Daily Chronicle 2024 Girls Track Preview: Team-by-team capsules

Sycamore’s Layla Janisch edges out Kaneland’s Jade Unzueta during the Sycamore Cross Country Invitational Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023, at Kishwaukee College in Malta.

DeKalb

Coach: Jasmine Kemp

Last season: Fourth place DuPage Valley Conference, second place Class 3A Metea Valley Sectional, 12th place Class 3A state meet

Top returners: Joscelyn Dieckman, sr., pole vault; Makenna Baxter, sr., 400; Tanasia Dunn, sr., sprints; Korima Gonzalez, sr., 800; Lana Zimmerman, jr., hurdles; Alyssa Tumminaro, jr, pole vault; Mia Siddall, jr., throws; Christina Blanchard, jr., distance; Brenda Aquino, jr., 400/800; Reese Zimmer, jr., sprints; Emily Gonzalez-Fernandez, jr., distance; Iyana Williams, jr., sprints; Crystal Meeks, so., sprints; Angela Gary, so., throws; Me’She Eubanks, so., sprints; Sydney Myles, so., sprints/jumps; Marat Siblik, so., 400/800; Ava Harman, so., 400/800

Key newcomers: Brenna Kyler, fr., sprints; Tawonna Keith, fr., jumps

Worth noting: The roster is deep and the expectations high for the Barbs this spring after a top-12 finish at state last year. Myles is one of the top sophomores in the state and a returning medalist in the high jump, in which she placed third last year. Dieckman is another to watch. She placed second at the recent Top Times indoor state meet after finishing second in Class 3A at state last spring. Although they are young with a load of juniors and sophomores to lead the way, the Barbs are experienced and deeply talented. Expect much of the same in 2024 out of the team coached by Kemp, a former DeKalb track athlete who played volleyball at NIU.

Sycamore

Coach: Joe McCormick

Last season: Second place Interstate Eight Conference

Top returners: Anna Baker, sr., Mya King, sr., throws; Carly Carpenter, sr., middle distance; Sophia Klacik, sr.; Molly Sapita, sr.; Kaitlyn Lisafeld, sr.; Uliana Baylor, jr. sprints; Alyssa Stacy, jr., sprints; Kennah Butler, jr., throws; Morgan Cook, so.; Layla Janisch, so., 800/1,600; Morgan Flewelling, so.; Genevieve Law, so.; Isabella Massey, so., 400; Abigail Lisafeld, so., pole vault; Makenzie Mann, jr., sprints

Worth noting: A nice balance of young and old welcomes the Spartans to the track this season. Stacy is a leader and a big part of the Sycamore sprints and relays. Janisch can do a bit of everything, but it seems middle distance will be her specialty. King will lead in the throws, and a good young group of sprinters will help build the foundation for the Spartans this year.

Genoa-Kingston

Coach: Barry Schmidt

Last season: Fifth place Big Northern Conference

Top returners: Azura Camaro, sr., 400; Emma Hartzell, sr., sprints; Sophie Koehnke, sr., jumps; Ava Hardy, jr., sprints; Rebecca Polotto, jr., middle distance; Addison Vicary, jr., sprints; Jocelyn Abney, so., 400, Kaya Bonavolonta, so, hurdles; Samantha Braffet, so., sprints; Regan Creadon, so., middle distance; Grace Frederick, so., throws; Bryannah Pearson, so., middle distance; Emily Spence, so., sprints.

Key newcomers: Natasha Bianchi, fr., sprints/jumps; Emma James, fr., distance; Faith Johnson, fr., sprints/jumps; Gracie Zapatka, fr., distance

Worth noting: The freshmen. A strong group led by Bianchi will provide a nice shot in the arm to a solid returning core. Bianchi ran in the 200 at indoor state and placed 20th. Not a bad start to her first varsity year, as she will add to a solid sprinting group. Vicary, Hartzell and Abney make up a nice and deep sprinting corps. The middle distance has nice balance with Creadon among the standouts in that group. As the freshmen continue to get better, the Cogs will as a team.

Kaneland

Coach: Andrew Franklin

Last season: Interstate Eight Conference champions

Top returners: Cora Heller, sr., pole vault; Olvia Pastovich, sr., hurdles; Linda Ray, sr., sprints; Abby Fitts, sr., distance; Payton Burnett, jr., 200/400; Olivia D’Escoto, jr., throws; Danielle Bower, so., distance

Key newcomers: Lilia Fleshman, jr., hurdles; Amani Meeks, fr., sprints; Charlotte Krage, jr., throws

Worth noting: A move into Class 3A is in the cards for the Knights this spring. The defending Interstate 8 champs will have their work cut out for them but have plenty of talent to accept the challenge. Heller is one of the top returners in the state in the pole vault. She placed 10th at indoor state and is a returning state qualifier to watch this spring. The Augustana commit also will throw and run for Kaneland this spring. Pastovich is a talented hurdler, Bower a solid distance runner, and Fleshman has made huge strides already this season. This team clearly has the talent to compete with schools that are much bigger and the “never give up” attitude that Franklin likes should carry this team a long way.

Indian Creek

Coach: Jenilee Johnson

Last season: Little Ten Conference champions

Top returners: Reagan Gibson, sr., pole vault; Cheyenne Fay, sr., hurdles; Crystal Serriteno, jr., sprints; Ellie Bend, jr., jumps/pole vault; Isabella Turner, jr., hurdles/jumps; Malayla Bateman, jr., throws; Sally Diaz, jr., sprints; Paloma Cardenas, jr., throws; Melissa Ibarra, so., sprints/jumps

Key newcomers: Ally Keilman, fr., sprints; Amor Brown, fr., sprints; Charleigh Bester, fr., sprints; Emily White, fr., sprints; Kaylea McRoberts, fr., 400; Olivia Truckenbrod, fr., throws; Riley Wilson, fr., sprints/jumps

Worth noting: The defending conference champs look primed to return to the winners circle in 2024. Gibson finished second in the Class 1A pole vault at indoor state. This after she finished fourth at state last spring. Bend is another returning medalist as she finished 12th at state last spring. Fay is a leader who can contribute in sprints and hurdles and a strong freshman class should yield big results for the Timberwolves this spring.

Hinckley-Big Rock

Coach: Amber Moore

Last season: Third place Little Ten Conference

Top returners: Lillian Losiniecki, sr.; Evelyn Lauer, sr., throws; Leora Larsen, sr.; Raven Wagner, jr., throws/sprints; Sami Carlino, jr., throws; Faith Thompson, jr., jumps/sprints; Georgia Allen, jr.; Addison Marquardt, so., middle distance; Cameron Michalski, so., middle distance; Isabella Canzoneri, so., distance

Key newcomers: Payton Murphy, fr., jumps/sprints; Julianne Miceli, fr., sprints; Zeta Fay, fr., distance

Worth noting: Youth will be served this spring for the Royals, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an upperclassman or two who won’t make an impact. Wagner and Lauer are those upperclassmen. Carlino is a multisport athlete who will make an impact. The freshman and sophomore group is deep, which should make for a lot of excitement for HBR this spring.

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