Location: Detweiller Park; Peoria, IL
Course: 3.0 miles
Race Time: 1p Awards ceremony: 3p at the Detweiller Park venue
Weather forecast: 56F, mostly cloudy
MileSplit IL 50 Rankings: Read Here
The qualifying teams: #1 Elmhurst (York), #2 Mt. Prospect (Prospect), #3 Barrington, #4 Naperville North, #5 Downers Grove North, #6 Naperville Central, #7 Wheaton North, #8 Lagrange (Lyons), #9 Arlington Heights (Hersey), #10 Orland Park (Sandburg), #11 Yorkville, #12 Minooka, #13 Plainfield North, #14 Oswego East, #15 Edwardsville, #16 Huntley, #17 Batavia, #18 Wheaton-Warrenville South, #19 New Lenox (Lincoln-Way Central), #20 Hinsdale Central, #21 Winnetka (New Trier), #22 Lake Zurich, #23 Aurora (Metea Valley), #24 Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West), #25 Park Ridge (Maine South); Frankfort (Lincoln-Way East), Gurnee (Warren), Wilmette (Loyola Academy)
Outlook: Two of the last three team state champions were derived from the York and Prospect camps. It appears again that may be the case unless a group of someones step it up. We will explore some of the options moving forward.
Let's start with the preseason top team Prospect, who won several big meets during the year: Red Devil, Nike XC Town, and the MSL Championship. During the wins and losses were the front-running exploits from Veronica Znajda (Jr.), Meg Peterson (So.), and Lily Ginsberg (Sr.). These girls are no strangers to success, and they have been as dominant as any set of trios in IHSA annals. For some unknown reason, the spark has not been there this season- too many close calls like setbacks at the Lake Park and Richard Spring Invites. The scoring split has been over 1:00 most of the time, which could thwart an opportunity to repeat on Saturday. Juniors Sophie Fransen and Ireland Wildhart might be a year away in racing on a stealth level... the fandom cannot wait until 2024.
York has matured from early season losses by carving out their identity, which is pack running and subscribing to a team-first model. On any given day, it could be seniors Margaret Owens, Michaela Quinn, and Katherine Klimek leading the charge. Please don't get confused; this is not a three-girl team. The Lady Dukes are DEEP! There is the underrated Anna McGrail (Sr.), a member of last year's JV "army" group. Now, she is a solid #4 or #5 runner in the 17:00s (17:37 PB). She took fifth last weekend at the Lake Park Sectional. Maggie Quinn (So.), Gigi Hill (So.), and Sophia Galiano-Sanchez (So.) are the team's future leaders, but they are getting valuable experience in the present. One more thing: the Lady Dukes scored 27 points and produced a 20-second scoring split. Enough said.
Barrington officially entered the trophy talk after taking second place at the Palatine Meet of Champions 80-68 to York, but they beat then #1 Downers Grove North and #3 Mt. Prospect. Scout Storms (Jr.) ran away with the individual title, and her teammate Mia Sirois (Fr.) stepped up with a near top 10 performance and later grabbed second at the Hoffman Estates Sectional. A third fillie has emerged on the scene by the name of Sabrina Roach (Jr.). She took 8th in the sectional round, giving her team significant firepower. The Fillies produced a split of 1:14 on five girls and scored 33 points. This is scary, and to think they have more to give makes the state championship so exciting.
The fourth cog here is Downers Grove North. The Trojans may be fighting for a top-five position with Naperville North if they muster the magic they had up to the midway point of the season. Let's be fair before we get started. The injury bug has hit the Lady Trojans at the wrong time. Gone for the season is McKenzie Willard (Jr.), and Audrey Casten (Jr.) has been ailing. She finished 71st at the Hinsdale Central Sectional. The team won the sectional mainly because of a 30-second 1-4 split of 30 seconds led by sophomore Lily Eddington's third-place finish. The key for DGN will be finding someone to close out the fifth spot.
Other teams to watch: Naperville North, Naperville Central, Wheaton North, and Hersey.
The individual race should be a fun one, with the flashy Scout Storms looking to win her first state title. She has one blemish on her record, but she avenged that defeat last weekend at the Hoffman Estates Sectional. Storms have been on cruise control for most of the season, never taking the pace out in an insane effort to break records. When she won the FTTF Invite at 16:52, it was the second-fastest time with a merge. However, she possesses too much talent, and if her game is tight, there is no way she will lose.
Other girls to watch: Veronica Znajda- won several big invites and defeated Storms at conference; Liv Phillips (Sr., Naperville Central)- a top three candidate on a roll, won the HC Sectional title; Mia Sirois- mentioned earlier as a cog for her team, but is strong individually; Nicole Poglitsch (Jr., Wheaton South)- Lake Park Sectional champ; Tessa Russo (So., Plainfield North)- big PB at the Granite City Sectional (16:53); Morgan Dick (Sr., Oswego East), Brea Counihan (So., Lincoln-Way Central); Julie Piot (Sr., Naperville North)- 2nd at HC Sectional; Sofia Borter (So., Geneva)- 2nd at Lake Park Sectional.