2018 Class A Girls XC Preview: The Countdown #15 To #11

We are inching closer to the final round... check to see if any team can break into the top 10 as time goes on.

15. El Paso-Gridley

Head Coach/coaches: Michael Melick/Jacob Ludy, Katie Ludy

Last year's finish: State- 18th place

Key returners: Cate Atkins (Sr), Sophia Allen (Sr), Molly Holt (Jr), Allison Kelly (Jr), Tori Witzig (So), Julia Reid (Jr)

Newcomers: Ruby Slightom, Charlene Hamilton

Coach's thoughts on the team:  Our seniors (Cate Atkins and Sophi Allen) are having fantastic summers. This is the best summer Sophi has had, and Cate is logging consistent miles after being sidelined for a lot last summer. I've seen Tori, Allison, and Molly only a handful of times, but they will likely factor into our top seven. Incoming freshman, Ruby Slightom, had some great track times in 8th grade this spring, so we are excited for her to join us this fall. Some of our girls are transitioning over to the golf team, and some are going to play volleyball this fall, so we will have to see who is even on the team come August 8th. There is enough talent in the high school to put seven girls under 20, but how many of them will be on the team is the question. 

14. Johnsburg

Head Coach: Christian Setzler

Last year's finish: State- 16th place

Key returners: Sam Schmitt (Jr), Sammy Knutilla (Jr), Hannah Anderson (Jr), Allysa Peete (Jr), Katelyn Davis (Sr), Denali Nett (Jr)

Tony's thoughts: With six starters back this could be a dangerous team this season. But like many other teams in their boat is the pack running play. #1 runner Sam Schmitt is back and she can improve her time by at least 35-40 seconds, it would prompt the scorers to move up. As it was in last year's season, it was a rough 1:36 

13. Beecher

Head Coach: Larissa Swanson

Last year's finish: State- 15th place

Key returners: Hailey Janssen (Sr), Kasey Swanson (Jr), Tori Fasano (Jr), Regina Gianotti (Sr), Isabella Olson (So), Christina Wang (Jr) 

Tony's thoughts: Taking 15th in the state appeared to be a surprise. But the Lisle Sectional was very tough and teams ahead of the Ladycats placed 4th, 9th, and 13th respectively. This team has an opportunity to be much better and possibly a bonafide top 10 staple if they improved their scoring split. It was horrendous at 2:29 and 2:37 for the sectional and state meet. Unless there is someone coming in new or from the junior ranks, it will be hard.

12. Liberty

Head Coach/coaches: Jared Schmidt
Last year's finish: Elmwood Sectional- 10th place

Key returners: Katelyn Robbins (Sr.), Carrie Balzer (Jr.), Kaela Wellman (Sr.), Courtney Riley (Sr.)

Projected top 7: Robbins, Balzer, Kaela Wellman, Riley, Larissa Neisen (Fr.), Emma Brinkman (Fr.) 
Newcomers: Neisen, Brinkman

Coach's thoughts on the team: We have the ability to be a comparable team to last year. We have a lot of experience within our team but need to improve throughout the season. Last years sectional finish did not show the true team that we were. We had a lot of injuries and health issues that plagued us throughout last year. Hopefully, we've got a lot of that behind us and don't have to work around that so much this year. We've only got six girls this year so keeping everyone healthy will be a big part in seeing how well we can finish the season. I'm hoping we can get back to where I know we can be and send our Senior group out with a season that they deserve because they've been such an important part of our program the last three years.

11. Kewanee (Weathersfield) 

Head Coach: Creston Fenn
Last year's finish: State- 12th place
Key returners: Whitney Johnson (Sr), Rachel Gomez (Sr), Rachel Cook (Sr) Cora Rusk (So), Emily McClelland (Sr)
Projected top 7: Johnson, Gomez, Cook, Rusk, Crystal Musgrave, McClelland 
Newcomers: Musgrave, Cali McKibbon, Sophie Wiesbrook, Kira Sisson, Riley Demay
Coach's thoughts on the teamWe have a great mix of young runners and veterans. Whitney and the Rachels will no doubt be leading the charge for us. After splitting time between volleyball and cross country, Cora Rusk has committed fully to cross country. Cora was a such a gamer last year in big meets off of very minimal training. I am super excited to see what she can do on a full season and summer of training.  Crystal has shown me this summer that she is tough and ready to run with our top girls. She is going to have an outstanding freshman year if she pushes herself like she did this summer. I think our top 5 can be one of the best in our school history. Where that will take us will be fun to watch this season.