It's going to be like navigating through the 3A maze this fall- landmines all over the landscape of the cross country battlefield. We open the season chronicling some of the top unranked teams in the state. Enjoy!
Head Coach/coaches: Peter Anderson / Amy Freeman, Anne-Marie Lemp, Hope Schmult; Mary Moore
Last year's finish: Proviso West Regional- 6th place
Key returners: Emma Beausoleil (Sr), Jacelyn Johnson (Sr), Monica Kading (So.), Bella Massaro (Jr), Anna Roe (Sr.), Sophia Spencer (Sr.), Jai Medina (Sr.)
Newcomers: Rebecca Farrell (Fr.), Kaylee Phillips (Fr.), Maddie Romaine (Fr.), Mackenzie Skidmore (Fr.)
-The Falcons will look to improve their fortunes after a tough 2020 campaign. Fortunately for coach Anderson, he returns the core of his top seven as well as a nice group of underclassmen ready to challenge for varsity positions.
Head Coach: Matt Kaplan
Last year's finish: Lyons Township Sectional- 7th place
Key returners: Breanna Burak (Jr), Brittney Burak (Jr), Molly Allen (Jr), Genevieve Collatz (Sr), Madison Grubbs (Sr), Ava Allison (So), Brooke Garcia (Jr), Delaney Cairns (Sr)
Newcomers: Mackenzie Billard, Emily Byers, Katelyn Engling
-Eight of the top ten runners are back. Coach Kaplan believes his experienced bunch can make another deep playoff run.
"Our group will be led up front by the trio of Breanna Burak, Brittney Burak, and Molly Allen," he said. "If our 4,5 runners can keep close with the Buraks and Allen; we could see some great team accomplishments."
Head Coach: Ryan Stapinski
Last year's finish: Normal Community Sectional- 8th Place
Key returners: Claire Carter (So.), Nancy Flais (So.), Ella Maldonado (Jr.), Nadia Bowden (So.), Shea Martin (Jr.), Emersynn Smith (So.), Ceci Nilson (Jr.)
Newcomers: Ruby Hillegass, Molly Muehlnickel, Jaylin Sustr
-It could be another season of rebuilding for the Knights who finished eighth at their sectional a year ago. Stapinski acknowledged that kids need to step up and fill the gaps. "Claire Carter has shown as a freshman last year that she is a state caliber runner," he said. "Ella Maldonado steadily improved all of the last cross country and track seasons and shown a ton of potential, along with the work ethic, to be right there pushing Claire. I'm hopeful that Nancy Flais, Nadia Bowden, Shea Martin, Emersynn Smith and Ceci Nilson can form a strong pack that will enable the team to return to the state meet."
Ruby Hillegrass, Molly Muehlnickel, and Jaylin Sustr have shown the potential and work ethic to be in our top seven this year, which will only help make our entire team stronger."
Head Coach/coaches: Head Coach Matt Bowden/ Dillan Harness, Mallory Johnson
Last year's finish: Normal Community Sectional- 10th place
Key returners: Gianna Arizzi (Jr.), Annie Pinciak (So), Vanessa Evans (Sr.), Hailey Novak (Sr.), Morgan Sallese (So.)
Newcomers: Chloe Miller (Fr.), Makenna Zitkus (Fr.)
-Five of the top seven return for the Warriors which includes four seniors. The experienced athletes returning should provide some improvement. Despite some interrupted training over the summer, the goal of winning a conference championship and reaping some big dividends late in the season would be delightful.
Head Coach/coaches: Mike Wolf /Shea Carpenter
Last year's finish: Rockford Guildford Regional- 7th place
Newcomers: Brenda Aquino (Fr.), Reese Zimmer (Fr.), Emily Gonzalez-Fernandez (Fr.)
-Coach Wolf will depend on returners Annika Burchell and Leah Valentiner to lead a group of youngsters this season. Hopefully, the team can take a bigger step and qualify for the sectional round.
Head Coach: Peter Raak
Last year's finish: Lyons Township Sectional- 13th place
Key returners: Sarah Hahn (So.), Lily Ryan (Sr.), Kelsey Olson (Sr.), Agnes Bolender (So.), Kelsey Olson (Sr.), Lauren Verdecchia (So.), Lila Storaasli (So.), Julianna Longo (Sr.)
Newcomers: Cassidy Pagano
-This will be a season of growth led by four seniors. Coach Raak knows that in time he will have a top notch team if they can stay healthy and work hard.
Head Coach/coach: Paul Hass / assistant coaches Dan Kim, Mark Staron
Last year's finish: Lyons Township Sectional- 9th place
Key returners: Audrey Allman (Sr.), Anna Nickoley (Sr.), Carlin Hass (Jr.), Paige King (Jr.), Kaylee Lange (Jr.), Hannah Moffatt (Jr.)
Newcomers: Carina Cudzillo (So)
-Coach Hass has had some great teams over the years but he indicated this one may be one of his largest in history. There is a good amount of newcomers which could depict a few talented harriers. Though the Hilltoppers are not ranked coming into the season, there is a chance of this squad making some noise among the tough WSC Silver which means trouble for the rest of the state.
Audrey Allman, Anna Nickoley, Carlin Hass, Paige King, and others will be there to uphold the program's great name and success. "There are several questions regarding our top seven, but we have girls who are hungry and talented enough to be the answers," concluded coach Hass.
Head Coach/coaches: Bob LeBlanc /Lori Gonzalez
Last year's finish: Loyola Academy Regional- 7th place
-Coach LeBlanc's thoughts on the team: "We graduated a lot of very talented runners who had been part of the varsity team for most or all of their high school careers. This year we need our returning runners to step up as we look to younger runners on our team to make the jump to varsity."
Head Coach/coaches: Wendy Hegarty
Last year's finish: Normal Community Sectional- 6th Sectional
Key returners: Kate Guderjan (Sr), Elyse DeFrank (So), Makayla Kelly (So), Ava Conway (So), Tori Tverdek (Jr), Riley Drzewiecki (So), Katie O'Brien (So), Maura Hanrahan (So)
Newcomers: Ellie Feigl (Fr), Emma Roberts (Jr), Kylie LaMonto (So)
-There was only one graduation loss which means this could be a team to watch this season statewide. Track all-state performer Kate Guderjan leads the charge and she will be pushed by Elyse DeFrank and strong underclassmen group.
Head Coach: Shari Hayes
Last year's finish: Lyons Township Sectional- 5th place
Key returners: Rachel Price (Sr), Bella Dicrosta (Sr), Audrey Sheehy (Sr), Katherine Erickson (So), Megan Strong (Jr)
Newcomers: Camille Sabau (So), Norah Dorrance (Fr)
-Several key parts are graduated from the top seven but there is strength with Rachel Price and Bella Dicrosta back. Audrey Sheehy is a key part as well. "Katherine and Megan will return from last year's varsity team," said coach Hayes. Also, look for newcomers Norah Dorrance and Camille Sabau to plug into a deeper roster this fall.
Head Coach/coaches: Allie Jones/Anne Swanson
Last year's finish: Normal Community Sectional- 11th place
Key returners: Olivia Wolf (Sr.), Emma Cox (Sr.), Elizabeth Deverman (Sr.), Lauren Filarski (Jr.), Jaylynn Riley (Jr.), Kylie Oyler (Jr.)
Newcomers: Raegan Caldwell
Coach Jones is feeling good about things: "I'm very excited for the upcoming season and being back to a 'normal' cross country season. The girls worked hard all summer and they are determined and excited. It'll be nice to see them race in bigger meets this year and to push each other."
Head Coach/coaches: Neil James
Last year's finish: Normal Sectional- 7th place
Key returners: Peyton Schieppe (Sr), Julia Monson (Sr), Ella Peterson (So), Catherine Gould (Sr), Ella Hettenhausen, Isabella Saldana
-The season will start with a trade-off as Brittney Brown transfers in from Mt. Vernon HS. While she will be a welcome addition, the loss of scorer Hannah Zuras moving to Delaware will sting. Still, a strong group featuring Peyton Schieppe, Julia Monson, and Ella Peterson is ready to lead the way. Coach James indicated that Catherine Gould had a good summer training regimen and should be much improved over last year. This is a team that should be one of the favorites to advance to state in November from the Quincy Sectional.
Head Coach/coaches: Jeff Durlak/ Nick Nenni, Jeff Harvey
Last year's finish: Fox Lake (Grant) Regional- 6th place
Key returners: Aly Negovetich (Sr.), Laura Bishop (Sr.), Brianna Osmon (Jr.), Melissa Ketter (Jr.), Kennedy Kilmer (So.), Nina Yaras (So.), Kelsey Albovias (Sr.), Izabella Berreles (Sr.)
Newcomers: Noelle Patrick (Fr.), Nevada Holm (So.), Ella Kilmer (So.)
-They all return here which could spell a deep post-season run. "Aly has been a tremendous leader throughout this summer and as we continue into the season," said coach Durlak. After Negovetich, Bishop, and Osmon, the back end of the pack must continue to develop from a coaching perspective. As with most deep rosters, they are many interchanging parts and that is what makes cross country so delightful.
Head Coach: Danielle Freeman/ Annette White
Last year's finish: Hoffman Estates Sectional- 7th place
Key Returners: Anna Harden (Jr), Mackenzie Ginder (Jr), Gabi Makowski (Jr), Renee Skiera (Jr), Jenna Sanders (Jr), Emily Lifka (So) Lauren Rocks (So), Izzy Frye (So), Catherine Hany (So)
Newcomers: Madeline Bialko (fr), Claire Hackmann (jr)
-Coach Freeman is very intrigued about her team's prospects this season. She returns a deep roster led by all-Shazam and all-state track runner Anna Harden. Mackenzie Ginder was a sub-19:00 performer. It will be about keeping the scoring under 1:00 2-5 and see where that stacks up in the mighty MSL.
Head Coach/coaches: Matt Blondell, Aislinn Hicks, Sarah Braun
Last year's finish: Whitney Young Sectional- 9th place
Key returners: Liv Phillips (So), Kate Tueting (So), Ava Hendren (So), Segi Smith-Pariola (Jr), Addison George (Jr), Julia Laird (Jr), Shriya Bandepallee (So), Ava Howard (Jr), Carmen Fleming (Sr), Emma Jackson (Sr), Alyssa Radman (Sr), Abby Mogg (So), Kate Springer (Jr), Becca Liaw (So)
Newcomers: Lola Satre-Morales (Fr), Allie Opalka (Fr)
-Tons of depth and experience await the Redhawks this season. There is not a true frontrunner but instead a pack ready squad that could make some noise down the road. Liv Phillips returns as the top girl at 18:04.
Head Coach/coaches: Carsyn Rodriguez/Kelli Goodwin
Last year's finish: Fox Lake Grant Regional- 8th place
Key returners: Jocelyn Gomez (Sr), Abigail Ford (Sr), Aliana Ching (Jr), Praise Oyebanji (Jr) Amber Dean (So), Abigail Echtenacher (Jr)
Newcomers: Alea Sweet
-A young team awaits the Mustangs but hopefully a mix of upperclassmen can lead the charge. Jocelyn Gomez returns as top girl running 19:22 over a three-mile layout.
Head Coach: Tammy Gummerson
Last year's finish: Normal Community Sectional- 13th place
Key returners: Claire Wilson (So), Kaitlyn Ward (So), Aminah Hussain (Sr), Morgan Raclawski (Sr), Michelle Masis (Sr), Ella Powell (Jr)
Newcomers: Elsie Czarniewski (Fr), Lindsey Wenz (Fr)
-The team started later than usual because of a late track and field season. Look for top runner Claire Wilson to lead the team this fall. Behind her awaits a veteran group that's ready to improve.
Head Coach/coaches: Kristen Miller / Robin Bingham
Last year's finish: Hoffman Estates Sectional- 14th place
Key returners: Mary Pfaff (Jr.), Lexus Gruszka (Sr.), Kaitlyn Minniear (Jr.), Emily Carlos (So.), Grace Schluckbier (So), Allison Flondro (Jr.)
Newcomers: Audrey Schluckbier (So), Jpia Sodimu
-It's been awhile since the Saxon have been a force on the state level. This could be the year that coach Miller's rebuilding project shows its stuff. "Our team goal is to place in the top five of the MSL and to qualify for sectionals and state," indicated coach Miller.
Head Coach/coaches: Meaghan Fastert/Natalie Kaminski
Last year's finish: Hoffman Estates Sectional- 11th place
Key returners: Molly Durow (Sr.), Maggie Jortberg (Jr.), Maya Malecki (Jr.), Tara Wirtschorek (Jr.), Mia Rojas, Grace Tauber (So.), Molly Judy (So.)
Newcomers: Sarah Kwon
Coach Fastert on her team's prospects: "This year our focus is to take things one day at a time and to enjoy our time as a team together. Last year's season felt like a whirlwind and this year I want us all to slow down and focus on the journey of running as well as the relationships the girls create with each other. I want them to not focus so much on the future because we don't know what that will look like, but rather to focus on themselves right now and work on themselves both mentally and physically at that moment."
Head Coach/coaches: Lindsay DePaul / Chris Thibaudeau, Dean Moran, Adam Pauley
Last year's finish: Fox Lake Grant Regional- 9th place
Key returners: Adeline Gobble (So.), Natalie Dugaesecu (Sr.), Stella Plendl (So), Hope Plendl (So), Autumn Greaney (So), Sophia Sun (So)
Newcomers: Casie Bjork (Fr), Nanoko Seki (Fr)
-Adeline Gobble is the team's #1 runner and someone to watch this season. Behind her is a deep and solid support group that coach DePaul is hopeful of making the jump up to the next level. This includes Natalie Dugaesescu, Shannon Moser, Stella Plendl, Hope Plendl, Autumn Greaney, and Sophia Sun.
Head Coach: Jorge Pichardo
Last year's finish: Lyons Township Sectional- 11th place
Key returners: Indigo Sterud (Jr), Erin Collins (Sr,) Ryanne Bronniman (Sr), Melina Touvannas (Sr), Hailey Henry (Sr.), Sam Risley (Jr).
Newcomers: Ally Niedfeldt, Emma Clark
New head man Pichardo: "We got a solid group of girls that will be fighting for those top seven spots this year. Other girls I did not mention above that could fight for those spots are Isabelle Molitor, Sophia Balsley, and Michelle Perez. We are coming off an awesome track season and would like to keep the momentum going. They have been consistent throughout the summer and are excited to be back running at big meets. If we stay healthy, I believe we got a good shot in making state this year!"