Class 3A Girls Preseason Preview: Prospect Opens In #1 Spot

The 2022 IHSA 3A State Championship was one of the great finals


Last season was great despite a rain and mud bath in the state championship. Prospect and York were head and shoulders above everyone in the state and they proved it weekend to weekend. Now as we come to an end in terms of previews, it's time to view the final top 10.

Head Coach/coaches: Jeff Downing/ Jennifer Roddick-Small, Harvey Braus, Erin Kainrath
Last year's finish: State Championship- 19th place
Key returners: Sofia Arcuri (Jr), Olivia DeLuca (Sr), Ryan Mullarkey (Sr), Luisa Arcuri (Jr), Ally Seurynck (Jr), Lauren Marogil (Sr), Sophie Jaroch (Sr)
Newcomers: Lucia Fuentes (So) 
Outlook: The Hawks were able to complete a successful season without its top runner Sofia Arcuri who missed the state meet because of injury. Fortunately for her, she was able to produce a fine outdoor track season that netted a PB in the 1600m and also a berth in the 4x800 final. Back around this summer, Arcuri enjoyed a productive training block which was punctuated by a good performance at Detweiller at Dark. Look for her to be at the next level this fall.

"We are hoping with a nice mix of returning varsity runners and some capable incoming runners, that by the end of the season, we will be very competitive," said Coach Downing. "If we improve as we hope and stay healthy throughout the season, we may have the opportunity to repeat as conference and regional champions, qualify as a team to the state meet, and then finish even higher than last year."

The Hawks have a strong returning cast led by Olivia DeLuca who has a sub 18:00 performance on her resume. Luisa Arcuri is ready to bust out in her final season. Also, you can count on a strong freshmen class to make an impact this season.

Head Coach/coaches: Eric Simon/Greg Frandsen, Dina Castillo, Luke Taylor
Last year's finish: State Championship- 7th Place
Key returners: Shannon Cranny (Sr), Julianne Melby (Sr), Anna Bylsma (Sr), Kristina Findley (Sr), Madison Findley (Sr), Kelly Makovic (Sr), Lauren Bohringer (Sr), Alessandra Feig (Sr), Leigh Ferrell (Jr)
Outlook: Do you know what happens when you are a deep team and lose a ton of quality talent to graduation? You reload. The Lions return with a senior-dominating unit led by Shannon Cranny and Julianne Melby. Both girls have run under 18:20. Cranny and Kristina Findley were on the team's fourth-place 4x800 relay that earned all-state honors. Keep in mind that Cranny suffered an injury and will be sidelined for a while.

"Cranny, Melby, and Bylsma bring state meet experience and we will look to them to guide what otherwise is a team with not much varsity-level experience," said Coach Simon.  "It will take some time for this team to understand what they can be, but we will look to take positive steps each week."  

Head Coach: George Partrylak
Last year's finish: State Championship- 12th place
Key returners: Madison Popelar (So), Maya Lueking (Sr), Emma Patrick (Sr), Olivia Coll (Sr); Dylan Peel (Sr), Antonella DeAvilaSarah Haislar (So), Libby Strahm (Jr)
Newcomers: Ella Thompson (Fr) 
Outlook: It was a successful season last year for the Tigers who placed among the top 15 teams in the state championship. Although five of the top seven from a year ago returned, Coach Partrylak wasn't completely satisfied with the off-season training: "I have mixed feelings about the summer. One negative is that our numbers are down. I anticipate our entire girls' team to be around 25 runners. I am hoping we can pick up a few new runners once the school year officially starts." 

On the positive side is the number of quality newcomers like freshman Ella Thompson. "I anticipate Ella to be in our top three consistently this year, with the potential to be close to Madison Popelar by the middle/end of the year," said Partrylak. "We do have a few more freshmen that will be battling for postseason positions, but they are probably a year away from cracking our top five."

The team culture was improved by assistant Keri Burmester according to Partrylak. "We have a very close team where the girls like and respect one another, regardless of their running ability. I think this will help us a lot this year. Throughout this season, I anticipate our team to be led by the following runners: Olivia Coll, Maya Lueking, Emma Patrick, Dylan Peel, Antonella DeAvilia, Sarah Haislar, Popelar, Ava Horsfall, and Thompson."

It would be remiss to not mention Margaret Paty and Belle Horsfall who will get some quality varsity action in their final seasons. Overall, the team goal is to stay ahead of rival O'Fallon, pull in some accolades, and improve in the state final tally.

Head Coach: Debbie Revolta
Last Year's Finish: State Championship- 17th place
Key Returners: Kayleigh Burns (Sr), Kari Drage (Sr), Allie Edwards (Sr), Viktoria Higgins (Sr), Abby Lewis (So), Madison Miles (So), Sabrina Roach (Jr), Samantha Rowley (Jr), Scout Storms (Jr), Sydney Sukel (Sr), Claire Thome (Jr)
Newcomers: Angelica Hill, Liva Ketkar, Mia Sirois
Outlook: When you have a lowstick like Scout Storms, you are already ahead of the game. Storms is a potential state champion favorite and with an experienced team back on the scene, the Fillies could be very dangerous this fall.

Outside of Storms, this is not a named brand team despite taking second in the state 4x800 relay. That could change based on depth. "We are not a young team this year," said Coach Revolta. "We have plenty of juniors and seniors that have had State Meet experiences whether it be track or cross country," adds Revolta. But as always, Barrington is loaded with good freshmen, and as long as they can stay healthy.

Head Coach: Kevin Gummerson
Last year's finish: State Championship- 4th place
Outlook: Minooka was just seven points away from a state trophy last year. The talent that returns has Coach Gummerson seething with optimism. "I am really excited about this group," he said. "These girls learned a ton from Gabby Kics and Ella McCollom over the years and now they are ready to take charge of this team. They truly want to see how good they can be and they have done things the right way this summer."

The Indians have nearly a dozen returners who dipped under 20:00 and that will bode well throughout the season. "We are so glad that we have the opportunity to compete in a really tough conference," said Gummerson. "Their training has improved this summer and the key will be to get that to translate into improvements on the course, but there is no doubt that this group is motivated to compete at a high level." 

Don't forget there is another set of incoming freshmen that foes must be wary of alludes Gummerson. 
"I am excited to see this group of freshmen grow and develop. There is no doubt that there are freshmen that can have an impact on this team before it is all said and done."

Head coach/coaches: Tim McDonald/Matt Maletich, Bob Calder
Last year's finish: State Championship- 5th place 
Key Returners: Lily Eddington (So.), Audrey Casten (Jr.), Alayna Todnem (Jr.), Karly Harkness (Sr.), Sydney Hnatiuk (Sr.), Ava Gilley (Jr.), Sarah Paul (Sr.), McKenzie Willard (Jr.), Jadyn Wood (Jr.), Hannah Renner (Jr.), Pallavi Fisher (Sr.), Kayla Solem (So.)
Newcomers: Helen Justice (So.) - Helen ran 2:26 in the open 800m last year in track and has decided to join cross country this year. The freshman class has some very good athletes that thanks to our returning depth will have plenty of time to develop and improve over the course of the season without feeling pressure. It is too early to single out individual freshmen at this time
Outlook: It looks like the city of Downers Grove is going to maintain its strong presence on the cross country scene. This time it's Downers Grove North High School and Coach McDonald is not shy about his team's outlook. "We had a strong season last year. We finished in 5th place last year and we have 12 of our top 14 returning," he stated. The Trojans had eight girls run under 19:00 last year. McDonald: "We have a lot of depth and I anticipate our team being very competitive on all three levels (varsity, JV, & Frosh-Soph) by the end of the season."

After anchoring her team to a third-place finish in last spring's state 4x800, Lily Eddington is ready to lead her teammates this fall. Audrey Casten, Karly Harkness, Sydney Hnatiuk, and Ava Gilley are a few names to really keep your eyes open for.

The newcomer crew will be headed by Helen Justice (So.). "Helen ran 2:26 in the open 800m last year in track and has decided to join cross country this year," said McDonald. "The freshman class has some very good athletes that thanks to our returning depth will have plenty of time to develop and improve over the course of the season without feeling pressure. It is too early to single out individual freshmen at this time."

Head Coach/coaches: Matt Blondell, Aislinn Hicks, Sarah Braun
Last year's finish: State Championship- 6th place 
Key returners: Liv Phillips (Sr), Ava Hendren (Sr), Lola Satre-Morales (Jr), Abby Mogg (Sr), Becca Liaw (Sr), Eloise Graft (So), Lydia Park (Jr), Allie Opalka (Jr), Brynn Miller (Jr), Macy Bjork (So)
Outlook: The Redhawks have been knocking on the door for respect in their town. They have gotten it from rival Naperville North and to a larger extent on the state scene after placing sixth in Peoria last November. Now, it's time to forge ahead and grab one of the three title trophies. "We are coming off of two excellent back-to-back seasons," announced Coach Blondell. "We have the majority of our top-14 athletes back from a year ago."

To really see how strong this season could potentially be, we have to go back to the track season and see a few results. The 4x800 relay stood tall in Charleston at the state meet, taking fifth and earning all-state honors. Liv Phillips bounced back from a disappointing state xc experience due to Covid, to run 10:34.84 in the 3200m. She established herself in an all-state manner. 

As good as things look on paper for the Red Hawks, they are going to have to work harder to surpass their rivals by finding a replacement for lowstick Katie Tueting who is out for the season with an injury.

Head Coach/coaches: Dan Iverson/Matt Sniadecki, Jen Weigand, Dan Billish, Meghan Donovan, Kim Castner, Janeth Ohst
Last year's finish: Championship- 3rd place
Key returners: Julie Piot (Sr), Shania Tandon (So), Rianna Tandon (So), Sennah Rashidian (Jr), Anika Lovisa (Jr), Lexi Pera (Sr), Sydney Day (Sr), Kayla Marx (Sr)
Newcomers: Chloe Piot (Fr), Eliana White (Fr), Brynn Pfeiffer (Fr)
Outlook: Sometimes a quiet team is a very dangerous one. After earning another trophy for the program under Dan Iverson, not many people seemed to notice. But in reality, 2022 was a rebuilding year for the Huskies. Now, Julie Piot is a seasoned veteran and the Tandon twins are a year older and wiser. They could be among the best trio in the state and then it comes down to having a tight fourth and fifth runner.

"We have worked very hard this summer, and we look good as far as we can tell so far," said Iverson. "We have a lot of hard work ahead of us to achieve all we can this year. But no matter what, I am confident that we will achieve all we can this year as we grow together. We will look to build on our successes a year ago and continue to take steps forward from there." This is Iverson's nice way of saying 'Don't you dare sleep on us this season.'"

Head Coach/coaches: Lauren DeAngelis/Jimmy Kolb, Kelly Leonard
Last year's finish: 3A State Runner Up
Key returners: Katherine Klimek (Sr), Michaela Quinn (Sr), Margaret Owens (Sr), Maggie Quinn (So), Lillian Bianchi (So), Sophia Galiano-Sanchez (So), Anna McGrail (Sr), Gigi Hill (So)
Outlook: The Lady Dukes have been an outstanding program over the past several seasons predating the Covid era. It could be a strong argument that their runner-up spot last year was the best bridesmaids' performance in IHSA history. They would also finish 10th in the country at Nike Cross Nationals.

What does 2023 hold? There of course is Prospect as strong as ever ahead of them and several teams on the fringe ready to pounce if something goes wrong. However, Coach DeAngelis is certain that her charges will respond in tight situations. "We have a very talented group with a fierce goal-oriented mindset for the upcoming season," alluded DeAngelis. "Our team lost some amazing leaders, but we have many eager athletes training hard and doing the little things right to step into these spots."

Klimek, Quinn, and a healthy Owens are the key holdovers and they must be on their "A" game this season if the Dukes hope to trophy or even see top-level regional or national respect. They will have to uphold the team goals via preparation and progress.

Depth appears to be on the scene via young talent according to DeAngelis. "We have a talented and experienced sophomore class who is ready to step up. Kate Tanny, a freshman, also had a strong summer and is an athlete to keep an eye on."