2024 NewsTribune girls track and field preview capsules

State qualifiers return, freshmen look to make an impact

Princeton's Camryn Driscoll runs in Thursday's Howard-Monier Girls Invitational at Princeton.

With the outdoor season just underway, here’s a look at the girls track and field teams in the NewsTribune area.

La Salle-Peru

Coach: John Beatty

Top returners: Elli Sines, jr., hurdles/sprints; Cassidy Cromwell, jr., throws; Ashlee Lord, sr., distance; Anya De La Luz, sr., distance; Kiely Domyancich, so., distance; Miah Buckley, sr., middle distance; Ava Currie, jr., jumps/sprints/hurdles; Phoebe Shetterly, jr., jumps; Marisa Eggersdorfer, so., sprints/hurdles

Key newcomers: Aubrey Duttlinger, fr., jumps/hurdles; Alexus Hines, fr., jumps/pole vault; Vizion Byrd, fr., sprints; Lillian Rizkallah, fr., throws; Delani Duggan, fr., mid-distance

Worth noting: Sines is a returning state qualifier in the 100-meter hurdles for the Cavaliers. She placed second in the event at the sectional and ran a personal-best 15.97 seconds at state. Beatty said she is “well on her way to a repeat trip to state” and said she could potentially qualify in the 100 or 200 as well. Duttlinger is expected to be a standout freshman after a stellar junior high career that included state titles in the 200, 100 hurdles and long jump as an eighth grader and a medal in the 100. She’s already hit the state qualifying standard in the long jump and won the triple jump her first time competing in the event. Beatty said she has the potential to qualify for state in the long and triple jumps as well as the 100 hurdles. He also expects the 4x800 relay, which will include Buckley, De La Luz and a Lord, to contend for a state berth. “We have met one of our perennial goals of increasing the numbers,” Beatty said. “The second goal of qualifying athletes for state is taking shape already. A third goal could be winning meets with our eyes on the Interstate 8 Conference and Illinois Valley meets. I am not sure if another sectional title is within our reach this year, but I want to place well at sectional.”

St. Bede

Coach: Marty Makransky

Top returners: Sierah Shaver, sr., sprints/relays; Lily Bosnich, so., sprints/relays/jumps/hurdles; Emerald De La Torre, sprints/relays; Macklin Brady, sr., throws; Libby Huffaker, jr., throws; Savannah Bray, so., throws; Lacey Griggs, jr., sprints; Grace Millington, jr., sprints/jumps; Sammie Wagner, jr., hurdles; Maggie Arkins, so., mid-distance; Sara Ruiz, so., sprints

Key newcomers: Kennedy Nguyen, sr., sprints; Emma Smudzinski, jr., mid-distance; Avery Entrican, jr., mid-distance; Ashlyn Ehm, jr., sprints; Kate Duncan, fr., jumps; Kyra Finley, fr., sprints/jumps; Mackenzie Stanbary, fr., sprints/jumps; Lillian Wray, fr., sprints/jumps

Worth noting: The Bruins graduated one of the most decorated athletes in program history in Anna Lopez, who won three state medals last year, but return three state medalists in Bosnich, Shaver and De La Torre. All three helped St. Bede to medals in the 4x100-meter and 4x200 relays, while Bosnich also medaled in the 300 hurdles. Bosnich also plays softball. “We are not rebuilding but reloading,” Makransky said. “[Bosnich] is a four-sport star, and we can’t wait to see her run and jump this year. Sierah and Emerald are both back in the sprints and will be relied upon for their experience and leadership to help our team succeed.” St. Bede will be strong in the throws with Brady, Bray and Huffaker. “There’s a lot of excitement with this team,” Makransky said. “If we can stay healthy, we can be very competitive in our new Tri-County Conference and also return to Charleston [for state] with a large group of athletes.”

St. Bede’s Anna Lopez hands the baton to teammate Emerald De La Torre in the 4x100 Wednesday, May 10, 2023 at the class 1A Erie girls track sectional.

Hall

Coach: Nick Hanck

Top returners: Laela Shevokas, jr., throws; Bella Templeton, jr., jumps

Key newcomers: Keelie Cooper, fr., sprints

Worth noting: The Red Devils are young with only one senior and two juniors on the 14-girl roster. Last year, Shevokas won the shot put at the Illinois Valley Meet and won the discus at the Mendota Co-Ed Meet, while Templeton had two wins in the high jump. Cooper has led the teams in sprints during the indoor season. “The goal is just to continue working hard all year and see improvements throughout the season,” Hanck said.

Putnam County

Coach: Brianna Downey

Top returners: Annamae Smith, so, hurdles/throws/jumps; Chloe Anderson, jr., sprints/jumps/hurdles

Key newcomers: Brooklin Brown, fr., sprints; Veronika Mack, fr., distance; Shay Ochoa, fr., hurdles

Worth noting: The Panthers have a young and inexperienced roster with no seniors and eight freshmen among the 10 athletes on the roster. Smith and Anderson are capable of filling a variety of events as Smith competed in the 300-meter hurdles, shot put and long jump in the season opener, while Anderson competed in the 100, 100 hurdles, 4x200 and long jump. Several freshmen showed promise in the opener, as Ochoa was runner-up in the 300 hurdles, Mack placed third in the 1,600 and Brown finished fifth in the 400.

Mendota

Coach: Joe Hughes

Top returners: Grace Wasmer, sr., sprints/jumps; Laylie Denault, so., jumps/sprints/hurdles; Ella Martin, jr., throws/sprints; Kennedy Knaff, jr., throws/sprints; hurdles; Hannah Kunz, so., mid-distance

Key newcomers: Mariyah Elam, fr., jumps/sprints/hurdles; Harlow Foltynewicz, fr., jumps; Aby Buettner, fr., sprints/hurdles

Worth noting: The numbers continue to grow for the Trojans, going from five athletes two years ago to 12 last year to 26 this season, including 15 freshmen. “More and more athletes want to join because of the leaders and family aspect this team has together,” Hughes said. “They are encouraging one another and have created a positive environment for everyone.” Wasmer is the team’s lone senior and a captain. Knaff and Denault will be competitive in multiple events. Hughes expects both to contend for a state berth in the 300-meter hurdles and could help the 4x400 relay be in the mix for a state trip. Kunz had a strong freshman season in the 800 and is running the 400 for the first time this spring. Hughes said she could push to qualify for state in both races. Elam, an IESA medalist last year, already has been a standout for the Trojans, and Hughes said she “has a real chance of qualifying [for state] in multiple events.” Elam placed sixth at the Prep Top Times Meet, the unofficial indoor state meet, in the high jump. She’ll also compete in triple jump, hurdles and sprints.

Princeton

Coach: Pat Hodge

Top returners: Camryn Driscoll, so., sprints; Morgan Foes, sr., throws; Miyah Fox, sr., hurdles; Georgie Fulton, sr., sprints; Scarlet Fulton, sr., sprints; Morgan Richards, sr., throws; Ashlynn Weber, jr.,

Key newcomers: Ruby Acker, fr., distance; Payton Frueh, fr., distance

Worth noting: The Tigresses have top returning talent with a pair of state qualifiers in Foes and Driscoll. “We should be pretty competitive. We lost a couple of girls moving to other sports either completely or partially, so our overall depth will depend on how the different schedules align at times,” Hodge said. “The freshmen have a lot of enthusiasm and are open to trying new events. It may take us awhile to figure it all out, but we’ll see what happens.” Foes, an Illinois State recruit, was a state qualifier in both throws, placing fifth in discus, in which she is the PHS record holder. She placed third in the shot in the Prep Top Times Meet. Driscoll was a state qualifier as a freshman in the 400. Fox is a two-time conference champion in the 100 hurdles. She will also play soccer for the first time this spring. The Fulton twins ran on the Three Rivers Conference placing 4x100 and 4x200 relays last year. Richards (throws) and Weber (jumps) have both placed at conference. Acker, who is also playing soccer, and Frueh had strong cross country seasons in the fall.

Bureau Valley

Coach: Jennifer Backer

Top returners: Lynzie Cady sr., jumps/throws/mid-distance; Connie Gibson sr., jumps/sprints; Ashlyn Maupin so., sprints; Emma Mussche so., mid-distance; Kate Salisbury sr., sprints; Addison Wessel sr., sprints; Maddie Wetzell so., distance

Key newcomers: McKinley Canady jr., sprints; Landry Hitzler jr., sprints

Worth noting: The Storm are strong on sprinters, headed by seniors Salisbury and Wessel, juniors Canady and Hitzler, who come over from softball, and Taylor Neuhalfen, who returns after missing last season with a knee injury, and sophomore Maupin. The Storm also have depth in mid-distance and field events with seniors Elizabeth Backer (mid-distance), Cady (LJ, shot, mid-distance) and Gibson (jumps, sprints) and sophomores Mussche (mid-distance) and Wetzell (distance). “We have some strong leadership with our seniors, and returning sophomores that will help all of our new athletes,” Jennifer Backer said. Having Taylor Neuhalfen back and newcomers Canady and Hitzler will be great assets to the team, Backer said, along with Wetzell, who “was running under six minutes in the mile last year, and we are looking to cut that time even more this year.”

Amboy-LaMoille-Ohio

Coach: Michael Robinson

Top returners: Elly Jones, sr., jumps/hurdles; Jillian Anderson, so., jumps; Bella Yanos, so., jumps/sprints; Lexi Ketchum, sr., jumps; Kimber Zitelman, sr., throws

Key newcomers: Maddie Althaus, fr., sprints; Alexa McKendry, fr., hurdles; Aubrey Wells, fr., mid-distance

Worth noting: The numbers are up for the Clippers with 22 athletes on the roster with 17 from Amboy, three from LaMoille and two from Ohio. “We have more depth than before and will be able to fill all the events this year, which is something we haven’t had for a while now,” Robinson said. Jones is looking to become a four-time state qualifier. In her career, she has two state medals in each of the 100 hurdles and triple jump and one in the 300 hurdles. I believe Elly can make it back [to state] for the fourth year in a row and could be joined by a couple others and some relays,” Robinson said. “We have some good athletes and it is still early.”

Fieldcrest

Coach: Carol Bauer

Top returners: Macy Gochanour, so., hurdles/sprints; Pru Mangan, so., throws; Clare Phillips, sr., distance;

Worth noting: Gochanour is a returning state qualifier for the Knights in the 300 hurdles, winning a sectional title last spring in 48.71 seconds. She’ll also run the 100 hurdles and 400. “We hope to take [Gochanour] back to Charleston, obviously, with the hope of advancing to the second day and medal position, and I feel both goals are realistic,” Bauer said. Mangan, who also will play softball, will compete in discus and shot put, while Phillips returns for her senior season after a successful cross country season in the fall.

Henry-Midland

Coach: Carrie Meffert

Top returners: Daniella Bumber, so., sprints; Taylor Frawley, so., sprints/jumps; Alison Mitchell, so., hurdles/jumps; Madison Price, sr., jumps/throws/sprints

Key newcomers: Sam Nauman, fr., mid-distance/distance;

Worth noting: The Timberducks lost state champion thrower Laney Lester to graduation, but Meffert still has plenty of talent for her first season as coach with several state qualifiers returning to the roster. Bumber leads the way after qualifying for state in four events (100-meter dash, 200, 400, 4x100 relay) as a freshman and bringing home three medals – second in the 400, fourth in the 200 and sixth in the 100. Bumber also was a state qualifier in cross country in the fall. Frawley and Mitchell also were members of H-M’s state 4x100 relay last spring. Frawley also was a state qualifier in the long jump last year, placing 13th in the event to miss a spot in the finals by one place. Mitchell also competes in the high jump and started the season with a second-place finish by clearing 1.47 meters, not far off the state-qualifying standard of 1.52 meters. Freshmen Amanda Manzanares and Zoey Holstrom will fill the open spots on the 4x100 relay. Nauman had a strong fall as a cross country runner for H-M and a state-qualifying swimmer for the La Salle-Peru co-op. She won the 3,200, placed second in the 1,600 and took third in the 800 in the outdoor opener. “We have a lot of new talent with untapped potential,” Meffert said. “I think all of the athletes are in better shape this year than they were last year. We’ve had a focus on conditioning, not only physical but mental, as well. I’ve seen more encouragement of each other as a whole this year as well as greater expectations and that’s really encouraging to see.”

Henry’s Taylor Frawley soars in the 1A long jump Saturday, May 20, 2023 during the IHSA state track and field finals at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.