Zack Flint leads off the Aurora Central Catholic boys' 4x100 and 4x200 relays and can hold his own individually in each race from the 100 through the 800.
Joe Fese is a returning state-qualifying sprinter, Patrick Lefevre shined during indoor season and Matt Meyers boasts plenty of distance experience.
These veterans are a big reason why Chargers coach Troy Kerber greets the outdoor season with enthusiasm. If ACC can develop its stable of contributors behind them, Kerber will be even more overjoyed.
"We feel right now we have a pretty good core of athletes," Kerber said. "Our goal is to try to expand that core as the season progresses with some young kids who hopefully contribute by the end of the year to mix in with the other varsity athletes."
ACC's ability to bring along newcomers figures to be a decicing factor in its bid to unseat Marmion, the eight-time defending Suburban Christian Conference champion.
"I have a lot of respect for [Cadets coach] Dan Thorpe and his program," Kerber said. "Even though we're rivals, I think it's a good, clean rivalry."
Keep pushing Geneva sophomore Kathryn Adelman narrowly missed the 3A girls state meet qualifying time in the 1,600 at sectionals last spring.
A sound cross country season and indoor track effort might just steer her to Charleston this time. Adelman already is hovering around the state standard of 5:15.24 after running 5:16.43 to place second at last month's Upstate Eight Conference indoor meet.
"It's a huge time for her. To be around state qualifying at the end of indoor season is fantastic," Vikings coach Peter Raak said. "Now all we've got to do is stay healthy, fine-tune a few things and hopefully drop before sectionals."
More Star-ring roles Outgoing St. Charles North boys coach Don Spencer happily has presided over a boom in participation in his three seasons as head coach.
Before taking over the program, Spencer served as an assistant for three seasons and remembers how then-coach Kevin Harrington worked to expand the team's numbers.
"We've grown dramatically," Spencer said. "It's just by word of mouth. Kids are finding out it's a good track program. And No. 2, these kids are great kids, they simply are. I joke they could be sitting in a Norman Rockwell painting, but they really are terrific."
IN THE GROOVE
Sebastian Vermaas, Batavia, Sr.
What he did: Vermaas threw down for the host Bulldogs at Saturday's Les Hodge Invitational, winning the shot put (47 feet, 3 inches) and discus (163-1). Vermaas set a new meet record with his effort in the discus.
Lisa Rodriguez, Aurora Central Catholic, Sr.
What she did: Competing at the Charger Nation Invitational on Saturday, Rodriguez captured individual titles in the 100, 200 and 400 meters while anchoring the winning 4x100 relay. "She's really running at a whole other level right now," Chargers coach Troy Kerber said.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK
Just because the calendar has turned doesn't mean the weather has to. While the Aurora Central Catholic boys eventually won Tuesday's Marmion Quadrangular, it came amid several late lineup switches as the temperature dropped drastically from the beginning of the competition. "You don't want to run the risk of any potential injury for a smaller meet like this," Chargers coach Troy Kerber said.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Whether the Kaneland boys can make it two invitational victories in as many weeks. Fresh off the program's first title at the East Moline Invitational, the Knights are set to travel to Ottawa on Saturday. Kaneland claimed relay titles in the 4x100 and 4x400 en route to 260.5 points, nearly 40 more than the host Panthers.
COACH SLY SEZ
The Suburban Christian Conference always is ripe with middle- and long-distance talent, but the crop on the boys side looks especially strong this spring.
Last Saturday's Charger Nation Invitational showcased the latest duels, with Marmion's Will Graft edging Matt Meyers of ACC by less than a second in the 1,600 meters. That race came after Meyers outkicked Noah VanDyke (Wheaton Academy) and Kevin Grahovec (Marmion).
Marmion has had a stranglehold on SCC boys titles over the years, but the gap could be closing. Either way, these races should be entertaining.