Top 5 boys cross country teams

1. York
Described as "real quiet" by legendary coach Joe Newton, senior Mike Fry made himself known last season by finishing 15th at the state meet to help the Dukes win a record 25th title. He returns with junior Tom Achtein (17th) and senior Nick Kuczwara (26th). Tim Jung, who nursed a sore Achilles' tendon at the state meet, also is back.

2. Sandburg
Two years ago, York's Newton likes to point out, Sandburg beat his Dukes in a sophomore race. Now Justin Smith (19th), Brad LaRocque (41st) and Kevin Adamowski (49th) are seniors and the Eagles, eighth at state last season, are deep. "We have a pretty tight pack," coach John O'Malley said. A showdown with York looms in the Sept. 23 Palatine Invitational.

3. Palatine
State champ Steve Finley is gone (to run for Virginia), but the Pirates return four from their 2005 state runner-up team. Coach Chris Quick describes junior Mat Smoody (24th) as "ultratalented." Smoody has improved by more than three minutes since his freshman year. Also returning are Sagar Patel, Kevin O'Brien and Alex Mourousias.

4. Naperville North
Junior Dan Harper finished 106th in last year's state meet but has impressed coach Dave Racey, who said "he may be our No. 1." John Salick and Kyle Sleik return, as does sophomore Kyle Gibson. Gibson ran the 3,200 in 9:50 as a freshman. Junior John Newman is pushing for a spot.

5. Glenbard South
For the first time in years, the Raiders won't have a MacTaggart in their lineup (junior Eric and freshman Bruce are at Iowa). But the only school to deny York a Class AA state title since 1999 (in 2001) has a solid core in Dan Kuhlman, Tim Honig and John Navarro. Navarro was 92nd at state last season but is a solid miler (4:30) and 2-miler (9:36).

On the verge: Wheaton North, Schaumburg, Lincoln-Way East, Cary-Grove, Benet.