to add to his Indiana resume, winning a cross country state championship and he is in prime position to add that last piece on Saturday. 

Outside Shot at the win

Aidan Lord - New Albany - 1st at Sectional, Regional, and Semi-State

Anthony Provenzano - Carmel - 2nd at Regional and 3rd at Semi-State

Cameron Todd - Brebeuf - 12th at Sectional, 3rd at Regional, and 2nd at Semi-State

Group Overview

Yes, we believe that Kole Mathison is the clear favorite to win the state title. If Mathison does not end up as state champion on Saturday, the above three names are the most likely contenders we'd expect to see in that top spot. In almost any other year, any of these three athletes by themselves would certainly be title favorites, but unfortunately for the individuals, and fortunately for Indiana XC fans, this is also an incredibly deep field with lots of high end talent.

One of three boy athletes to win sectional, regional, and semi-state, Aidan Lord absolutely dominated the southern part of the state this season. Lord just missed breaking 15 minutes at the Eagle Classic in September but has held really steady and been consistent the entire year. He has been a strong competitor in every race he has run, including winning the last five times he has stepped on the line. He was the closest athlete to Mathison at the Eagle Classic that day, and that earns him a spot in this tier. Expect Lord to be competing at the front of this race and if he doesn't end up with the win, he will make a big push to be the runner-up to an all-time great. 

The new kid on the block, Anthony Provenzano has had an extraordinary first season for the Hounds. The junior transfer from Minnesota has stepped in to be not just the number two on his team, but potentially the number two runner in the entire state. There are two prior instances of teammates placing 1-2 on the boys side. In 1974 the Hammond boys, Rudy Chapa and Carey Pinkowski "tied" for first place, and in 1996 Ben Davis' Fasil Bizuneh won the state title and teammate Brad Bernhardt came in second. With Mathison as the presumed favorite, the Carmel Greyhounds could add to this extremely rare list of teammates to place first and second at the state cross country meet. 

Cameron Todd has had an incredible high school running career thus far and will be looking to add to it this weekend. The Brebeuf junior has been tops in his class (an extremely talented class I might add) ever since he arrived onto the Indiana running scene. Todd is the only other Indiana athlete beside Mathison to break 15 minutes after he ran 14:57 also at the Nike Twilight meet. After injury troubles plagued most of his sophomore season, he still came back to place 30th at the State meet and help the Braves win the state title. Todd is back to his usual form and with another good race, can solidify himself as the best non-senior in Indiana this season.

(Cameron Todd (152) and Anthony Provenzano (366) battle down the homestretch at the Riverview Health Invitational in September. - Photo by Kent Graham)

Contenders for a Top 5 Finish/Likely Top 10 Finish

Will Conway - Floyd Central - 22nd at Semi-State

Ty Garrett - Center Grove - 1st at Sectional and 4th at Semi-State

Clayton Guthrie - Columbus North - 1st at Sectional and 4th at Semi-State

Group Overview

There are some uncertainties with this trio of guys to this point in the season, but make no mistake they all belong here and are all looking to bounce back at the right time. All three are superstars and their history shows it. Can they contend with the four guys in front of them and will they be able to hang with them for the entirety of the race?

Will Conway has been one of the top runners in Indiana this season and really his entire high school career. He was 5th as a freshmen in the 1600 in the 2021 State Track meet and has now run as low as 15:06 for 5k this season. However, it had been rumored that Conway wouldn't even be participating in the Semi-State competition and that his season was over. Low and behold, Conway placed 22nd at the Semi-State to help the Highlanders to a runner-up team finish. At his best this season, Conway absolutely deserves to be in this group (and maybe higher). Conway is now expected to run at the State Meet, so who knows if he will be fighting for Top 5 or just hoping to get through the meet healthy and just be a solid scorer for his Floyd Central team. 

Ty Garrett has only run in one IHSAA State XC meet, but had great success doing so. In 2019, Garrett placed 22nd as a freshmen and then during the summer of 2020 his family moved to Colorado and it appeared Garrett was done with IHSAA competitions. Now three years later, Garrett is back with the Trojans and after a slow start to the season he is firing on all cylinders after winning sectionals and placing 4th in the Semi-State (behind likely the top 3 in the state). Garrett Will be looking some individual and team success when he shows up to LaVern Gibson on Saturday in hopes to finish his XC career with a bang.

Clayton Guthrie has really stepped up big for Columbus North after the Bulldogs lost two All-State seniors to graduation including defending state champion Reese Kilbarger-Stumpff. Guthrie has the fifth best time of all Indiana athletes this year with his 15:04 from the Nike Twilight meet. Guthrie struggled at the semi-state after a blazing pace was set in the first part of the race, but running 15:04 on the State Meet course is enough for Guthrie to have a spot in this tier. He can definitely contend for a top 5 spot and should certainly come away with an All-State medal as well.

Contending for a Top 10 finish with a High Chance to Medal

Liam Bauschke - Mishawaka - 1st at Sectional and Regional, 2nd at Semi-State

Noah Bontrager - Westview - 1st at Sectional, Regional, and Semi-State

Caden Click - Noblesville - 2nd at Sectional, 6th at Regional, and 9th at Semi-State

Nate Killeen - North Central - 1st at Sectional, 7th at Regional, and 8th at Semi-State

Charlie Leedke - Carmel - 1st at Sectional and 15th at Semi-State

Asher Propst - Noblesville - 13th at Sectional, 4th at Regional, and 6th at Semi-State

Sam Quagliaroli - Fishers - 1st at Regional and 7th at Semi-State

Ryan Rheam - Bloomington South -  1st at Sectional and Regional, 2nd at Semi-State

William Russell - Columbus North - 2nd at Sectional, 1st at Regional, and 3rd at Semi-State

Tristan Trevino - Mt. Vernon (Fortville) - 1st at Sectional and Regional, 5th at Semi-State

Group Overview

This tier has representation from every class in the state. The top freshmen, the top two sophomores, a few really solid juniors and then some seniors hoping to make their last state cross country meet count. It is a group that will surely be fighting for top 10 spots at State while the rest will hope to hang on for medal spots and stay in the top 20.

The name that pops off the page from this group immediately is freshman Noah Bontrager from Westview. Yes, FRESHMEN Noah Bontrager. Bontrager won the New Haven Semi-State last week and finds himself in a position of rarefied air. The last freshmen boy to place in the top 10 of the State meet was Futsum Zienasellassie in 2008 when he placed runner-up to Fishers Drew Shields. The path is there for Bontrager to assert himself into Indiana State Meet lore.

The battle of the sophomores is the next group to highlight here. Sam Quagliaroli of Fishers was far and away the best freshmen last season. He was the highest placing freshmen at the state meet where he placed 39th. Then this season, Liam Bauschke of Mishawaka has made a big step forward and become not just the top of his class but an elite runner in the State. Bauschke placed 2nd at the New Haven Semi-State, 5 places in front of Quagliaroli. Don't count out the Fishers Sophomore just yet, because that state meet performance in 2021 is a great reminder of what he can do at LaVern Gibson. This will be a fun battle to see who is indeed the top sophomore in the state.

This will be an exciting group of athletes to see compete on Saturday. They have been at the top of the charts all season with fast times and winning performances. We anticipate that many of them will ascend the podium and some will even compete for a top 10 finish.

(Westview's freshmen sensation Noah Bontrager on his way to the victory at the New Haven Semi-State. - Photo by Mike Kepner)

Battling for Remaining Podium Spots

Ezra Burrell - Brebeuf Jesuit - 2nd at Sectional, 12th at Regional, 39th at Semi-State

Jimmy Dillabaugh - Valparaiso - 1st at Sectional, Regional, and Semi-State

Matthew Helton - Zionsville - 7th at Regional and 11th at Semi-State

Brayden Henkle - Franklin Central - 2nd at Sectional, 3rd at Regional, and 21st at Semi-State

Parker Mimbela - Center Grove - 2nd at Sectional and 7th at Semi-State

Matteo Rosio - Brebeuf Jesuit - 14th at Sectional, 5th at Regional, 10th at Semi-State

Group Overview

It is not a guarantee that the 17 guys in the first few groups take up the first 17 spots in the state meet. That being said this is a group that will still be in the hunt for podium spots. This group has a lot of state meet experience already and is ready to use that to their advantage in hopes of placing All-State.

The Brebeuf Jesuit duo of Matteo Rosio and Ezra Burrell have that state meet experience. Last year, Rosio and Burrell placed 22nd and 29th respectively at the State meet for the team champion Braves. That also doesn't include Burrell's 27th place finish as a sophomore in 2020. These guys have the experience and knowledge of how to run their best on this course in October and if history is any indication we should see them in the top 30 yet again, and possibly coming home with their first individual cross country medals. 

Parker Mimbela of Center Grove is another guy that has been Top 30 before. In fact, he nabbed the last All-State spot (Top 25) last year placing 25th. Mimbela has been a main cog for the Trojans the last several years, and he is ready to contribute low points yet again. Mimbela has a pretty high ceiling and ran his best race of the season a the Semi-State last week. Expect to see Mimbela competing for a medal and trying to score low points for the Trojans.

Ready to Break into the Top 20

Jack Capes - Carmel - 8th at Regional and 24th at Semi-State

Sam Clore - Avon - 1st at Sectional, 5th at Regional, and 17th at Semi-State

Nick Cook - Wapahani - 1st at Sectional, 4th at Regional, and 3rd at Semi-State

Ryan Handy - Zionsville - 9th at Regional and 14th at Semi-State

Ethan Hines - Guerin Catholic - 17th at Regional and 13th at Semi-State

Aaron Lord - New Albany - 2nd at Sectional and Regional, 7th at Semi-State

Evan Mayo - Zionsville - 4th at Regional and 16th at Semi-State

Mateo Mendez - Columbus North - 3rd at Sectional, 4th at Regional, and 9th at Semi-State

Baylor Miller - Northridge - 3rd at Regional and 4th at Semi-State

Jacob Mitchell - Bloomington North - 2nd at Sectional, 6th at Regional and Semi-State

Emerson Nehring - Plainfield - 2nd at Sectional, 1st at Regional, and 12th at Semi-State

Mason Nobles - Valparaiso - 2nd at Sectional and Regional

Jaryn Weinel - Jasper - 1st at Sectional, 3rd at Regional, and 5th at Semi-State

Ryan York - Hanover Central - 1st at Sectional and Regional, 3rd at Semi-State

Group Overview

Just like the girls race, the boys field this year is incredibly deep. A key for this tier of boys is that many of them are on teams that are competing for podium spots in the team standings as well. It won't change what they do as they will still try score as few points as possible and try to break into the top 20. And maybe, just maybe, many of these athletes will go home with two medals on Saturday.

Zionsville's duo of Ryan Handy and Evan Mayo have been really consistent this year as has the entire Eagles Team. Handy and Mayo could both play a huge part in the Eagle's success if they are able to score low. Having one or both of them as all-state athletes would significantly increase their chances as a high level podium contender.

After Noah Bontrager, this group contains the next two best freshmen in the entire state. Bloomington North's Jacob Mitchell and Northridge's Baylor Miller have enjoyed great success in their first high school season. It is rare for freshmen to place top 25 at the State meet, but it does put you in good company (Cameron Todd in 2020, Kole Mathison and Ty Garrett in 2019 are the last 3 freshmen to do so). We may definitely see one with Bontrager, could Mitchell or Miller add to the list? It may be an uphill battle but definitely something to watch for from this group.

Similarly to the girls race, do not be surprised to see multiple athletes from this tier break their way into the top 20 and go home with a medal.

In the girls preview article we featured 36 athletes. In the boys, there are 37 that are noted here that can make some noise on Saturday. Again, do not be surprised if there are a couple athletes not on these lists that ends up in the top 20.

One of Indiana's all-time greats in the midst of a historic senior season, battles for class bragging rights, and a large group of guys fighting for the podium, this individual boys race has it all and is set to bring great excitement to LaVern Gibson this weekend.