Class 3A Girls State Championship Cross Country Preview

Lindsay Graham and her Glenbard West team are the favorites to win state titles on Saturday 
Date: 11/8/14
Location: Detweiller Park; Peoria, IL
Course: 3.0 miles
Race time: 1pm
Awards ceremony: 3pm
Weather forecast: 50F and slightly windy up to 15mph
Media coverage: follow the race and meet action via Illinois Prepster's twitter @ilptt; follow the hashtag #ihsaxcstate14
The qualifying teams: #1 Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West), #2 Hinsdale Central, #3 Naperville North, #4 Palatine, #5 Naperville Central, #6 Winnetka (New Trier), #7 Minooka, #8 Wheaton-Warrenville South, #9 Schaumburg, #10 Batavia, #11 Geneva, #12 Hoffman Estates, #13 Palatine (Fremd), #14 Lockport, #15 Downers Grove North, #16 Naperville (Neuqua Valley), #18 Downers Grove North, #20 Lake Zurich, #21 Elmhurst (York), #22 Oak Park (Fenwick), Edwardsville, Joliet West, Normal Community, O’Fallon, Wilmette (Loyola Academy)
Opening statements: Every state championship seems to bring out the best in Illinois runners. Could it be that historic Detweiller is the reason? Perhaps it is to an extent, but the real reason has to be better coaching of girls for the three-mile distance. Two seasons ago Madeline Perez of Glenbard West set the all-time record of 16:02. That performance and the other 86 girls who broke 18:00 confirmed the fact that girls can indeed run the same distance as boys with relevance and respect. This year times are fast and we all should see some wonderful team and individual performances on Saturday afternoon.
Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West)
Head Coach: Paul Hass
2013 state meet finish: State Champion
Pre-season rank: #2
Final regular season rank: #1
Probable starting line-up: 
Lindsay Graham (Jr.)
Lindsey Payne (Fr.)
Lisa Luczak (Sr.)
Grace Rogers (Jr.)
Janie Nabholz (So.)
Kathryn Kenwood (Jr.)
Abby Shaver (Jr.)
Road to state: Roselle (Lake Park) Regional- 1st, Skokie (Niles West) Sectional- 1st
Outlook: The Hilltoppers looked poised to repeat as state champions with Lindsey Graham and Lindsey Payne (Fr.) coming off personal bests at sectionals. Graham is the favorite for the individual title which means ‘uh-oh’ for the top teams hoping to stay with Glenbard West. Even if Graham miraculously loses the race, this team will be extremely tough to beat. If their #4 and #5 runners are close to #3 runner, Lisa Luczak, then this team is untouchable. 
Hinsdale Central
Head Coach: Mark McCabe
2013 state meet finish: 14th
Pre-season rank: #6
Final regular season rank: #2
Probable starting line-up: 
Alexa Haff (So.)
Annie Zaher (Jr.)
Grace McCabe (Fr.)
Reilly Revord (Fr.)
Sara Folliard (Sr.)
Camila Horowicz (Sr.)
Emma Sullivan (Jr.)
Road to state: Hinsdale Central Regional- 1st, Chicago (Marist) Sectional- 1st
Outlook: Hinsdale Central is the one team this year to beat Glenbard West girls in a meet (tri-meet). But can they do it at state? They will be looking to improve on their 14th place finish last year. Alexa Haff is back healthy after resting for two weeks before sectionals so she will definitely play a vital part in their battle for a trophy. Anne Zaher has emerged as a potential top 10 threat; she has improved mightily in the mental and endurance department this season. The Red Devils are lacking depth outside of the standout freshmen Grace McCabe and Reilly Revord.  Hinsdale Central will need their fifth runner to close the gap on the rest of pack to finish in the top three.
Naperville North
Head Coach: Dan Iverson
2013 state meet finish: State Runner-Up
Pre-season rank: #1
Final regular season rank: #3
Probable starting line-up
Sarah Schmitt (Fr.)
Judy Pendergast (Jr.)
Elly DeTurris (Sr.)
Claire Hamilton (So.)
Emily Hamilton (Sr.)
Jenny Gibson (Jr.)
Natalie Dunnett (Fr.)
Road to state: West Chicago Regional- 1st, St. Charles East Sectional- 1st
Outlook: The Huskies had their best performance of the year at sectionals with a convincing victory over a good field at St. Charles East. They are now serious contenders to win the state title. Depth is the name of the game for coach Dan Iverson's squad as all seven runners ran 18:25 or better. The split on five was 34 seconds and if stretched to seven, it was a very good 1:21. The team has not had its usual dominant top runner emerge. Elly DeTurris, the team's clear top runner in the past, had been feeling some "senior stress" from college applications deadlines, etc. She is healthy and ready to go as the 17:21 indicated last weekend. The pursuit of another state championship will be a little more easily to grasp on Saturday if the above conditions fall in line.
Head Coach: Joe Parks
2013 state meet finish: 4th
Pre-season rank: #5
Final regular season rank: #4
Probable starting line-up: 
Amy Kieliszewski (Sr.)
Kelly O'Brien (Jr.)
Megan Beach (Sr.)
Sam Lechowicz (Jr.)
Kara Burton (Sr.)
Lauryn Simons (Fr.)
Anna Buckstaff (So.)
Road to state: Palatine Regional- 1st, Schaumburg Sectional- 1st
Outlook: The Lady Pirates have been locked into the #4 spot since the second week of the competition season and it looks as though they will remain there unless someone other than O’Brien and Kieliszewki steps up.  Megan Beach and Sam Lechowicz may be the two girls who will emerge and have even better races than at sectionals. Otherwise, Palatine is rock solid in the depth department.
Naperville Central
Head Coach: Aislinn Hicks
2013 state meet finish: 11th
Pre-season rank: #7
Final regular season rank: #5
Probable starting line-up: 
Maggie McClowry (Jr.)
Ellie Marcet (Jr.)
Isabel Lopez (Sr.)
Alana Austin (So.)
Carolyn Carpenter (So.)
Nicole Hoffman (Sr.)
Meghan Donovan (Fr.)
Road to state: West Chicago Regional: 2nd-, St. Charles Sectional- 3rd
Outlook: Hopefully the wheels are not falling off as injuries have hit this team at the wrong time. Nicole Hoffman is not 100% and it showed at the sectional round. The possibilty of a top 5 spot looks be in serious jeorpardy. The Redhawks will need to dig deep in the barrel for someone and the group to step it up. Maggie McClowery can fit the bill of a top 25 finisher, but her teammates are going to have to run 30 seconds on 2-5 to keep the form charts on point.
Winnetka (New Trier)
Head Coach: John Burnside
2013 state meet finish: 3rd
Pre-season rank: #3
Final regular season rank: #6
Probable starting line-up: 
Mimi Smith (Sr.)
Cara Keleher (So.)
Caroline Fix (So.)
Molly Schmidt (So.)
Katie Glew (So.)
Savannah Noethlich (Fr.)
Oona Jung-Beeman (Jr.)
Road to state: Wilmette (Loyola Academy) Regional- 1st, Skokie (Niles West) Sectional- 2nd 
Outlook: New Trier ran well at Niles West but they will need to run better at state to get on the podium for a second consecutive year. Mimi Smith will elevate her performance at state as she did last year. This is a given. What is not a given is the team's outlook beyond Cara  Keleher and Caroline Fix.  If the Trevians are going to run well on Saturday, the end of the scoring line will need to be in contention with Palatine or Naperville North going into the final mile.
Head Coach: Kevin Gummerson
2013 state meet finish: 6th
Pre-season rank: #18
Final regular season rank: #7
Probable starting line-up: 
Ashley Tutt (So.)
Mackenzie Callahan (So.)
Morgan Crouch (Jr.)
Emily Shelton (Fr.)
Gaby Gall (Sr.)
Emily Ellis (Fr.)
Caitlin Kurtz (Jr.)
Road to state: Minooka Regional- 1st, Quincy Sectional- 1st
Outlook: "O'Fallon ran a great team race!  They looked strong and seem to be coming on. We were not in cruise mode," these were the words that coach Gummerson expressed loudly in giving respect to O'Fallon rather than say what went wrong with his team. In a close analysis, it appeared as though O'Fallon did step up. Ashley Tutt ran well and won the race outright for the Indians. Mackenzie Callahan was a solid #2 for Minooka and the third and fourth runners were decent... ahh, that #5 spot stuck out badly. Gaby Gall was over a minute behind the #4. This cannot happen to a team that is ticketed for a top 5-10 spot on Saturday. Things will need to be on point for the Indians if they hope to have another top 10 finish.
Wheaton-Warrenville South
Head Coach: Rob Harvey
2013 state meet finish: 12th
Pre-season rank: #8
Final regular season rank: #8
Probable starting line-up: 
Sara Atkins (So.)
Mary Erdman (Jr.)
Allison McGrath (So.)
Kendall Laveen (Jr.)
Kendall Reid (Fr.)
Natalia Boettcher (Sr.)
Emma Schroer (Jr.)
Road to state: 
Outlook: The Tigers did not have a banner day at sectionals but they did what they needed to do to advance on Peoria. Sara Atkins led the scoring drive that ended 1:11 later at St. Charles East. Since Atkins is a viable all-state candidate and coach Harvey has a way in getting his girls to perform well at state, things should be fine and the Tigers will be knocking on the top 10 door.
Head Coach: Courtney Smith
2013 state meet finish: 7th
Pre-season rank: #4
Final regular season rank: #9
Probable starting line-up
Ali Gutt (Sr.)
Erin Falsey (Sr.)
Lauren Kubinski (Fr.)
Ellie O'Connell (So.)
Valarie Schackelton (So.)
Caroline Kurdej (Sr.)
Madison Marasco (Fr.)
Road to state: Hoffman Estates Regional- 1st, Schaumburg Sectional- 2nd
Outlook: At one point during the season the Saxons were ranked ahead of rival Palatine leading those out there thinking this team was a trophy threat. Both squads then met twice in a span of a week and the Lady Pirates smashed the Saxons dreams of a MSL take over. Schaumburg, though, has rebounded nicely and become a team that could be a top five threat. Ali Gutt has returned as the #1 runner in the post-season followed by Erin Falsey. Ellie O'Connell has showed in the past that she can run with those two on any given day. The Saxons have depth with some nice, young freshmen and sophomore to anchor the team.
Head Coach: Chad Hillman
2013 state meet finish: None
Pre-season rank: #15
Final regular season rank: #10
Probable starting line-up:
Emma Stephens (Fr.)
Miranda Rea (Sr.)
Dakota Roman (Jr.)
Daphne Kolody (Fr.)
Marygrace Golden (Fr.)
Anna Malay (Fr.)
Erika Mansfield (Fr.)
Road to state: West Chicago Regional- 3rd, St. Charles East Sectional- 4th
Outlook: Batavia is a team that has been monitored in the past as one with good talent gone bad. Finally this season the Lady Bulldogs have run to their potentials and advanced to state. Coach Hillman was able to breakdown some of the reason why. "Well, I think the talk started early a few years back because of the inception of our middle school program. For years we tried to get one down there and it never went through... our middle school program has exploded into something tremendous in our town. Cross country has become an exciting thing in our town to a lot people." Batavia has five freshmen in their starting line-up. They have indeed developed their program at the junior high level and that can mean good things for the future.
Head Coach: Bob Thomson
2013 state meet finish: 8th
Pre-season rank: #9
Final regular season rank: #11
Probable starting line-up: 
McKenzie Altmayer (Jr.)
Emma Ehrhardt (So.)
Brooke Nusser (Sr.)
Mary Grace Neville (So.)
Emma McSpadden (Jr.)
Sarah Mozden (Fr.)
Taryn Christy (Fr.)
Road to state: Glenbard North Regional- 2nd, St. Charles East Sectional- 2nd
Outlook: About a month ago coach Thomson thought his team could potentially be a top 10 or better unit. At the time his squad was sitting in the 15 to 20 range. "I know we are as good at Batavia and some of the teams that are ranked ahead of us," he said at the time. His prognosis turned out to be true. The Vikings beat the likes of Wheaton-Warrenville South and Batavia at sectionals to validate his point.  His assertions were made with McKenzie Altmayer running at full strength. She placed second at St. Charles East in 17:02.  Two other runners broke 18:00 giving some credence for what is to come on Saturday.
Hoffman Estates
Head Coach: Kirk Macnider
2013 state meet finish: 20th
Pre-season rank: #14
Final regular season rank: #12
Probable starting line-up: 
Meagan Biddle (Jr.)
Alondra Aguirre (Sr.)
Yazmin Nunez (Sr.)
Reena Prahbu (Jr.)
Carly Dagen (Jr.)
Misbah Baig (So.)
Allison Schrader (Fr.)
Road to state: Hoffman Estates Regional- 2nd, Schaumburg Sectional- 4th
Outlook: The Hawks have quietly gone out and had a good season. Meagan Biddle has been solid but not great. The team has seen the emergence of Alondra Aguirre, Yazmin Nunez, and Reena Prahbu. In other words, Hoffman Estates have run like a fourth place team in the mighty MSL. This is not a bad thing because on any given day that means they could wind up inside the top 10. They could also finish as low as 20th. The projections are somewhere in between for Kirk Macnider's team on Saturday depending on how well the back of the scoring pack runs.
Palatine (Fremd)
Head Coach: Joe Marcin
2013 state meet finish: None
Pre-season rank: None
Final regular season rank: #13
Probable starting line-up: 
Ayako Higuchi (Sr.)
Katie Escobar (Sr.)
Anita Grudzien (Sr.)
Nora Finegan (Jr.)
Jess Peterson (Sr.)
Clare Oehler-O'Sullivan (Fr.)
Lauren Ciardiello (Sr.)
Road to state: Hoffman Estates Regional- 3rd, Schaumburg Sectional- 3rd
Outlook: Ayako Higuchi has stepped up as a top runner in the state this season. Her willingness to be a front runner is exactly what the Vikings need to be in the mix on Saturday. Of course, the other six girls need to run well. At sectionals, the pack was spread out to far leading the thought of a top 10 finish out of reach. If somehow the 3-5 runners can stay within a minute of #2 runner Katie Escobar, this team will be looking pretty on Saturday afternoon.
Head Coach: Evon Schlotter
2013 state meet finish: 5th
Pre-season rank: #10
Final regular season rank: #14
Probable starting line-up: 
Morgan Bollinger (So.)
Emmie Hahn (Sr.)
Karlee Stortz (So.)
Haley Beaumont (Sr.)
Aubrey Friedrich (Fr.)
Alicia Ary (Jr.)
Emily Stoklosa (Jr.)
Road to state: Lockport Regional- 1st, Chicago (Marist) Sectional- 2nd
Outlook: Lockport is a steady team and Morgan Bollinger is a steady runner as is Emmie Hahn. They proved that at the Marist sectional by easily securing second place behind the vaulted Hinsdale Central team. Now for the Lady Porters to get back to the top 5 status on Saturday, they are going to need Bollinger to be exceptional. And she can be as proven by past performances. They are going to need a boost from the 3-5 runners and run better in the middle of the race and then bring it home. These are the steps needed to be a top 5 team on Saturday.
Downers Grove North
Head Coach: Tim McDonald
2013 state meet finish: 21st
Pre-season rank: #13
Final regular season rank: #18
Probable starting line-up: 
Emma Moravec (So.)
Grace Maletich (Jr.)
Kaitlyn Bonfield (Jr.)
Angela Budach (Jr.)
Ashley Johnson (Jr.)
Zoe Covey (So.)
Zayna Jan (Sr.)
Road to state: Hinsdale Central Regional- 2nd, Chicago (Marist) Sectional- 3rd
Outlook: Here is a fast twitch team ready to break out and run up with the big girls. Emma Moravec is certainly top 25 material and will almost need to be for her team to have a chance to finish in the top 10. The scoring pack can cover the race in 1:00. It will need to be 40-45 secs on Saturday.
Naperville (Neuqua Valley)
Head Coach: Tim McCoskey
2013 state meet finish: 10th
Pre-season rank: #16
Final regular season rank: #16
Probable starting line-up
Anastasia Bernat (Sr.)
Lauren Penkala (Sr.)
Caitlin Horn (So.)
Julia Pena (Jr.)
Corinna Pena (Fr.)
Katie Sheehan (Sr.)
Meghna Vijayan (So.)
Road to state: Lockport Regional- 2nd, Chicago (Marist) Sectional- 4th
Outlook: The Wildcats are led by Anastasia Bernat who ran 17:59 at sectionals to lead her mates. The scoring rate of 25 seconds is similar to Naperville North. The only difference is the Huskies have five Anastasia's. This is not a slam toward Neuqua Valley but merely stating if you have only one front runner, then your scoring pack will need to fight for position early and finish stronger than ever before.
Downers Grove South
Head Coach: Doug Plunkett
2013 state meet finish: 9th
Pre-season rank: #15
Final regular season rank: #18
Probable starting line-up
Amanda Thate (Sr.)
Katie Stapleton (So.)
Jill Boyle (Jr.)
Mary Beine (Sr.)
Abby Kargol (Sr.)
Maggie Seitz (Jr.)
Lizbeth Alcantara (Jr.)
Road to state: Hinsdale Central Regional- 3rd, Chicago (Marist) Sectional- 5th
Outlook: Coach Plunkett thought this year's team was going to be a rebuilding season after losing some quality kids from a team that finished 9th a year ago. Well, it was more like a reloading season as a few of the juniors stepped up including Amanda Thate. The scorers closed things out in 57 seconds at Marist. With Thate running 17:47 this was a solid performance. The Mustangs are going to need a repeat performance on Saturday.
Lake Zurich
Head Coach: Ian Silverman
2013 state meet finish: 15th
Pre-season rank: #11
Final regular season rank: #20
Probable starting line-up: 
Caitlin Shepard (Jr.)
Kristie Houghton (Jr.)
Laura McNair (Sr.)
Nicole Syverson (Sr.)
Kelly Ledinsky (Fr.)
Christina Eddleman (Sr.)
Ruthie Rosenkranz (Sr.)
Road to state: Palatine Regional- 2nd, Schaumburg Sectional- 5th
Outlook: The Bears have gotten by with a solid 1-4 this season. They ran 43 seconds at sectionals. This is the good news. The bad news is the #5 runner and beyond has been over one minute behind, putting the team's lack of depth on display. This could be a big issue on Saturday without a top front runner to offset glaring issues.
Elmhurst (York)
Head Coach: Annette Schulte
2013 state meet finish: None
Pre-season rank: None
Final regular season rank: #21
Probable starting line-up: 
Elizabeth Hagstrom (Jr.)
Hannah Wahlgren (Sr.)
Erin Davies (Fr.)
Emily Seigenthaler (Fr.)
Erin Muckian (Jr.)
Bridget Berger (So.)
Dayle Mueller (Sr.)
Road to state: Roselle (Lake Park) Regional- 2nd, Skokie (Niles West) Sectional- 3rd
Outlook: The Lady Dukes return back to the state scene after a tough past two years. Coach Schulte and her staff which includes the former Lauren May of Lake Park, have rebuilt a team that previously lacked talent and depth. This team is led by Elizabeth Hagstrom and she has been solid in the top position. The scoring seven was 34 seconds at Niles West and 1:01 for the entire team. York is certainly good enough to reach the top 15 if Hagstrom can drop some more on her time and her teammates make the adjustments.
Oak Park (Fenwick)
Head Coach: Michael Collins
2013 state meet finish: None
Pre-season rank: None
Final regular season rank: #22
Probable starting line-up: 
Olivia Ryan (Sr.)
Anne Mannion (Fr.)
Nicole Finn (So.)
Sarah Winkiel (Fr.)
Margaret O'Brien (Fr.)
Mary Grace Babbo (Jr.)
Maddie Bilbo (Sr.)
Road to state: Roselle (Lake Park) Regional- 3rd, Skokie (Niles West) Sectional- 4th
Outlook: The Friars was not a team of discussion when the season started back in August. Somehow Olivia Ryan got her team teammates to step and be a solid team. The emergence of newcomer Anne Mannion is a big reason why. Nicole Finn has run well too. Fenwick's scoring card on Saturday could go either way depending on how well the top three runs. Ryan is a three-time all star shooting for a fourth medal. She is on pace for that and it could bold well for the team as a whole.
Head Coach: George Patrylak
2013 state meet finish: 23rd
Pre-season rank: None
Final regular season rank: None
Probable starting line-up: 
Julianna Determan (So.)
Elizabeth Lynn (Sr.)
Rachel Schoenecker (Jr.)
Haley Allard (Fr.)
Honor Dimick (Fr.)
Kennison Adams (Fr.)
Victoria Vegher (So.)
Road to state: Belleville Regional- 2nd, Quincy Sectional- 3rd
Outlook: The pre-season #23 team got the job done at Quincy. Now the Tigers are in position to have their performance of the season. The 43 second scoring split is good. Now a goal of reaching the top 15 should be realistic. Julianna Determan, Elizabeth Lynn, and Rachel Schoenecker ran within three seconds of each other at sectionals. 
Joliet West
Head Coach: Matt Almon
2013 state meet finish: None
Pre-season rank: None
Final regular season rank: None
Probable starting line-up: 
Kiersten Perry (Jr.)
Charlotte Youell (Jr.)
Madeline Blaauw (Fr.)
Guadalupe Diaz (Sr.)
Jacqueline Rocha (Sr.)
Courtney Rubino (Jr.)
Pamela Sanchez (Fr.)
Road to state: Tinley Park (Andrew) Regional- 1st, Quincy Sectional- 5th
Outlook: Every team has a first time. The Steelmen will have a taste of what big time running is like after this weekend. Kiersten Perry and Charlotte Youell are sub 19:00 runners. Madeline Blaauw can join them with a lifetime best.
Normal Community
Head Coach: Tom Patten
2013 state meet finish: None
Pre-season rank: None
Final regular season rank: None
Probable starting line-up: 
Danielle Beckstead (Jr.)
Rachel Zimmerman (So.)
Muriel Bean (Fr.)
Hannah Penn (Sr.)
Violette Girard (Jr.)
Kristina Furler (Sr.)
Hope Metz (So.)
Road to state: Minooka Regional- 3rd, Quincy Sectional- 4th
Outlook: Normal Community returns to state with a solid overall team performance led by Danielle Beckstead at sectionals. Beckstead ran 18:36 at Quincy. The Ironwomen should have a goal to place in the top 20 if several of the pack can drop their times.
Head Coach: Neil James
2013 state meet finish: 18th
Pre-season rank: #21
Final regular season rank: None
Probable starting line-up: 
Brooke Witzel (Fr.)
Angela Buch (Sr.)
Rachel Russel (Sr.)
Tami Cardenas (Sr.)
Sarah Duffy (Jr.)
Noelle Gilster (Sr.)
Maddie Collins (Fr.)
Road to state: Belleville West Regional- 1st, Quincy Sectional- 2nd
Outlook: The new look Panthers ran their best race of the year in narrowly losing to a highly rated Minooka team by six points. What does it all mean? It may mean that coach James is a tremendous coach who knows how to get the most out of his girls on a given day. Brook Witzel grew up and led her team that ran in a tight formation on seven girls. Pack running is the real real reason the Panthers did so well. If they can do it one more time on Saturday they will turn a lot of heads and mess up a few betting pools.
Wilmette (Loyola Academy)
Head Coach: ChrisJon Simon
2013 state meet finish: 16th
Pre-season rank: #20
Final regular season rank: None
Probable starting line-up: 
Kathryn House (Jr.)
Caroline Zaworski (Sr.)
Lainey McKinley (Fr.)
Payton Hoag (Fr.)
Allie Zahn (So.)
Caroline McKinley (Jr.)
Louisa Edwards (Fr.)
Road to state: Wilmette (Loyola Regional)-2nd, Skokie (Niles West) Sectional- 5th
Outlook: The pre-season potential was brought back into focus with wellness. The Ramblers had been wracked with injuries and sickness all season until a few weeks ago. Kathryn House is back and ready to go. She placed 8th at sectionals to pace her team.
Lindsay Graham may be the favorite, but don't be surprised if Lauren VanVlierbergen surprises (Steve Bulgarin photo)
The Individual race may have two races in one-
Lindsay Graham has taken the mantle from former teammate Madeline Perez and ran away with it since early October. One would argue that she has closed the gap on 2A standout Maryjeanne Gilbert and 1A stallion Anna Sophia Keller (So., Effingham St. Anthony) in terms of the overall best distance runner in the state. The supposed recent match-ups against Alexa Haff and Mimi Smith turned to out be duds in favor of Graham. But folks in Haff's and Smith's camp think the best is yet to come from their respective runners. One person who is emerging to the top again is Lauren Van Vlierbergen (Sr., Algonquin Jacobs). LVV started the season off on fire but then leveled off with a loss followed by a few "average" performances. She had perhaps her best race at sectionals breaking off Kelly O'Brien in the final mile to win the Schaumburg Sectional with ease. LVV will be running with a free conscious after signing with the University of Michigan. Now the 800m defending state champion can think only about the race on Saturday. A fast pace it seems may be the only thing that can deter her.
Gabby Juarez (Sr., Streamwood) has gotten very little fanfare despite running well this season. She won the St. Charles East Sectional in 16:58 and before that she has competed tall against the best competition on her schedule. Juarez is now a candidate for top five status. Haff should not be dismissed from a top three spot nor should Smith. They are destined to give it their all on Saturday. O'Brien should be ready to run well again despite fading due to dehydration or extreme fatigue last weekend. Lauren Opartney (Sr., McHenry) is back and healthy. She finished second at Schaumburg. Watch for the mile champion Anne Zaher. She filled in nicely for Haff while she was resting.  Audrey Ernst (Fr., St. Charles North) bust out on the scene running with the top girls in the state. Can she do it again? What about MacKenzie Altmayer? Plainfield North junior Rachael Lau is a front runner. Watch for her to challenge the leaders from the gun. Keep in mind that one team: Glenbard West has two front runners aside from Graham in Lisa Luczak and Lindsey Payne. Also look for Ashley Tutt to come up and bite the competition. They realistically could finish in the top 10.