The girls cross country season gets underway this week. Here are previews of teams from around the Suburban Life coverage area.
Coach: Katie Paski
Top athletes: Kelly Andrews, sr.; Elisabeth Camic, sr.; Louisa Diamond, so.; Emily Spellman, sr.; Meaghan Andrews, sr.; Joy Jackson, sr.
Outlook: The Redwings return nine runners off last year's Class 2A state championship team. Kelly Andrews, who did not run in last year's state meet but who was on the state championship team, has consistently been at the front of the pack in summer workouts and practice. Camic and Diamond have been a dynamic duo leading the pack. Spellman, Meaghan Andrews and Joy Jackson are all returning All-State runners.
"This group is an extremely tight group who complements each other well," Paski said. "They bring the best out of each other every day in practice pushing each other to become stronger runners physically and mentally; the healthy internal competition they have is what makes them a great team. They are ambitious, setting challenging and attainable goals; they are confident; and they are the textbook definition of teamwork."
DOWNERS GROVE NORTH
Coach: Tim McDonald.
Top athletes: Melissa Jachim, sr.; Ava Geiger, so.; Claire Pyne, so.; Maddie Casey, so.; Annie Bieda, sr.
Outlook: Jachim, 26th in the state last year in just missing All-State recognition, leads a group back from a Trojans' team that continued to take steps forward, finishing 21st as a team with three freshmen – Geiger, Casey and Pyne – in the top five. McDonald anticipates the West Suburban Silver to be very competitive this year, with the top six as close as they've been in a long time.
"We have a number of runners, too many to list, that can figure into the mix at some point this season," McDonald said. "There are three freshmen who have shown some high end running ability thus far and we also have some upperclassmen that have joined the team for the first time who appear to be very talented as well. Overall, we have a lot more depth than we have had in years so we are very excited to see the girls improve over the course of the season."
DOWNERS GROVE SOUTH
Coach: Doug Plunkett
Top athletes: Sophia McNerney, jr.; Alex Spang, jr.; Kelsey Casella, jr.; Rebecca Diddia, sr.; Renee Kowalski, jr.; Madi Sisson, jr.; Sara Homberg, jr.; Nora Soy, so.; Madelyn Sumlin, so.
Outlook: The Mustangs return four runners from a team that finished fifth at Class 3A state and won West Suburban Gold, regional and conference titles, but replacing All-Staters Erin Reidy and Brenna Cohoon will be no easy chore.
"The team has worked hard over the summer and expects to be competitive again," Plunkett said. "We are unfortunately limited to compete against schools in the West Suburban Conference, but are grateful to have a season."
Coach: Kevin Roche.
Top athletes: Maggie O'Malley, sr.; Bella Daley, so.; Maria Quinn, sr.; Katie Cahill, sr.; Mia Scharpf, jr.; Ava Martinez, so.
Outlook: The Friars last year took fourth at Class 2A state without any All-State runners – showing their strong pack running. O'Malley was Fenwick's top finisher at state, a disciplined runner who loves the sport. Daley has shown incredible growth from last year's sub 19-minute 3-mile, Quinn is a great leader and Cahill comes off a consistent summer. Scharpf and Martinez could be difference-makers.
Coach: Paul Hass
Top athletes: Audrey Allman, jr.; Delaney Engel, jr.; Anna Nickoley, jr.; Olivia Cline, sr.; Zoe Umlauf, sr.; Maya Umlauf, sr.; Belle Adduci, sr.; Hannah Moffatt, so.; Carlin Hass, so.; Paige King, so.; Morgan Clifford, sr.; Elayna Boeh, fr.; Moira Ahern, fr.
Outlook: Things will look a lot different in Glen Ellyn this fall, as four-time Class 3A state champion Katelynne Hart has moved on to Michigan. A large number of freshmen and sophomores make up nearly two-thirds of this Hilltoppers' squad, which comes off a sixth-place team finish at state and took second in the West Suburban Silver with regional and sectional titles. Allman spent a month over the summer training in Colorado and appears ready to take the reins from Hart and lead the team into competition. Engel also appears ready to take the next step to move into the upper tier of state runners and Nickoley is primed for a great fall.
"After those top three returnees it is an open competition to see who steps into the top seven," coach Hass said. "Upperclassmen are outnumbered so leadership is definitely prioritized."
Coach: Mark McCabe.
Top athletes: Catie McCabe, so.; Sarah Fischer, so.; Louisa Brorson, jr.; Isabella Terry, jr.; Cate McDonnell, fr.
Outlook: McCabe, Fisher and Brorson return to lead the Red Devils' team that graduated All-Staters McKenna Revord and Emma Watcke off a team that took third at Class 3A state and won the West Suburban Silver. Coach McCabe expects his top seven to be fluid as the season progresses.
"Our goals for the season are the same as always," McCabe said. "We'll strive to be the best we can and contribute to the proud tradition of Hinsdale Central cross country."
Coach: Kim Johnson
Top athletes: Abby Petersen, so.; Elena Garcia, so.; Victoria Cius, jr.; Olivia Rogers, jr.; Ava Berg, so.; Kate Haffner, jr.; Natalie Fernandez, so.; Yuliya Drabchuk, fr.; Charlotte Old, fr.; Grace Koziol, so.
Outlook: The Hornets return their entire varsity squad off the first Hinsdale South team in school history to qualify for state as a team – and who did it with three sophomores and three freshmen leading the way. Petersen is the Hornets' No. 1 runner who is looking to break 18 minutes this year. Garcia isn't far behind, and Cius, Rogers and Berg form a nice pack. Hinsdale South is additionally excited to have back Fernandez, who missed all of last season with a groin injury and is among a group of newcomers.
"Each of these girls have incredible passion for the sport and are truly competitive in nature – they push the team to be better as a whole," Johnson said.
Coach: Joe Wejman.
Top athletes: Colette Kinsella, so.; Mia Baumel, so.; Maddie Bent, jr.; Fiona Roach, sr.; Megan Heneman, sr.; Sadie Sifuentes, jr.; Erin Howard, jr.; Sam Rozmus, fr.; Jane McNamara, fr.; Hannah McCarthy, fr.
Outlook: Kinsella, 13th at Class 2A state as a freshman, leads the group back from a team that finished 24th in the state. Baumal, Bent and Roach also return from the Roadrunners' team that was fourth at sectionals.
"We have about 70% of our team as sophomores and freshmen, so that youth injection is kind of fun," Wejman said, "but also puts an onus on us to work on developing these runners and pushing them to gain some perspective on this sport and what it all entails in what is no doubt the most bizarre season I've ever been a part of."
Coach: Blair Jensen.
Top athletes: Bryce Pacourek, so.; Carmen Guerrero, jr.; Joalize Rodriguez, so.; Mia Wagner, so.; Sam Perez, sr.; Lena Brockway, sr.; Molly Raymond, jr.; Maria Dalton, fr.
Outlook: Pacourek, 68th at state last year, and Guerrero, Rodriguez and Wagner return from a Bulldogs' team that took 21st at Class 2A state, third at sectionals and won a regional championship.
"We had several girls put in some good work over the summer," Jensen said. "We have a good group of seniors ready to lead."
Coach: Rachel Mirra
Top athletes: Paige Hoving, jr.; Grace Lindemulder, jr.; Elena Munk, sr.; Cailey Schuurmann, jr.; Ella Vandermolen, jr.; Marta Veenstra, so; Emma Carter, sr.; Abby Bechtel, fr.
Outlook: Vandermolen, Schuurmann, Munk, Hoving and Veenstra lead the group of returning runners from a Trojans' team that finished fifth at sectionals last year to qualify for state.
"Our team is larger than it's been in quite some time because we have a fair number of newcomers due to many fall sports being pushed back," Mirra said. "It's nice to see some new talent and competition out there with our veterans."
Coach: Steve Wolf
Top athletes: Lizzy Szynal, jr.; Mikayla Hickey, jr.; Evelyn Kostal, sr.; Makenzie Blaine, jr.; Annikah Engstrom, fr.; Callie Devine, fr.; Grace Spezia, fr.; Sarah McCormick, fr.
Outlook: All-conference runners Szynal (third place) and Hickey (fourth) return from a Westmont team that won the Metro Suburban Red championship in the Sentinels' first year in the conference, and finished fifth at regionals and seventh at sectionals with Szynal qualifying for state.
"We will have a conference meet, which we hope to do well in again," Wolf said.
Coach: Chris Felinski.
Top athletes: Lily Lebo, jr.; Amy Alexander, sr.; Sarah Vander Klok, sr.; Kelly Bickhart, sr.; Sarah Jane Lister, sr.
Outlook: Two-time state qualifier Lebo is back to anchor the Warriors' lineup after last year leading Wheaton Academy to third place at sectionals and a state appearance. Felinski said the team has an excellent shot at state, assuming there is a state meet, and should be top three in conference.
"Our team goals are currently waiting to be defined based off of what the IHSA decides for the state series as well as what our conference does for the conference championship," Felinski said.
Coach: Peterson Anderson
Top athletes: Eleanor Quinn, sr.; Emily Burnham, sr.; Anna Roe, jr.; Sophia Spencer, jr.; Jacelyn Johnson, jr.; Izzy Schneider, sr.; Elena Dansdill, sr.; Melia Klingler, jr.; Elena Klingler, jr.; Emma Beausoleil, jr.; Abby Oleniczak, sr.; Monica Kading, fr.
Outlook: Quinn, Burnham, Roe and Spencer are all back from the Falcons' team that finished fourth at the Glenbard West Regional, qualifying for sectionals.
"We will be running dual meets every Wednesday for freshman/sophomore and junior/senior open races against other DuKane Conference schools. Every Saturday, the varsity will compete in a quad meet against other DuKane schools," Anderson said. "A lot of new courses have been made and they will be new and unfamiliar to the runners. But, we are all grateful to be able to start the season and get out there and compete."
Coach: Lauren DeAngelis
Top athletes: Brooke Berger, so.; Katelyn Winton, jr.; Brianna Bennis, so.; Bella Swanson, jr.; Kathleen Buhrfiend, jr.; Maureen Buhrfiend, so.; Charlotte Reedy, jr.; Shannon Farrow, jr.; Allison Fitzgibbons, jr.; Michaela Quinn, fr.; Katherine Klimek, fr.
Outlook: The Dukes are driven after an 18th-place finish at state last year that they were not hoping for. DeAngelis said their biggest strength is their work ethic, dedication and drive. Winton, Berger, Bennis, Swanson, Kathleen Buhrfiend and Maureen Buhrfiend all return from a team that took third in the West Suburban Silver and at sectionals. A strong class of incoming freshmen have the potential to make a big impact.
"They have held each other accountable and responsible during our entire virtual summer training and the hard work is showing in their times," DeAngelis said.