Being noticed can sometimes be as important as being ranked. Why? Returning runners who follow the sport may take it as disrespect if they have worked hard all summer and not be included in the rankings. Newcomers may see it as an opportunity to show and improve and build their own legacy. Whatever the alibi could be, we have diagnosed a slate of squads with the potential of being a force on the always competitive state scene.
Good luck and best wishes to all of Illinois!
Head Coach: Andrew Brendel
Last Year's Finish: 7th- (Decatur MacArthur Sectional)
Quick Thoughts: Triad High School returns most of their top 7 from last year's team that was about 40 points short in the Decatur MacArthur sectional. This can be a top-25 team with more firepower in the 4-5 range. Alyssa Kowalski is the top returner, having run 19:05 last year. Keep an eye on soph Chloe Gough as well, who may make the jump this year to join Kowalski at the front of the team.
Head Coach: Jim Centella
Last Year's Finish: 8th- (Belvidere North Sectional)
Quick Thoughts: Even if teams can only run against their own region, Grayslake Central will be able to test themselves against the deepest region in the state (Northern IL). The Rams finished a distant 8th in the loaded Belvidere North sectional but return three girls in the sub-19:30 range (Bryn Sato, and Grace and Caroline Kokkin). However, only one additional runner has run under 21:20 so the Rams will search for a little more depth this season.
Maple Park (Kaneland)
Head Coach: Doug Ecker
Last Year's Finish: 6th- (Belvidere North Sectional)
Quick Thoughts: Kaneland was the first team out in the deepest sectional in 2A last year, Belvidere North. They have the most depth of the teams on the unranked side of the classification, but there is not a clear candidate to join Olivia Franklin as a frontrunner after losing Rachel Richtman. Alli Gonnella, MacKenzie Egert, and Rose Dallal comprise the middle pack that will have to find themselves closer to Franklin to make Kaneland competitive with some of the other strong upstate 2A teams.
Head Coach: Gene Jones
Last Year's Finish: 8th- (Bloomington Sectional)
Quick Thoughts: In coach Gene Jones 50th year as coach, Metamora finished 8th in the strong mid-state Bloomington sectional. The team is led by Lily Sturgell, whose best 2019 time was 19:25 at the Mid-Illini conference meet. They return 3 of their top 5 and 5 of their top 7. Katie Lalumandier and Karissa Heffernan are the other athletes who have broken 20:00 for the Redbirds.
Head Coach: Scott Nelson
Last Year's Finish: 6th- (Fenton Sectional)
Quick Thoughts: St. Francis just barely missed state by 6 points at the Fenton sectional in 2019. They are anchored by state-qualifying runner Minnie Rolston, but will be looking to Madelin Andelbradt, Leah Gaul and Leann Ringsrud to form a pack behind her. Keep an eye on the Spartans. If the state series occurs, they can find themselves sneaking into the state lineup with a good race.