Top area teams: Wheaton Warrenville South, York, Glenbard West, Hinsdale Central, Downers Grove North, Naperville North, Lake Park, Naperville Central, Montini, St. Francis.
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Addison Trail: Cathy Chavez-Millan, (jr.), Jenny Farias, (sr.), Clorisa Mayer, (jr.); Benet: Audrey Blazek, (jr.), Maddy Gilleran, (jr.), Liz Johnson, (jr.), Rachel Mann, (soph,), Nini Marchese, (sr.);
Downers Grove North: Meghan Bonafield, (soph.), Gabbie Hesslau, (jr.), Jillian Kothanek, (jr.), Micah Pfotenhauer, (soph.), Allison Proffitt, (sr.);
Downers Grove South: Amy Rotunno, (jr.), Katie Strelau, (jr.), Amanda Thate, (fr.), Jacquelin Thate, (sr.);
Fenton: Karina DeCasa, (jr.), Kandy Mora, (soph.), Mimi Valois, (fr.);
Glenbard East: Maggie Angst, (sr.), Katie Difino, (sr.), Lisa Laurenzanall, (jr.), Hannah Misar, (sr.), Lindsey Rakosnik, (sr.);
Glenbard North: Simone Carr, (soph.), Jemtia Chephyator, (jr.), Aranna Hammersmith, (soph.), Brianna Kruse, (jr.), Kailey James, (jr.);
Glenbard South: Monica Byrne, (jr.), Shannon Cadagin, (jr.), Katie James, (jr.), Elizabeth Niedert, (soph.), Bailey Reese, (soph.);
Glenbard West: Katie Born, (sr.), Kate Majewski, (jr.), Maddie Nagle, (sr.), Madeline O'Brien, (soph.), Madeline Perez, (soph.), Emma Reifel, (jr.);
Hinsdale Central: Jill Hardies, (jr.), Grace Klein, (sr.), Becca Marcotte, (soph.), Morgan Mulhern, (jr.), Veronica Peterson, (jr.), Taylor Troy, (sr.), Becky Ventura, (jr.);
Immaculate Conception: Rachel Hill, (soph.), Kelly Kremske, (jr.), Megan Sutton, (sr.);
Lake Park: Nicole Alfano, (soph.), Andrea Cararello, (sr.), Meghan Duggan, (sr.), Kaylee Flanagan, (jr.), Stephanie Galason, (sr.), Ruth Garippo, (jr.); Brianne Murphy, (jr.);
Metea Valley: Kathleen Adolf, (jr.), Kendall Cast, (soph.), Amanda Levin, (sr.), Lauren Lindholm, (sr.);
Montini: Theresa Connelly (jr.), Brittany Fisher, (soph.), Gianna Gentile, (jr.), Catherine Kitz, (jr.), Ericka Lavista, (sr.);
Naperville Central: Amanda Fox, (sr.), Nicole Latronica, (jr.), Kailey Mikulec, (sr.);
Naperville North: Alex Moxon, (soph.), Emma Shannon, (sr.), Rachel Weathered, (sr.), Britney Weizeorick, (sr.);
St. Francis: Jenna DeVaerio, (jr.), Ann Kolker, (sr.), Meghan McShea, (soph.), Kate Roback, (jr.);
Timothy Christian: Tessa Bosman, (sr.), Anna Burch, (soph.), Elena Denny, (sr.), Abby Dykema, (soph.), Alexis Hoogendoorn, (soph.), Christie Mittestaedt, (soph.);
Waubonsie Valley: Ashley Bruner, (jr.), Kristina Chapman, (jr.); Lauren Newmyer, (jr.), Elizabeth Sapoznik, (jr.), Allison Wilson, (soph.);
West Chicago: Kelsey Sayner, (sr.), Lindsey Sayner, (soph.);
Wheaton North: Alyssa Berry, (jr.), Katie Blume, (soph.), Ann Denz, (jr.), Lindsay Johnson, (soph.), Mary Rosenwinkel, (jr.), Kate Shikany, (soph);
Wheaton Warrenville South: Melinda Franke, (soph.), Clare Kelly, (sr.), Kayla Kightlinger, (jr.), McKenna Kiple, (jr.), Hana Lobsinger, (sr.), Lauren Mordini, (jr.), Hope Schmelzle, (jr.), Amy Yong, (sr.);
Willowbrook: Taylor Burton, (soph.), Julia Garcia, (sr.), Ashley Krause, (soph.), Molly Krawczykowski, (soph.); Taylor Luczak, (sr.), Emily Rousch, (sr.);
York: Lizzie Field, Emma Fisher, (jr.), Michelle Frigo, (sr.), Sharise Lund, (sr.), Kayla Spencer, (sr.).
Scouting report: After consecutive trophy-earning performances at the Class 3A girls state cross country meet, Wheaton Warrenville South is poised to continue its progression. The Tigers, third the last two years in the large-school competition, enter the season as the consensus top-ranked team after not losing a single athlete to graduation. It gets even scarier for the Tigers' foes this fall. "I have some freshmen who are going to be in the top seven by the end of the year," WW South coach Rob Harvey said. Mordini is the Tigers' senior leader, but the powerful junior class of Kiple, Kightlinger and Schmelzle -- runners-up in the 3,200 relay at the state track meet last spring -- anchor WW South. "It's nice to get the recognition," Harvey said of the Tigers' lofty rating. "I don't want to downplay the No. 1 ranking. It's other people's perception of your ability. The only expectations we have to live up to are the ones we place on ourselves."
WW South has swept the DuPage Valley Conference, regional and sectional championships the last two seasons, but the two Naperville high schools stand in its way of another trifecta. "(WW South) doesn't have a perceptible weakness," said Naperville North coach Dan Iverson, whose squad has Weizeorick and Weathered as its unquestioned senior leaders. "We're much better now than we were a year ago at this point in every aspect. We have to be if we want to do what we did last year."
Aislinn Hicks' Naperville Central squad will rely on four-year standout Fox and Mikulec, yet another 800-meter specialist who excelled at state track last spring. Hicks, whose team has been the odd-man out for team state inclusion the last two seasons, has hinted of a potent freshmen class of difference-makers.
Glenbard East will counter with the finest 800 runner in the land, the defending state champion Rakosnik. Angst is also looking for a storied final campaign after being hampered by injuries in the closing stages of the track season as a junior. "I think Lindsey Rakosnik is going to do something very special this year," Glenbard East coach Emily Serb said.
As formidable as the DuPage Valley appears, the West Suburban Silver is once again at the forefront of the sport this fall. Glenbard West, which led four league rivals with its ninth-place finish, returns six seasoned athletes. "You look at the West Suburban Silver and the Mid-Suburban League as the premier girls cross country conferences in the state," Hinsdale Central coach Mark McCabe said. "This year will be no different."
"There is no easy road in the Silver," Glenbard West coach Paul Hass added. "I think York is going to be very, very good. I think Hinsdale Central is going to be a pretty dangerous team. You cannot discount (Downers North)." Perez and Nagle are the Hilltoppers' top returnees; Hesslau -- a 3,200-meter state track champion last spring -- and Proffitt perform a similar role for Downers North. Fisher, Spencer and Frigo are the mainstays for York. "On paper you have to say the two (division) favorites are Glenbard West and York," Downers North coach Tim McDonald said. "Wheaton (Warrenville South) and (second-ranked) New Trier are on a different set of a paper (at the state level). It's going to be hard for them to get beat."
The Red Devils' Hardies was the individual state runner-up, and Lake Park junior Flanagan is another leading contender for a top individual finish. The Lancers' program was imbued with newcomers Rachel Garippo, Sam Montalbano and Maria Zepeda in its quest to hold off fellow downstate attendee Neuqua Valley in the Upstate Eight Valley. "As long as we can stay healthy, I think we have a very good chance of defending our (division) title," Lake Park coach Lauren May said. Waubonsie Valley junior Ashley Bruner opened her season by winning the Aurora City Championship, and sister school Metea Valley is searching for its first state representative. In the West Suburban Gold, Downers South seeks a 13th consecutive championship behind Strelau and the Thate sisters. But Willowbrook may very well have the individual star in sophomore Krawczykowski.
In Class 2A Suburban Christian Conference rivals Montini and St. Francis are on a collision course for local middle-tier supremacy. Lavista and Connelly powered the Broncos to a top-10 showing last fall, and St. Francis' fortunes rest on replacing star Kelly McShea. No matter what level the sport is conducted, there is one central dynamic that invariably plays a decisive role as the season commences. "You never know what freshmen are going to be coming in," Benet coach Scott Brooks said. "It changes everything."
Key dates: Sept. 3, Fenton Earlybird; Sept. 3, Hornet-Red Devil Invite; Sept. 10, Lake Park Invite; Sept. 10, Peoria Woodruff Invite; Sept. 16-17, Peoria Notre Dame Invite; Sept. 24, Palatine Invite; Oct. 1, Wheaton North Falcon Classic; Oct. 8, West Aurora Stampede; Oct. 14-15, Conference championships.
Predicted state champions: Class 1A: Decatur St. Teresa; Class 2A: Yorkville; Class 3A: WW South.
-- Kevin McGavin