Boys Individual Preview
The NXR Midwest championship will take place at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, a familiar site for most Indiana athletes. The meet will have several boys and girls races throughout the day capped off by a fast championship race. The boys and girls championship will feature some of the best talent from host state Indiana as well as Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and Missouri. Last year the boys race shattered the course record of 14:48 with FOUR boys running under 14:30 with current Wake Forest runner Hunter Jones being the first to the tape at 14:21.8. Four additional boys would also break 15 minutes in this race.
Photo by Mike Kepner / MileSplit
This year will feature some of Indiana's talent with top finishers from state including Cameron Todd, Will Conway, Sam Quagliaroli, and Tony Provenzano all likely to compete. Indiana is the only state in the Midwest regional to not have their state meet this past weekend as it occurred during the last weekend of October. Tony had the best finish for Indiana last year and is the second fastest overall returner where he finished 10th with a 15:02.2. Cameron did not compete this year and has had an extremely strong season where he currently ranks 6th in the MileSplit50 national rankings. Will Conway has the best 5K time in the midwest region from this season with a 14:41.25 and was runner-up at state. Sam Quagliaroli has also run sub 15 minutes this year in his runner-up finish to Cameron back in September at Nike Twilight. All 4 of these boys have a legitimate shot at qualifying for NXN with Cameron likely being the overall favorite to win.
Photo by Dave McCauley / MHSAA Website
Michigan's Connell Alford is the top returner from NXN Midwest last year, just nearly missing out on qualifying to NXN by one position with a 6th place 14:57.6 effort. Michigan has 4 divisions for the lower peninsula and 3 divisions for the upper peninsula. Connell recently finished third behind TJ Hansen (14:52.8) and Solomon Kwartowitz (15:03.3) at the Michigan D2 Lower Peninsula State Finals with a 15:11.2. In the D1 LP Michigan states race Seth Norder (14:54.3), Thomas Westphal (14:57.9), Brendan Herger (15:05.6), and Kamari Ronfeldt (15:08.6) all had faster times than Connell. The fastest time this season for Michigan belongs to Seth from regionals where he ran a 14:48.12 to rank him 4th in the midwest region this season. Michigan could send a few guys to Portland depending on who competes.
Photo by David Nguyen / MileSplit
The Ohio state championships also took place this past weekend with 5 boys going 15:10 or faster across the 3 division races on Saturday. These athletes were Ben Gabelman (14:51.7), Eli Ilg (14:59.7), Landon Kimmel (15:02.1), and Samuel Ricchiuti (15:02.3) from the D1 race as well as Andrew Walton (15:00.2) from the D2 race. Ben is the top Ohio returner from NXR Midwest last year finishing in 11th place (15:02.6) and is followed closely by Samuel who finished 14th (15:06.1) last year. Landon Kimmel was the next best finisher for Ohio last year and currently holds the second fastest 5K time of the season for the midwest with a 14:42.65 at the Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational where he was second to Indiana's Will Conway. Ohio was well represented in the top finishers last year and looks to have a few contenders this year as well.
Photo by DuffysLens / MileSplit
Also occurring this past weekend was the Illinois state championships. Illinois runs 3 mile races instead of the typical 5K distance which will be a slight change for many in the state this weekend. 8 boys from across all 3 divisions finished faster than 14:30 for the 3 mile and include Aden Bandukwala (14:13.56), Camyn Viger (14:17.93), Ben Crane (14:20.16), Dylan Ybarra (14:22.16), Thomas Czerwinski (14:22.40), and Zac Close (14:25.63) from the 3A race. Dylon Nalley (14:05.20), Trey Sato (14:21.49), and Dale Johnson (14:22.91) from the 2A race. As well as Gavin Genisio (14:12.56) and Isaac Teel (14:29.39) from the 1A race. Aden has the best performance from last year's championship where he finished 12th overall (15:05.2). Dylon Nalley had the fastest time last weekend at state and is Illinois' second best returner after coming across the line in 16th (15:09.0) last year. Dylan Maloney has the state's fastest 3 mile at 14:00.20 and the second fastest official 5K of the year where he ran a 14:54.7 to finish third behind Cameron Todd and Sam Quagliaroli from Indiana at Nike Twilight. Illinois has a relatively shorter drive than other competing states and it will be interesting to monitor who from the state is up front early.
Photo by Chris Auckley / Missouri MileSplit
Missouri has one of the longest treks in the region to LaVern Gibson and featured 5 classed races at its state championship this past weekend. There were 7 boys at 15:15 or faster with all coming from the class 4 and class 5 races. From Class 5 was Luke Sievers (14:51.9), Levi Rowan (14:52.1), Andrew Hauser (14:58.4), and Henry Acorn (15:07.0). From Class 4 was Isaac Rivera (14:54.6), Andrew Johnson (15:11.4), and Carson Driemeier (15:14.10). Andrew Hauser has the top returning performance for Missouri runners with a 17th place finish (15:09.0) last year and also has the 5th best time in the midwest region with his 14:48.7 effort at states. Last year Connor Burns (current University of Oregon runner) finished runner up in the meet under the course record in a blistering time of 14:27.3. Missouri has a chance to send a couple of individuals to Oregon once again this year.
Boys Team Preview
Photo by Mike Kepner / MileSplit
Last year Illinois showcased their team depth by placing teams in the top 3 with Hinsdale Central, Plainfield South, and Downers Grove North. Rock Bridge from Missouri finished 4th with Carmel right behind in 5th.
This year there could be several teams from each state in contention for qualification to nationals. Carmel looks to be the favorites as they have had a season including impressive victories at Nike Valley Twilight where the team beat several teams that are currently ranked in the MileSplit 50 team national rankings including Plainfield South (IL), Jesuit (LA), and Rock Bridge (MO). Carmel also had the most dominant state meet out of this group of states as they won by 109 points at the Indiana state meet. At the Illinois 3A state finals Downer's Grove North (79) took home the state title over Plainfield North (125) and Plainfield South (134). At the Michigan LP D1 state finals Northville (128) defeated Brighton (141) by 13 points. At the Ohio D1 state finals Mas. Jackson (86) came out on top over runner-up Mason (148). At the Missouri 5A state finals top teams from states that may do well this year could include Rock Bridge (91), Rockhurst (100), St Louis University (120), Nixa (131).