2024 Northwest Herald girls track and field season preview capsules


Burlington Central

Coach: Vince Neil (21st season)

Last year’s finish: Third in FVC Meet

Top returning athletes: Abby Burke, jr. (middle distance, distance); Maddie Mucci, sr. (sprints, jumps); Teagan Cathcart, jr. (distance); Kenzie Andersen, sr. (sprints); Danica Wiegel, sr. (sprints, PV); Keira Heindl, sr. (sprints); Corryn Kester, sr. (sprints, middle distance); Sia Patel, sr. (sprints) Alyssas Bognetti, sr. (sprints, hurdles); Emilie Anderson, so. (throws)

Top new athletes: Callen O’Brien, fr. (springs, jumps); Julie Scheuer, fr. (sprints); Marlee Christiansen, fr. (sprints, hurdles)

Worth noting: The Rockets graduated one of their best athlete from last year’s team, Paige Greenhagel, who took third in the Class 2A long jump at the state meet, was eighth in the 400 and ninth in high jump. She is competing in heptathlon at NCAA Division I Liberty. She almost had a fourth medal with Kenzie Andersen, Corryn Kester and Mia Estrada in the 4x400 relay, which finished one spot from the finals. … Central moves up from Class 2A to 3A this season. … Andersen and Kester return, along with the whole 4x200 state-qualifying team of Maddie Mucci, Keira Heindl, Sia Patel and Danica Wiegel. … Abby Burke was a Northwest Herald All-Area second-team selection in cross country. Rockets coach Vince Neil expects Mucci and Burke to be their top point-scorers. … “We graduated a very successful senior group of multiple state-medaling athletes,” Neil said. “Even though many of our major point-scoring athletes had left, we do expect to be a deeper, more-rounded team this spring.”

Kate Aniolkowski of Cary Grove takes first for you team in the Girls 4x100 relay during the 2023 Gus Scott Invitational Friday April 14, at Naperville North High School.


Coach: Mark Anderson (24th season)

Last year’s finish: Fifth in FVC Meet

Top returning athletes: Kate Aniolkowski, sr. (sprints, hurdles); Kenna Kinsch, jr. (throws); Olivia Parker, so. (sprints, hurdles); Kennedy Manning, so. (sprints, hurdles, jumps); Caelie Mendro, so. (sprints, jumps, PV)

Top new athletes: Fifi Onafeko, fr. (sprints, jumps); Sofia Seaburg, fr. (sprints)

Worth noting: Kate Aniolowski was a Class 3A state qualifier in the 300 low hurdles for the Trojans last year. She and Olivia Parker finished 1-2 in the FVC Meet in that race. … “We have a good balance of upperclass experience and leadership combined with some new talent in the underclass ranks,” Trojans coach Mark Anderson said. “We will have some good performances and be able to score points in big meets.”

Crystal Lake Central

Coach: Brett Willhoit (ninth season)

Last year’s finish: 10th in FVC Meet

Top returning athletes: Abbey Zalatel, sr. (PV); Emma Macke, sr. (middle distance); Grace Fujino, so. (PV); Maria Kakish, jr. (hurdles); Sheniya Gise, sr., (hurdles)

Top new athletes: Ryleigh Mazzacano, fr. (HJ); Sophia Parks, fr. (distance)

Worth noting: Central’s Abbey Zalatel was McHenry County Meet pole vault champion, FVC runner-up and a Class 3A state qualifier. … “We are looking to continue getting better day by day, in all areas both on the track and in the field events,” Tigers coach Brett Willhoit said. “We have some great leaders in all of those areas, and hopefully, the athletes can realize the improvements they can make based on the work they put in on a daily basis.”

Crystal Lake South

Coach: Matt Dunker (16th season)

Last year’s finish: Seventh in FVC Meet

Top returning athletes: Abby Machesky, sr. (middle distance, distances); Ava Freund, sr. (SP); Liv Pinta, jr. (middle distance, distances); Tori Pinta, jr. (middle distance, distances); Emily Kupiec, jr. (TJ); Lexi Brooks, sr. (middle distance); Colette Bacidore, sr. (middle distance, distances); Brie James, sr. (middle distance, distances)

Top new athletes: Sedona Semradek, fr. (sprints, middle distance, discus); CeCe Piemontese, fr. (sprints, middle distance); Lily Brooks, fr. (sprints, middle distance); Gracey LePage, fr. (sprints); Analise Strauss, fr. (sprints); Addison Nabielec, so. (PV)

Worth noting: The Gators already have put together some strong 800 and 4x800 relay races in the indoor season, led by Abby Machesky, Liv and Tori Pinta, Lexi Brooks and Brie James. “We have a mix of experienced and new runners,” Gators coach Matt Dunker said. “We expect to see some improvement in our sprints and field events, especially with the addition of some key newcomers. We are excited to watch all of our athletes continue to improve.”


Coach: Christine Hopkins-Muehl (12th season)

Last year’s finish: Eighth place in FVC Meet

Top returning athletes: Sarah Bernstein, sr. (hurdles, jumps); Grace Bourbon, sr. (hurdles, jumps); Val Ortega, sr. (sprints); Ashley Arista, sr. (sprints); Yvonne Castro, sr. (distance); Marisa Klaas, jr. (jumps, hurdles); Oliwia Drozdz, jr. (sprints, LJ); Gisel Castaneda, jr. (distance); D’Angel Slater, so. (sprints); Alexandra Burczynski, so. (distance)

Top new athletes: Delilah Kissane, fr. (sprints); Penny Murray, fr. (hurdles, jumps); Ashley Leon, fr. (distance)

Worth noting: The Chargers will definitely miss Paulina Tinajero, who graduated after scoring 20 points by herself in the FVC Meet with three thirds and a fifth in sprints and jumps. … “We are young and inexperienced this year,” Hopkins-Muehl said. “We are hoping to make gradual improvements each and every meet. We are trying to foster a mindset of commitment, cooperation and improvement. We know we are facing an uphill battle compared to other teams in our conference. We just want to show consistent growth as a team and as individuals.”


Coach: Bo Price (second season)

Last year’s finish: Sixth in FVC Meet

Top returning athletes: Hailey Caraway, sr. (HJ); Ella Perrone, sr. (sprints, middle distance); Ashley Herzing, sr. (sprints); Natalia Javariz Vega, sr. (sprints); Claudia Kuk, sr. (LJ, TJ); Hudson Szymonik, jr. (distance); Kassidy Papa, jr. (PV, sprints); Hannah Jones, jr. (sprints, middle distance)

Top new athletes: Kaley Byhre, so. (sprints, distance); Malaya Ligon, fr. (sprints); Cameron Shaw, fr. (distance); Kate Donnelly, fr. (distance)

Worth noting: Whip-Purs coach Bo Price said numbers are high and the team has a lot of experience. … Hailey Caraway returns after taking eighth in the Class 3A high jump at the state meet. … Ella Perrone, Hannah Jones, Alyssa Garcia and Hudson Szymonik were state qualifiers in the 4x800 relay.


Coach: Jason Monson (fifth season)

Last year’s finish: FVC champion; Class 3A team state champion

Top returning athletes: Dominique Johnson, jr. (jumps, sprints); Sophie Amin, sr. (hurdles, sprints); Vicky Evtimov, sr. (sprints); K’Leigh Saenz, sr. (sprints); Emmy Byers, jr. (sprints); Addi Busam, so. (jumps, sprints); Abbie Williams, jr. (sprints, hurdles); Sienna Robertson, jr. (discus); Cori Kilvinger, so. (distance); Aspen Maldonado, so. (distance); Emma Garofalo, so. (PV); Gianna Howard, sr. (HJ)

Top new athletes: Haley Rahman, fr. (distance); Morgan Sauber, fr. (distance)

Worth noting: The Red Raiders became the first area team, boys or girls, to win a state championship, scoring 62 1/2 points to beat Prospect by 10 1/2. Alex Johnson (long jump), Dominique Johnson (triple jump) and Ally Panzloff (discus) all won individual state titles. … Alex Johnson and Panzloff graduated, but many of the other top athletes return as the Raiders want to make another run at a team trophy with a top-three appearance. … “This year’s goals are to continue to build on the success of last season,” Red Raiders coach Jason Monson said. “We have many returners from last year’s state team, and we have a lot of girls who have been contributing to a successful indoor season. Overall, we have the ability to put up points in all areas: sprints, distance, jumps and throws.” … Dominique Johnson, Vicky Evtimov, K’Leigh Saenz and Sophie Amin return to lead a strong sprint group, which includes Emmy Byers, Addi Busam and Abbie Williams. … Sienna Robertson was a discus state qualifier who wants to be in medal contention this season. … The cross country team won the FVC Meet in the fall and those runners should help with the distance races.


Coach: Jason Wright (first season)

Last year’s finish: Eighth place in the FVC Meet

Top returning athletes: Camryn Cook, sr. (SP); Sohini Lawrence, sr. (PV); Bailey Schwartz, jr. (distance); Baylle Fee, sr. (HJ, sprints)

Top new athletes: Kathleen Kania, jr. (distance); Jackie Then, j. (sprints); Carly Uehlein, so. (throws)

Worth noting: Camryn Cook narrowly missed qualifying for state in the Class 3A shot put. … Golden Eagles coach Jason Wright hopes that Carly Uehlein, a sophomore, can make the state-qualifying mark in the discus. … Sohini Lawrence was a pole vault state qualifier and is ready to make it back to state.


Coach: Kyle Owens (16th season)

Last year’s finish: Fourth place in FVC Meet

Top returning athletes: Danielle Jensen, sr. (distance); Skyler Balzer, sr. (distance); Kelly Huerta, sr. (sprints); Avery Stinger, jr. (sprints); Emma Blanken, jr. (hurdles); Alison Casey, jr. (hurdles)

Top new athletes: Olivia Meyers, fr. (hurdles); Mackenzie Grieve, so. (sprints); Bri Amedio, so. (sprints, jumps); Nina Textor, fr. (distance); Taylor Carpenter, fr. (distance)

Worth noting: Danielle Jensen was the 2023 Northwest Herald Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year and will run at NCAA Division I High Point (N.C.) next year. Jensen and Balzer both already have run the Class 3A 3,200 state-qualifying standard. … Kelly Huerta is the FVC defending 100 champion and took second in the 200. She is pushing to break Jenny Pauly’s 100 school record and has beaten Pauly’s 60 indoor record. … Warriors coach Kyle Owens feels the team will be well-rounded and get points on the track and out of the jumping events.

Prairie Ridge

Coach: Sarah Long (seventh season)

Last year’s finish: Second in FVC Meet

Top returning athletes: Katie Jewell, jr. (sprints, Long Jump); Olivia McPherson, sr. (sprints, distance); Lila Stewart, so. (middle distance, distance); Brenna Benjamin, so. (middle distance, distance); Kelly Anderson, so. (hurdles, sprints, LJ); Anna Borg, sr. (sprints)

Top new athletes: Leah Berning, fr. (hurdles); Emily McPherson, fr. (middle distance, distance); Carly Carrera, fr. (TJ, 200); Jessie Merrit, fr. (HJ)

Worth noting: The Wolves tied for fourth in last year’s Class 3A State Meet behind two competitors, Rylee Lydon and Rachel Soukup. Lydon (now at Texas A&M) won the high jump, took second on the long jump and 400, and was fourth in the 100 high hurdles. Soukup (Belmont) was second in the 3,200 and eighth in the 1,600. … Prairie Ridge drops from Class 3A to 2A this season. … Katie Jewell had a big day at the Illinois Top Times where she finished third in the Class 2A 60 meters.



Coach: Casey Seyller (19th season)

Last year’s finish: Sixth in KRC Meet

Top returning athletes: Grace Latterell, sr. (PV, hurdles, sprints); Ella Martin, so. (HJ, hurdles, sprints); Ani Gonzalez, so. (sprints); Jaden Timblin, jr. (LJ, HJ, sprints); Jaclyn McMillan, sr. (TJ, sprints); Hayden Binz, sr. (PV, sprints)

Top new athletes: Genah Arias, fr. (LJ, sprints); Alexa Herrera, so. (sprints, PV); Michelle Estrada, jr. (distance); Joselyn Hernandez, fr. (throws); Perla Esquivel, fr. (sprints, TJ)

Worth noting: Grace Latteral set Harvard’s school pole vault record at 2.89 meters (9-6) and almost made the Class 2A finals at the state meet. … Hornets coach Casey Seyller thinks Ella Martin has a good shot at the school high jump record of 1.55 (5-1). … Martin, Ani Gonzalez, Jaden Timblin and Genah Arias have had indoor success in the 4x400 relay and Seyller thinks that group can be a state qualifier outdoors. “Arias, a freshman, has a lot of potential in long jump and the sprints for our team this year,” Seyller said.

Johnsburg’s Caitlyn Casella wins the 100 meter dash Friday, April 21, 2023, during the McHenry County Track and Field Meet at Cary-Grove High School.


Coach: Tom Weaver (12th season)

Last year’s finish: Third in KRC Meet

Top returning athletes: Caitlyn Casella, sr. (sprints); Natalie Burke, sr. (jumps, sprints); Lila Duck, sr. (jumps, sprints); Anna Elfering, sr. (throws); Rylee Hardersen, sr. (jumps); Juliana Cashmore, jr. (throws); Giada Miraldi, jr. (distance); Hope Klosowicz, so. (sprints)

Top new athletes: Carly Duck, so. (jumps, sprints, PV); Alyson Jacobs, fr. (hurdles); Deja Lucky, fr. (hurdles, jumps); Lilly Mass, jr. (sprints, jumps); Kaylee Pyles, so. (sprints, jumps); Addison Sweetwood, fr. (jumps, sprints)

Worth noting: Skyhawks coach Tom Weaver says this is the strongest team he has coached. … Caitlin Casella is defending KRC 100 and 200 champion, as well as anchor of the Skyhawks’ winning 4x100 team with Natalie Burke, Lila Duck and Hope Klosowicz. That relay team returns intact. … Burke also qualified for state in triple jump. … Duck is also strong in the triple jump and Rylee Harderson will excel in the high jump. … Juliana Cashmore and Anna Elfering lead Johnsburg in the throws.


Coach: Kim Hoffmeister (first season)

Last year’s finish: Fifth in KRC Meet

Top returning athletes: Nikole Czepczynski, jr. (sprints, middle distance, discus); Amanda Harris, sr. (sprints); Ava Frederick, so. (sprints); Rowan Kunzer, so. (sprints); Alexis Harris, so. (sprints); Emily Gustafson, so. (sprints)

Top new athletes: Kaylee Sierpien, jr. (sprints, jumps); Caelan Nolen, fr. (sprints); Amy Smith, fr. (distance); Abby Standish, fr. (throws)

Worth noting: The Indians have their largest numbers in some time with 16 of the 32 athletes out for the team as freshmen, along with 11 sophomores. … Amanda Harris was a state qualifier in 2022 with the Indians’ 4x200 relay team. … One of the team leaders, Rachel Grismer, suffered a season-ending injury in the first indoor meet. … Nikole Czepczynski is an all-around athlete and will be one of Marengo’s top performers.


Coach: Taylor Conroy (second season)

Last year’s finish: KRC champion

Top returning athletes: Sahanna Doherty (jumps, sprints); Kristina DeLeon (jumps, sprints); Jasmine McCaskel (sprints); Sophia Komar (jumps, sprints); Alexia Spatz (distance); Emerson Wold (distance); Kaylin Lotz (sprints)

Top new athletes: Emily Wisniewski (hurdles, sprints); London Oudshoorn (sprints); Mya Wisniewski (distance); Penelope Tzavaras (sprints); Madelyn Peterie (sprints); Pola Frys (distance); Alexis Buntenbach (distance); AJ Sears ( throws)

Worth noting: R-B had a terrific KRC Meet last year to win the team title by 39 points. One of the leaders on that team, jumper Angelina Gersch, graduated, after taking third in the Class 2A triple jump and eighth in the 300 low hurdles. The other two – distance runner Alexia Spatz and sprinter Jasmine McCaskel – are back. McCaskel was KRC 400 champ and 100 and 200 runner-up. Spatz won the KRC 1,600 and 3,200 and was 800 runner-up.

Woodstock’s Hallie Steponaitis competes in the 2A high jump competition during the IHSA State Track and Field Finals at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston on Saturday, May 20, 2023.


Coach: Jon Brown (fifth season)

Last year’s finish: Second in KRC Meet

Top returning athletes: Maggie Adams, sr. (distance); Keira Bogott, jr. (middle distance); Corrine Bures, jr. (sprints); Anna Crenshaw, sr. (throws); Mia Foss, so. (sprints, jumps); Savannah Griffin, sr. (PV); Amina Idris, jr. (hurdles); Brooke Kashmier, sr. (distance); Sophia Mendoza, jr. (sprints, jumps); Lily Novelle, jr. (distance); Allison O’Brien, sr. (throws); Hallie Steponaitis, sr. (HJ); Sophie Sarabia, so. (distance); Renee Schleutermann, sr. (throws); Trinity Tudor, sr. (middle distance); Ariel Villavicencio, sr. (distance); Addy Walker, sr. (throws); Anna Wickersheim, sr. (distance)

Top new athletes: Micaela Chiappetta, so. (sprints); Ebba Hammarstedt, sr. (sprints, jumps); Shylah Smith, fr. (sprints, jumps); Faith Smith, sr. (sprints)

Worth noting: Hallie Steponaitis finished seventh in the Class 2A high jump and Keira Bogott was ninth in the 800 at the state meet, and both are back. Bogott splits time with track and soccer. … Maggie Adams was the KRC 3,200 runner-up and Amina Idris was a state qualifier in the 300 low hurdles. … “This is the deepest team we have had in recent memory and is led by an extremely strong senior class,” Blue Streaks coach Jon Brown said. “I am looking forward to watching them grow and compete for a conference championship at the end of the season. We are looking forward to these three (Steponaitis, Bogott and Idris) working to try to make it back (to state) as well as some others joining them this year.”

Woodstock North

Coach: Cas Creighton (12th season)

Last year’s finish: Fourth in KRC Meet

Top returning athletes: Ashley Janeczko, sr. (throws); Lexi Hansen, sr. (jumps); Dani Hansen, sr. (jumps); Bella Borta, sr. (hurdles, 4x400); Jayden Grismer, jr. (hurdles, 4x400)

Top new athletes: Chloe Albrecht, fr. (hurdles, 4x400, PV); Jaida Collins, so. (jumps, sprints); Maddie Mock, jr. (distance); Meadow Dodge, jr. )distance)

Worth noting: Ashley Janeczko qualified for the Class 2A State Meet in the shot put and discus and placed ninth in shot put. … Bella Borta was KRC 100 high hurdles champion and took third in the 300 low hurdles. … “We have a lot of talent amongst the juniors and seniors,” Thunder coach Cas Creighton said. “We also had some cross country girls make the switch from soccer which will help fill a lot of gaps. We have more depth this year than we’ve had in a while. We just need to keep everything healthy.”


Marian Central

Coach: Stephen Thomas (second season)

Last year’s finish: Independent

Top returning athletes: Mia Reiche, sr. (sprints, LJ); Emma Weber, sr. (sprints, hurdle, TJ); Kaitlyn Remke, jr. (300 hurdles, sprints); Kaelyn Kempisty, jr. (TJ); Jenna Remke, so. (sprints, LJ)

Top new athletes: Mary Kate Hernon, fr. (middle distance); Keira Conlon, so. (HJ, throws); Emily Merryman, fr. (sprints); Natalia Lara, fr. (HJ, sprints)

Worth noting: Marian Central moves from Class 2A to 1A and from an independent schedule into the new conference. … Mia Rieche is the lone state qualifier (LJ) returning from last season. … Emma Weber is another senior for the Hurricanes and she has been a part of their sprint relay successes and just missed qualifying for state last year. … Kaitlyn and Jenna Remke were integral parts of Marian’s successful tennis team and state qualifiers in that sport. Now, they look to make it in track as well. … Hurricanes coach Stephen Thomas likes what he sees from Mary Kate Hernon in middle distances and Keira Conlon in the throws.



Coach: Miguel Gil-Reyes (fourth season)

Top returning athletes: Evelyn Heber, sr. (sprints, LJ); Rileigh Gaddini, jr. (throws, sprints)

Top new athletes: Carlie Powers, so. (throws); Isabella Beck, fr. (hurdles, sprints LJ)

Worth noting: The Giants have all of their athletes back from last year’s team. Evelyn Heber was close to qualifying for the Class 1A state long jump out of the sectional. She also finished in the top five in the 100 meters.