2018 Class 2A Girls XC Preview: The Countdown #20 to #11

Some of the teams in this level will have work to do if they want to get in position to be a top 10 candidate or a threat to trophy type squads.

20. Mahomet-Seymour

Head Coach: Kristin Allen

Last year's finish: State- 4th place

Key returners: Brisa McGrath (Sr) Megan Churm (Jr), Madi Balbach (Jr), Olivia Bunting (So), Gretchen Scheele (So) 

Tony's thoughts: The Bulldogs on paper have enough to be a solid team this fall. The key question is 'do they have enough to make another run inside the top 10?' That, of course, will have to be answered through summer training and conditioning. The next item is health and maturity. Five of the top seven return and that is a good starting point. Top runner Brisa McGrath proved that she is fit now after running 18:07 in last month's Detweiller at Dark meet. But as a whole, the rest of the troops were far back. While DD is a fun and "non-serious" meet, it is still a little concern that some of the girls were nearly three minutes behind Brisa. Work is still needed to be done.

19. Mascoutah

Head Coach: Darren Latham

Last year's finish: State- 19th place

Key returners: Julia Kapp (Jr), Arianna Climaco (Jr), Naya Busbea (Jr), Madison Krieg (Sr), Bella Dixon (Jr), Kalee Chau (Sr), Elizabeth Byington (Sr)

Tony's thoughts: Assuming that all seven girls returned, this is a team could be really good. The Indians consisted with a scoring split under 45 seconds which proved to be one of the best in the classification. But the problem lies in not having a low stick runner as the 19:32 per girl average proved. Top runner Julia personal best is 18:55. She will need to improve in that category this season in order for the team to be a big-time threat.

18. Crystal Lake South

Head Coach: Ken Greenfield

Last year's finish: Kaneland Sectional- 7th place

Key returners: Mackenzie Aldridge (Jr), Olivia Beckwith (Sr), Chelsea Greene (So), Emma Heuck (Sr), Emma Murphy (So)

Projected top 7: Five girls mentioned above; others

Newcomers: Addie Frisch (Fr), Elise Gorman (Fr) Lily Worline (Fr)

Coach's thoughts on the team: Our top 5 could be very strong and have had a fantastic summer. After that, it's a toss-up. There are a couple runners in the next 4-5 who I think have the potential to step up and be within striking distance of our top group. We'll need that to happen for me to breathe easier. As it stands, we need everything to go well with our top 5 to reach our potential.

17. Lemont

Head Coach: Tim Plotke
Last years finish: State- 18 th place
Newcomers: Kailey Politza (Fr), Destiny Vargas (Fr)
Coach's thoughts on the team: Our summer training consisted of plenty of aerobic training runs blended with tempos and Fartlek's. The girls really had fun, recharged their batteries, and are ready to get rolling. This year's team consists of a nice mix of veterans and newcomers who work well together. I feel they have the confidence needed to run well this season. I am excited to see how this team progresses.

16. West Chicago (Wheaton Academy)

Head Coach/coaches: Chris Felinski/Daniel Ball, Katie Buell, Neal Roys
Last year's finish: State- 12th place 
Key returners: Mia Rynbrandt (Sr)
Projected top 7: Rynbrandt, Mary Frost (Sr), Yesica Brown (Sr), Anna Jerdee (Jr),  Lily Lebo (freshman)
Newcomers: Lebo 
Coach's thoughts on the team: This year is going to be a different type of challenge for the team. Out of our seven state runners last year, we are losing three to graduation (Julia Robleski, Kayla Lotz, Maggie Bailey), 1 to soccer (Sophie Lindquist) and one to injury (Stephanie Gregersen). As we start off the season, we are looking at increasing numbers and decreasing times through conference. Our eyes are on the conference championship this year and making a run at the conference title, and then see what happens for Regionals/Sectionals/State as we go along. If we don't qualify as a team, I can see Mia and Mary both being in the running for the seven individual qualifying positions. I am very excited to be working with this new core group of girls as we continue to push for better times.

15. Peoria (Notre Dame)

Head Coach/coaches: Dan Gray; Elyse Dell, Jenny Every

Last year's finish: State- 10th place

Key returners: Rachel Ehrhart (Sr), Irene Ehrhart (So), Victoria Kortz (Sr),  Abby Miller (Sr), Kaylie Wolter (Sr)

Newcomers: Teagan Cover (Fr), Maci Cave (Fr), Anna Wolter (Jr)

Coach's thoughts on the team: Rachel Ehrhart returns as the team leader after running with an 18:51 PB at state last year. Irene Ehrhart is also a sub 19:00 performer as well as Abby Miller closing out 2017 with a 19:07 at state. The Irish should have a strong front group leading the charge this season. Kaylie Wolter earned experience in her first year of xc as a junior, and she should be much improved. Teagan Cover has very good footspeed and had strong showings in xc and track as an 8th grader. Victoria Kortz has had her best summer ever and it is looking to claim a varsity spot. Chelsea Sanchez was among our top 7 last year and will continue to seek to improve from a year ago.

14. Washington

Head Coach/coaches: Troy Walcott/Ben Page
Last year's finish: State- 5th place 
Key returners: Hannah Bennett (Sr), Joy English (Jr), Callie Danks (Jr), Brooke Evans (Jr), Jadyn Jacobs (So)
Projected top 7: Jadyn Jacobs (Fr), English (Jr), Brooke Evans (Jr), Bennett, Danks, Emily Baker (Fr) and Celie Fischer (So)
Newcomers: Emily Baker (Fr), Celie Fischer (So)
Coach's thoughts on the team: After graduating three seniors from last year's state qualifying team, we have some runners that have worked hard to fill that void. Our team dynamic has shifted a little which we might create more opportunities for a race to race change up of our 5th to 7th runners. We have a core group that has State Final experience which should help in events with the difficult competition.

13. Riverside-Brookfield

Head Coach/coaches: Blair Jensen/Danielle Delzotti, Armando Venegas
Last year's finish: State- 17th place
Projected top 7: Janney, Kaczmarz, Lutes, Oliveira-Liz, Niela Callanan, Emma Fortman (Jr), Selena Axinte (Jr)
Newcomers: Sophia Arcos (So), Sylvia Harvin (Sr)
Coach's thoughts on the team: This year's group is hard working, has some very experienced runners and great leaders. Some runners are still recovering from track season injuries, but we hope to stay healthy and be competitive again this year.

12. Chicago (Latin) 

Head Coach: Dan Daly
Last year's finish: State- 14th place
Projected top 7: Those 6 above plus Ava Parekh (Fr)
Newcomers: Parekh, McKenna Fellows, Izzy Oberman, Sophia Matchett, Keely Moll
Coach's thoughts on the team: Very Solid top four. The team will need to develop the 5-7 to round out the squad A top 10 finish in 2A is a reasonable goal. If things go well, we stay healthy and the girls work together as a team, we'll peak on Nov 3rd and a podium spot is possible. Should be a fun season!

11. Normal (University)

Head Coach/coaches: John Neisler, Lester Hampton, Stu Shaver, Jill Burroughs, Abby Rader

Last year's finish: Normal University Sectional- 7th place

Key returners: Emmy Mussey (Sr), Lyndsey Wolters (So), Ella Bittner (So), Mackie Madix (So), Tasha Schuckman (Jr), Mya Kaeb (So)

Projected top 7: Mussey, Wolters, Bittner, Madix, Kaeb; up in the air after that.

Newcomers: Lizzy Zacharias (So) -- from swimming

Coach's thoughts on the team: The girls have had a good summer and are really motivated from a disappointing end to last year's season. We were a very young team last year (still are), with Schuckman injured and graduated senior Riley Madix sick on the day of Sectional. Right now everyone is healthy and is looking forward to another fun year. We're looking to continue our streak of Bloomington- Normal Intercity championships (currently at 8) and win the Central State 8 for the second year in a row (we won last year in our first year in the conference).