McHenry’s Jesse Reiser spent several meets last season chasing Crystal Lake Central senior Alex Baker, who rarely was caught by anyone anywhere.
Reiser could not beat Baker, but as a sophomore he established himself as one of the state’s top runners.
Reiser was seventh in the IHSA Class 3A State Meet and also was seventh in the Class 3A 3,200 meters at the IHSA Boys Track and Field State Meet.
What Reiser, the junior, does for an encore is one of the storylines that will develop as the cross country season starts Saturday with the McHenry County Meet at McHenry’s Township Park.
MAKING A NAME
Reiser did not seem to have any bad races as a sophomore, as he maintained a consistent level of quality runs. He is ready for more of the same.
“I feel very confident coming off of last season,” Reiser said. “I know what it takes to be up there with the other top guys in the state.”
Reiser increased his summer mileage by 10 miles a week over 2012 and also lifted weights and worked out in a swimming pool. Warriors coach Beth Czubik said they try to vary training for both mental and physical breaks.
Reiser hopes to become county and Fox Valley Conference champion and is eyeing a top-three state finish.
“He made such huge improvements from his freshman to sophomore year, it blows your mind,” Czubik said. “He can do whatever he wants. He knows what he wants and we’ll do our best to get him there. We just want to keep him healthy and competing.”
There were four freshmen who were named to the Northwest Herald All-Area team last season – Huntley’s Keagan Smith and Seth Conroy, McHenry’s Michael Hahndorf and Johnsburg’s Matt Stelmasek. Watching how those runner develop through the next three seasons should be interesting.
Smith and Conroy launched Huntley to fifth place in the FVC Meet. Hahndorf helped McHenry take third.
Johnsburg was loaded with freshmen and sophomores, so Skyhawks coach Chris Setzler ran them in the FVC freshman-sophomore race, which they won. Johnsburg then qualified for the Class 1A State Meet.
Johnsburg and Richmond-Burton had the good fortune of slipping into Class 1A last year and took advantage of the opportunity. Johnsburg qualified for state as a team for the first time; R-B finished fifth as a team, its best ever.
This year, R-B (757) and Johnsburg (766) will be among the six smallest Class 2A schools. The cutoff for Class 1A in cross country is 743.
Johnsburg has most of its young team returning, and R-B, which has won four of the last five Big Northern Conference titles, also has a strong group back. But the road to Peoria’s Detweiller Park, where the state meet is held, just got a whole lot bumpier.
CHASING THE TIGERS
Crystal Lake Central, the FVC champion that also finished fourth in the Class 2A state meet, will lean on Ryan Pitner, Nick Amato and Zach Gemmel to lead the way.
Jacobs looks like the team that could give Central the most problems. The Golden Eagles were FVC runners-up last year.