Girls track and field: Previewing the 2023 season across the Herald-News area

Lincoln-Way Central’s Kaitlyn Hutchinson competes in the long jump at the Class 3A Minooka Girls Sectionals. Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Minooka.

A look at the Herald-News area’s girls track and field teams with the season ready to head outdoors and get into full swing:


Coach: John Sullivan

Top returners: Kristyn Johnson, jr. (sprints); Dajanae Smith, so. (sprints, hurdles); Chinenye Ifeajekwu, sr. (sprints); Phallon Pierce, so. (hurdles); Trinity Phipps, sr. (high jump)

Key newcomers: Amiya Sullivan, fr. (sprints); Alaine Bell, fr. (sprints); Danielle Cathey, fr. (sprints)

Worth noting: It’s early, but Sullivan, Bell and Cathey is a trio that could impress in sprints for the next four years, not just this one.

Coal City

Coach: Colin Keppner

Top returners: Lilly Feisley, so. (sprints, jumps); Adeline Dowling, jr. (distances); Marianna Hren, sr. (distances)

Key newcomers: Keirsten Gabehart, fr. (sprints, long jump); Evelyn Wills, fr. (high jump)

Worth noting: Feisley was the leader of the Coalers’ conference title team last year as a freshman and looks to be better this year. Hren could be a distance standout.


Coach: Michael Bennett

Top returners: Isabella Bunting, so. (sprints, shot put); Ellora McCullough, so. (sprints); Maggie Jewett, so. (distances)

Key newcomers: Maddie Simms, fr. (distances)

Worth noting: Bunting’s combination of sprinter and shotputter is rare. Simms was the top freshman in both the 800 and 1,600 at the indoor Reed-Custer Comet Classic.

Joliet Catholic

Coach: Rachael Rayes

Top returners: Eva Genova, so. (sprints); Claire Blotnik, jr. (distances); Kathryn Hammel, jr. (distances); Erin Hash, sr. (distances)

Key newcomers: Symone Holman, fr. (sprints), long jump; Ella Heinen, fr. (distances)

Worth noting: Likely standout Holman won the 55 and long jump and was second in the 200 in the tough Lemont Invitational.

Joliet Central

Coach: Neal Brockett

Top returners: Brea’Laja Barber, sr. (sprints); Maciah Marszalek, jr. (sprints); Nereieda Jimenez, jr. (distances); Saniya Sherrod, so. (shot put); Anastasia Nagra, jr. (jumps)

Key newcomers: Madison King, fr. (distances)

Worth noting: King and Marszalek have set school records in indoor competition and will be worth keeping an eye on.

Joliet West

Coach: Nathan Atkinson

Top returners: Morgan Pork, jr. (sprints); Jerie McClellan, jr. (sprints); Janellisa Oceguera, jr. (sprints)

Key newcomers: Saniyah Nobles, fr. (sprints); Aniya Byrd, fr. (sprints); Anna Cruz, fr. (shot put)

Worth noting: The Tigers are rebuilding, and in a sign of good things to come so far have strung together a series of top-three finishes in meets.


Coach: Tim Plotke

Top returners: Juliette Reyes, sr. (sprints, hurdles); Julia Hajnos, sr. (sprints, long jump); Ella Mierzwa, so. (sprints); Jordan Cryer, so. (sprints); Jordan Bartman, jr. (high jump); Ashley Wrublik, so. (shot put); Christiana Ostrander, so. (discus)

Key newcomers: Emma Gaidakuvicius, fr. (sprints); Savannah Beasley, fr. (sprints); Morgan Sadelski, fr. (sprints); Maggie Daevy, fr. (distances); Cassie Cunningham, fr. (distances)

Worth noting: Reyes and Hajnos will be expected to set the standard in work ethic for this young team to follow.

Lincoln-Way Central

Coach: Matt Smith

Top returners: Kaitlyn Hutchinson, sr. (sprints, jumps); Armani Daniels, jr. (sprints, jumps); Claire Carter, jr. (distances); Ella Maldonado, sr. (distances); Nadia Bowden, jr. (distances); Jenin Ali, jr. (hurdles, jumps); Gabriella Bush, so. (pole vault)

Key newcomers: Amani Muhammad, fr. (sprints); Callie Barker, fr. (distances)

Worth noting: With Hutchinson and Damiels doing double-duty, the Knights could be a sleeper in conference competition.

Lincoln-Way East

Coach: Brian Evans

Top returners: Olivia Donaldson, so. (sprints); Ava Conway, jr. (distances); Maura Hanrahan, jr. (distances); Kendall Crossley, sr. (hurdles); Aria Henry, so. (jumps); Jaiden Knoop, jr. (pole vault); Asha Pierre-Antoine, sr. (triple jump)

Key newcomers: Alaina Pollard, fr. (relays, jumps); Molly Reidy, fr. (pole vault)

Worth noting: It’s rebuilding time for the six-time 3A champions, but Evans has a lot of talent coming back, led by Knoop, second in 3A last year, a collection of relay speedsters and Illinois Top Times qualifier Pierre-Antoine.

Lincoln-Way East’s Jaiden Knoop wait to make another attempt in the pole vault at the Class 3A Minooka Girls Sectionals. Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Minooka.

Lincoln-Way West

Coach: Dominic DeLuca

Top returners: Alahan Smith, so. (sprints); Annie Pincaik, jr. (distances); Gianna Arizzi, sr. (distances)

Key newcomers: Zoe Dempsey, fr. (sprints, jumps); Jayden Gurgone, fr. (sprints); Sami Green, fr. (sprints); Emily Hendrick, fr. (shot put)

Worth noting: The young Warriors are expected to improve quickly and could be dangerous by year’s end, but it’s an uphill climb in a tough conference.


Coach: Joe Kravitz

Top returners: Sydney Fontaine, so. (sprints); Kayla Shea, sr. (distance); Kamile Bickute, sr. (sprints, jumps); Ella Cline, jr. (sprints, hurdles, jumps); Veronica Walkosz, so. (jumps)

Key newcomers: Bella Barrett, fr. (sprints); Lily Slowik, fr. (distance); Nicki Kuchyt, fr. (pole vault)

Worth noting: Kranitz sees the Porters as balanced and with potential. It would be a surprise if Lockport doesn’t send several athletes to the medal stand at the 3A State Meet at season’s end.


Coach: Kevin Gummerson

Top returners: Eliana Culpepper, sr. (sprints); Lauren Manning, jr. (sprints); Addison Benson, jr. (sprints), Ella McCollom, sr. (distances); Gabby Kics, sr. (distances); Maya Ledesma, so. (distances); Cassie Fuhrman, jr. (distances); Bre Edwards, so. (hurdles), Faith Hayes, jr. (triple jump), Laila Richardson, jr. (shot put)

Key newcomers: Elizabeth Egwunwoke, so. (sprints)

Worth noting: Minooka has both quality and quantity, the largest team in several years, and with all the distance runners qualifying for state last year, expect more of the same in 2023.


Coach: Ryan Battersby

Top returners: Ella McDonnell, jr. (sprints); Gisselle Reyes, so. (sprints); Joy Dudley, sr. (distances); Gretchen Zarbock, sr. (distances); Paityn Valentine, so. (distances); Mackenzie Enger, so. (high jump)

Key newcomers: Ava Conley, fr. (sprints, hurdles); Hannah Linn, fr. (jumps)

Worth noting: Dudley is a threat at both the 1,600 and 3,200, while Conley has impressed as a sprinter and hurdler.


Coach: Lori Lonard

Top returners: Alicia Hunding, so. (sprints, long jump); Celeste Richards, so. (distances)

Key newcomers: Avery Lenz, fr. (sprints, long jump); Aurora Toepper, so. (throws)

Worth noting: Hunding already ranks in Peotone’s all-time top six in the 100, 200 and 400. Toepper is new to track, but has impressed with her throwing.

Plainfield Central

Coach: Tonya Landfair

Top returners: Arianna Gashi, jr. (sprints); Janae Henderson, so. (sprints); Emma Walsh, so. (sprints); Ariana Coffee, sr. (sprints, long jump); Hannah Kilday, jr. (distances); Natalie Standhardt, so. (distances); Deionna Jones, jr. (shot put)

Key newcomers: Jada Simmien, fr. (sprints); Khyli Harvey, fr. (sprints, high jump)

Worth noting: Youth will be served at Plainfield Central, where Ariana Coffee is the only senior who ran in the Southwest Prairie Indoor Championship.

Plainfield East

Coach: Dominic Del Rosario

Top returners: Ava Mabry-Spencer, sr. (sprints); Courtney McDonald, so. (sprints); Lily Anderson, sr. (distances); Lilla McCormick, so. (distances); Eilssa Perkins, sr. (distances, jumps); Brianna Strong, jr. (shot put); Jocelyn Trotter, sr. (high jump)

Key newcomers: Briyah Beatty, fr. (sprints); Sophia Cain, fr. (sprints)

Worth noting: Based on indoor results, jumpers Perkins and Trotter have the best chance to score points in conference and perhaps advance to the state finals at year’s end.

Plainfield North

Coach: Chris Simon

Top returners: Alex Eydenberg, jr. (distances); Lauren Dellangelo, so. (distances); Taylor McClain, so. (distances); Lindsey Wenz, so. (distances); Elsie Czarniewski, so. (distances)

Key newcomers: Tessa Russo, fr. (distances)

Worth noting: The 1,600-meter relay is already ranked second in Illinois, and the 3,200-meter relay should make an impact as well on a strong roster.

Plainfield South

Coach: Bradley Millar

Top returners: Jahnel Bowman, jr. (sprints; jumps); Tierra Abner, so. (sprints); Vanessa Tuazon, so. (sprints, jumps); Andrea Abbott, jr. (sprints); Madison LaBeck, sr. (distances) Miles Solita, jr. (distances); Dana Surwillo, sr. (pole vault)

Key newcomers: Guiliana Mancini, fr. (sprints); Carissima Mrizek, fr. (sprints, jumps); Tianna Rosario, fr. (high jump)

Worth noting: Plainfield South has only three seniors, but boasts junior sprinter-jumper Bowman, is deep in younger athletes and could surprise in conference and in the postseason.

Providence Catholic

Coach: Jennifer Williams

Top returners: Faith Gade, jr. (sprints); Sophia Leverett, so. (sprints); Bella Morey, jr. (distances); Natalie Papes, sr. (pole vault)

Key newcomers: Katelin Navarre, fr. (sprints); Maggie Wolniakowski, fr. (sprints)

Worth noting: In her first year as head coach, Williams has the returning state pole vault runner-up in Papes, and potentially three threatening relay teams to keep a close eye on.


Coach: Andrea Shroba

Top returners: Haylee Keymon, sr. (sprints; hurdles); Olivia McLaughlin, so. (shot put)

Key newcomers: Madysen Meyer, fr. (sprints)

Worth noting: Meyer could be a star on the Comets for four years, while Keymon will be looked to for senior leadership.


Coach: Steve Stefanski

Top returners: Tania Miller, jr. (sprints); Nadia Povilaitis, sr. (sprints); Ava Maglaya, sr. (sprints; jumps); Mia Maglaya, sr. (sprints, jumps); Sophia Flowers, so. (distances); Ariana Mustafa, sr. (distances); Grace Griffin, jr. (jumps); Sharon Aasmoah, sr. (throws)

Key newcomers: Emily Rog, fr. (distances)

Worth noting: The Spartans captured the Argo Invitational and three dual meets indoors and figure to carry that momentum outdoors into a successful season.


Coach: Terry Maxwell

Top returners: Caitlyn O’Boyle, sr. (sprints, hurdles, triple jump); Keeli Pumphrey, sr. (sprints, hurdles); Natalie Misener, so. (distances); Faith Baker, jr. (throws); Gabi Maxwell, jr. (throws); Teagan Johnson, jr. (jumps, pole vault)

Key newcomers: Lila Coleman, fr. (sprints)

Worth noting: O’Boyle and Johnson are triple threats, and could pile up the majority of Seneca’s points in most meets along with strong relay teams.


Coach: Stephanie Stickel

Top returners: Reese VanDuyne, so. (sprints, long jump); Chloe Proffitt, sr. (distances); Brooklyn Flores, so. (distances); Jessica Schnittger, so. (shot put)

Key newcomers: Emily Hughes, fr. (distances)

Worth noting: Profitt can go to the front, but the Wildcats are otherwise a young squad and will be looking to develop as the season progresses.

Seneca's Teagan Johnson sails over the bar in the pole vaults in the Class 1A sectional girls track meet on Thursday, May 12, 2022 in Seneca.