Cross Country

High school girls cross country: 2019 season preview capsules

Prairie Ridge's Chelsea Gale (6) leads a pack in front of Crystal Lake South's Mackenzie Aldridge (20) during last season's IHSA girls cross country Class 2A Woodstock Sectional at Emricson Park in Woodstock.
Prairie Ridge's Chelsea Gale (6) leads a pack in front of Crystal Lake South's Mackenzie Aldridge (20) during last season's IHSA girls cross country Class 2A Woodstock Sectional at Emricson Park in Woodstock.

Fox Valley Conference

Burlington Central

Coach: Vince Neil (16th season).

Last year’s finish: Kishwaukee River Conference champion.

Top returning runners: Erin Josshart, jr.; Brooke Barkocy, jr.; Lauren Dowd, jr.; Avery Andersen, jr.; Fiona Pedone, jr.; Grace Comparone, jr.; Jocelyn Victoria, jr.; Jenna Dinges, sr.

Top new athletes: Michaela Kruse, fr.; Tia Brennan, fr.

Worth noting: The Rockets come from the KRC to the FVC with a team coming off a seventh-place finish at the Class 2A State Meet. … While being the FVC’s smallest school by a wide margin, Burlington should match up well and compete in its new league. … Josshart was the KRC runner-up last year.

Cary-Grove

Coaches: Mark Anderson (19th season); Tom Smith (fifth season).

Last year’s finish: FVC champion.

Top returning athletes: Jessie Hill, sr.; Teagan Hayes, sr.; Claire Wallis, sr.; Steph Dunphy, sr.; Morgan Dieschbourg, jr.; Delaney Blohm, jr.; Maggie Mason, jr.; Abby Williams, jr.; Natalie Warren, so.

Top new athletes: Ada Saletnik, fr.

Worth noting: Senior Allison Drage, who was fourth in the FVC Meet, transferred to Barrington this year, but few teams could handle that loss as well as the Trojans, who still have four All-FVC runners coming back. … Mason and Dieschbourg were Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selections after their standout sophomore years. Blohm and Williams also were All-FVC runners. … “Every season is a blank slate and you have to go earn it all over again,” Anderson said. “These girls are working hard, setting good examples for each other and beginning to come together.”

Crystal Lake Central

Coach: Brett Willhoit (fifth season).

Last year’s finish: Sixth in FVC Meet.

Top returning athletes: Kylie Smith, jr.; Meghan Easterday, so.; Nadia Sardjev, so.; Samantha Sanders, so.

Top new athletes: Annie Ferrero, fr.; Giselle Lemke, fr.; Grace Moore, fr.; Olivia Berg, fr.; Avery Wilson, fr.

Worth noting: Smith finished sixth in the FVC Meet and was 40th in the Class 2A State Meet. She returns to lead a young team that will look to build and be competitive in the FVC.

Crystal Lake South

Coach: Ken Greenfield (ninth season).

Last year’s finish: Third in FVC Meet.

Top returning athletes: Mackenzie Aldridge, sr.; Laina Drive, sr.; Emily Jones, sr.; Connie Lin, sr.; Olivia Liszka, sr.; Bianca Garay, jr.; Chelsea Greene, jr.; Emma Murphy, jr.; Addie Frisch, so.; Elise Gorman, so.

Top new athletes: Bella Gonzalez, fr.

Worth noting: Aldridge was FVC champion and finished 19th in the Class 2A State Meet. The Gators advanced to state as a team as well. … Olivia Beckwith was one of South’s top runners and graduated, but Murphy and Greene were All-FVC runners who return. … “We had a really young varsity group last season and I feel like we grew up a lot in the last year,” Greenfield said. “Our returning varsity runners have been very dedicated and focused and that’s rubbed off on the newcomers.”

Dundee-Crown

Coach: Ronald Delarmente (second season).

Top returning athletes: Mary Florance, sr.; Pundit Tetteh, jr.

Top new athletes: Melina Garcia, fr.

Worth noting: The Chargers would like to crack the top half of FVC and Delarmente thinks nearly doubling last year’s team in numbers should help with that. Six of the top seven varsity runners return and he sees some talent with the freshman group.

Hampshire

Coach: Ryan Hollister (first season).

Last year’s finish: Eighth in FVC Meet.

Top returning athletes: Lindsey Baron, jr.; Stella Oury, sr.; Mia Vonic, sr.

Top new athletes: Genevieve Bangert, fr.; Eshal Shakoor, fr.

Worth noting: Hollister’s first big goal for the team was increasing numbers, which was a success. … The Whip-Purs have six of their top seven runners returning, led by Oury and Baron. With that, Hampshire hopes to make a jump from eight place in the FVC.

Huntley

Coach: Matt Kaplan (second season).

Last year’s finish: Fifth in FVC Meet.

Top returning athletes: Bailey Wilk, sr.; Emily Glass, sr.; Grace Allen, jr.; Genevieve Collatz, so.; Rachel Carlson, so.

Top new athletes: Breanna Burak, fr.; Brittney Burak, fr.

Worth noting: Wilk was 31st in the Class 3A Waubonsie Valley Sectional last year to finish the season. Kaplan said Wilk wants her last high school race to be the Class 3A State Meet. … Glass, Allen, Collatz and Carlson gained experience last year that should make them better. The Buraks have shown they will impact the Red Raiders’ top seven. … “Our girls are looking for better success than they saw last year,” Kaplan said. “This group has the potential for great things.”

Jacobs

Coach: Kevin Christian (13th season).

Last year’s finish: Fourth in FVC Meet.

Top returning athletes: Aly Doherty, sr.; Alyssa Demma, sr.; Elisabeth Kania, so.; Kelly Carpenter, so.; Ella Tamburrino, so.; Allie Skuza, so.

Top new athletes: Jackie Cardenas, sr.; Avery Mason, so.; Abby Peterson, sr.

Worth noting: Five of the Golden Eagles’ top seven runners are back, led by Doherty, Demma and Kania. Doherty and Demma were ninth and 10th in the FVC Meet; Kania was McHenry County Meet runner-up. … Christian said Carpenter has made huge improvements and may run with Jacobs’ top three.

McHenry

Coach: Kevin Horst (fourth season).

Last year’s finish: Seventh in FVC Meet.

Top returning athletes: Lydia Zancho, so.; Rhyann Oeffling, sr.; Jessica Letmanski, so.; Kylie Witkowski, jr.

Top new athletes: Emma Keesey, so.; Jessica Pfannkuche, fr.; Alyssa Moore, fr.; Lynda Rotundo, fr.

Worth noting: Zancho started her freshman year with a fifth-place finish at the McHenry County Meet, but fought through some nagging injuries after that. She finished 19th in the FVC Meet, earning all-conference, and 23rd in the Class 3A Grant Regional. Horst thinks that after a strong summer of training Zancho will be one of the area’s top runners. He also thinks the Warriors can make it to the sectional as a team this season.

Prairie Ridge

Coach: Kelly MacDonald (18th season).

Last year’s finish: Second in FVC Meet.

Top returning athletes: Chelsea Gale, jr.; Ally Klauser, so.; Katie Harth, jr.; Alaura Busch, sr.

Top new athletes: Collette Janik, fr.; Rylee Lydon, fr.; Bridget Jewell, fr.; Rachel Soukup, fr.

Worth noting: The Wolves took third in the Class 2A State Meet and lost four of their top five runners from that team, three to graduation and one who did not come back. But Gale is one of the area’s top runners and the Wolves will get help from their incoming freshmen. “We have some quality additions,” MacDonald said. “I am excited to see where this team goes.”

Kishwaukee River Conference

Harvard

Coach: Timmy Wiltshire (second season).

Last year’s finish: Did not have full team in KRC Meet.

Top returning athletes: Lizeth Flores, jr.

Top new athletes: Christina Koleno, fr.; Diana Reyes, fr.

Worth noting: Kayla Austin and Sarah Logan, both of whom were Class 2A sectional qualifiers, have graduated. … The Hornets have struggled with numbers in the program, but there are no seniors in this group.

Johnsburg

Coach: Chris Setzler (24th season).

Last year’s finish: Fifth in KRC Meet.

Top returning athletes: Sami Schmitt, sr.; Sammy Knutilla, sr.; Hannah Anderson, sr.; Denali Nett, sr.

Top new athletes: Carissa Clark, sr.; Ellie Bauer, fr.

Worth noting: The Skyhawks made it to the Class 1A State Meet two of the last three years, but were hit with injuries last year that prevented them from repeating. Setzler thinks they have a shot to make it back with an experienced, healthy group.

Marengo

Coach: Kim Hoffmeister (first season).

Last year’s finish: Did not have a complete team in KRC Meet.

Top returning athletes: Lauren Snelgrove, so.; Gretchen Casper, jr.

Top new athletes: Thania Sandoval, sr.; Maddy Christopher, fr.

Worth noting: Hoffmeister is excited about having numbers for a full team if the Indians remain healthy. … Snelgrove was 24th in the KRC Meet and is Marengo’s top runner. Hoffmeister likes the maturity and leadership Sandoval brings from running with the track team.

Richmond-Burton

Coach: Ryan Carlson (fifth season).

Last year’s finish: Third in KRC Meet.

Top returning athletes: Catherine Miller, jr.; Jane Wisniewski, jr.; Amanda Allport, so.; Victoria Rockwell, sr.

Top new athletes: Lilly Alberts, so.

Worth noting: Four of the Rockets’ top five runners return this season, which should put them in contention in the KRC. Miller was fifth, Allport was seventh last year. … Alberts was a star for the track team in sprints, and with her soccer background, could do well in distance races as well. … “We will have our work cut out for us, but we should be running strong this fall,” Carlson said.

Woodstock

Coach: Jay Fuller (sixth season).

Last year’s finish: Second in KRC Meet.

Top returning athletes: Shannon Koscinski, sr.; Theresa Presisto, jr.; Cara Orndahl, sr.; Emily Albrecht, so.

Top new athletes: Ireland Dunnett, so.; Abygale Smith, fr.; Emma Meiners, fr.; Kathleen Thomas, fr.

Worth noting: The Blue Streaks lost three-time Class 2A All-State runner Kylie Hagmann to graduation. Hagmann was KRC champion and took 10th in the state meet. Lauren Wietermann, who was sixth in the KRC, also graduated, but Koscinski (third in KRC) returns to lead the team. … Presisto was 11th in the KRC and Albrecht was 20th, so the Streaks should be a favorite in the conference. … “We have some experienced runners as well as an influx of some younger runners who seem like they are ready to contribute,” Fuller said.

Woodstock North

Coach: Cas Creighton (eighth season).

Last year’s finish: Fourth in KRC Meet.

Top returning athletes: Abby Hartmann, sr.; Amber Elliott, sr.; Meghan McCann, jr.; Emma Mergl, jr.

Top new athletes: Sammi Maldonado, fr.; Hannah Pittman, fr.

Worth noting: The Thunder made strides last year with McCann (ninth in KRC) and Elliott (14th) leading the way. … “We have a small, but solid, group of girls and I’m excited to see where the season takes them,” Creighton said.

East Suburban Catholic Conference

Coach: Murray Domich (first season).

Last year’s finish: Fifth in ESCC Meet.

Top returning athletes: Siobhan Stoll, sr.; Caroline Binotti, jr.; Molly Fitzgerald, jr.

Top new athletes: Nicole Santopadre, jr.; Jane Walsdorf, jr.

Worth noting: Stoll was 10th and Binotti was 19th last year in the ESCC Meet. Stoll had her best high school track and field season and a strong summer of training; she should be among the area’s top runners. … The Hurricanes may struggle in team standings because of their low numbers.

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