Fox Valley Conference
Co-head coaches: Mark Anderson (18th season); Tom Smith (first season as head coach)
Last year’s finish: FVC champion
Top returning runners: Cate Krupa, sr.; Allison Drage, jr.; Teagan Hayes, jr.; Jessie Hill, jr.; Ellie Miller, so.; Morgan Dieschbourg, so.; Delaney Blohm, so.; Abby Williams, so.
Top new runners: Natalie Warren, fr.
Worth noting: The Trojans are loaded again, returning the top four runners from their FVC champion and Class 3A state-qualifying team. … Drage was a Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selection, while Blohm, Dieschbourg and Miller all were honorable mentions. They all finished in the top 10 at the FVC Meet. … “They are real students of the sport so far,” Anderson said. “It will be fun to train them and watch them compete.” … Smith, the longtime coach at Dundee-Crown who has been assisting Anderson, is now serving as co-head coach with him.
Crystal Lake Central
Coach: Brett Willhoit (fifth season)
Last year's finish: Second in FVC Meet
Top returning runners: Becca Orvis, sr.; Kylie Smith, so.
Top new runners: Samantha Sanders, fr.
Worth noting: The Tigers have been one of the FVC’s top programs for more than a decade but do not have the talent and depth they had before. Smith was eighth in the FVC Meet and should lead the team this season. … “This year will be a rebuilding year as we look to develop more confidence among the younger runners while allowing the top runners to develop into their true potential,” Willhoit said.
Crystal Lake South
Coach: Ken Greenfield (eighth season)
Last year's finish: Fourth in FVC Meet
Top returning runners: Olivia Beckwith, sr.; Emma Heuck, sr.; Mackenzie Aldridge, jr.; Chelsea Greene, so.; Emma Murphy, so.
Top new runners: Bianca Garay, so.; Addie Frisch, fr.; Elise Gorman, fr.
Worth noting: The Gators return their top five runners, led by Aldridge, Greene and Murphy, who were All-Area honorable mention. … “Our team was pretty strong last year,” Greenfield said. “On paper, that’s pretty good. I’ve been pleased with their work ethic and how tight-knit this group of returners has become. Our ceiling is pretty high.”
Coach: Dennis Wozniak (third season)
Last year's finish: Ninth in FVC Meet
Top returning runners: Paige Kern, sr.; Mia Vonic, jr.; Stella Oury, jr.; Lindsey Baron, so.; Veronica Evitts, so.
Worth noting: Wozniak knows the Whip-Purs will miss Sophia Oury’s running prowess along with her leadership. Oury, who was sixth in the FVC Meet and 44th at Class 2A state, now runs at NCAA Division I Arkansas State. … “New leadership is starting to emerge, and we’re learning to make up the difference in points collectively,” Wozniak said.
Coach: Matt Kaplan (first season)
Last year's finish: Fifth in FVC Meet
Top returning runners: Rachael Morrison, sr.; Mary Raclawski, sr.; Madison Overly, sr.; Emily Glass, jr.; Bailey Wilk, jr.; Grace Allen, so.; Annie Mitchell, so.; Gen Porsche, jr.
Top new runners: Rachel Carlson, fr.; Genevieve Collatz, fr.; Madison Grubbs, fr.
Worth noting: Kaplan, who is in his 11th season as boys coach, now takes over the girls program, as well. … Overly, Porsche and Mitchell were among the top 24 finishers in the FVC Meet. Six of the Red Raiders’ top seven runners return. … “Our team has the potential for some great results,” Kaplan said. “I want to see them run with confidence and work together in our races. We have a group of freshman girls who could impact the varsity top seven.”
Coach: Kevin Christian (12th season)
Last year's finish: Third in FVC Meet
Top returning runners: Alyson Doherty, jr.; Jenna Skuza, sr.; Lindsay Loga, sr.; Meghan Lemke, sr.; Alyssa Demma, jr.; Jessica Ruiz, sr.; Stephanie Kruk, jr.; Cam Goll, jr.
Top new runners: Elisabeth Kania, fr.; Hannah Mohan, sr.; Jackie Cardenas, jr.; Kelly Carpenter, fr.; Allie Skuza, fr.; Ella Tamburrino, fr.
Worth noting: Doherty had a strong sophomore year, both in cross country and track. She finished fourth in the FVC Cross Country Meet, then won the FVC 3,200 meters in track. She was a Northwest Herald All-Area second-team pick. … Christian was pleased with the time drops made by Loga, Lemke and Demma in their summer workouts. … Kania was keeping up with Doherty during workouts, and Mohan, who is a soccer player, also could make an impact right away.
Coach: Kevin Horst (third season)
Last year's finish: Eighth in FVC Meet
Top returning runners: Rhyanna Oeffling, jr.; Katie Huff, jr.
Top new runners: Lydia Zancho, fr.
Worth noting: Horst hopes the Warriors can make a step forward by qualifying for the sectional meet this year after missing last season. … He said Zancho shows every indication that she can be one of the area’s top runners.
Coach: Kelly MacDonald (17th season)
Last year's finish: Sixth in FVC Meet
Top returning runners: Chelsea Gale, so.; Chloe Gale, sr.; Delaney Minutello, sr.; Michayla Peroni, sr.; Emily Zanzola, sr.; Katie Harth, so.
Top new runners: Carsen Forte, so.; Jayden Forte, so.; Kelly Gende, fr.; Bridget Jewell, fr.; Allie Klauser, fr.; Sophia Robinson, fr.; Jessica Norwood, fr.; Leah Walters, fr.
Worth noting: Chelsea Gale was Northwest Herald Runner of the Year after winning the FVC title and taking 10th at the Class 2A state meet. … Chloe Gale has been a strong runner for the Wolves for three years and returns with her younger sister. … “We have three or four returning runners to lead our pack of talented, eager, younger runners,” MacDonald said. “With half the team being new, there is a great, fresh and excited attitude.”
Kishwaukee River Conference
Coach: Timmy Wiltshire (first season)
Last year's finish: Sixth in KRC Meet
Top returning runners: Kayla Austin, sr.; Sarah Logan, sr.
Top new runners: Lizeth Flores, so.
Worth noting: Harvard had only three runners to start its practices, but Austin (25th in KRC) and Logan (35th) were the Hornets’ top two runners last season. …”All three are capable of pushing each other to compete very well as individuals,” Wiltshire said. … Wiltshire ran at Harvard and was an assistant coach last season. … Harvard was moved up to Class 2A this season.
Coach: Chris Setzler (23rd season)
Last year's finish: Third in KRC Meet
Top returning runners: Sam Schmitt, jr.; Sammy Knutilla, jr.; Denali Nett, jr.; Allysa Peete, jr.; Hannah Anderson, jr.
Top new runners: Morgan Klos, fr.; Atty Klein, fr.; Saida Blount, so.
Worth noting: The Skyhawks have a streak to protect after reaching the Class 1A state meet in each of the past two seasons. They have a good group with which to try to make it three in a row, as they lost only one runner from their regional champion team. … There are some injuries Johnsburg needs to overcome, but Schmitt was an All-Area honorable mention and leads the team, which has no seniors among its top runners. Schmitt took fourth in the KRC Meet.
Coach: Kenny Johnson (second season)
Last year’s finish: No team score at KRC Meet; Indians had three runners.
Top returning runners: Gretchen Casper, so.; Kiana Kozin, sr.
Top new runners: Lauren Snelgrove, fr.; Marissa Knobloch, sr.
Worth noting: The Indians are working to get their numbers back up after not being able to compete with a full team in last year’s KRC Meet. … Casper was 43rd in the KRC Meet as a freshman last year. … Johnson said the upperclassmen have been getting better.
Coach: Ryan Carlson (fifth season)
Last year's finish: Fifth in KRC Meet
Top returning runners: Jane Wisniewski, so.; Catherine Miller, so.; Nissa Lind, sr.; Audrey Orkild, sr.; Lilian MacLean, jr.; Victoria Rockwell, jr.; Morgan DeGroot, sr.
Top new runners: Amanda Allport, fr.; Rosie Felch, so.
Worth noting: Carlson feels Wisniewski is poised for a breakout season after she qualified for the Class 2A Track and Field State Meet in the 3,200 meters. … … With Wisniewski, Miller and Allport leading the way, along with the upperclassmen, Carlson feels the Rockets are poised to have a strong season.
Coach: Jay Fuller (fifth season)
Last year’s finish: Second in KRC Meet
Top returning runners: Kylie Hagmann, sr.; Shannon Koscinski, jr.; Lauren Wietermann, sr.; Madeline Scolio, sr.
Top new runners: Cara Orndahl, jr.; Theresa Presisto, so.; Emily Albright, fr.; Julia Walsdorf, sr.
Worth noting: Hagmann has twice been a Class 2A All-Stater and was the KRC champion last season, while Koscinski was thrid. … Fuller feels the Blue Streaks can challenge Burlington Central for the KRC's top spot; the Rockets lost KRC runner-up Chloe Bilyk to graduation but have their other runners back. Woodstock has its top six returning. … Hagmann finished 13th at the Class 2A state meet and also was an All-Stater in track in the spring.
Coach: Cas Creighton (seventh year)
Last year's finish: Fourth in KRC Meet
Top returning runners: Meghan McCann, so.; Amber Elliott, jr.; Michelle Velasco, so.
Top new runners: Kyla Walsh, so.; Tesh Schultz, sr.; Paiton Wood, jr.
Worth noting: The Thunder lost two top runners when Emma Mergl did not come out for cross country and Shelby Wellwerts moved. Those two helped North have its best team in school history. … McCann was 12th in the KRC Meet and is back to lead the Thunder.
East Suburban Catholic Conference
Coach: Dawn Hines (first season)
Last year’s finish: Fifth in East Suburban Catholic Conference
Top returning runners: Siobhan Stoll, jr.; Caroline Binotti, so.; Molly Fitzgerald, so.; Molly Sullivan, sr.
Top new runners: Alexis Baumann, fr.
Worth noting: Stoll ran with the area’s top runners for most of last season, but an injury kept her out of the postseason races. … Hines likes what the Hurricanes have coming back and what they worked on over the summer at Denise Smith Running Academy in Crystal Lake, with training techniques and injury prevention methods.