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Jilian Denlow

Boys cross country at tryouts.

Young talent set to lead boys cross country back to state

Even after failing to qualify a runner for the IHSA State meet last season, boys cross country coach Don Michelin Jr. isn’t remotely worried about his team’s potential this season.

“Last year, we were a young team. And we really just had one senior who graduated [in 2023], and we had a bunch of younger guys that ran really well over the regular season,” says Michelin. “Our top guys now were our younger guys from last year. We’re looking to get a seat at the table at the state meet and place in the top 10 this year.”

Michelin attributes the team’s 11th place finish at the IHSA 3A sectional at Hoffman Estates last season to a lack of racing experience. But with the team returning seniors Jack Kleinschmit and Henry O’Malley, as well as top juniors Sam Froum, Patrick Tu, Emmett Wilson and Arber Bombaci, Michelin is excited for what is in store.

“Those are the guys that I’m looking to build. Our top juniors and seniors are going to be the nucleus–the core,” Michelin states. “We’ve got some underclassmen that are showing some real good promise. I’m really looking to develop everyone athletically but also build a culture that gets us downstate this year.”

That culture is something that has already been building before the season has started, with the Wildkit runners training together all summer. Workouts at Clark Street Beach and long distance runs along the lakefront have taken place nearly every day to shake off the rust and get the team back in shape before official team practices start.

Senior captain Jack Kleinschmit has high expectations for the team this year.

“I expect a lot. We have a great group. The core of our team is still here and we have a lot of younger talent,” Kleinschmit says.

“I’m really excited for the season. I think qualifying as a team for state is our goal and every runner on our team really believes that can happen.”

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