Girls track and field: Previewing the 2024 outdoor season across the Herald-news area

Joliet Catholic’s Symone Holman lands her 2A long jump Saturday, May 20, 2023 during the IHSA state track and field finals at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

Here’s a look at the 2024 outdoor girls track and field season across the Herald-News coverage area as things get running.

Bolingbrook

Coach: John Sullivan

Top returners: Kayla Cole, jr. (jumps); Kristyn Johnson, sr. (sprints, long jump); Dai’Lynn Kellum, jr. (throws); Kyra Pierce, jr. (hurdles); Phallon Pierce, jr. (hurdles)

Key newcomers: Danielle Cathey, so. (sprints); Eniyah Emery, fr. (distances); Emily Marks, so. (distances)

Worth noting: The Raiders are balanced, but have an uphill climb looming as they compete in the loaded SWSC.

Coal City

Coach: Colin Keppner

Top returners: Kiki Gabehart, so. (sprints); Evelyn Wills, so. (high jump)

Key newcomers: Maddie Castle, fr. (hurdles); Ella Wills, fr. (triple jump)

Worth noting: Castle and Wills, both state grade-school champions, are the future of the Coal City program.

Dwight

Coach: Mitchell Thompson

Top returners: Isabella Bunting, jr. (shot put); Kassy Kodat, sr. (sprints); Ellora McCullough, jr. (sprints); Grace Olsen, jr. (sprints)

Key newcomers: Delaney Boucher, fr. (sprints); Mikayla Chambers, fr. (distances); Isabella Kelleher, so. (sprints); Brooklyn Todd, so. (distances)

Worth noting: The Trojans, like everyone else, are chasing Seneca in the Tri-County Conference race, but have some promising athletes.

Joliet Catholic

Coach: Rachael Rayes

Top returners: Mady Fleck, jr. (throws); Eva Genova, jr. (sprints); Symone Holman, so. (sprints, jumps); Sophia Mihelich, sr. (distances); Annie Tibbott, sr. (distances)

Key newcomers: Ella Heinen, so. (distances); Mary Kate Moran, fr. (distances)

Worth noting: Holman’s long jump win at the Class 2A Top Times indoor meet is a hint of what may be to come for what could be a successful Angels team.

Joliet Central

Coach: Moses Hulbert

Top returners: Afrika Armstead-Lee, sr. (sprints, jumps); Samantha Armstrong, sr. (sprints, jumps); Gabriela Garnica, sr. (sprints, jumps); Jenelle Maldonado, sr. (sprints, hurdles, jumps); Maciah Marszalek, sr. (sprints); Dianna Mascote, jr. (distances); Faith Rodriguez, sr. (sprints, jumps); Ariana Smith, sr. (sprints); Terionna Willis, jr. (sprints, hurdles, jumps)

Key newcomers: Amaya Crowder, so. (throws); Laila Garner, so. (sprints); Madison King, so. (distances); Georgianna Majerus, so. (throws)

Worth noting: Marszalek, Central’s lone returning state qualifier from last year, should have company down in Charleston this May.

Joliet West

Coach: Nathan Atkinson

Top returners: Jerie McClellan, sr. (sprints); Kailah Murray, jr. (throws); Janellisa Oceguera, sr. (sprints); Morgan Pork, sr. (sprints); KaMhary Scott, jr. (sprints)

Key newcomers: Leah Blunk, fr. (distances); Bre’Lyn Coble, so. (jumps); Caitlyn Podell, fr. (distances)

Worth noting: Pork and Oceguera led a Tigers team that took third in the indoor Southwest Prairie Meet, with the frosh-soph team finishing second.

Morgan Pork (3) edges out Jerie McClellan (2) in the 55 meters at the Joliet Central track meet.  March 8, 2023.

Lemont

Coach: Tim Plotke

Top returners: Angelina Aleksandravicius, sr. (sprints); Jordan Bartman, sr. (jumps), Madeline Faron, jr. (jumps); Vedika Patel, sr. (pole vault); Leah Plahm, jr. (sprints); Niki Tselios, jr. (distances); Hailey Vasvery, jr. (jumps); Asjley Wrublik, sr. (throws)

Key newcomers: Savannah Beasley, so. (sprints); Cassie Cunningham, so. (distances); Taylor Weil, fr. (sprints)

Worth noting: Lemont is especially deep in field events, which put them over the top in their indoor invitational and is a good sign of things to come.

Lincoln-Way Central

Coach: Matt Smith

Top returners: Jenin Ali, sr. (hurdles); Nadia Bowden, sr. (distances); Gabriella Bush, jr. (pole vault); Claire Carter, sr. (distances); Armani Daniels, sr. (sprints, jumps); Cameryn Fridl, sr. (pole vault)

Key newcomers: Brea Counihan, fr. (distances); Addison Cross, so. (sprints, jumps); Nicole Demma, fr. (sprints, jumps); Ava Dughetti, so. (distances); Mia Forystek, fr. (distances)

Worth noting: The Knights have a coterie of young runners who will lead them the next two springs.

Lincoln-Way East

Coach: Brian Evans

Top returners: Kyra Hayden, jr. (sprints, hurdles); Aria Henry, jr. (sprints, jumps); Jaiden Knoop, sr. (pole vault); Alaina Pollard, so. (high jump)

Key newcomers: Alaina Steele, fr. (sprints); Nora Keane, fr. (sprints); Grace Murphy, fr. (distances); Kate Roberts, fr. (distances)

Worth noting: Evans celebrates his 25th year in coaching and 10th with the Griffins with a loaded team, led by two-time all-stater Knoop, hurdler Hayden and a fleet 4x800 relay team.

Lincoln-Way East’s Jaiden Knoop clears the bar in the pole vault at the Minooka Girls Track and Field Invitational on Friday, April 14, 2023, in Minooka.

Lincoln-Way West

Coach: Dominic DeLuca

Top returners: Sania Dean, jr. (sprints); Reese Geiger, jr. (pole vault); London Harper, sr. (jumps); Keira Loranger, sr. (pole vault); Alanah Smith, jr. (sprints)

Key newcomers: Zoe Dempsey, so. (sprints); McKenzie Enright, fr. (jumps); Emma Novotny, fr. (hurdles)

Worth noting: The Warriors have some standouts and should fight for a middle-of-the-pack finish in the tough SWSC.

Lockport

Coach: Joe Kravitz

Top returners: Hayley Blocker, jr. (sprints); Ella Cline, sr. (hurdles, jumps); Sydney Fontaine, jr. (sprints); Mckena Miglorini, jr. (pole vault); Lexi Shea, jr. (distance); Veronica Walkosz, jr. (jumps)

Key newcomers: Katie Peetz, fr. (distance); Lillian Slowik, so., (distance); Zion Tucker, so. (jumps)

Worth noting: The Porters are strong from the 400 on up, with Miglorini leading the way in the field.

Minooka

Coach: Kevin Gummerson

Top returners: Lizie Egwunoke, jr. (sprints); Taya Gummerson, jr. (distances); Maya Ledesma, jr. (distances); Lauren Manning, sr. (sprints); Laila Richardson, sr. (shot put); Caprice Rodely, so. (sprints); Melinda Torres, so. (distances); Riley Warren, sr. (jumps, pole vault)

Key newcomers: Natalie Nahs, fr. (distances); Zoe Moxley, fr. (sprints)

Worth noting: Richardson’s throwing and Minooka’s 4x400 relay are the strengths of a promising program.

Morris

Coach: Ryan Battersby

Top returners: Meghan Bzdill, jr. (distances); Ava Conley, so. (sprints); Ella McDonnell, sr. (sprints); Leah Ortiz, jr. (distances); Gisselle Reyes, jr. (sprints); Paityn Valentine, jr. (distances)

Key newcomers: Hope Emmerich, so. (distances); Caitlin Gile, so. (pole vault); Hannah Linn, so. (triple jump)

Worth noting: With four state qualifiers graduated, Morris is rebuilding and decidedly young but talented.

Morris's Leah Ortiz competes in the Class 2A State Cross Country race on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023 at Detweiller Park in Peoria.

Peotone

Coach: Lori Lonard

Top returners: Terrynn Clott, jr. (throws); Elizabeth Rede, sr. (distances)

Key newcomers: Celeste Richards, so. (distances); Lila Kreske, fr. (jumps); Karolina Krupa, fr. (jumps); Avery Lenz, so. (sprints)

Worth noting: The Blue Devils are extremely young, almost exclusively underclassmen.

Plainfield Central

Coach: Tonya Landfair

Top returners: Arianna Gashi, sr. (sprints); Ellianna Gashi, sr. (jumps); Janae Henderson, jr. (sprints); Bridget Kemp, jr. (distances); Hannah Kilday, sr. (distances); Vanessa Obeng, sr. (sprints, jumps)

Key newcomer: Shania Davison, fr. (sprints)

Worth noting: A veteran-dominated Plainfield Central squad is looking for a last high school hurrah.

Plainfield East

Coach: Lauren McNichols

Top returners: Hannah Hostetler, sr. (sprints); Courtney McDonald, jr. (sprints); Molly Repovich, jr. (jumps); Sarah Stutler, sr. (sprints)

Key newcomers: Haley Anderson, fr. (jumps); Briyah Beatty, so. (sprints); Vahan Evans, so. (jumps)

Worth noting: McDonald advanced to the 60-meter final at the Class 3A Top Times meet and will be called upon to lead the Bengals this spring.

Plainfield North

Coach: George Sam

Top returners: Elsie Czarniewski, jr. (distances); Alex Eydenberg, sr. (sprints); Harriet Ghapson, sr. (sprints, jumps); Teagan Kiger, sr. (pole vault); Kaitlyn Ward, sr. (distances); Lindsey Wenz, jr. (sprints)

Key newcomers: Kaiya Bradshaw, fr. (sprints); Marlie Czarniewski, fr. (distances); Shyi Harris, so. (hurdles); Emaan Hussain, so. (distances)

Worth noting: North edged Minooka in the Southwest Prairie Indoor Meet and looks to repeat in May’s outdoor rematch.

Plainfield South

Coach: Jim O’Connell

Top returners: Tierra Abner, jr. (sprints); Jahnel Bowman, sr. (sprints, triple jump); Jazz Foster, jr. (sprints); Dafarjar Rodgers, sr. (sprints, high jump); Miles Solita, sr. (distances);

Key newcomers: Sophia Burciaga, so. (pole vault); Ashley Smith, fr. (sprints); Payton Smith, fr. (sprints)

Worth noting: Veteran coach O’Connell takes over the South program with a small group of solid returnees and freshman twins in the sprinting Smiths.

Providence Catholic

Coach: Jennifer Williams

Top returners: Sydney Earing, so. (triple jump); Bella Morey, sr. (distances)

Key newcomers: Ava Baumhardt, fr. (sprints); Mia Bilinski, sr. (sprints); Carsyn Petrow, fr. (shot put)

Worth noting: Williams sees great promise in her relays, which could carry over to individual distances. Bilinski, a college soccer commit dipping her toe in sprinting, is the surprise so far for Providence.

Reed-Custer

Coach: Andrea Shroba

Top returners: none

Key newcomers: Nichollet Chew, fr. (sprints); Atiana Hood, fr. (sprints); Kaitlyn Kantka, fr. (pole vault); Madysen Meyer, so. (sprints); Alyssa Wollenzien, fr. (hurdles, jumps)

Worth noting: Based on indoor results, it’s an all-new squad for the Comets, led by Wollenzien.

Romeoville

Coach: Steve Stefanski

Top returners: Kimora Currie, sr. (throws); Grace Griffin, sr. (jumps); Tania Miller, sr. (sprints)

Key newcomers: Patience Bradley, fr (jumps); Breyonce Dickson, fr. (hurdles); Sienna Grant, so. (jumps)

Worth noting: Miller is the class of the Southwest Prairie field in the 100 and 200, and Griffin is nearly her equal in jumps for Romeoville.

Romeoville's Tania Miller wins the 100-meter dash at the Southwest Prairie Conference Meet held May 3, 2023.

Seneca

Coach: Terry Maxwell

Top returners: Faith Baker, sr. (throws); Clara Bruno, jr. (distances); Lila Coleman, so. (sprints, long jump); Teagan Johnson, sr. (jumps, pole vault); Gabi Maxwell, sr. (throws); Evelyn O’Connor, jr. (distances); Lilly Pfeifer, so. (hurdles); Addison Stiegler, sr. (pole vault); Gracie Steffes, sr. (distances)

Key newcomers: Natalie Misener, jr. (distances)

Worth noting: This 1A power reloads, chasing a 12th straight conference championship the Fighting Irish are more than talented enough to capture.

Wilmington

Coach: Stefanie Stickel

Top returners: Ava Cupples, sr. (throws); Sara Falcon, jr. (jumps); Brooklyn Flores, jr. (distances); Jessica Schnittger, jr. (throws)

Worth noting: Wilmington seems likely to have to score points in the distance and field events.