Class 3A Girls Preseason Preview Begins Numbers Game

There are some teams here who made the big dance and there are others who just missed out. And there are several more whose range was off in the distance. But guess what? It's 2020 and the "new normal" is we are all in the same boat... until the races finally get underway. 3A is a tough animal to tackle so let's see who are the squads to watch in this opening scenario.


25. Arlington Heights (Hersey)

Head Coach: Danielle Freeman

Last year's finish: State Championship- 20th place

Key returners: Anna Harden (So.), Jane Stefaniak (Sr.), Mackenzie Ginder (So.), Emma Van Meveren (So.), Gabi Makowski (So.)

Tony's thoughts: The Mid-Suburban Conference League (MSL) has always been a benchmark for girls cross country in this state. For the Huskies, they finished fourth in a deep meet which meant they were on their way to a strong post-season run. As it turned out, this team rode the legs of Anna Harden who earned all-state honors in her very first state championship appearance. Pack with four returners, look for another enticing crack at the state meet (if there is one).

24. Geneva 

Head Coach: Peter Raak

Last year's finish: St. Charles East Sectional- 8th place

Key returners: Lauren Hasty (Sr.), Lily Ryan (Jr.), Mckenna Mertes (So.), Elise Waldchen (So.)

Top newcomers: Agnes Bolender (Fr.), Sarah Hahn (Fr.), Lauren Verdecchia (Fr.)

Coach Raak's thoughts on the team:

I'd like to think that we will hold on to our 4th place spot in the conference.  We lost our top few girls to graduation, but we have a nice mix coming back along with some newbies who have shown solid improvement this summer.   

Top concerns, challenges you face given COVID-19 guidelines/restrictions:

Same as the boys, just trying to keep the team bonds strong.  Runners enjoy running and spending time with all their teammates, and it has been hard for everyone to be more separated this year and in smaller groups.  But we are making the most of the opportunity, and hopefully, the smaller running groups also mean tighter bonds amongst them.  


23. Oswego East

Head Coach/coaches: Lisa Cook/Steve IderanKelly McNeely

Last year's finish: St. Charles Sectional- 6th place

Key returners: Maddie Zarembski (Jr.), Naylah Allen (Sr.), Hannah King (Jr.), Angie Goduto (Sr.),

Leah Allgaier (Jr.), Ana Barroso (Jr.), Maddi Amer (Jr.), Sydney Williams (So.)

Projected top 7: Zarembski, Allen, Barroso, Goduto, Angeles Mendoza (So.), Grace Praxmarer (So.), Amer

Newcomers: Morgan Dick (Fr.), Josslyn Gaona (Fr.), Ava Saalfeld (Fr.)

Coach Cook's thoughts on the team: Throughout the past six months, we have been so impressed by our athletes.  They continued to run and train and have been improving and growing together as a team all summer. 

We have a stronger pack from 1-14 than we've ever had, and we are faster from top to bottom of our entire roster.  Our sophomore crew has been incredibly dedicated all summer, and we should see several of those athletes find a home in our top 7. Our conference is stacked at the top, and we are looking to surprise people with how tight our pack is and with how we attack races.  Maddie Zarembski and Naylah Allen return as All-Conference athletes and Hannah King, Leah Allgaier, and Ana Barroso will draw upon their experience from Sectionals last year to help lead the team as well. 

We went from 6th in our Regional to 6th at Sectionals, just 11 points shy of qualifying for State as a team, so the girls are excited and ready to take that next step this season!  If we don't get to have the traditional opportunities a season offers, we are thankful for each day we get to practice as a team and each race we get to compete.


22. Winnetka (New Trier)

Head Coach: John Burnside

Last year's finish: State Championship- 16th place 

Key returners: Emma Braband (Sr.), Olivia Bhote (Sr.), Ellie Ponko (Sr.), Sam Fellman (Jr.), Katherine Forbes (So.), Claire Finnigan (So.)Allie Weix (Jr.)

Projected top 7:  See above
Newcomers: N/A

Coach Burns' thoughts on the team: These kids have proven themselves to be extremely dedicated, hard-working and resilient.  We have a very young team and would depend entirely on pack running but practicing pack running will be difficult and.  The group is ready to race. 


21. Park Ridge (Maine South)

Head Coach/Coaches: Jeff Downing/Jennifer Roddick-Small, Harvey Braus

Last Year's Finish: Lake Park Sectional- 9th place

Key Returners: We only graduated a few from our top 12, so our presumed top 7 are all returning from our varsity squad. 

Projected Top 7: Maria Marcucci (Jr.), Maggie Gaughan (So.), Tara Murphy (Sr.), Morgan Gioia (So), Maryclare Koch (So), Danielle Ammentorp (Sr), Kendall Oslowski (Sr)

Coach Downing's thoughts about the season:  I think we have some talent in our 60 girl squad.  We were all very disappointed with not finishing the track season, but the top group did their best to train hard in the interim and we have a group that has the chance to be very successful.  This group is going to have to run well as a pack and I think they trained well enough to get that done. And hopefully, a couple of our younger runners will be there to help add some depth to this squad.  In the end, we are just excited to get a chance to run this fall with whatever meet restrictions are allowed.  As we get back into competing, we should have fun seeing how good we are relative to some of the other teams.


20. New Lenox (Lincoln-Way Central)

Head Coach: Ryan Stapinski

Last year's finish: State Championship- 22nd place

Key returners: Merrigan Allen (Sr.) is our top running Knight.  She is a senior who is looking to compete in college and she has qualified for State in every track and cross country season she has competed in.  She ran a PR of 17:45 at State last fall, which was the second-fastest time in the history of the Knights cross country program.  

Catherine Ihrke (Sr.) is another top returner for Central.  Catherine is extremely consistent in her training and that allowed her to have a huge drop in her times last season running 2 to 3 minutes faster than the previous season.  She ran 9.5 miles around Waterfall Glen at under 8-minute pace yesterday and has shown the potential to be a sub 18 minute 3 miler as well.  

Carly Shipman (Sr.) and Colleen Erdman (Sr.) will be key contributors for the Knights' varsity group as well.  Carly was injured at the end of last season but ran a 1600 PR of 5:41 during a time trial this summer, which is a testament to how hard she has worked to come back from injury. Erdman is a three-sport athlete and always finds a way to perform at her best when it matters most.  Both Shipman and Erdman could below 18 minutes three-milers at a course like Detweiller.  

Grace Eenigenburg (Jr) was part of our varsity group last fall and showed a lot of potential during her first track season before it got cut short due to COVID.  We are looking forward to seeing the jump she'll make this season.

Nadia Bowden is a freshman who has shown a ton of potential all summer long.  This is her first time being on a running team, but she will be a key member of our varsity squad for years to come.  Her dad was one of my coaches when I was in high school so it's really cool to see things come full circle.  

Ella Maldonado (So.) was a varsity runner for us last season before an injury and she has been working extremely hard to get back.  Ella definitely has the talent and work ethic to be one of our top varsity runners this season.  

Shea Martin (So.) is a returning varsity runner who at the beginning of track season showed she could hang with Merrigan.  Shea brings a ton of energy and positivity to our team along with a very competitive spirt.  Shea dropped 25 seconds in the 800 to run 2:28 during an early indoor dual meet during track season.  Her younger sister Kate Martin (Fr.) could be a contributor to our varsity squad as well.  

All summer long our coaching staff has been impressed with freshman Claire Carter and Nancy Flais. Ceci Nilson (So.) has shown the ability and work ethic to make an impact on our varsity group this season. Between our group of 4 senior captains (Allen, Ihrke, Shipman, and Ihrke) and a young varsity group, the ladies are looking forward to using each meet as an opportunity to push each other and make the team better, especially since we are limited to almost entirely dual meets for the season.  Again, we're just grateful to be able to run together and compete in some fashion this fall.

 Coach Stapinski's thoughts on the team: Last year we finished 22nd in my first year as head coach of the Lincoln-Way Central girls' cross country team.  The Lincoln-Way Central girls' cross country team is excited to have a season despite how different it may look.  Summer conditioning and summer camp participation has been outstanding.  It was quite clear that most of the girls were running independently and safely before conditioning began.  


19. Wheaton-Warrenville South

Head Coach/coaches: Rob Harvey/Sarah Bikulcius
Last year's finish:  State Championship- 12th place
Key returners: Sam Poglitsch (Sr.), Annie Macabobby (Jr), Becca Hauenstein (Sr.), Mia Duebener (Jr.)
Projected top 7: As you know, we never project our top-7. We let the season take care of that. 
Newcomers: As you also know, we never talk about newcomers to our program until they have raced. We do have several impact newcomers.  
Coach Harvey's thoughts on the team: We stayed in the track and field mode until mid-May. We thought development was important. The girls did virtual time trials. We backed off for the last two weeks of May and began a virtual summer running camp on June 1st. We have had some pleasant surprises in our sophomore and junior classes. Our senior class is progressing very nicely. We're enjoying the process and cherish every day we get to be with your teammates and coaches.


18. Downers Grove South

Head Coach/coaches: Doug Plunkett/ Mike Farthing, Tess Johnson, Meagan DeSalvo
Last year's finish: State Championship- 5th place

Key returners: Sophia McNerney (Jr), Kelsey Casella (Jr), Alex Spang (Jr), Rebecca Diddia (Sr)

Projected top 7:  TBD 

Coach Plunkett's thoughts on the team:  This is a team that is trying to find its own identity after graduating an impactful senior class. They look forward to facing the challenges of this season together. 


17. Lagrange (Lyons Township)

Head Coach/coaches: Alex Lyons/ Callie Salaymeh, Greg Frandsen, Jack Hostettler, Jess Roessler, Luke Taylor

Last year's finish: State Championship- 17th place

Key returners: Kate Dickman (Sr.), Catherine Sommerfeld (So.), Claire Williams (Sr.), Madeleine Ryan (Sr.)

Coach Lyon's thoughts on the team: This team has a more important job than any prior group, and that's shepherding our program through all the uncertainty surrounding athletics and COVID-19. The current team will determine what our program looks like on the other side of all this. That is a lot to ask of young people, but I think the kids we have right now are equipped for it. How they handle this year will affect the trajectory of our team for a long time.


16. Lockport

Head coach/coaches: Regan Cronholm/Courtney Krieger/Ada Ramirez

Last year's finish: State Championship- 10th place

Key Returners: Josephine Bober (Sr.), Kayla Shea (So.), Monica Skibicki (So.), Caroline Turner (So.), Hannah Miller (So.)

Current Top 7: Skibicki, Bober, Elizabeth Bollinger (Sr.), Megan Mitchell (Sr.) Sammie Weisner, Grace Mildice,  Miller

Coach Cronholm's thoughts on the team: The girls have been working really hard all summer, even during the times the coaches couldn't meet with them. Overall, there has been a positive, determined vibe on the team. I think this team has the potential to do great things if they are given the chance to do so.


15. Hinsdale Central

Head Coach/coaches: Mark McCabe/Courtney Wallace and Maura Langevin 

Last year's finish:  State Championship- 3rd place

Key returners:  Catie McCabe (10), Sarah Fischer (10), Louisa Brorson (11).

Projected top 7: This will be fluid as the season progresses.  We'll see!

Newcomers: Isabella Terry (11), Cate McDonnell (9)

Coach's thoughts on the team: Our goals for the season are the same as always.  We'll strive to be the best we can be and do our very best to contribute to the proud tradition of Hinsdale Central Girls Cross Country.  We'll be well prepared and ready and eager to race!


14. Downers Grove North

Head Coach/coaches: Tim McDonald/Matt Maletich, Bob Calder

Last year's finish: State Championship- 21st place

Key returners: Melissa Jachim (Sr.), Ava Geiger (So.), Claire Pyne (So.), Maddie Casey (So.), Annie Bieda (Sr.)

Potential starting lineup: Those 5 + any two of the newcomers below or returnees Kate Cesario (So.), Ashley Novak (Jr., was on 2018 state team & missed last year due to injury)

Key newcomers: Sydney Hnatiuk (Fr.), Karly Harkness (Fr.), Pallavi Fisher (Fr.)

Coach McDonald's thoughts on the program: We have some depth for the first time in a while.  Summer training ranged from inconsistent to extremely consistent so it may take a few weeks for some of our depth athletes to round into shape.  The core group will be ready to go.  We are very fortunate to not only have some talented freshmen, but we also had some talented athletes come out who are upperclassmen with no running experience.  I am excited to see their development over the season.  Even though we will only be running dual meets in the WSC-Silver this season, I cannot think of too many better conferences to be in that situation with.  It should be an exciting conference season this year where the teams are all very competitive


13. Huntley

Head Coach: Matt Kaplan

Assistant Coaches: Jason Monson, Brandy Swanson, Amanda Easley
Last year's finish: State Championship-19th place 
Key returners: Breanna Burak (So), Brittney Burak (So), Molly Allen (So), Grace Allen (Sr),  Genevieve Collatz (Jr), Madison Grubbs (Jr), Annie Mitchell (Sr), Delaney Cairns (Jr)
Projected top 7: Breanna Burak, Brittney Burak, Molly Allen, Grace Allen, Collatz; a handful of others capable of last two spots
Newcomers: Ava Allison, Ximena Ceballos
Coach Kaplan's thoughts on the team: This team returns 8 of the top 10 runners from last year's team.  The girls will look to take advantage of getting to compete this fall.  Having so many returning runners from last year gives our group lots of experience.  The team looks to be led up front by the Burak twins and Allen sisters.  There are a handful of girls capable of impacting our top 7.  Our goal is to get better each week and build off the success of last season.  Our schedule consists of conference dual meets and we look forward to seeing these girls race again.


12. Elmhurst (York)

Head Coach/coaches: Lauren DeAngleis/Ashley Tucker, Jimmy Kolb

Last year's finish: State Championship- 18th place

Key returners: Brooke Berger (So.), Katelyn Winton (Jr.), Bri Bennis (So.), Bella Swanson (Jr.), Kathleen Buhrfiend (Jr.), Maureen Buhrfiend (So), Allison Fitzgibbons (Jr.)

Projected top 7: Berger, Winton, Bennis, Michaela Quinn (Fr), Katherine Klimek (Fr); look to be our top 5 and we have a lot of other girls who could break into the top 7 lineups.

Newcomers: Michaela Quinn (FR), Katherine Klimek (FR), Maggie Owens (FR)

Coach DeAngelis' thoughts on the team:

The team's greatest strength is their work ethic, dedication, and drive to be better than last year. They have held each other accountable and responsible during our entire virtual summer training and the hard work is showing in their times!

During the summer we worked a lot on building our aerobic base, increasing our mileage, and dropping our paces for the third year in a row. This team is driven after a state finish in 2019 that they were not hoping for. One focus for our team is the mental aspect of the sport which is the hardest aspect of the sport to coach in my opinion. The team and coaching staff are feeling very fortunate to have a season during these times and are looking forward to being together for the next seven weeks and competing.


11. Barrington

Head Coach: Debbie Revolta

Last year's finish: State Championship- 7th place

Key Returners: Molly FitzPatrick (Sr.), Anne Berquist (Sr.), Gaby Andrews (Jr.), Morgan Magro (Sr.), Julia Renetzky (Sr.), Katherine Shein (Sr.)

Projected top 7: Same as above and then any number of freshmen.

Newcomers:  Kari Drage, Alyssa Molinaro, Sydney Sukel, Maddy Ziebarth, Allie Edwards.

Coach Revolta's thoughts on the team: Will work on getting better every day and focus on the things we can control.  We are grateful for the opportunity to compete so we will make the most of each of those opportunities.