The girls distance running scene in this state has always had a love-hate relationship among its most ardent fans over the last 20 years. While there have been a great collection of teams, some top-notch individuals, there has been heartbreak whenever we see a child prodigy or a collection of promising talent flame out well before its time. However, as training has improved for girls the staying power has lasted longer. We have seen Anna Sophia Keller, Maryjeanne Gilbert, Judy Pendergast, Madeline Perez, and even Katelynne Hart rack up serious racing mileage in high school and remain strong with tremendous thread on the wheels.
Rising sophomore Katrina Schlenker of Batavia leads a new breed of youngsters who deploys leg speed with endurance to dispatch foes at the end of the competition. This wave of racing perhaps started with Hart who has previously trained with the famed speed coach Thomas Boatright of the Aurora Flyers Track Club.
Lakes rising junior Brooke Stromsland won her first state title in cross country last fall, but the wide range notoriety did not come until after she had an outstanding track season on the 3A level. It now appears as Stromsland is here to stay after placing second in the 3200m to Hart at state. Fatima Giron, Aly Negovetich, Alice Abbott, Ava Parekh (Chicago Latin), Lianna Surtz (Aurora Rosary), and Brenna Cohoon (Downers Grove South) are just a few names of the emerging talent that will creep up during the fall.