Class 3A Girls Pre Season Preview: Welcome Minooka #1

Minooka took the state by storm last November when they won state. Can the Indians do it again?

1. Minooka 

Head Coach: Kevin Gummerson
Last year's finish: State Champions
Key returners: Ashley Tutt (Sr), Mackenzie Callahan (Sr), Emily Shelton (Jr), Vivian Van Eck (So), Emily Ellis (Jr), Katelyn Gall (So), Sarah Weed (Jr), Ali Mondrella (Sr), Alexis Marti (So), Alison Lyman (Sr), Katelyn Egetimeier (So)
Projected top 7: Too early to tell at this point…sorry.
Newcomers: We had the largest group of freshman girls in program history at our summer training camp. This is a freshman group that is dedicated and motivated, and I am excited to see who is going to step to the front of this group.
Coach Gummerson's outlook: The Minooka girls are extremely excited about this upcoming cross country season. We are coming off a track season in which a tremendous amount of growth was shown, and the girls have continued to get stronger throughout the summer. Tutt, Shelton, and Callahan are the proven leaders of this team. It is great to have three girls at that level training together on a regular basis. Their confidence, strength, and excitement has grown each and every season. They have done a great job of pushing their teammates and getting them to realize the amount of work it takes to be successful in this sport. In addition to those three, we have an enthusiastic crew of returners and a strong group of newcomers that are really looking to work hard and give us some depth. It is going to be a blast to see who is going to rise to front of that group. As we look at the 3A Girls in Illinois, there is no doubt that this year is wide open. We are very much aware that in order to succeed in November, we have to be a complete XC team. There are a ton of teams that have a strong returning class and like most years, it also appears that there are many incoming freshman that will have a huge impact on a lot of teams.

Post State Championship interview with Minooka Coach Kevin Gummerson and his team

2. Batavia 
Head Coach/coaches: Chad Hillman/Samantha Miller
Last year's finish: 3rd place- State Championship
Key returners: Emma Stephens (Jr), Daphne Kolody (Jr), Marygrace Golden (Jr), Anna Malay (Jr), Maia Haworth (Sr), Alexa Andrews (So)
Projected top 7: The six returners have a good chance of retaining their spots with a top seven girl, Erika Mansfield, from the 2014 team possible to return to the seven.
Newcomers: Mia Gianfrancesco, Audrey Pellico
Coach Hillman's outlook: We return most of our seven from last year's trophy team and are adding one of the deepest freshman classes we have ever had. We are anxious to find out if the work we have done this summer is enough to improve on last year's performances. We should have solid balance and possible representation from each class competing for our top seven. It will be a fun challenge to see if we can develop the necessary chemistry to continue a high level of performance at the state level.

3. Naperville North 
Head Coach/coaches: Dan Iverson / Anna Kraftson, Jen Weigand
Last year's finish: IHSA 3A State Runners-up; 14th @ Nike Cross Nationals
Key returners: Sarah Schmitt (Jr), Claire Hamilton (Sr), Kayla Glowacki (Sr), Claire Hill (So), Alex Morris (So), Claire McBride (So), Sophia Bruce (So), Megan Driscoll (So), Shannon Jennings (Jr), Gabby Champion (Sr), Elise Chao (Sr), Kathryn Abe (Sr)
Projected top 7 according to Coach Iverson: Tough to tell -- lots of people will be in the mix starting with the returners from last year's top seven (Schmitt, Hamilton, Glowacki, Hill)
Newcomers: Hannah Ricci (Jr), Alexa Betjemann (Fr), Julia O'Dekirk (Fr), Jana Dawson (Fr)
Coach Iverson's outlook: We should be pretty deep this year, but the final form of our top seven is likely to be in flux throughout the campaign. Our targets will be high again this year, but we will have some work to do before we can be where we want to be. Certainly, there are teams throughout the state that will be very tough to contend with, but we certainly welcome the challenge!

4. Hinsdale Central 
Head Coach/coaches: Mark McCabe
Last year's finish: 5th - State Championship
Key returners: Reilly Revord (Jr.), Grace McCabe (Jr.)
Projected top 7: Reilly, Grace, Molly Caveney (Sr), Bella Pisani (So), Kayla Byrne (So), Taylor Waldron (So), Sophia Horowicz (So), Caitlin Chval (So), McKenna Revord (Fr) will all be in the mix.
Newcomers: McKenna Revord
Coach McCabe's outlook: We are a young team yet also have a number of runners with a great deal of big meet experience. That experience will benefit those athletes and is also benefiting all of their younger teammates. As always, our primary goal is to be the best the best that we can be… the points and places will all take care of themselves after we accomplish that. Reilly and Grace have very high goals for this season, Molly is our only senior and was our 5th scorer at State last year, and Bella, Kayla, Taylor and Caitlin are all sophomores who had outstanding track seasons last spring and are ready to move to the next level.

We have another team full of athletes that have dedicated themselves completely this summer to help them reach the team and individual goals we set on our summer trip. Over the past 15 years, based on placings at the State Meet, we have the third best overall record behind Naperville North and Palatine…we hope to add another positive chapter to that body of work and are excited about the 2016 season!

5. Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West) 
Head Coach/coach: Paul Hass / Mark Staron
Last year's finish: 6th Place- State Championship
Key returners: junior Lindsey Payne (2nd), sophomore Katie Hohe (68th), senior Janie Nabholz (103rd), junior Claire Kenwood (115th), sophomore Chloe Connolly, sophomore Abby Hoffman, junior Marika Tammaru, sophomore Nicole Kaiser.
Projected top 7: Payne, Hohe, Nabholz, Kenwood, Connolly, Hoffman, Tammaru.
Newcomers: freshman Katelynne Hart, freshman Emma Hall, freshman Haley Yeager.
Coach Hass' outlook:
The team, overall, has had another good summer and logged many miles in the heat, notably, Lindsey Payne and Katie Hohe have had tremendous summers of training and are in incredible shape. The team will look to these two to lead the team up front, while Janie Nabholz leads our pack consisting of talented sophomores, junior Marika Tammaru, and possibly some newcomers that, we hope, will close the split between them and our front-runners by the end of the season. As always the goal over the summer -- as well as the season -- is to remain healthy and have each girl focused upon improving upon their past season's training and meet performances.

As a team last year we did not end our season the way we would have liked, so the girls are committed to improving themselves individually and besting last season's team performances, particularly in the state series. Katie Hohe, Chloe Connolly, Abby Hoffman, Nicole Kaiser, Lauren Pappas, Grace Oh, and Janie Nabholz have had a much improved summer of running compared to last year and, certainly, each have the potential to make a significant impact in the top seven before the conclusion of the season. Additionally, incoming freshmen Katelynne Hart, Emma Hall, and Haley Yeager have also showcased some talent during the summer and might also make an appearance in the top seven if they remain healthy and continue to improve. Needless to say, we are looking forward to the 2016 season which we believe holds enormous potential for the lady Hilltoppers.

Tony's Take: Coach Hass is perhaps being a little too modest regarding incoming freshman Katelynne Hart or maybe hiding her exploits. It is going to be hard to disguise someone who ran 9:52 (3k)/5:00/2:13 as an 8th grader. Hart won the 14 year old 3k and 1500 AAU titles this summer. In fact, if she remains steady she could be challenging for the individual state harrier title this November. 

6. Winnetka (New Trier) 
Head Coach: John Burnside
Last year's finish: 4th- State Championship
Key returners: Grace Fagan (Sr), Caroline Fix (Sr), Savannah Noethlich (Jr), Molly Schmidt (Sr), Caroline Trukenbrod (So), Rachel Weix (Jr)
Projected top 7 by Coach Burnside: We expect to see several versions of our top seven throughout the season. We have a solid core of returners as well as some tough young runners and some older runners that have developed into varsity contenders.
Newcomers: Emma Pigott, Leah Ulrich
Coach Burnside's outlook: The summer training went well but we will need several races to know how well this team can match up. We will continue to depend on strong pack running. The girls know that we will need to count on all 7 runners if we are going to compete with the teams with stronger front runners. The CSL looks as strong as I've ever seen it so the challenges will be there in every single meet this season.

7. Yorkville 
Head Coach/coaches: Chris Muth / Lauren Verizen, Brian Long
Last year's finish: AA State Champions; 5th at Nike Midwest Regional
Key returners: Nicole Greyer (So.), Alexis Grandys (Sr.), Maddie Dearborn (Sr.), Alyssa Edwards (Jr.), Olivia Browiak (So.), Julia Megazinni (Sr.), Emily Eberhardt (So.), Maggie Klemm (Jr.), Piper Buyansky (Sr.), Lauren Daffenberg (Jr.), Victoria Crawford (So.), Emily Berge (Jr.),
Projected top 7: TBD
Newcomers: There are no current  freshman that will impact the varsity top seven this year, but could very much in the mix down the road.
Coach Muth's outlook:
This is going to be a year of change for Yorkville High School Cross Country. We are making the long anticipated move to 3A, while at the same time losing one of our fixtures of our coaching staff, in Coach Ben Draper. In a great way, moving to 3A has forced us to get back to the basics and has really helped us to focus on the little things again. We have kept to our training principles, but also changed our training slightly this summer in anticipation of a longer season.

Team wise we lose some very special varsity seniors to graduation, but still return 10 girls that have either State meet experience or Nike Regional experience, so the bones are there for this to be a good team. For this team to really reach that more elite status, we need to stay healthy, motivated, and focused on the team goals all year long. I'm confident that this team can compete at the state level and be very successful, but our expectations of success will be very different in 3A than they were in 2A. We understand that this is going to be a process and even if we are the little fish in a big pond now, that doesn't mean our target goals can't still be set very high. These girls are very eager to show they belong and prove that we can set new standards for our program in this new division of competition. These girls are very excited and motivated for this season and I can't wait to watch their journey unfold.

Post State Interview with Yorkville coach Chris Muth

8. Mt. Prospect (Prospect) 
Head Coach/coaches: Pete Wintermute / Lisa Cottrell 
Last year's finish:  6th- Schaumburg Sectional
Key returners: Brooke Wilson (Sr), Aileen White (Sr), Molly Leeney, Molly Heil, Elizabeth Galloway, Marissa Valentini, Jenna Baltes, Julia O'Grady, Cori Drew, Mikayla Olsen, Sydney Kitzmiller, Kaitlyn Rouse
Projected top 7 by coach Wintermuth: TBD. I never like to project the Top 7 as every year is a new year and every runner has an equal shot at the Top 7. This is a position that is earned by each athlete and this year we have a lot of girls that have been working hard this summer to pursue the opportunity to make their mark in the varsity lineup.
Newcomers: Paula Paliwoda (soph), Emily Hubbard, Anna Andryushchenko, Kendall O'Malley, Sarah Hindmand Coach Wintermuth's outlook:
This season the Knights return the majority of their roster from last year's team which won a MSL Conference title, a IHSA Regional title, had an off day at Sectionals and stayed home from State. This summer they have been focused and are hungry to earn a trip to Peoria in November. There is still a lot of work to be done but our focus has been on improving our consistency on a day-to-day basis and increasing the intensity. There is a lot of potential in this year's crew but potential will only take you so far. As they work towards our goals they are beginning to define what kind of TEAM they are going to be and the ability to rely on each other as we strive to achieve our Team goals.

This season will be about more than just 5 runners as we have many individuals that are ready to make their mark for the Knights. Brooke Wilson is back for her 4th season and looks to improve upon last year's All-State performance. Brooke is a phenomenal individual/runner as she epitomizes what it takes to be a great person/athlete; diligent, commitment, and trust in the program. Brooke is one of the key leaders of this team and she is hungry to build off last year's performances and lead the team through the journey ahead. This season the Knights return 12 runners from last year that have broken 5:40 in the 1600m which gives us some pieces to work with. The girls have worked hard this summer, bonded as a team, and are excited to continue the journey that lies ahead. GO KNIGHTS!!