Ray Lewis' Girls XC Review From The 2010s

What will this decade be remembered for? (Girls)

The 2010's were the first full decade that IHSA has run three miles on the Girl's side, and therefore the decade with the greatest progressions in performances for Girls. At the turn of the decade, the all-time Detweiller record was 16:37 by Nicole Benson of Bartonville (Limestone). Ten years later, Benson's time has been beaten by an almost unfathomable 27 different athletes at the state meet alone, discounting times run at Peoria during the season. Furthermore, of the 68 fastest state times in Illinois history, 67 of the came during the current decade. Many of these times have come in the latter half of the decade, and the list of sub-16:30 and sub-17:00 seems to get padded every year.

Even as the girls' talent in Illinois has evolved, the makeup of the state suggests that there is still room for the whole of Illinois to grow in competitiveness. Characterizing the 2010's on the girls' side is impossible without mentioning the dynastic dominance of a small number of teams. Of the 20 team state titles in 3A and 2A, 11 of them were won by Naperville North or Yorkville. Those two teams are currently on a four-year streak of finishing 1st and 2nd respectively in 3A state and the streak appears to be in good order to continue as we start the 2020's. This aggregation of talent at the top end of the state indicates that although the progress on the girls' side has been meteoric in the 2010's, an Illinois field with more parity will need more progress from the rest of the state.

What questions are there for the next decade? Can an Illinois team breakthrough and win a National Title?

New York and California dominance at NXN has eroded in the past five years, and Naperville North has been the Illinois team to come closest to sharing in the throne. The all-time great 2018 Husky team finished 2nd, but the 2017 team also finished 2nd by a margin of just five points. Yorkville and Downers Grove South have been teams to join Naperville North in Portland, but Illinois has typically occupied the mid-pack spots.

Will Judy Pendergast's Detweiller record survive the 2020's?

The all-time Detweiller Park record was broken three times during the 2010's: Kayla Beattie (Woodstock) 16:22 in 2010, Madeline Perez (Glenbard West) 16:02 in 2012, and Pendergast's 15:53.8 in 2015. When Katelynne Hart ran 15:59 to win her third straight state title as a junior in 2018, the breaking of Pendergast's mark seemed inevitable-although Hart came up short in 2019. The freshness of the record should not be deceiving-this is an incredibly impressive mark and there is no guarantee it won't be the record still come 2030.

Predicting whether the record will be broken in the next ten years is impossible to forecast, but Hart passes the torch to a capable harrier-Tatum David-who appears to have a few reasonable shots at the record. Don't forget about Batavia's Katrina Schlenker, whose brave runner-up race as a freshman in 2018 is the 6th fastest Detweiller performance ever.

Will dynasties like Naperville North continue to dominate the state scene?

Of course, Naperville North hopes the answer is yes, and the rest of the state will have to do something to make the answer no. There appears to be a wide gap in the large-level divisions between Naperville North, Yorkville, Hinsdale Central and Downers Grove South and the field, but talent has a way of finding itself in new and unexpected places. If you're getting an over/under on a team winning 6 state championships in the largest division for the 2020's, take the under.

Conversely, watch for a new upcoming dynasty in the small school divisions: Winnebago. 'New' is somewhat of a misleading qualifier, because Bago's title this November was their 13th in school history, and they know all about being a dynasty already since they won five consecutive titles from 2005-2009. The Erbs (Winnebago's coaches) seem to have something brewing again with their squad who returns essentially everybody from their dominant state team from this year.