2022 Class 2A Girls Preseason Preview: Unranked

The middle classification kicks off with unranked teams who are ready to improve on last year's final results. The renewed spirit that many programs possess will make this opening entry of information one to look out for.


Head Coach: Vince Neil
Last year's finish: 17th place- Woodstock North Sectional
Key returners: Abby Burke (So.), Corryn Kester (Jr.), Teagan Cathcart (So.)
Key newcomers: Ivy Didomenico (Fr.), Emalyn Davis (Fr.), Anya Vyas (Fr.), Shayla Alampi (Fr.), Carmie Winelhake (Fr.)
Summary: Coach Vince Neil says that last year was one of growth for the Rockets. "The 2021 cross country season had many ups and downs. We had a young team that struggled to find its identity. The Girls' team advanced to sectionals but struggled to finish their season strong."

The Rockets are one of the youngest teams in the classification, and will certainly have an underclass-heavy varsity team this year and will look to build upon their 17th place finish at the deepest sectional in the state. Abby Burke (5:39), Corryn Kester (2:38), and Teagan Cathcart (13:06) all led the team in their respective track events in the spring and will lead the cross country team. Emalyn Davis and Ivy Didomenico lead a squad of freshmen that come from the Central middle school to augment the roster. "We will have a new look on the girl's team this fall and will bring in a large group of young ladies," says Neil. "It will be essential for our girls to work together, support one another, compete as a team and understand the importance of pack racing."

Head Coach: Mark Anderson
Last year's finish: 10th place- Woodstock North Sectional
Key returners: Jocelyn Onstot (Sr.), Juliana Ferrera (Sr.), Ada Saletnik (Sr.), Kate Aniolkowski (Jr.), Georgia Boone (Sr.), Kathleen Apaez (Sr.), Zoe Hubka (Jr.)
Key newcomers: Alissa Penrod (Fr.), Addie Penrod (Fr.)
Summary: The Trojans were one in a cohort of teams that moved from 3A to 2A at the onset of the season last year. Despite matriculating into the strongest sectional in the state, C-G looked like a great bet to make a run at a top-10 position at Detweiller. Jocelyn Onstot was up for the challenge, finishing all-state in 18:02. But no one else on the team joined Onstot on this level, and Cary-Grove just did not have enough to compete with the other powers of the Woodstock North sectional.

As a traditionally strong program, Cary-Grove looks to regroup and give it another run in 2022 while in 2A. Onstot returns for her senior year and is an all-state candidate again. The full postseason team returns, headed by Juliana Ferrera. A senior-heavy group also includes Ada Saletnik, Georgia Boone, and Kathleen Apaez, but juniors Zoe Hubka and Kate Aniolkowski figure to factor in as well. Reinforcements come in the form of the Penrod twins, Alissa and Addie, who led Cary Middle School. Alissa brings a sub-13:00 performance from the IESA state meet. Cary-Grove's season in 2021 was not strong enough to put them in the rankings to start the season, but if they run like they have shown to do in past years, don't be surprised to see a sudden rise. Cary-Grove can make things very complicated for proximate teams in their sectional.

Head Coach: Dan Daly
Last Years Finish: 4th place- State Championship
Key Returners: Mia Kotler (So.), Reese Benford (Jr.), Kimiko Darcy (Sr.), Ava Gowder (Jr.)
Key Newcomers: Ellie Anderson (So.), TBD
Summary: The Ava Parekh era is now over, and Latin now looks ahead into the future with a very different feel. The Romans maintain relevance at the front of the state pack with Mia Kotler returning. Kotler finished 3rd in an eye-popping 16:41 to cap her outstanding freshman year, and is technically the top returner, but must contend with 'newcomer' Tatum David now rather than being the favorite. Kotler begins the season battling injury but looks to return strong throughout the season. Question marks abound for Latin after Kotler.

A major question mark surrounds sophomore Ellie Anderson, who burst onto the track scene as a new runner in 2022. Anderson produced 11:04 two-mile and 5:14 full mile times in June, but both track accomplishments paled to Anderson's Soldier Field 10-mile race victory, which Anderson completed at 6:14 pace. Anderson plans on playing field hockey for Latin but may make appearances in meets. The other question mark for Latin involves the returning class. Reese Benford, Kimiko Darcy, and Ava Gowder all have varsity experience, but Latin may struggle to field a large enough team to safeguard against injury. Latin starts unranked but is on the watch for a ranking, especially with the possibility of two all-staters on the team.

Head Coach: Doug Ecker
Last year's finish: 27th place- State Championship
Key returners: Alli Gonnella (Sr.), Lindsey Andrae (Sr.), Rose Dallal (Sr.), Abigail Lechocki, (So), Audrey Walker (So.), Olivia Pastovich (Jr.), Abby Fitts (Jr.)
Key newcomers: Jade Unzueta (So.), Graycen Cole (Fr.), Danielle Bower (Fr.), Aliyah Balliness (Sr.), Jacqueline Nettnin (Sr.) Summary: The Knights ran well at the right time, and got into the state meet by finishing seventh at the Fenton sectional. Coach Doug Ecker the focus remains the same for this season. "Our individual goals are to stay healthy, have a consistent effort at practice with improvement as the season progresses and hopefully their best race will be their last. Teamwise our goals are to be competitive at all levels in invitationals, to win the conference team title at all levels, and to be in a position to run their best team races in the state series."

Kaneland returns a senior-heavy team that especially will lean on the top-3 of Alli Gonnella, Lindsey Andrae, and Rose Dallal. This year, there are other faces that will factor in that did not last year. Abby Fitts looks to slide into the top-7 after doing so in the first half of the 2021 season. Jade Unzueta had a prolific IESA career but missed last season due to injury, and returns to cross country this year. Kaneland is in a good position to repeat as a state qualifier and, if all the moving parts align properly this season, could be running for a top-15 finish at state.

Head Coach: Darren Latham
Last year's finish: 23rd place- State Championship
Key returners: Addison Heard (Jr.), Amelia Martin (Jr.), Ava Kimmle (So.), Allie Bower (So.), Abigail Patrick (Sr.)
Key newcomers: Siena Menasco (Fr.)
Summary: Mascoutah qualified for state last year with a young group led by senior Jayda Williams. Now that she and fellow state scorer Abigail Uptergrove have graduated, Addison Heard will lead the Indians in battle this fall after being the #2 runner at the state meet and leading the team in the 3200m with a 13:03 run on April 1st. She is joined by fellow junior Amelia Martin at the front, with Ava Kimmle and Allie Bower also running for the varsity squad in the postseason in 2021.

Abigail Patrick should make her way into the top five this year, and the freshman class joining the high school team this year is headlined by Siena Menasco. Mascoutah is a perennial contender to make it to the state meet and this year is no different.

Head Coach: Johann Gonzalez
Last year's finish: 11th place- Woodstock North Sectional
Key returners: Myla Roy (Jr.), Amanda McGreal (Sr.), Ella Miller (Sr.), Alexa Gonzalez (Sr.), Laura Murphy (Sr.), Jasmine Arzuaga (Sr.), Jade Morelli (So.)
Key Newcomers: Molly McGreal (Fr.)
Summary: Trinity received a puzzling assignment into the Woodstock sectional, despite their proximity to Fenton and to other teams assigned to Fenton, like Fenwick. But coach Johann Gonzalez knew this was a growth opportunity for his squad. "The 2021 cross country season was a great experience for us and we learned so much from it," he says. "Competing in the Woodstock (North) sectional against those state programs raised our level of confidence and it carried over into the track season."

Trinity is a deep team that will run as a pack. Ella Miller led the team in the 3200 and 1600 (12:55, 6:05), and Myla Roy follows her as the other sub-20 athlete from 2021. An experienced group that includes Alexa Gonzalez, Amanda McGreal, Jasmine Arzuaga, and Jade Morelli will comprise most of the rest of the varsity group. The Blazers add Molly McGreal from Elmhurst Visitation, and she may factor into varsity by the time postseason comes around. Despite the externalities that meet Trinity such as sectional assignments, Gonzalez keeps the goals for this year simple: "Get and stay healthy!"

Head Coach: Blair Jensen
Last year's finish: 10th place- Fenton Sectional
Key Returners: Bryce Pacourek (Sr.), Jojo Rodriguez (Sr.), Mia Wagner (Sr.), Ava Connerty (Sr.), Sophia Richter (Sr.), Maria Dalton (Jr.), Maia Nelson (Jr.), Lily Kocourek (Jr.), Gianna Gelb (So.)
Key Newcomers: Abby Ford (Fr.)
Summary: Riverside-Brookfield was young last year, finishing outside state qualification. "2021 XC season was a growth year with a lot of first-year runners making their impact on the team," says coach Blair Jensen.

The Bulldogs did manage to get two athletes to the state meet out of the Fenton sectional, Bryce Pacourek and Gianna Gelb. Another qualification for Pacourek this year would complete four years of state appearances. "Bryce will certainly be the driving force and motivational impact on the rest of the team," says Jensen. Running in 3A for track Pacourek did make it to the state meet in the 800, finishing 19th in 2:27. Gelb also qualified in her freshman year and dipped under 20:00 at Detweiller.

Everyone else from the postseason team returns, including Lily Kocourek, Maria Dalton, Mia Wagnger and Maiana Nelson, and R-B will get reinforcements from incoming freshman Abby Ford. Jensen on goals for the team this year: "Our goal is to show up every day, not get injured, and continue improving over last year. One goal is to qualify for state and finish in the top 20."

Head Coach: Linda Schmitt
Last year's finish: 13th at 2A Woodstock North Sectional
Key returners: Ella Linnabary (Jr.), Johanna Hawley (So.), Ella Maier (Sr.), Natalia Ayala (Sr.), Natalie Tekampe (So.), Claudia Nichols (Sr.)
Summary: The Titans add each year to the logjam of depth that is the northern 2A sectional. Boylan Catholic improved throughout the year and got seven runners to break 21 minutes, with three of those runners under 20. Just two of the top seven graduates.

The top returner is Ella Linnabary who was 6th at the NIC-10 conference meet in 2021. Johanna Hawley is the other sub-20:00 returner, having run this at Freeport. The rest of the pack is Ella Maier, Natalia Ayala, Natalie Tekampe, and Claudia Nichols. Boylan can finish top-10 in the sectional, which would be an indicator of a top 25 ranked team in the state. Expect them to dart in and out of the rankings throughout the year as they did in 2021.

Head Coach: Troy Wolcott
Last year's finish: 9th place- Metamora Sectional
Key returners: Olivia Nordhielm (So.), Sophia Nordhielm (Sr.), Maggie Horsthemke (Jr.), Allison Woolever (So.), Rachel Caruthers (Sr.)
Key newcomers: Sophia Ramirez, Jayne Hermann, Maddie James, Olivia Miklik, Caylie Ahten, Bailey Butler, Addy Hooste- all freshmen
Summary: The Panthers were a narrow miss from qualifying for state last year, finishing 16 points out of qualifying in the Metamora Sectional. The Panthers, however, get a massive boost in the form of the graduates from Central Intermediate, who was the runaway IESA 2A team champion in cross country. Although Washington won't get all seven runners from that team, they do get Sophia Ramirez, who was the best. Ramirez ran 5:08 in the 1600m coming off an 11:55 cross country two-mile best in the fall. She looks to factor into the all-state conversation immediately. She strengthens a team that is headlined by Olivia and Sophia Nordhielm and Maggie Horsthemke. Olivia ran 5:27 in the spring, and Hosthemke led the team with a 12:44 3200.

Washington ran just off their potential at sectional and can make waves this season with a strong pack. Look to Allison Woolever and Rachel Caruthers to supply depth to the team as well, with Woolever, in particular, making improvements in track running 5:42 and 2:34. In addition to Ramirez, Maddie James, Olivia Miklik, and Caylie Ahten were on the varsity team that won state in IESA in the fall so they can push into the varsity lineup with a good year of growth.