We have finally reached the pinnacle of the girl's spectrum. St. Joe-Ogden and Tolono Unity appear to once again be ahead of the field in talent and depth. But the race to the top of the podium will be met on the field of play, not on paper.
Head Coach/Coaches: Carl Florczyk/ Darren Pierce
Last year's finish: State- 9th place
Key returners: Breanna Chandler (Jr), Maddie Mense (Jr), Reagan Lucas (So), Abby Holcomb (So), Jessica Shepherd (Jr), Grace Marlen (Jr), Brandy Stambaugh (Sr), Jamie Hock (Sr), Page Lee (Sr), Hailie Peterson (Jr)
Key returners according to the head coach: We lost Kayla Whitworth to graduation and we lost Ellie Hatter who is moving; however, we still bring back 5 runners from last year's top 7. We also get Jessica Shepherd back in the mix after being hurt with a stress fracture last season.
Projected top 7: It's always tough to say who the top 7 is going to be, but I would expect each of our key returners to be in the mix. We have alternates from last year's postseason roster who will also be competing for top 7 spots, including Brandy Stambaugh, Jamie Hock, Page Lee, and Hailie Peterson. Newcomers: We have a great group of freshmen (9 total) working extremely hard and will serve as the foundation for the future of our cross country team!
Coach's thoughts on the team: We have had a great summer in regards to our training! The girls have worked extremely hard. We had great attendance all summer long. We went to a team camp at SLU, did some fun off-campus runs, and had some fun team-building throughout the summer as well. We finished off our summer training by racing at Detweiller at Dark. It's a team with great leadership as well. The girls have some big goals for the fall and are very motivated.
Head Coach: Christine Regan
Last year's finish: State- 14th place
Tony's thoughts: It will be an interesting year for the Royals who return all seven starters from last fall's state championship. Madison Franseen is expected to lead the charge once again, especially after having an all-star season last year. Her mates will need to step up their game and be a complementary force like they can. Part of what a pack is supposed to do is to position itself and move up accordingly. We will see if it can be done this season.
Head Coach: Tyler Casson
Last year's finish: State- 6th place
Tony's thoughts: Caroline Gwaltney will lead the charge again this season. The all-stater should have plenty of help as the team will look to rise into the top 5 category. It means that a tighter scoring split will need to be in order, though the team ran well 1-5 most of the season.
Head Coach/coaches: Mike Neisler-Head Coach, David Stine-Asst. Coach
Last year's finish: State- 8th place
Projected top 7: all from above
Newcomers: No Freshman class- so no help
Coach's thoughts on the team: This team will need to get the job done this season with three or four seniors in the top seven. We were pretty beat up after track season with tendonitis, tight IT bands, and a stress reaction. No one was really able to get into summer running until the second week of June. Renee is still not running but getting better so we are hopeful. Savanah and Payton are looking fit as they are getting more miles than last summer. Mary Grace running full strength after her stress reaction in a hip, and Renee will be running soon. there are many good teams in Class A cross country this season so a finish better than last year's 8th place will be no small feat, but that will be the goal - beat last season.
Head Coach: Rick Livesey
Last year's finish: State- 4th place
Tony's thoughts: All seven return from a team that was less than 20 points away from the podium in Peoria. The Tigers will be hungry to improve and prove themselves this season. In order for that to take place, Josie Mendell and Jillian Milton most be lights out in big meets. Milton did not have the kind of state meet she is capable of after running #1 at sectionals. Look for 2018 to be an excellent year overall for the Tigers.
4. Rock Falls
Head Coach: Mark Truesdell
Last year's finish: State- 7th place
Tony's thoughts: This is a dangerous team on many fronts. First, the Lady Rockets competed in 2A during the track season and placed 4th in the 4x800 relay. Secondly, the squad came on the scene last year smashing the competition at the Oregon Sectional with 59 points. They would end up placing 7th in the state. With all seven starters returning, this could be a team on the podium in November. Alex Gomez was an all-stater placing 16th followed by a near miss from Bryahna Ganther who took 26th by one second. Add in another top 30 performer Bailee Fortney, there is nothing stopping the squad from moving full steam ahead except for more improvement from the 4th and 5th slots.
Head Coach/coaches: Olivia Morris/Matt O'Hanlon
Last year's finish: State- 5th place
Projected top 7: Argo, Wiegand, Fogo, Grober, Elle Knapp, Anna Perry, Nora Robinson
Newcomers: Elle Knapp and Anna Perry
Coach's thoughts on the team: Doing the little things to keep everyone healthy will be key to our success.