2020 3A Girls Preseason Preview: Unclassified

We open the state's largest classification with a few thoughts on a number of emerging teams this fall. Several of the flock are returning after either competing at the state meet or finishing outside of the automatic ticket to go to Peoria. 

Speaking of going to Peoria, it is uncertain if there will be a post-season but in the interim, we will move forward with the current IHSA recommendations: HERE


Naperville Central

Head Coach/coaches: Matt Blondell/Aislinn Hicks, Sarah Braun, Derek Miller
Last year's finish: St. Charles East Sectional- 10th place

Key returners: Haley Engels (Sr.), Rebecca Scott (So.), Cora Marcet (Sr.), Thrisha Bandepallee (Sr.)

Projected top 7: The four above will hopefully lead the way when the end of the season nears. There are several others who could potentially fill the other spots including Maeve Cahill, Kate Springer, Robyn Flakus, Addison George, Julia Laird, Ava Howard, Natalia Salgado
Newcomers: Sophomore move-in from North Carolina Segi Smith-Pariola and junior soccer player Madison Mogg are new additions that could be contributors this season. We also have a group of freshmen showing early potential include Kate Tueting, Grace Deutsch, Abby Mogg, and Ava Hendren.

Coach's thoughts on the team: It will be a different season in more ways than one. Obviously the schedule looks completely different, but racing three miles seems so long ago. It especially feels long with the number of new faces we have on the team. So many have never raced a three-mile race before. We hope that they can adjust to the race distance and cohesively get better every week as a team.



Head Coach/coaches: Alison Reifenberg/Annemarie Sampson, Megan Sharp, Elizabeth Risdon

Last Year's finish: Hoffman Estates Sectional- 7th place

Projected Top 7/key returners: Sheila Tucker (So.), Bree Ponchak (Jr.), Annalese Chudy (Sr.), Katie Meyer (Jr.), Lyann Tam (Sr.), Katherine Thomey, Ryan McGrory, Katherine (Kaitlin) Gajewicz, Ava Torres (Fr.), Isabella Cramp (So.)

Newcomers: Ryan McGrory (ran in middle school but was doing POMS/Dance before their season was canceled), Katherine Gajewicz (freshman), Ava Torres (freshman), Margaret (Margot) McGormley (freshman), Lauren Hilts (freshman), Liz George (freshman)

Coach Reifenberg's thoughts on the team: This season, our summer training went really well. Before we were able to meet in person for camp, we had weekly Google Meet sessions where we talked about our runs and read the start of Shalane Flanagan's book, "Let Your Mind Run." Those Google Meet sessions combined with weekly training schedules sent out on Google Classroom and Remind were a great start. We also held ourselves accountable for getting our runs finished by creating a Strava group. It was really helpful for them to "see" each other's runs, like them, and comment on them. They were really great about getting their work done! I was really proud of what I was seeing and hearing. Then when we could meet in person, I could physically see the work they had put in.

The top athletes had clearly done what I had asked them to do and were ready to run fast "together" (as much as we can because of social distancing). Now that the season has started, and the racing guidelines have come out, I am excited to see what they can do this year. It will look extremely different from any cross country season anyone has ever seen, and I think the time trial format will really test our athletes' mental strength and grit. I am excited that we can race, and I am excited that they are fit!


Head Coach: Neil James

Last year's finish: State Championship- 23rd place

Key returners: Peyton Schieppe (Jr.), Julia Monson (Jr.), Sofia Parker (Sr.), Maddy Vorce (Sr.), Sophie Moffett (Sr.), Avery Taake (So.), Olivia Ori (Sr.), Elly Parks (So.)

Projected top 7: Schieppe, Monson, Parker, Zura, Peterson, Vorce, Moffett

Newcomers: Hannah Zura (So) transfer last spring, Ella Peterson (Fr)

Coach's thoughts on the team: The girls have done a great job of handling the disappointment

of last spring and have taken that and used it as the motivation for this fall. The turnout for

summer running was as good as we have had in the last few years. We are excited to get

started with races.


Head Coach/coaches: George Patrylak, Dustin Davis, Maggie Dust

Last year's finish:  State Championship- 25th place

Key returners: Riley Knoyle (So.), Makenna Lueking (Jr.), Jillian Welsh (Jr.), Kaitlyn Loyet (Sr.), Anna Singh (Jr.), Madison Strotheide (So.), Arabella Ford (So.)

Projected top 7: Knoyle, Lueking, Maya Lueking, Dylan Peel, Jillian Welsh, Kaitlyn Loyett, Whitney Dyckman.

Newcomers:  Maya Lueking, Dylan Peel, Jillian Welsh, Whitney Dyckman

Coach Patrylak's thoughts on the team: Last season our girls came on strong at the very end of the season

and qualified for State. The changes to the Regional/Sectional system, should we get the opportunity to implement them, will make qualifying for State a challenge. Although we return six of our seven runners from State, from what I saw this summer, only four of those six will currently be holding varsity spots. Senior Kaitlyn Loyett and Junior Jillian Welsh are in the best shape of their lives. Kaitlyn and Jillian both struggled with iron deficiencies last year and both looked much better this summer. Makenna Lueking was our number two runner all year last year. She is stronger and faster than a year ago, but she is going to really have to work hard to maintain that position. We have a solid freshman class that will be pushing her at times. Her sister, Maya Lueking, already has the potential to do so. I also expect Dylan Peel to be fighting for a top-five spot this season. We are stronger and deeper as a team this year, but the question will be whether or not we have enough. One person we are not concerned about is Riley Knoyle.

Due to COVID precautions, our coaching staff decided to assign and maintain groups of nine and a coach. We had a discussion with Riley and it was decided she would benefit more by practicing with on the second boy's group. She has worked hard all summer and is in excellent shape. The only thing I worry about with Riley is the level of competition she will face. Other than when we meet Peyton and O'Fallon, she will not see any competition from our COVID Region. With a year of experience, given the chance, Riley has the ability to be a top 10 3A runner this season.

Wheaton North

Head Coach/coaches: Peter Anderson/Amy Freeman, Anne-Marie Lemp, Hope Turner, Mary Moore
Last year's finish: Lake Park Sectional- 7th place 

Key returners: Sophia Spencer (Jr.), Eleanor Quinn (Sr.), Anna Roe (Jr.), Emily Burnham (Sr.)

Projected top 7: Sophia Spencer, Eleanor Quinn, Jacelyn Johnson, Anna Roe, and then six or seven girls competing for the remaining spots
Newcomers: Monica Kading (Fr), Elena Klingler (Jr)

Coach Anderson's thoughts on the team: We are happy to be out practicing and getting ready to compete. We have a solid core of returning, experienced girls in the top seven, and some others itching to show what they can do.  There is a mental, competitive strength developing on the team.  Much is already different about this season, but the girls are adapting.  Some old traditions can't be had this season, but getting out there and racing to the best of their abilities continues with every opportunity we will get.