Class 2A Girls Pre-Season Preview: #20-11

Some great teams in years' past will start from the middle position to open up the season. Kaneland, Dunlap, and Vernon Hills are teams of note.


Head Coach/coaches: Doug Ecker/Andy Franklin
Last year's finish: 19th- State Championship 
Key returners: Rachel Richtman (Sr.), Olivia Franklin (Jr.), Aubrey Broz (Jr.), MacKenzie Egert (Jr.), Emma Hockey (Sr)
Projected top 7: Very much up for grabs with the addition of a large freshman class for us plus some new upperclassmen added to the mix.
Newcomers: Double-digit freshman class with good talent.
Coach's thoughts on the team: Over half the team will be new from last year. The team should be solid at the top two spots. The freshman class has some talent with a good work ethic and attitude. Several of the returning sophomore, juniors, and seniors have improved over last year. There should be good healthy competition for the top seven which will hopefully lead to a competitive team in mid to late October.

Head Coach/coaches: Suzanne Curry/Chris Wolf, Nikki Collins 
Last year's finish: State Runner-Up
Key returners: Emma Wakefield (So), Carly Sear, CJ Leuck (So), Kassie Woolard (Jr), Lily Blase (Sr), Brynn Ziemke (Sr)
Projected top 7: Wakefield, Sear, Rose Sheridan (Fr), Reina Hill (Fr); open after that.
Newcomers: Rose Sheridan, Reina Hill, Rachel Ackerman, Anna Todd (all freshmen)
Coach Curry's thoughts on the team: Our team will have a new look this year after losing 5 of our top 7 and 8 of our top 14 to graduation. We're expecting strong leadership from seniors Carly Sear, Brynn Ziemke, and Lily Blase, all of who have State meet experience. Some very talented freshmen are coming in who are excited to be a part of the high school team and should make an immediate impact at the varsity level. Sophomore CJ Leuck & Junior Kassie Woolard are both returning from injuries last season and hope to crack the Top 10. Everyone has been training smart & hard this summer and we're looking forward to continuing on the path forged by their former teammates by defending the CSL North title and going deep into the post-season to earn our 8th consecutive trip to the State Meet in November!

Head Coach/coaches: Gene Jones/Jess Mellican, Pete Bachfischer, Dan Herring, Angie Kimbro, Cory Shoopman
Last year's finish: 17th- State Championship
Key Returners: Maddie Bennett (Sr), Aly Gillum (Sr), Kara Hodel (Jr): Karissa Heffernan (Jr), Katie Lalumandier (So)
Projected Top 7: The five above, Audra Fite (11), Ally Kough (10), Alayna Ruach (9)
Newcomer: Freshman Alayna Ruach should be in the top 5 as the season gets underway.
Coach Jones' thoughts on the team: The Mid-Illini is a strong AA Girls conference (four teams - Dunlap, Morton, Metamora, & Washington -- plus Canton - an individual) ran in the State Meet in 2018. We will get great competition throughout the season. This should prepare us for another trip to the State Meet -- a Team Goal. Hopefully, the chemistry of the Team will develop into a State Qualifier. Looking forward to a good year at Metamora.

17. Urbana
Head Coach/Coaches: Forrest Farokhi/Zach Boehmke, Kate McCormick
Last year's finish: Decatur Macarthur Sectional-- 7th Place
Key returners: Olivia Rosenstein (Sr), Chian Scott (Sr.), Ashley Gilbert (Jr), Phoebe Gerstenecker (Jr.), Megan Puluska (Jr.), Mattie Janczewski (Jr.), Molly Sweeney (Sr.), Celia Barbieri (So.), Sofie Skottene (Jr.), Emma Fristoe (Jr.), Azure Rubel (Jr.), Macy Wirtz (So.)
Projected top 7: Rosenstein, Scott, Barbieri, Gerstenecker, Sweeney, Gilbert, Puluska 
Coach Farokhi thoughts on the team: We've got a wonderful group of dedicated and team-oriented young ladies on board with us this season, many of whom are no stranger to the state meet experiences in XC and Track. We have strong senior leadership through our former All-State runners Olivia Rosenstein and Chian Scott. We've also seen several fresh/soph runners rise through the leadership and performance ranks as they've put in the time and effort to solidify their Varsity status. For now, we are simply enjoying learning and improving each day, with the clear intention of digging our spikes into the Detweiller soil this postseason.

Head Coach: John Szabo
Last year's finish: 9th- East Peoria sectional.
Key returners: Kaitlin Skeate (Jr.)
Projected top 7: Skeate, Anita Calvacante, Paige Kaeb, Bethany Reeser, Laylani Rivera, and possibly Nicte' Rivadeneyra-Braswell; Ibby Smith, Raegan Kaeb, Lily Burns, Lauren Gardner, and Lillianna Ifft. Newcomers: Freshman Raegan Kaeb and Lillianna Ifft, a sophomore who moved from Prairie Central to Bloomington and is running cross country for the first time. She placed 3rd in the 2019 IHSA Class 2A State Meet in the pole vault.
Coach Szabo's thoughts on the team: Our Purple Raiders have had a good summer of training and with our entire 2018 team returning and a couple of newcomers, our expectation and goals are high for this fall. The team has 11 or 12 runners that could make the top 7 which will give us more depth than we have had in several years. It will also create a more competitive atmosphere at practices. We will need to move our pack closer to our #1 runner, All-Stater Kaitlin Skeate if we are going to repeat as conference champions and qualify for state as a team. We are extremely pleased with the attitudes and dedication by this fine group of young ladies. Looking forward to a fun season.

Head Coach/coaches: Chris Friedman/Amanda Young, Steve Carter, Andrew Hanselman
Last year's finish: 12th- State Championship
Key returners: Macy Priess (Jr), Abby Banister, Jordan Serrahn (Sr.), Paige Acklie (so.).
Projected top 7: Priess, Banister, Serrahn, Acklie, Saniya Mathew (fr.), and two more who will likely come from a group of four or five runners.
Newcomers: Three girls come from Dunlap Middle School's 5th place 3A team will join us this season. Saniya Mathew, Taya Zimmerman, and Michele Sun will help us to continue our rich history of success. From Dunlap Valley, Faith Meghrian and Ella Blue Ramirez have had a strong summer and will also help us this year and the years to come.
Coach Friedman's thoughts on the team: The 2019 Dunlap Eagles will feature an all-stater (Macy Priess), a top 40 runner (Abby Banister), and a pair of state experienced runners (Jordan Serrahn and Paige Acklie). The key to success will be how well that four help along with runners who have been working at the high school level but have not had state experience or freshman runners. The mix exists on this team for a state contender. They will be challenged, as always, by strong programs in the Central Illinois area (Peoria Notre Dame, Washington, Metamora to name a few), but the hard work being put in this summer tells me they will rise to those challenges and any others put before them. Over the past six years, we have finished in the top 12 every year with at least one all-stater. This team is no different.

14. Lemont
Head Coach/coaches: Tim Plotke/Stefanie Miller
Last year's finish: 18th Place- State Championship
Key returners: Kaylie Politza (So), Marin Schiffman (Sr), Destiny Vargas (So), Jenny Martinez (Jr), Kailey Wasyliw (Jr)
Projected top 7: Politza, Schiffman, Vargas, Martinez, Wasyliw, Cassie Hamilton (Sr) Mia Stojakovic (So)
Newcomers: N/A
Coach Plotke's thoughts on the team: Kaylie Politza's confidence has grown over the past year especially after the wonderful spring she had. She should give us a low number all season long. Marin Schiffman and Destiny Vargas will be a solid 2-3 duo (they have been training together all summer). Our 4,5,6 trio of Jenny Martinez, Cassie Hamilton, and Kailey Wasyliw won't be too far behind our number 2-3 runners. Our goal is to keep our 2-7 as close as possible to Kaylie and work together as a pack. These girls are a dedicated group. They have put in a nice combination of long aerobic runs, tempos, fartleks and some occasional track intervals this summer. I can't wait to see what they can accomplish this season

Head Coach/coaches: Troy Walcott/ Ben Page, Tom Smith
Last year's finish: 5th place- State Championship
Key returners: Joy English (Sr.), Brooke Evans (Sr.), Emily Baker (So.), Katie Geisz (Jr), Jadyn Jacobs (Jr.) Projected top 7: English, Evans, Baker, Geisz, Callie Danks (Sr.) Sophia Nordhelm (Fr), Rachel Caruthers (Fr.)
Newcomers: Sophia Nordhelm (Fr), Rachel Caruthers (Fr.), Heidi Hudson (Fr.), Morgan Siltman (Fr.)
Coach Walcott's thoughts on the team: This will be an interesting season for Washington. We have four runners that are coming back strong and fit, but the status of our number one runner of the last two years is questionable. In February, Jadyn Jacobs tore her ACL while playing soccer and is still in the process of rehab. We must wait for her Doctor to approve her return to practice and racing. When that will be is anyone's guess.

12. Dixon
Head Coach: Simon Thorpe/Brittany Schwarz, Kylian Lally, Evan Grady, Chase Fischer
Last year's finish: 6th- Kaneland Sectional
Key returners: Nicquelette Fazekas (Sr), Paige Stees, Emily Conderman, Kait Knipple, Paige Riley, Taylor Hills, Jade Miller
Projected top 7: Above, others
Coach Thorpe's thoughts on the team: 
The ladies have the potential for a great season this year. The girls finished 6th in the state in 2017 and with everyone returning, we were primed for a great season in 2018. Unfortunately, injuries bit us hard last year and our lack of depth kept us from making the state meet. Nicquelette Fazekas went into the triangle in the top ten at the Peoria Invite but didn't come out after suffering a non-displaced tibia fracture. She was able to come back late in track and has been running consistently since April.

We have had a GREAT summer of training and everyone is currently healthy. The girls were the 4x800 runner-up in track and hopefully we can build from that experience in XC.

Taylor Renkes has emerged as our leader and is primed for a breakout season. All-State Runners Paige Stees and Jade Miller have had a great summer and should be in the top 25 again this season. Fazekas is incredibly motivated and we think we have found the right formula to keep her healthy throughout the season. All four girls have an excellent shot to medal this season. Grace Johnson will round out our top 5 and is probably the lynchpin to our team trophy chances. Grace was our anchor on the 4X800 and had a great season.

Head Coach/coaches: Kelly MacDonald/Patrick Carpenter
Last year's finish: 3rd place 
Key returners: Chelsea Gale, Katie Harth, Ali Klauser, Aluara Busch
Projected top 7: Gale, Harth, Klauser, Busch, Collete Janik, Rylee Lydon, and Leah Walters.
Newcomers: Bridget and Olivia Jewel, Alexis and Rachel Soukup, Rylee Lydon, Alyssa Meade, Colette Janik, Kara Mickler, Amanda Reitmeister, Madyson Weiner. As of today, many not registered.
Coach's thoughts on the team:
We have a great group of girls who have been very dedicated to summer running. Many returning runners have upped their mileage and their running pace. Many new-to-the-sport runners have shown up. They have jumped right in and are a great fit with the team.

We lost 3 seniors from last year and one of our top 5 hung up their spikes this year. Some 2-year summer runners are finally contemplating joining the XC team. With so many changes and athletes up in the air, it is hard to predict where we will come November. All I know, for sure, is the core group of kids were at summer running consistently and they will be ready to run. They have worked hard and I know they have set some lofty goals for this year. It will be a lot of fun to see how they plan to follow up a strong and surprising 2018 season.