37th Annual IHSA Girls Cross Country State Championship Preview

Caitlin Shepard (Sr., Lake Zurich) will be among of several surprises, delights, and intrigue that is the state championship

3A Girls-

The qualifying teams: #1 Naperville North, #2 Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West), #3 Minooka, #4 Batavia, #5 Wheaton-Warrenville South, #6 Winnetka (New Trier), #7 Lake Forest, #8 LaGrange (Lyons Township), #10 Barrington, #11 Hinsdale Central, #12 Geneva, #13 Lockport, #14 Park Ridge (Maine South), #15 Palatine, #16 Naperville (Neuqua Valley), #17 Aurora (Metea Valley), #19 Oswego, #21 Elmhurst (York), #22 Lisle (Benet Academy), #23 Fox Lake (Grant), #24 Edwardsville, #25 Downers Grove South, New Lenox (Lincoln-Way Central), Frankfort (Lincoln-Way East), O'Fallon, Lincolnshire (Stevenson)

An amazing 22 of the 25 Saucony IL Flo 50 teams made it through and on to state. Although this state championship will be defined what top seeded Naperville North is going to do, in no way will every aspect be focused in on the Huskies. The fight for the three team trophies is going to be very fierce.

Naperville North

Head Coach: Dan Iverson

2014 state meet finish: State Champions

Pre-season rank: #1

Final regular season rank: #1

Probable starting line-up :

Judy Pendergast (Sr.) 1 16:50
Sarah Schmitt (So.) 3 17:37
Emory Griffin (Sr.) 7 17:55
Kate Shannon (Sr.) 13 18:09
Claire Hamilton (Jr.) 16 18:19
Kayla Glowacki (Jr.) 17 18:21
Claire Hill (Fr.) 32 18:50

-The defending state champions is the team to beat. Make no mistake about it. But let's also get this clear: they are not taking things for granted. Last year it was supposed to Glenbard West defending but they fell short. Legendary coach Dan Iverson has often lived by the narrative "we certainly respect all teams and their and there are great ones, but I like our chances too." It helps when you have the #1 girl in Illinois in Judy Pendergast and a cast of rock solid teammates who can close out races. In the team's only blemish at the FTTF was a third place finish (albeit a bit short handed), Iverson was visibly upset that his girls did not execute a full three race. He got their attention and it's been smooth sailing ever since.

Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West)

Head Coach: Paul Hass

2014 state meet finish: 3rd

Pre-season rank: #5

Final regular season rank: #2

Probable starting line-up :

Lindsey Payne (So.) 1 16:58
Grace Rogers (Sr.) 7 17:57
Katie Hohe (Fr.) 22 18:29
Kathryn Kenwood (Sr.) 27 18:35
Janie Nabholz (Jr.) 32 18:38
Abigail Shaver (Sr.) 36 18:43
Claire Kenwood (So.) 43 18:55

The Hilltoppers have sailed along without senior Lindsay Graham. Lindsey Payne picked up the slack and roared in every single race losing only once to #1 Judy Pendergast of Naperville North. However, at the Lake Park Sectional it was third place finish behind New Trier and Wheaton-Warrenville South. This is not a big deal because they are a great team and the horrid conditions at Detweiller may have played a part in the performances. What was concerning is the usual #2 runner Kathryn Kenwood finished 4th for the team. She will need to get back in her usual spot and the pack will need to go into pitbull mode against the other top tier teams if they desire leaving Detweiller with a trophy.

Head Coach: Kevin Gummerson

2014 state meet finish: 8th

Pre-season rank: #4

Final regular season rank : #3

Probable starting line-up :

Ashley Tutt (Jr.) 1 17:20
Emily Shelton (So.) 2 17:28
Mackenzie Callahan (Jr.) 3 17:59
Vivian Van Eck (Fr.) 6 18:23
Morgan Crouch (Sr.) 8 18:40
Emily Ellis (So.) 25 19:23
Katelyn Gall (Fr.) 28 19:25

The Indians have the best trio by far in the state with Ashley Tutt, Emily Shelton, and Mackenzie Callahan. They could be the first group of girls to all go under 17:00. That will give them a decisive advantage until the team's #4 and #5 runners come in. They have allowed a truck to drive a wedge through them and pack teams like New Trier, WWS, Batavia, and few others will beat them if it isn't fixed.

Batavia

Head Coach: Chad Hillman

2014 state meet finish: 11th

Pre-season rank: #15

Final regular season rank: #10

Probable starting line-up :

Emma Stephens (So.) 4 17:41
Daphne Kolody (So.) 14 18:11
Dakota Roman (Sr.) 15 18:16
Marygrace Golden (So.) 19 18:23
Anna Malay (So.) 28 18:40
Maia Haworth (Jr.) 35 18:53
Alexa Andrews (Fr.) 51 19:14

About five years ago this program was emerging along then poof! A rash of injuries put an end to that. Now after placing 11th last year with another youthful group things are on track. Emma Stephens leads a pack of sophomores who are aiming for big things. The second place finish at West Aurora was real not a fluke. The Bulldogs will be even better in 2016 but for now watch them fight for a top 5 spot on Saturday. Let's watch closely to see if the pack can close out well.


Wheaton-Warrenville South

Head Coach: Rob Harvey

2014 state meet finish: 9th

Pre-season rank: #6

Final regular season rank: #5

Probable starting line-up :

Sara Atkins (Jr.) 2 16:58
Allison McGrath (Jr.) 5 17:54
Emma Schroer (Sr.) 16 18:25
Mary Erdman (Sr.) 18 18:26
Kendall Laveen (Sr.) 34 18:43
Laurel Moneysmith (Fr.) 38 18:45
Kendall Reid (So.) 71 19:30

Like Batavia a few years ago the Tigers were a fledging and young team. Coach Rob Harvey is cautious in running young guns right away. Not look at his team. Sara Atkins, Allison McGrath, and more are juniors and seniors. It is rare to see a veteran team intact but good coaching does that. And obviously the Dan Iverson effect has rubbed off on Harvey. Atkins ran extremely well at sectionals in the slop as did her teammates. One more race will allow the girls to obtain the goal of a trophy.

Winnetka (New Trier)

Head Coach: John Burnside

2014 state meet finish: 7th

Pre-season rank: #3

Final regular season rank: #6

Probable starting line-up:

Grace Fagan (Jr.) 6 17:54
Caroline Fix (Jr.) 9 18:10
Caroline Trukenbrod (Fr.) 10 18:13
Kelli Schmidt (Sr.) 12 18:16
Oona Jung-Beeman (Sr.) 13 18:19
Molly Schmidt (Jr.) 15 18:22
Savannah Noethlich (So.) 51 19:07

Grace Fagan said at sectionals that running in somewhat anonymity hasn't been a big deal. "We have actually grown closer together knowing we don't have any superstars." Coach John Burnside echoed those sentiments: "We don't have Mimi Smith or the Ackerman sisters (Courtney or Jessica) to lean on anymore." But the Trevians are an incredibly stout team 1-6. If they are as linked on Saturday they are going to come home with a trophy.

Lake Forest

Head Coach: Steve Clegg

2014 state meet finish: 4th- 2A

Pre-season rank: none

Final regular season rank: #7

Probable starting line-up :

Brett Chody (So.) 5 18:12
Lauren Garriques (Fr.) 6 18:13
Katie Condon (Sr.) 16 18:41
Emma Milburn (So.) 20 18:48
Courtney Schmidt (Fr.) 32 19:26
Callie Schmidt (Sr.) 66 20:10
Kelsey Schmidt (Sr.) 83 20:33

The Scouts took mostly everyone by storm when they moved up to 3A. They performed well in 2A but that is not a guarantee of any success in the next classification. But in looking back they were a preseason top 15 team. The success of the team has been interchangeable parts like Brett Chody. She was top runner ahead of Emma Milburn and Katie Condon at sectionals. Winning the Schaumburg Sectional ahead of Barrington and Palatine was a big deal. The Let's see if they can do it again on Saturday.

LaGrange (Lyons Township)

Head Coach: Stetson Steele

2014 state meet finish: Did not compete

Pre-season rank : #25

Final regular season rank : #8

Probable starting line-up :

Sarah Barcelona (Fr.) 3 18:21
Vanessa Flaherty (Sr.) 7 18:25
Emily Henkel (Fr.) 16 18:45
Hannah Dutler (Sr.) 23 18:54
Natalie Jaramillo (Sr.) 35 19:23
Megan Ng (Jr.) 52 20:06
Diana Kafkes (Sr.) 65 20:31

The Lady Lions have come a long way since placing 8th in the Marist Sectional. They took a step further moving from #25 in the pre-season rankings up to #8 in the final poll. Coach Stetson Steele worked hard in getting his program to its liking. Vanessa Flaherty has been a long stay and surely is glad in returning with teammates. She placed 75th last year. 1-4 Lyons has been real tough. The team's best performance was at the Palatine Invite in which they finished second to Yorkville. They spawned a 49 second scoring split there. That kind of performance will put tremendous pressure on their foes Saturday afternoon.


Barrington

Head Coach: Deb Revolta

2014 state meet finish: DNC

Pre-season rank: #12

Final regular season rank : #10

Probable starting line-up :

Jocelyn Long (So.) 3 18:04
Sophie Hoeltgen (Fr.) 14 18:34
Lauren Conroy (Sr.) 24 19:04
Eve Hoeltgen (Fr.) 29 19:23
Samantha Samaryczew (Jr.) 31 19:24
Arushi Agarwal (Sr.) 51 19:52
Caitlin Feely (So.) 62 20:07

Jocelyn Long is the truth. Her potential in running is limitless and a front running low score will help the Fillies out well. Lauren Conroy is the one who must bounce back after a so so sectional performance. Barrington may be a year away from being a title contender but scoring a top 10 finish will make the trip back to the northwestern suburbs a smooth ride.

The other key teams: #11 Hinsdale Central- dangerous team now that Anne Zaher is back. Reilly Revold is also running well and her running mate Grace McCabe; #12 Geneva- Mckenzie Altmayer is one of the top runners in the state and that should benefit the Vikings. Coach Bob Thomson likes his team's changes; #13 Lockport- Will we see another performance where the Porters exceed expectations. Morgan Bollinger needs to have a lights out performance; #14 Park Ridge (Maine South)- many thought the Hawks would see the Detweiller course. They were wrong; #15 Palatine- Don't think for a minute that the Lady Pirates are going to settle for 15th. The program has too much pride for that. There are concerns though after Kelly O'Brien; #16 Naperville (Neuqua Valley)- Caitlyn Horn the team's top runner went down and the team qualified by a, #17 Aurora (Metea Valley)- advanced to state on a tie with Oswego. It can't get any closer than that can it?, #19 Oswego- The dream season continues , #21 Elmhurst (York)- The Lady Dukes got the final berth out of Lake Park. Their scoring split then was horrendous. They got to improve that; #22 Lisle (Benet Academy)- Coach Scott Brooks got his team back in the mix after being AWOL for several years; #23 Fox Lake (Grant)- The program's first trip to state will be a great experience; #24 Edwardsville- just got in from the south. The Tigers will run better on Saturday, #25 Downers Grove South- A top 15 finish for the Mustangs would do them justice.


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