FORT WAYNE – With Carroll leading the way, northeast Indiana should be well-represented at the state level.
The perennial powerhouse Chargers finished third at the state meet last year and have another top-level crop of talented runners to make a push at bettering that result.
Concordia’s Zach Panning, who stumbled down the stretch while leading the state race and finished 22nd, has graduated. He was also the state runner-up as a junior.
Here is a look at some of the top runners, teams and storylines this season.
Mark Beckmann, DeKalb: The senior finished ninth at last year’s state finals and had a personal best of 15:34.
Cameron Clements, Carroll: The junior was 14th at the state meet.
Brandon Arnold, West Noble: The senior was 20th at the 2013 state meet.
Brayden Law, Homestead: The junior was the runner-up at semistate and 63rd at state.
Greg Tippmann, Bishop Dwenger: The senior finished 77th at the state meet.
Carroll: Along with Clements, the Chargers return seniors Jacob Schmeling, Trevor Hamilton and Kevin Salter and junior Ben Schwartz and sophomore Jacob Redding.
Bishop Dwenger: Along with Tippmann, the Saints bring back senior Kevin Wuest and junior Bryson Tretter for a program that ran at the state meet for the sixth time in the last nine years.
South Adams: The Starfires, coming off a 17th-place finish at state, bring back senior Sawyer Miller, sophomore Bailey McIntire, junior Daniel Steffen, senior Cole Litwiller and sophomore Briar Goodwin.
DeKalb: The Barons will be improved behind Beckmann, senior Clay Travis and juniors Jack Beakas and Scotty Beckmann.
Warsaw: The Tigers return half of their top eight runners from last year’s 15th-place state finish as a team – seniors Daniel Messenger and Nick Bergen and juniors Owen Glogovsky and Jonathan Beres.
Panning’s replacement: Panning, now running at Grand Valley State, will be hard to replace for the Cadets but there are candidates in junior Jacob Panning, Zach’s brother, junior David Ehlers, senior Jonathan Adair, junior Benjamin Strasen and senior James Mallers.
All Saturdays: The postseason format has been changed, with the sectionals moved to Saturday, the same day the regionals, semistate and state are run.
The name game: Not only does South Adams’ Miller have a great name, but he also has great talent as the defending ACAC individual champion and finishing 35th at the state meet.
Spartans reloading: The Spartans finished 20th at state last year in their second straight trip to the state meet, and get Law back but lost five of its top seven runners to graduation.
Following sis: New Haven freshman Jonathan Boatright is a first-year cross country runner, while his sister, Paige, is the No. 1 runner for the school’s girls team.