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Key boys teams: #2 St. Charles East, #3 Wheaton-Warrenville South, #24 Chicago Jones, Deerfield, Huntley, Chicago Lane Tech, St. Charles North, Wheaton North
Key girls teams: #8 York, #16 Prospect, #21 Glenbard West, #23 Downers Grove North, St. Charles East, St. Charles North, Maine South, Glenbard North; 2A- #4 Chicago (St. Ignatius)
We begin with the girls here and for the first time, there will not be a Katelynne Hart sighting. The three-time superstar champion senior from Glenbard West is away on a college visit. This will lend an opportunity for someone to step up. Last year's runner-up junior Alice Abbott is a prime candidate to fill the shoes. So far on the season, Abbott is undefeated after one race. Sophomore Rachel Price of St. Charles North took fifth last year and should not be discounted despite not breaking 19:00 in two contests thus far.
The team battle is expected to be competitive for the top five slots. As we mentioned earlier, Glenbard West will be down a runner so look for the emerging sophomore Audrey Allman to lead the charge for the Hilltoppers. Can the defending champs muster enough depth to defend their title? It will be tough with a strong York team on the rise. The Lady Dukes were third last year but they are a season wiser... Prospect is dangerous because of their strong pack. Hey, let's not discount St. Ignatius. They return virtually everyone from last year and this will be their first test of the season for the Wolfpack.
New to the boys scene are defending state champion Wheaton South and Wheaton North. They are rivals and crosstown frienemies who will meet on uncommon ground in Roselle, the site of the 3A Sectional. The Tigers are already on the come up as last weekend's dominance at the Hornet-Devil Invite proved. In that affair top runner senior William Hauenstein won in 14:55 which sprung a 48-second scoring split. Junior Will Roth's fourth-place finish over 5k led the Falcons to a big victory at the Spartan Challenge in Iowa.
However, both teams will be fighting against the defending champion St. Charles East. The Saints should be in prime position and hard to beat after crushing a solid field in their home opening Leavy Invitational. Senior Bob Liking and sophomore Micah Wilson went 1-2. All five scorers were in the top 10 which netted a 34-second split.
Another quality team in the field is Jones College Prep. The Eagles open their season with a veteran group led by senior Anthony Maida. They are a team that likes to run with a tight-knit pack. Watch for them to challenge for a top-three finish. Others looking to fill out the top five include Lane Tech, Deerfield, Huntley, and St. Charles North.
The individual race to the finish line should be foremost with Hauenstein, Liking, and Wilson. They all have the opportunity to break 15:00 on this flat course. Maida, Ian Geisler (Sr., Huntley), and Ryan Harvey (Sr., South Elgin) will battle for top billing.