IHSAA State Meet Boys Team 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 boys team race that could see an all-time team win the state title and one of the deepest team fields in recent memory as athletes take the course at LaVern Gibson.
Here's how the boys team race could play out as we see teams fight for podium spots, top 10 finishes, and a team maybe trying to be the best of all-time!
Team Title Favorite
Carmel - 49th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (16 times, most recently in 2018)
The Carmel Greyhounds come into the State meet looking for their 17th team State Championship (most ever), but only their first since the 2018 season. We are in the midst of the longest drought of the Hounds not winning the State title since Columbus North won three consecutive years from 2009-2011 (those years were sandwiched of course by Carmel wins). Well this year's version of the Hounds has been dominant all season and may just be one of the best teams in the nation this year and possibly ever in Indiana history.
Senior Kole Mathison leads the Greyhounds as the top ranked runner in the state and one of the best in the nation. Everyone has seen Kole do his thing day-in and day-out for four years. The "Robin" to Mathison's "Batman" is junior Anthony Provenzano who acts as more of a 1B runner for the Hounds, not a number two. Provenzano ran 15:02 at the Nike Twilight Invitational, again, the same course that the state meet will be run on this weekend. Those two get the Hounds off to almost as good of a start as you can have going after the team title. After all, this is a team preview and a team needs more than two to make magic happen at the State meet.
Carmel certainly has a scoring five that can score low and close the door very quickly. Senior Charlie Leedke, sophomore Jack Capes, and junior Thomas Biltimier round out the normal scorers for the Hounds. The consistency the whole team has shown especially with these three will make it extremely difficult for any team to take them down this weekend. That doesn't mean other teams aren't going to try.
Center Grove - 4th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 4th (2020)
Center Grove finds themselves back at the State Meet for the fourth consecutive year and fourth time in their history. They are in the midst of the best group that Center Grove has ever had with the last two years of state meets placing 4th and then 6th just missing another podium spot.
The Trojans are still loaded and ready to contend for a high podium finish. Ty Garrett has returned to Indiana and has been a consistent top 10 runner in the state this year. His low scoring gets the Trojans off to a good start, while seniors Parker Mimbela and Griffin Hennessy both were Top 25 last season and give Center Grove some veteran experience to help them score low. They will need a full team race to compete for a runner-up finish as this will be an incredibly close tier of teams fighting at the top.
Columbus North - 27th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (6 times, most recently in 2020)
Columbus North is a team that has an incredibly rich history but also in the middle of another dominant stretch in cross country. The Bulldogs have had 4 straight top 6 finishes at State, making podium in the last 3 and winning a state championship in 2020. Though two main cogs have graduated away, this senior heavy team still has fire power to contend for a high podium finish.
Clayton Guthrie and William Russell have been the two leaders for the Bulldogs this season. Guthrie has the fifth best time of any Indiana athlete this year after his 15:04 at the Nike Twilight meet. Mateo Mendez, Neal White, and Kellen Hottell round out the scoring five for the Bulldogs who will go after a fourth straight podium finish.
Noblesville - 12th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 2nd (2010)
The Millers have become one of the best teams in Indiana and that is no surprise to those who have been paying attention. Noblesville saw great improvements from a few of their top scorers to go along with the cemented stars in their lineup.
The duo of senior Asher Propst and junior Caden Click have been one of the best duos in the state. Both post top 10 times in the state this year and have run incredibly well over the entire season. The improvements of Jack Strong and Ronnie Neal must be noted here for the Millers. Both of these guys have helped solidify the scoring five for Noblesville after the loss of two graduating seniors. Strong and Neal have both been under 16 minutes this season and will need to have strong races to help the Millers contend for a runner-up finish.
Zionsville - 11th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 7th (3 times, most recently in 2021)
The Zionsville Eagles may be one of the more fun teams to project and preview. If you love pack running then you'll love the way the Eagles race on a weekly basis. They consistently have a really slim 1-5 split and it also consists of a fast group getting it done.
Matthew Helton has led the way for Zionsville most of the season. Him along with fellow senior Ryan Handy prove to be potential all-state candidates for the Eagles. Evan Mayo, Sam Spees, and Jack Turnbull make up the remainder of the Zionsville scoring five. At the Shelbyville Semi-State the Eagles came with in 7 points of Carmel for second place as a team. We talked about their 1-5 split, and at the semi-state it was a mere 11.9 seconds. If the Eagles can have a race like that again they will surely contend for the runner-up spot and if a team slips up, maybe better.
Outside shot at the Podium/ Likely for a Top 10 Finish
Brebeuf Jesuit - 8th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (2021)
The defending state champions, Brebeuf Jesuit brings back a great trio to the state meet that could all place in the top 25. Cameron Todd, Matteo Rosio and Ezra Burrell have been constants in the Brebeuf lineup for multiple years now. The fate of the Braves team place may rely on their 4th and 5th runners though. With great races we wouldn't be surprised to see them on the podium once again. But they could also finish as low as 9th. Only time will tell to see how well the Braves do at this state meet as they defend their state title.
Fishers - 12th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (2007)
Fishers is another team that was on the podium one year ago with a chance to return, but may need some help. The Tigers are off to a great start with the duo of Sam Quagliaroli and Tate Meaux at the top. This team is still solid through five runners, a chance at the podium may be reliant on teams above them falling down to their level. But if there's anything we know about Fishers, they have been on the podium 6 of the last 7 seasons and they find a way to run well at the right time. They will certainly give themselves a fighting chance against the other powerhouses.
Franklin Central - 11th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (1998)
The Flashes are back at the State meet once again and this season they have been a consistent Top 10 team with 'Flashes' of being a podium contender. Similar to the teams above, they me strong enough to have a podium finish, but might a team or two in the above tier to fall down to this level. Franklin Central senior Brayden Henkle was 28th at the state meet last year and looks poised for an All-State finish to complete a great cross country career. Again, don't count the Flashes out as they look to accomplish great things on Saturday.
Contenders for Remaining Top 10 Spots
Bloomington North - 36th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (1980)
The Cougars were sectional and regional champions this year then finished 4th at the Brown County Semi-State. They are led by a dynamic duo of senior Kyle Clark and freshmen Jacob Mitchell who have been solid all year and both have an upside as being all-state runners. The finishing touch for the Bloomington North squad has been their pack at 3-7. They may have had an off race at the semi-state, but if the pack can get back to their sectional and regional selves, the Cougars are in a great position for a top 10 finish.
Bloomington South - 31st State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 4th (2 times, most recently in 1981)
The Panthers, like their cross town rivals, have a dynamic duo leading the team. Junior Ryan Rheam is running at a high level after placing 2nd at the Brown County Semi-State, and senior Jack Gildea has been the consistent number two for Bloomington South throughout this season. The Panthers top 4 runners all ran at last year's state meet and are back this year hoping to use that experience to propel them to their 6th top 10 finish in the last 10 seasons.
Floyd Central - 25th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (1991)
Floyd Central has been a hard team to project this season. Running in an isolated part of the state much of the time it is always hard to tell how good they actually are. Well, they showed at the semi-state that they can contend as a top 10 team after placing 2nd and beating the two Bloomington schools who also have top 10 aspirations. Junior Will Conway has been the constant for the Highlanders over the past 3 seasons. Before an injury set him back, he was running at an all-time level. Conway still ran semi-state, though running as the Highlanders number 3 runner. If he can get back a little closer to his early season self, Floyd Central is in a great position to go after a Top 10 spot and maybe higher.
Hamilton Southeastern - 17th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 2nd (2 times, most recently in 2021)
The Royals placed 3rd at the New Haven Semi-State and have had a solid season thus far. The good thing for the Royals is they see the best competition in the state throughout the season being in Hamilton County. The bad news, is they might be a year away from making legit noise at the State Meet. Ash Caylor is the senior leader of this team and the remaining varsity members are all juniors or younger. This should be a great meet to gain more experience for a young Royals team.
Northridge - 15th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (2004)
Northridge has a great history, winning a state title in 2004 and following it up with 4 straight top 10 finishes. The Raiders returned to Top 10 status last year placing 8th and bring back 5 of those 7 including senior Jaxon Miller who placed 45th. The secret weapon (no longer a secret) for this Raider squad is freshmen Baylor Miller who has asserted himself as the number one runner. This is another team that is solid through 5 scorers and has themselves in a great position to fight for a Top 10 spot.
Valparaiso - 48th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (6 times, most recently in 2000)
The Vikings have had a great season up this point and have a strong duo at the top to get things started. Senior Jimmy Dillabaugh and sophomore Mason Nobles have been great for the Vikings to this point. Nobles was not in the end results of the New Prairie Semi-State but with him in the lineup, Valparaiso is a legitimate Top 10 contender and maybe higher. The Vikings will need strong races from the rest of the pack as it appears that their normal 4th runner has yet to run a tournament race. Though with some uncertainties, the Vikings are still in good position to have a great state meet.
Remaining Team Qualifiers - (Listed Alphabetically)
Chesterton - 39th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 2nd (2009)
The Trojans were actually the New Prairie Semi-State champions last week over Valparaiso. The Vikings were missing one of their main scorers that could've made a difference, but Chesterton was the best team on that day. Want to see a good trend for Chesterton? Their best 3 races this season have come in arguably the most important meets, New Prairie Invite, DAC, and Semi-State. The Trojans have an outside shot at the top 10, but don't be shocked if this underrated Chesterton team surprises people on Saturday.
Concordia Lutheran - 9th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (2019)
Concordia got the 5th qualifying spot from the New Haven Semi-State last week. The Cadets have a young varsity squad that might be a year away from making some real noise at the state meet. Their top five has no seniors listed, so the future is bright and this will be a great meet for Concordia to get some State Meet experience.
Evansville F.J. Reitz - 5th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 11th (1947)
F.J. Reitz is making their first appearance at the state meet in over 60 years after placing 6th in the Brown County Semi-State and advancing on the 6th man tiebreaker. 1957 to be exact was the last time this team made it to State. Sophomores Jackson Nolan and Sawyer Mossberger lead the Reitz squad and they are a really strong 1-2 that helped this team get to the State meet for the first time in over half a century.
Goshen - 10th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 3rd (1976)
The Goshen team took the 6th and last qualifying spot from the New Haven Semi-State. The Redhawks are led by senior Tommy Claxton who will be making his 3rd state meet appearance. This is the third consecutive year that Goshen has qualified for the State Meet.
Jasper - 6th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 13th (1947)
The Wildcats are set to make their 3rd trip to LaVern Gibson in the last 4 seasons. They have potential all-stater Jaryn Weinel who will be making his 3rd state meet appearance. In 2019 Weinel placed 143rd, then in 2020 placed 45th, and we are sure he is ready to improve on that finish this year a well to help lead Jasper at the State Meet.
Lake Central - 16th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 2nd (1983)
Lake Central is another young team at this year's state meet and they are relatively deep. The entire top 5 will return next year for the Indians as they will look to be even better. Lake Central qualified for the state meet by placing 3rd at the New Prairie Semi-State and they had the best 5th man at the meet showing their incredible depth which will be key for the Indians on Saturday.
LaPorte - 23rd State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 2nd (2007)
The Slicers placed 6th at the New Prairie Semi-State, though it is known that one of their top runners was DQ'd at the finish line. Albeit, LaPorte has still advanced to their 23rd State Meet and the first since 2015. The Slicers are led by the duo of Jay Pillai and Brayden Sobecki who have been solid for the LaPorte team this season.
Penn - 13th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 3rd (1999)
Penn was 4th at the New Haven Semi-State to qualify for another State meet. Penn is another team with an outside shot at a top 10 finish this season. They are led by Junior Hudson Kaser who placed 14th at the semi-state.
Warsaw - 13th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 4th (2012)
Warsaw placed 5th at the New Prairie Semi-State last weekend. The Tigers squad has one of the tightest scoring fives of any team in the entire state. They had a 35 second 1-5 split at the Semi-State, and they will want to have something similar this weekend when the take the course at LaVern Gibson.
West Lafayette - 19th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (2 times, most recently in 2014)
The Red Devils have made it back to the State Meet after a 2 year absence. West Lafayette placed 4th at the New Prairie Semi-State in what seems to have been their best team race of the year. Peaking at the right time, the Red Devils are led by senior Elijah Stenberg who was the individual runner-up last week at semi-state and could very well make some noise this weekend.