2022 Class 3A Girls Preseason Preview: #25 to 16

This is a scene from last year's Richard Spring Invitational in Peoria IL

2021 marked the return to normalcy in the cross country world. But there were some question marks surrounding the depth which took a while to answer. Now, we come full circle and it appears as though the depth has replenished itself. Now,  let's take a moment and see the happenings.


Head Coach: Shari Hayes
Last year's finish: 24th place- State Championship
Key returners: Norah Dorrance (So), Katherine Erickson (Jr), Camille Sabau (Jr), Zoe Ulaszek (Jr), Elizabeth Kadyschuk (Jr) 
Outlook: Norah Dorrance is slated to lead a team that made a good post-season run last fall. But keep an eye on Camille Sabau who had a real solid track and field season, dropping 11:35 in the 3200m. They are going to every bit of her emergence along with fellow state meet experience from Katherine Erickson and Zoe Ulaszek. The North Stars will be a team fighting the big teams for supremacy.

Head Coach: Jorge Pichardo
Last year's finish: 8th place- Lake Park Sectional
Key returners: Indigo Sterud (Sr.), Allyson Niedfeldt (Jr.), Isabelle Molitor (Jr.), Sam Risley (Sr.), Sophie Balsley (Sr.), Kayla Tubbs (Jr.), Lauren Frake (Jr.)
Newcomers: Kylie Simpson (Fr.)
Outlook: Five of the top seven return this year making this experienced group a dangerous team to watch. "Sterud and Niedfeldt qualified for state last year and are both back to lead this squad," says coach Pichardo. A top-rated freshman named Kylie Simpson had tremendous success in the junior high ranks, so she should be in a position to contribute to her teammates.

Head Coach/coach: Paul Hass / Mark Staron, Kelly Hass
Last year's finish: 18th Place- State Championship
Key returners: Carlin Hass (Sr), Maggie Hibbard (Jr), Devyn Carr (Sr), Moira Ahern (Jr), Elayna Boeh (Jr), Paige King (Sr), Kaylee Lange (Sr).
Outlook: This edition of the Hilltoppers will have a different look from years past according to coach Paul Hass. What is missing is that incoming star freshmen not will make an imprint on the team, but also within the cross country landscape. This year may be seen as a rebuilding project, but really it will be an opportunity for the Hilltoppers to gain success through pack racing. 

Hass: "The girls have put in a healthy amount of mileage this summer and enjoy being with one another -- all important ingredients for a successful season. With the challenges of competing in the very talented West Suburban Silver Conference and a competitive invitational schedule, the girls will certainly be tested early and often. Consequently, after such seasoning, we will take our lumps until our pack further develops, and may not see the true potential of our team until mid or, even, late season."

"Nevertheless, Carlin Hass, Maggie Hibbard, Devyn Carr, Moira Ahern, and a large collection of others put in the time and miles this summer to make it exciting to see how that effort translates into race performances. There are a number of questions regarding our top seven, but we have girls who are hungry and talented enough to be the answers. I would not be surprised if the top seven lineup at the beginning of the season looks different than our lineup in the state series. We are eager to see who emerges to fill the varsity slots, and this may change from week to week. If we continue to focus on improving every day in practice and working together as a team, we hope to enjoy a successful state series and be amongst the teams that qualify for state."   

Head Coach: Megan Sharp
Last year's finish: 21st place- State Championship
Key returners: Sheila Tucker (Sr), Margaret McGormley (Sr), Natalie Schlitt (So), Liz George (Jr), Anna George (So) Lauren Hilts (Jr) 
Outlook: Six of the top seven Wildcats return. Sheila Tucker returns as the team's top runner and state championship placer. She will also contend for all-state honors this fall. Libertyville is often times underrated because they don't always unleash their top squads until the post-season, thus it's hard to get a read on their program. This could be the case once more until late September or early October.

Head Coach/Coaches: Head Coach: Mikayla Olsen/ Aileen White
Last year's finish: 25th place- State Championship
Key returners: Anna Harden (Sr), Gabi Makowski (Sr), Madeline Bialko (So), Claire Hackmann (Sr) Mackenzie Ginder (Sr), Lauren Rocks (Jr), Renee Skiera (Sr), Madeline Bialko (So), Emily Lifka (Jr), Catherine Hany (Jr)
Newcomers: Elizabeth Watz (Fr),  Helena Vincent (Fr) Madeline Murphy (Fr)
Outlook: Coach Olsen is ready to coach her team. "I'm beyond excited to begin coaching this fabulous crew," she said excitedly. "The girls that are on this team are constantly bringing forth their best efforts and have established that they work together as a tight pack. Coach White and I are ready to see where the season takes us as we have a large amount of returning runners to the program."

Head Coach: George Patrylak /Maggie Dust and Keri Burmester
Last Year's Finish: 22nd place- State Championship
Key Returners: Emily Nuttall (Sr), Olivia Coll (Jr), Emma Patrick (Jr), Maya Lueking (Jr), Riley Knoyle (Jr), Madison Strotheide (Sr), Whitney Dyckman (Jr), Belle Horsfall (So), Emily Hagedorn (So), Dylan Peel (So).
Newcomers: Madison Popelar (Fr)
Outlook: Coach George Patrylak feels this may be the deepest team ever. Be as it may, the Tigers are going to have to put in serious work. "The state keeps getting better and we will not have Riley Knoyle with us at the beginning of the season, so we will be leaning on Emily Nuttall to continue her progression this year and lead our team," says Patrylak.  "She finished 69th last year but had a great track season. We expect her to be in the top 40 this year, with a chance to be all-state."

Patrylak will depend on a formative group of pack-type runners behind Nuttall this fall. "Olivia Coll, Maya Lueking, and Emma Patrick have all looked good this summer," said Patrylak. "We expect all of them to be much faster in meets than a year ago. Emma made big strides in the 3200m during the track season and is running with confidence. Maya Lueking also looks strong. We expect freshman, Madison Popelar, to run with this group all year." When the Tigers get former all-stater Riley Knoyle back in the fold, they will be more than just the best team in the southern sector.  Patrylak strongly believes his charges will be a top 10 force.

Head Coach/coaches: Doug Plunkett, Meagan Allabastro, Brian Long
Last year's finish: 9th place- State Championship
Newcomers: Greta Paschall, Claire Posmer, Lena Baker, Elle Watson
Outlook: One of the state's most consistent programs may go through a few growing pains. "After graduating four seniors from our top seven, we have some big shoes to fill," said coach Doug Plunkett.  "Holly Johnson returns as our top runner making that transition a little easier. Holly was injured at the end of track season and unfortunately missed out on the state series. But after taking some time off, she has been working her way back into shape. She is certainly capable of another all-state performance this year."

The cupboard is not completely bare as Nora Joy and Sophie Ring return with state championship experience. In addition, according to Plunkett, watch out for Arianna DeLeon and Sophia Nelson to step up their game and be among the top group this season. Plunkett adds: "We have a few other returners and some runners new to the team that has the potential to contribute as well. We expect to be competitive in all of our meets, continue to improve throughout the season, and would like to advance to the state meet again."

Head Coach: Rob Harvey
Last year's finish: 17th place- State Championship
Key returners: Jenna Bachara (Jr), Emma Cowen (Sr), Payton Fleming (Sr), Frida Martinez (So), Kira Mothershed (Sr), Nicole Poglitsch (So), Claire Siebert (Jr), Karin Skura (Sr) 
Outlook: Coach Rob Harvey may downplay his team's outlook at the beginning of the season, but one thing is certain is that the Tigers will meet any challenge in front of them. With that being said, the program has continued to work on the items they needed in real-time. "We spent a lot of time focusing on getting stronger and building our aerobic strength after a speed-focused track season," said Harvey. "We will have a long-term season approach using every workout and race to build momentum. We will need every competitive opportunity and workout to reach our full potential. We have a great senior class so positive leadership should not be an issue for us. They have all stepped up to welcome our underclass athletes into the program."

Head Coach/coaches: Matt Kaplan/Jason Monson, Brandy Swanson, Jimmy Jestus
Last year's finish: 19th place- State Championship
Key returners: Breanna Burak (Sr), Brittney Burak (Sr), Molly Allen (Sr), Ava Allison (Jr), Abbie Williams (so), Ava Berardi (so), Mckenna Corso (So), Emily Byers (So), Mackenzie Billard (So)
Newcomers: Madelyn Stien (so)
Outlook: The Red Raiders had perhaps their best overall season in school history that produced a top 20 finish at the state meet. "Our girl's team has a great foundation up front with the trio of Breanna Burak, Brittney Burak, and Molly Allen," exclaimed coach Kaplan. "These three girls will set the tone for others to follow. All of them have lots of post-season experience coming into their senior year."

Depth will be a huge factor in determining whether the Red Raiders can make a leap into the top 10 capsules. If so, Ava Allison will need to step up and be the next-level impact runner for the team. In addition, Kaplan expects to see new faces emerge and put an impact on the team's top seven runners. "Madelyn Stien, Ava Berardi, and Abbie Williams are three girls specifically who have had good consistency in their summer weeks," adds Kaplan. 

Head Coach/coaches: Bradley Kaplan/ Brandon Wilkerson, Heather Szarmach 
Last year's finish: 8th place- State Championship
Key returners: Marley Andelman (Jr), Morgan Sandlund (Sr), Brooklyn Walker (Sr), Eleanor Clark (Sr), Lauren Lewison (Sr), Colleen Thumm (Jr), Maya Patel (Sr), Maahi Patel (Sr), Abbie Harrington (So)
Newcomers: Lainey Poole (Fr), Ella Jordahl (Fr), Tessa Muenz (Fr), Claudia Theis (Fr)
Outlook: It should be another solid season for the Saints according to coach Bradley Kaplan. "The Saints had many key contributors graduate but we're looking forward to seeing many younger girls step up into those open spots," he said. "Our team has four returning varsity runners that will be key to our success all season long in Andelman, Sandlund, Walker, and Clark." It should be noted that a question mark should be placed in the fifth position. There are a number of candidates who could fill that in time.