37th Annual IHSA Girls Cross Country State Championship Preview

Maryjeanne Gilbert (Sr., Peoria Notre Dame) started her season slow but now is ready to roll (Colin Boyle photo)

2A Girls-

preview by Tony Jones ( twitter: @ilptt / email: tjones@milesplit.com)

Power rankings : Saucony IL Flo 50 2A Rankings

The qualifying teams : #1 Yorkville, #2 Dunlap, #3 Vernon Hills, #4 Rochester, #5 Crystal Lake Central, #6 Belvidere North, #7 Lemont, #8 Washington, #9 Lombard (Montini Catholic), #10 Chicago (Marist), #11 Chatham-Glenwood, #12 Grayslake Central, #13 Aurora (Rosary), #16 Peoria (Notre Dame), #18 Morton, #19 Mahomet-Seymour, #20 Decatur (St. Teresa), Chicago (Latin), Chicago Mather, Chicago Payton, Chicago (University), Deerfield, Highland, Maple Park (Kaneland), Springfield

Opening remarks: This year more than other years seems to be a divide between the four-time defending state champions Yorkville and everyone else. Even #2 Dunlap seems like no match for the Foxes. But the Eagles seem like a shoe in for state runner-ups against the prevailing field. But as they always say: "championships are not won on paper." The state meet at Detweiller always bring out the best in everyone. It will be another great day of action in 2A when it's all said and done.

It could a be 1-2 knock out punch on the competition by the Lady Foxes (Colin Boyle photo)

Yorkville-

Head Coach: Chris Muth

2014 state finish: State Champion

Pre-season rank: #1

Final regular season rank: #1

Probable starting line-up (sectional performances):

Alexis Grandys (Jr.)

1

18:00

Nicole Greyer (Fr.)

2

18:03

Maddie Dearborn (Jr.)

3

18:22

Alyssa Edwards (So.)

4

18:28

Summer Pierson (Sr.)

7

18:43

Maggie Klemm (So.)

8

18:43

Olivia Borowiak (Fr.)

18

19:27

Outlook: The Foxes will shoot for their fifth consecutive state title and there really isn't much that anyone can do about it either. This team seemed to gain more power and strength even when leader and star Skyler Bollinger bolted for the sunny climes of southern California. Alexis Grandys, Summer Pierson and company have competed well this season beating virtually everyone in their path including 3A stronghold Naperville North. The supporting cast is good too with an influx of freshmen and sophomores to add depth. And the dominance will continue into 2016 with only Pierson graduating. But on Saturday look for Yorkville to shoot for the all-time record of 41 points set by 1A Decatur St. Teresa. Coach Muth will go down as a legendary figure for sure.

Dunlap-

Head Coach: Chris Friedman

2014 state finish : 3rd

Pre-season rank: #3

Final regular season rank: #2

Probable starting line-up (sectional performances) :

Franny Verville (So.)

2

18:11

Abby Johnson (Fr.)

4

18:20

Ayah Aldadah (So.)

8

18:30

Miranda Kruiswyk (So.)

15

18:55

MeMe Shanahan (Fr.)

16

18:56

Riley Baker (So.)

18

18:58

Andrea Copeland (So.)

25

19:16

Outlook: So far the Eagles have lived up to their pre-season billing and the projections of the young guns did not disappoint. Franny Verville, Abby Johnson, and MeMe Shananhan were all middle-school standouts. They are making good at the high school level now. The team ran a 45 second scoring split at sectionals- this is particular good for a team that has a tough front runner in Verville. If they can duplicate another steady performance they will go home with a trophy, make a silver one instead of bronze.

Vernon Hills-

Head Coach: Suzanne Curry

2014 state finish: 8th

Pre-season rank: #10

Final regular season rank: #3

Probable starting line-up :

Vivian Overbeck (Sr.)

1

17:50

Lauren Katz (So.)

2

18:15

Payton Makowskyj (Fr.)

3

19:04

Shannon Skeoch (Sr.)

4

19:11

Hannah Ray (Fr.)

5

19:35

Ryan Schofield (Fr.)

6

19:45

Katelyn Dohler (Fr.)

7

21:17

Outlook: Viv Overbeck has done a great job in her senior season placing in the top three in virtually every race and producing a personal best 17:18. The composition of the state team is made up of freshmen and they have been real tough as four of them competed in sectionals led by Payton Makowskyj. Sophomore Lauren Katz has held down the second spot all season long breaking 18:00. Vernon Hills finished just four points behind Dunlap at the First To The Finish Invite in early September. That is a race they could have won. As the season has progressed, the youth have held up well and hopefully for them they can ride home with a trophy on Saturday.

Rochester-

Head Coach: Bill Owens

2014 state finish: 6th (Class 1A)

Pre-season rank: None

Final regular season rank: #4

Probable starting line-up :

Katherine Petty (Fr.)

1

17:31

Madeline Campbell (Jr.)

5

18:13

Ellie Tjelmeland (Sr.)

7

18:24

McKenzie Swope (Fr.)

22

18:57

Kennedy Duffy (Sr.)

31

19:22

Meagan McNicholas (Sr.)

43

19:44

Abby Reichen (Sr.)

49

20:02

Outlook: The Rockets moved up from 1A a year where they were OK but not great in finishing sixth in the state meet. This year, though, things have been vastly different. Two freshmen are among the top five led by state championship candidate Katherine Petty. Petty has been on point winning several contests. Although Rochester finished second in the sectional, that could be more of a hick up. Perhaps on the mind of the girls is the third place finish at the FTTF Invite behind Dunlap and Vernon Hills. Expect this team to reach down deeper in the fight for a team trophy.

Crystal Lake Central-

Head Coach: Brett Willhoit

2014 state finish: 7th

Pre-season rank: #7

Final regular season rank: #5

Probable starting line-up:

Janine Orvis (Jr.)

1

18:35

Katelyn Smith (So.)

2

18:55

Avani Flanagan (Jr.)

3

19:28

Kelly Doerr (Jr.)

4

19:29

Maddie Hollander (So.)

5

19:55

Rebecca Orvis (Fr.)

6

20:04

Debra Tomlinson (Jr.)

7

20:07

Outlook: Consistency has been the name of the game for the Tigers over the past few seasons as well as this year. The team's 1:20 scoring split at state could be alarming in most cases but it's a little overrated here. The reason being is Janine Orvis and Katelyn Smith are the front runners. Front runners sometimes tend to skew the scoring split. If the do their normal job and the #5 finish in reasonably good shape, things will be fine for the Tigers.

Belvidere North-

Head Coach: John Paddock

2014 state finish: 5th

Pre-season rank : #5

Final regular season rank : #6

Probable starting line-up (sectional performances in order) :

Jenna Lutzow (Jr.)

1

17:46

Sabrina Elder (So.)

2

18:55

Mia Rodriguez (So.)

3

19:06

Remy Bice (Fr.)

4

19:10

Stephanie Robles (Sr.)

5

19:32

Brinley Hefty (Fr.)

6

19:47

Chelsey Recendez (Fr.)

7

20:33

Outlook: Last year the Blue Thunder was in line for a trophy but ended up finishing fifth. Apparently the emerging team wasn't ready for what Yorkville and a few others had in store for them. Jenna Lutzow is one of the classifications best performers who placed third last year, but her teammates were too far back to help out. This weekend could be the same effect in terms of placement due to scoring pack being well back. The other top teams seemed to have gotten better, much better since last year too. Lutzow will need to continue her consistent running and the supporting cast better reach deep down if they want to get inside of the top five.

Lemont-

Head Coach: Tim Plotke

2014 state finish : 4th

Pre-season rank : #2

Final regular season rank : #7

Probable starting line-up (sectional performances) :

Bridget Kunkel (Jr.)

10

18:54

Taylor Campos (Sr.)

13

19:09

Gabby Voltarel (Sr.)

15

19:16

Beata Drozda (So.)

31

19:58

Celine Ratulowski (So.)

36

20:05

Claire Gagen (Sr.)

38

20:15

Jaycee Shickel (So.)

48

20:33

Outlook: Third at the Wheaton Academy Sectional behind Yorkville and Montini. Lemont has done reasonably well this season with a best performance of fifth at the FTTF. Taylor Campos has been the team's top runner although Bridget Kunkel outperformed her at sectionals. The key for the Indians is getting the pack down further in the race and running fiercely. This is a team that was preseason ranked #2 but yet has shown that type of performance.

Washington-

Head Coach: Troy Walcott

2014 state finish: 18th

Pre-season rank : #13

Final regular season rank : #8

Probable starting line-up (sectional performances) :

Kassidy Dexheimer (Jr.)

12

18:39

Josephine Hermann (So.)

13

18:54

Taylor Widder (So.)

20

19:08

Kara Jacobs (So.)

21

19:09

Claire Myers (So.)

33

19:29

Hailey Tranchitella (Jr.)

37

19:37

Victoria McDougall (Fr.)

47

20:00

Outlook: It's hard to believe this is a team that is still relatively young. The Panthers ran four sophs at sectionals and they have no seniors in their lineup. Hailey Tranchitella and Kassidy Dexheimer are the veterans. The team has bonded in running under 50 seconds for the scoring split.

Lombard (Montini Catholic)-

Head Coach: Pete Connelly

2014 state finish: 15th

Pre-season rank : #8

Final regular season rank : #9

Probable starting line-up (sectional performances) :

Gianna Salzbrunn (Sr.)

6

18:38

Emma Makowski (Sr.)

11

18:54

Lauren Denemark (Sr.)

12

18:59

Mary O'Brien (Jr.)

24

19:41

Lea Ritchie (So.)

44

20:25

Akayna Calkins (Sr.)

46

20:29

Jenna Weidacher (Jr.)

54

20:53

Outlook: Finishing second to Yorkville at sectionals is a good thing for a veteran squad. Gianna Salzbrunn is a returning all-stater and the hope is to drag a few of her teammates with her. The

Chicago (Marist)-

Head Coach : Patrick Quinn

2014 state finish: Did not run in 3A

Pre-season rank: None

Final regular season rank : #10

Probable starting line-up :

Maryclare Leonard (Jr.)

9

18:52

Jill Borza (Fr.)

14

19:15

Bridget McDermott (Sr.)

33

20:00

Catherine Viz (Sr.)

37

20:07

Carlin McNulty (Jr.)

42

20:22

Nora Doyle (So.)

43

20:23

Colleen Murphy (Fr.)

47

20:30

Outlook: Dropping down to 2A was actually a plus for Marist who would have trouble competing this year in 3A. Maryclare Leonard seems to have lost some steam since finishing 10th in the 3A championship last year. But let's give some credit to a team that ran reasonably well at sectionals in grabbing the final spot. 30 seconds between 3-7 is good. Now let's shoot for moving the pack up the ladder a bit on Saturday.

Chatham-Glenwood-

Head Coach : Mike Garber

2014 state finish : 16th

Pre-season rank : #12

Final regular season rank : #11

Probable starting line-up :

Savannah Duncan (Fr.)

4

18:09

Katie Curry (Fr.)

6

18:17

Cassady Garner (Sr.)

15

18:41

Ali Wynn (Fr.)

17

18:43

Rachel Edmiston (Sr.)

18

18:44

Kerraline Wurl (Sr.)

19

18:47

Toby Giganti (So.)

33

19:26

Outlook: Here is a team with one of the best packs in the state and that should pay off for the Titans who upset Rochester in winning the Decatur MacArthur Sectional. This is a vastly different team than the one that finished 23rd in the single class Peoria Notre Dame Invite. Savannah Duncan did not have a few of her mates then. Katie Curry was not in the varsity race. It could be a very good day for Chatham if they can close well.

Additional teams to watch: #12 Grayslake Central- 4th at the Woodstock North Sectional. A 50 second split was started by Megan Girmscheid's 20th place finish; #13 Aurora (Rosary)- copped the fourth berth behind Madison Ronzone's fifth place; #16 Peoria (Notre Dame)- A much improved team aside from the #1 runner Maryjeanne Gilbert. This team could surprise and finish inside the top 10. Grace Breitbach leads the group behind Gilbert; #18 Morton- Here is a team that did not garner much thought in the interim. They are rolling now; #19 Mahomet-Seymour- led by Lauren Whitehouse, this is a team that is ready for something big. MS missed the state meet last year; #20 Decatur (St. Teresa)- It is great to see the Bulldogs pull together and make the jump to Class 2A field in midstream.


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