The pre-season moment of truth is finally here and the field has been set. #1 Belvidere North will be the team that all will be chasing. The Blue Thunder have a ton of talent and will be as good as their state championship from 2016.
Head Coach/coaches: Chris Friedman/Steve Carter, Amanda Young, Andrew Hanselman
Last year's finish: State Champions
Projected top 7: Johnson, Priess, Sierra Cenek, Abby Banister, Sophie Roberts, Natalie Morris, Jordan Serrahn
Newcomers: Paige Acklie leads another good freshman class (she might get into our top 7 by the end of the year)
Coach's thoughts on the team: Last year was a special year! It is wonderful to watch a group decide on a goal, focus on that goal, work towards that goal, and then achieve that goal. The graduation of seniors like Franny Verville, Ayah Aldadah, Kate Piper, and Andrea Copeland means not only replacing top-notch runners but also leaders. With Campbell Petersen (Naperville North) and Delicia Chen (IMSA) transferring, we will have to rely on the depth that I have bragged about over the past few years. Abby Johnson is a 3-time all-stater and Macy Priess has the talent to join her in the top 25. After them, we have a lot of girls with various regional, sectional, and state experience. We will need to run a strong pack behind our top two to continue our streak of top 10 team finishes at state (5 years now, with three state trophies).
Tony's thoughts: It was hard putting a distance powerhouse in the 10th spot.
Head Coach/coaches: Mike Garber/Caleb Cox
Last year's finish: State- 15th place
Key returners: Reagan Weichold (So), Kiersten Patzia (So), Abby Teaman (So), Georgia VonLehmden (Sr), Jade Anderson (JR), Taylor Shamhart (So), Maggie Toepfer (Sr)
Projected top 7: Patzia, Weichold, Teaman, VonLehmden, Anderson, Shamhart, Gibson
Newcomers: Nia Gibson, Emma Leahy, Alexis Mahr, Parker Doggett
Coach's thoughts on the team: This is a team that will be looking for a leader in 2018. We should have a pack of three girls up front with others looking to round out the Top 7. I have a good feeling about this squad. Some will look at it as inexperienced, but I think the younger runners on the team are fired up about our possibilities throughout the season. Our underclassmen had great track seasons in the Spring. They moved up and were setting team records for their grade level. The upperclassmen learned about leadership and how to keep a team having fun. Both driving to be better and enjoying the team family are important to our girls. We have a great balance between the two. We are looking to get better every race this season. Pack running will be important for us to achieve the goals we have set for the season. We are excited to get started training!
Head Coach: Dan Devlin
Last year's finish: State- 13th place
Key returners: Varsha Iyer (Jr), Ella Kurmann (Jr), Ruth Edwards (Sr), Shay Doty (Jr), Lucy Souva (So), Abigail Norris (Sr)
Tony's thoughts: Six of the seven return after the graduated Gabby Wood. The key is for the existing staters to produce a low stick. Unfortunately, at the present time, there is not one among the team. But a strong scoring split is a reality.
Head Coach/coaches: Doug Ecker/Andy Franklin
Last year's finish: State- 8th Place
Key returners: Rachel Richtman (Jr), Grace Purcell (Sr), Olivia Franklin (So), Tessa Brennan (Sr), MacKenzie Egert (So), Aubrey Broz (So)
Newcomers: Caroline Nosek (Fr), Emma Ball, Erin Ball (Sr)
Coach's thoughts on Season: We had a good turn out for summer running, all appear to be healthy, and have seen improvement in conditioning from many of the girls. We just need to translate that into racing come October. We should have good numbers out this year and depth for a 2A school. The girls look to be solid at runners 1-3 and the opportunity to show improvement at positions 4-7 over last year. The Girls should be competitive at Invitationals and at the 2A level in the state series. If the sectionals remain the same as last year in 2A, the KHS Girls will need to improve as a team from last year to make it to the state meet.
Head Coach/coaches: Forrest Farokhi/Zachery Boehmke, Kate McCormick
Last year's finish: State- 7th
Key returners: Olivia Rosenstein (Jr), Chian Scott (Jr.), Ashley Gilbert (So), Phoebe Gerstenecker (So), Megan Puluska (So.), Mattie Janczewski (So.), Molly Sweeney (Jr.), Sofie Skottene (So), Rebecca Owen (Sr.), Azure Rubel (So.)
Projected top 7: Rosenstein, Scott, Gilbert, Gerstenecker, Puluska, Janczewski, Skottene
Newcomers: Celia Barbieri (Fr), Emma Fristoe (So.), Lanie Scott (Fr.), Macy Wirtz (Fr.), Jael Lugano (Jr.), Sriya Ekkirala (Jr.)
Coach's thoughts on the team: Our success this year will depend on the continued growth and commitment from our girls. As expected, our approach to the season will be one that is aimed at gradual improvement, which we accomplish by establishing a positive day to day experiences and a love for the little things that add to the process of their growth. Our 5th overall All-State finisher, Olivia Rosenstein, has been plagued with shin issues over the last several seasons (track/xc) despite a very conservative approach to training. However, her commitment to leading her team has grown stronger because of it. Her success this season will rely on patience and strength in her journey through recovery. Chian Scott will also be a strong leader for us this season, as she came off an All-State finish last season and has continued to train in the off-season. Our 3-7 spots, as mentioned above, have been filled by girls who are committed to training and are eager to improve. We've got other athletes who may vie for these positions, but at this stage, we are just enjoying our build into the first race of the season.
Head Coach/coaches: Larry Huffman
Last year's finish: State- 11th place
Key returners: Jenna Schwartz (Sr), Rachel Patterson, Ella King, Sydney Haddick, Lauren Cooper, Colleen Sliment, Emma Rick
Projected top 7: Same as above plus possibly newcomer freshman Joely Goulding
Newcomers: Joely Goulding
Coach's thoughts on the team: This years team has been working hard this summer. Jenna has been putting in the miles and has some high goals for herself this cross country season. I think Rachel Patterson and Ella King will be close to the sub 18 barrier this season also. Our young 4-7 squad is going to be our most important part of the team. What they do this season will prove if we are a top 5 team this year.
Head Coach: Evan Thorpe
Last year's finish: State- 6th place
Key returners: Nicquelette Fazekes (Jr), Paige Stees (So), Taylor Renkes (Jr), Jade Miller (So), Taylor Hills (So), Grace Johnson (So)
Tony's thoughts: We are looking at a team that will fight for a top 3-5 spot at the state championship if somehow they can maintain a low scoring split as well as somoeone stepping up in the #1 position.
Head Coach/coaches: Keith West, Travis Shepherd, Dan Jazo
Last year's finish: State- 9th
Key returners: Brooke Stromsland (So), Olivia Schmitt (Jr), Megan Knuettel (Sr), Alex Bryant (So), Rae Dwyer (Sr), Simone Lippmann (Sr), Morgan Gillespie (Sr), Hannah Grant (Sr)
Projected top 7: Stromsland, Schmitt, Knuettel, Bryant, and the other 4 athletes will rotate throughout the season.
Newcomers: We will have some new frosh this season, but there are no expectations for them to break into the varsity lineup.
Coach's thoughts on the team: Last year was a breakthrough season for the Lakes Girls. We have been knocking on the doorsteps of a state finals berth for the last 4 years. The girls were not to be denied as they punched their ticket with a 4th place finish in Kaneland. The girls were not satisfied with just qualifying for state and made it a goal to finish on a high note. They did just that as they finished 9th overall, just 31 points from 5th. This senior led and dominated group is poised to make a run back to the State Finals. They want to build on last year's performance and have set high expectations.
Summer workouts have been crisp and the girls look fitter than last year. Sophomore Brooke Stromsland will lead the way up front. Brooke had a breakout State series culminating in a 4th place finish at Detweiller. Junior All-State Track runner Olivia Schmitt now has a training partner in Stromsland. Together they give us a tenacious 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup. Both girls have elevated the performances of their teammates. Megan Knuettel and Alex Bryant had outstanding track seasons and are poised to make significant time improvements.
They will pace our 3-7 pack. Behind them, we have a collection of ladies who can get the job done on any given day. Senior Captain Rae Dwyer returns this season after missing last Fall. Rae had an 18:47 PR as a Sophomore, which will be huge for our pack. Behind her, we have 3 other ladies in Lippmann, Grant, and Gillespie who will all be near or under the 19 min mark. This group of 4 continue to steadily improve and will be key reasons for team success this year. Our goal will be to have a tight pack behind our top 2 of Schmitt and Stromsland. We have added depth with more girls under 20 minutes than we have ever had. Overall this team has been a joy to coach. They are all about having fun and running fast. Each day seems to be filled with hard work and laughter. We continue to improve each day and will be ready to handle whatever comes our way.
2. Vernon Hills
Head Coach/coaches: Suzanne Curry / Chris Wolf
Last year's finish: State- 3rd place
Key returners: Payton Makowskyj (12) Hannah Ray (12) Ryan Schofield (12), Katie Wilkowski (12), Leah Wilkowski (12) Carly Sear (11)
Projected top 7: Payton Makowskyj (12) Hannah Ray (12) Ryan Schofield(12) Katie Wilkowski (12) Leah Wilkowski(12) Carly Sear (11) and ??
Newcomers: Freshmen Rylee Makowskyj and Emma Wakefield
Coach's thoughts on the team: It's always tough when you lose your #1 runner Lauren Katz but this team is still loaded with seniors and experience. It's a tremendous group of student/athletes (from top to bottom) who work hard every single day. They set high goals each and every season and are looking to improve on finishes from their previous years. It will be competitive within the team for spots at the varsity level with a couple of newcomers emerging and several of our returning runners. We'll compete against a lot of quality teams this season and will expect strong 2A teams as we hit the state series. It's been another summer of quality miles and we're looking forward to an exciting and fun season!