Top Class AAA cross-country programs


Here’s this year’s update of the program rankings.

The rankings work like this:

  • Rankings based entirely on place at the state meet
  • The last 10 years are considered
  • Champion earns 5 points, runner-up 4, third place 3. Rest of the top 10 earns 2 points and all other qualifiers earn 1.
  • Points are then weighted. x4 for the most recent year, x3 for the 2 years before that, x2 for the three years before that, x1 for the four years before that.

A team that wins all 10 state championships scores 100 points. A team that qualifies every year but never cracks the top 10 scores 20 points.


York 86
Neuqua Valley 56
Naperville North 45
Palatine 45
Lyons 33
St. Charles North 32
Sandburg 27
Prospect 24
Edwardsville 23
Loyola 23


Palatine 60
Naperville North 50
Hinsdale Central 42
Geneva 41
Lyons 34
Sandburg 32
W W South 32
York 32
Barrington 30
Schaumburg 30

Boys plus girls:

York 118
Palatine 105
Naperville North 95
Neuqua Valley 69
Lyons 67
Geneva 63
Sandburg 59
Hinsdale Central 49
Propspect 48
Schaumburg 48

Biggest change from last year that I see is that the top of the girls’ board has changed. Palatine’s two trophies have now pushed them ahead of Naperville North.

Suggestions on how this can be improved would be entertained.


While this is a really good idea and a good way of calculating, I don’t think you can factor in bad races at Sectionals. For example, Prospect usually has a good team, but one guy had a bad race at Sectionals and so the team didn’t make it. I’m not sure how much that’d affect their overall score, but just an example.


You could say that but an argument can be made that part of being one of the better programs is preparing yourself to succeed when it matters.


Seems like a good way of measuring. Though If I had one criticism, it would be that I think there’s too much of a difference between a top 5 finish and a top 10 finish to score 4-10 equally.

Though it would be much worse to have the opposite extreme where the champion gets 10 points, and it goes down in increments of one every subsequent place after. Then that would be giving too much for the champion team (and especially a recent one, since it’ll get a x4 multiplier), when the best program isn’t about who was the champion most often at the most recent times (that can always be done by having a generally good pool of talent all in a high school at the same time), but which teams are most reliably and consistently doing what they need to do to go to state and perform well there, no matter what depth/talent they have at a given year.

That said, I think it would be most fair to give the champion 6, second 5, third 4, fourth and fifth 3, 2 for the rest of top 10, and 1 for every other state finisher.

If that’s too many points for first place, then have everything done the same except 4 and 5 get the same points as third (but that may be not doing justice to a third place finish).

How it is though is just fine. I’m just offering ways that it might be better.


This would be a reasonable improvement, and I think the 4x/3x/2x multiplier does weight recent years too much - maybe 2, 1.5, 1.25? But I think the danger of using points by position is that it ignores the quality of the finish or the depth of the field. For example, in the 2008, the top 4 teams dominated the field. 5th place (LT?) was way back. Should 5th get almost as many or the same points as 4th in this case? Or should a team placing 50 points behind the team in front of them gets the same points as they would finishing only one point behind?

Regardless, the analysis will show that York, Neuqua, Naper North and Palatine have been the most successful boys porgrams over the past decade. That’s the target for everyone else to shoot at.


Points for each boys’ sectional:

Schaumburg 185
Niles West 182
St. Charles 170
Lockport 153
Normal 99

Top 5 boys regionals:

Lake Park 101 (86 of that is York)
Wheeling 92
Naperville North 82
Bolingbrook 68
Hoffman Estates 55

Bottom 5 boys regionals:

Bloom 0 (meaning none of the teams in the regional have qualified for state since at least 2000)
Oak Lawn 0
Whitney Young 4
Rockford 11
Lake Forest 16

Best 2nd best program in a regional: O’Fallon, with 22 points to Edwardsville’s 23
Best 3rd place program in a regional: Hersey, with 15 points, behind Palatine (45) and Barrington (16). Cary Grove (10 points) is also in that regional and is the only 4th place team with 10 or more points

Points for each Girls Sectional:

Schaumburg 205
St. Charles 204
Lockport 180
Niles West 120
Normal 94

Top 5 girls’ regionals:

Wheeling 127
Naperville North 125
Lyons 93
Lake Park 63
Hoffman Estates 63

Bottom 5 girls’ regionals:

Bloom 0
Libertyville 2
Rockford 4
Oak Park 5
Oak Lawn 6

Best second place program in a regional: Lyons, with 34 points to Hinsdale Central’s 42. Special mention to Wheaton-Warrenville South (32 to Naperville North’s 50) and Barrington (30 to Palatine’s 60)… 6 of the top 10 programs in the state are in these three regionals.
Best third place program in regional: tie at 15 between Wheaton North (Naperville North) and Downers North (Lyons)
The only fourth best program with 10 or more points is Benet, with 14, behind Naperville North and the two Wheatons.

Boys plus Girls sectional points:

Schaumburg 390
St. Charles 374
Lockport 333
Niles West 299
Normal 193

Chew on this for a while. Is there a way to draw the lines to better even this up?


I am having WAY too much fun with my spreadsheets.

According to the IHSA there are 174 schools in class AAA for cross-country.

Over the past ten years:
62 of them have qualified a boys’ team for State
63 of them have qualified a girls’ team for State

In a normal year, under the current rules, there are 41 points up for grabs under this ranking system. Multiply by the weightings, and that gives you a total of 820 points available over 10 years. The numbers don’t add up, because of ties for the last qualifying place and changes in the rules (30 teams qualified in AA through 2006, only 20 in 2007, teams moving from AAA to AA, etc.) but the numbers aren’t far off.

If you figure that there are some AAA schools that don’t enter a team in the state series, you get approximately 820/164 or approximately 5 points being the AVERAGE per school. 5 points places you 37th on the boys’ list and in a tie for 40th through 42nd on the girls’ list. The MEDIAN school (half better, half worse) scores no points, because fewer than half the schools have qualified for State in the past ten years.

So let’s develop some classifications, shall we:

Elite programs (4 points per year- equal to a top ten finish every year):

Boys: York, Neuqua Valley, Naperville North, Palatine.
Girls: Palatine, Naperville North, Hinsdale Central, Geneva.

Distinguished programs (2 to just under 4 points per year- equal to qualifying every year):

Boys: Lyons, St. Charles North, Sandburg, Prospect, Edwardsville, Loyola, Geneva, Lake Zurich, O’Fallon, New Trier.
Girls: Lyons, Sandburg, Wheaton Warrenville South, York, Barrington, Schaumburg, Lockport, Prospect, Lake Park.

Competitive programs (1 to just under 2 points per year- equal to qualifying every other year):

Boys: Wheaton North, Schaumburg, Waubonsie Valley, OPRF, Barrington, Hersey, Downers Grove North, Lincoln-Way East, Cary-Grove, Minooka, Moline, Stevenson, Wheaton Warrenville South.
Girls: St. Charles East, New Trier, Lincoln-Way East, O’Fallon, Downers Grove North, Wheaton North, Benet, Loyola, Hersey, Neuqua Valley, Minooka, Normal West, Normal.

All sorts of argument starters here, don’t you think…


Here’s an update of the AAA program rankings (top 10 plus ties) after yesterday’s State Final:


York 78
Neuqua Valley 59
Palatine 57
Naperville North 43
O’Fallon 34
St. Charles North 34
Lyons 31
Sandburg 29
Prospect 28
Loyola 24


Palatine 57
Naperville North 49
W W South 41
Hinsdale Central 35
New Trier 35
Barrington 34
Geneva 34
Lyons 33
York 32
Lockport 26
Prospect 26
Sandburg 26
Schaumburg 26

Boys plus Girls (top 15):

Palatine 114
York 110
Naperville North 92
Neuqua Valley 74
Lyons 64
New Trier 57
Sandburg 55
Prospect 54
W W South 53
Barrington 52
O’Fallon 50
Geneva 48
Hinsdale Central 44
St. Charles North 44
Schaumburg 41

The big change, obviously, is that there’s a new name atop the “his plus hers” list.


Good stuff. Don’t know if this throws you off but in Boy’s AAA XC, only 138 registered teams and I think there were 4 or 5 no shows. Probably won’t affect your top rankings.