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posted: 9/13/2012 9:04 PM

Pack running a strength for Streamwood

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By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent

The Streamwood girls cross country team has strength in numbers.

The Sabres started the season with a strong second-place showing at the Elgin City Classic. The Sabres had 5 runners (sophomores Gabby Juarez, Samantha Harding, Adelaide Kelly, Cassidy Wingerd and junior Marisol Lazaro) in the Top 18 (89 runners in the race) with a split of 89 seconds between them.

Streamwood also took sixth out of 21 teams at the Crystal Lake South invitational, again with 6 runners (all in the Top 60) having a split of 82 seconds between them in the 208-runner race. The Sabres also took 13th at Lake Park, but beat all four of the other U-46 teams.

"The girls have really embraced the concept of pack running and are improving on this concept more and more every race," Streamwood coach Dennis Lau noted. "We are a young team that is starting to learn how to run together at bigger invites, which will help us when the postseason rolls around."

Lau lauded the improvement of Lazaro, who is in her first cross-country season. "This is a young team that has already improved drastically from last season and is priming itself for a good postseason run," the coach said.

South Elgin: The Storm, which took fifth at the Elgin City Classic, has been receiving strong contributions from the likes of juniors Taylor Warrick and Taj Williby, sophomore Kirsten Kochan and freshman Yesenia Gonzalez. Warrick is stepping forward as the squad's No. 1 runner.

"Taylor has really stepped up her work ethic this year," said Storm coach Jorie Bartholomew. "Being one of our four captains, she is a great leader and really motivates others to follow her lead."

South Elgin heads to the Bartlett invitational next weekend. "We are building a young team this year and we have good numbers," said Bartholomew. "The girls are setting personal goals for each race and are concentrating on improving times from last year."

Crystal Lake South: South had three runners (Gaby Garay, Kiley Britten and Malgorzata Waz in the Top 26 at the McHenry County 5K event. Laura Biederwolf was South's top finisher at its own Crystal Lake South invitational. Sophomore Bianca Jimenez has been impressive and had a strong showing at the frosh-soph level at the Wauconda invitational.

"We're making a ton of progress learning to run as a team," South coach Ken Greenfield said. "We're ahead of where we were last year at the same time. We had some good runners at the frosh-soph level (South took third there) that could be able to help us at the end of the season. I'm excited to watch their development."

Bartlett: Senior Nicole Watkins won the Elgin City Classic and had a Top 20 finish at the Leavey invitational. She was cited for strong leadership by coach Beth Emody. Seniors Megan Neilson and Kelly Zilinsky, and juniors Mariah Brown and Kara Harmet have been key contributors as well.

"The girls' times have been improving and they are working extremely hard in practices," said Emody. "We are proud of how they are racing so far this season and have high expectations for them."

Dundee-Crown: Seniors Natalie Himmel, Carolyn Schneider, Kirsten Berlet and Jade Franz lead the way for the Chargers. "Natalie, Carolyn, Kirsten and Jade are providing leadership and experience and are beginning to close their pack tighter and tighter," said D-C coach Tom Smith.

Natalie Himmel's sister, Maggie, is making an impact as a freshman. "Maggie has moved up considerably since we began and is one of our top runners now," said Smith.

Smith lauded the efforts of new assistant coach Alyssa Bichler.

"The girls are working hard and are ahead of where we were a year ago," said Smith. "Alyssa is making a big difference with the girls."

Larkin: With four of the seven varsity runners having never run cross-country before, Royals coach Heather Carey has been pleased with the progress she is seeing.

"We have seen improvements, but I am hoping to see the girls run with more intensity as the season goes on," said Carey. "This is only the second year for the Larkin girls' team (in recent years Elgin and Larkin had a co-op team), so the numbers we have this year (23 up from 15) is encouraging."

Jocelyn Salinas has been Larkin's top runner. "Her times continue to come down and she is starting to race with a new intensity," said Carey.

Returning runners Elizabeth Alvarado, Yenitza Castillo and Cynthia Pries also show improvements. The team is awaiting the return of senior Crystal Nava who has been sidelined due to health issues. Junior newcomer Jennifer Miller was named a co-captain. "Jennifer has brought new energy," said Carey. "The team named her co-captain as a junior who is new to the squad, so they obviously respect her leadership."

Hampshire: Sophomore Natalia Sztukowski placed second for the Whip-Purs at the Rockford Auburn invitational recently. "Natalia has really stepped up," said Hampshire coach Patti Nihells. "She came into the season with her goals and a focus that is not wavering."

Elizabeth Pagan, Virginia Cano and Lorena Sanchez have also been running well. "They are running well because of each other," said Nihells. "There is healthy competition between the girls. I believe in the girls and hope they just let loose and run."

Cary-Grove: The Trojans were county runners-up and recently beat Jacobs and McHenry in a conference triangular. Talia Duzey took fifth at county and sixth at the Wauconda invitational. Sarah Englund and Gretchen Price also have run well. Senior Hannah Bobrytzke was a key contributor in the triangular win.

"I am very happy with the way our Top 5 has been running," said Cary-Grove coach Mark Anderson. "Talia is coming off a big freshman year and is learning how to run upfront in races. Sarah has been an incredibly consistent runner and is continuing that as a senior. Gretchen and Natasha Geiger-Powell are two kids we needed to really step up for us and they have done just that. Sarah Riley is a freshman who has been an outstanding addition to our team. She has the potential to run up front with Talia. I am happy with where we are at and where we re going. We're training smart now while dealing with some illnesses and minor injuries. We hope to be at full strength and ready to go come mid-October. Our entire team has shown an outstanding work ethic."

Jacobs: Jacobs finished third at the Leavey invitational in St. Charles and took fifth at the First to the Finish invitational in Peoria (4 points out of third).

Lauren Van Vlierbergen was second in the county and at St. Charles and also took fourth at Peoria. "At Leavey and Peoria, she beat some returning all-state runners and should be in the Top 25 at state if she runs well," said Jacobs coach Kevin Christian.

Alex Lorenz and Sam Baran have been key contributors in the No. 2 and No. 3 positions for the Golden Eagles, while Elizabeth Berry, Tori Tamburrino and Kayla Giuliano are also contributing. Berry and Tamburrino are in the No. 4 and No. 5 positions. Giuliano has a history of success. She was 15th in the conference last year.

"We've had a great season so far," said Christian. "When the fourth and fifth runners step up, they will be looking to have a great chance to qualify for the state meet."

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