Scouting the girls cross country state meet
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Where: Detweiller Park, Peoria When: 1 p.m.
This is a deep and talented field led by Naperville North. The Huskies rolled to a sectional title with sophomore Elly DeTurris and junior Maria McDaniel finishing 3-4. Naperville North has a solid pack that will be tough to crack as the Huskies shoot for their fifth state title. Not too far off pace will be Glenbard West, New Trier, and Lake Park. These three teams were separated by mere 15 points at the Niles West sectional, with Glenbard West getting the victory. New Trier is the defending state champion, and Lake Park has a veteran lineup. Also in the mix will be Palatine, a team that seems to be hitting its stride. Downers Grove South will also be a threat and Barrington, Prospect, Wheaton Warren South and O'Fallon could crack the top 10.
Palatine: The Pirates seam to be peaking at the right time and offer a solid pack. Senior Tess Wasowicz and junior Jessica Lincoln will pace Palatine up front, and the Pirates will look to keep the line moving with junior Cassidy McPherson and junior Liz Cox. Sophomore Amy Kieliszewski has come on strong in the postseason and will key the Pirates' trophy drive.
Barrington: The Fillies have once again quietly put together a solid season. Freshman Lauren Conroy won the Mid-Suburban League title and has set the tone for Barrington. Junior Carly Reynolds has been very steady and is a threat for a state medal. Senior Rebecca Batliner has gutted out a tough season, but is coming on strong at the right time. She was an all-state runner her sophomore year, before injuries and illnesses sidetracked her progress. Senior Rachel Simon has also been a key cog for the Fillies attack that will push for a top-10 finish.
Prospect: The Knights got off to a slow start and continued to trend down when senior Brooke Wolfe went out with a hip injury. But Prospect has once again found its late-season magic. Senior Lauren Poplawski won a regional title, and Wolfe came roaring back to secure the sectional title. Both seniors will be looking for state medals on Saturday. Sophomore Hannah Getschman has found an extra gear in the postseason, with junior Katrina Leeney, junior Rachel Henk and sophomore Maggie Sullivan adding depth.
Schaumburg: The Saxons were a bit off at sectionals but still qualified and are looking to rebound on Saturday. Sophomore Caroline Kurdej has emerged as one of the top MSL runners this season and is joined by fellow sophomores Ali Gutt and Erin Falsey to give Schaumburg a powerful front three. Junior Debra Sodimu, senior Sam Nordli, and senior Tori Capozziello will look to narrow the gap with the top three.
Individuals to watch
This will be a great race. Lake Park senior Kaylee Flanagan looked unstoppable early, but the field has caught up to her. That includes Glenbard West junior Madeline Perez, who enters the finals as the favorite. Perez blazed to the Niles West sectional title in 16:38. New Trier senior Jessica Ackerman also has had an outstanding season. Sandburg junior Carly Krull has quietly put together a solid season, and don't overlook York senior Emma Fisher, Glenbard West sophomore Lisa Luczek. And Wolfe could pull another surprise for Prospect.
Area runners to watch
Brooke Wolfe, Prospect: The Knight senior is still dealing with a sore hip, but that didn't slow her down as she won the Schaumburg sectional title. Wolfe is a two-time all-state runner and her experience will aid her on Saturday.
Tess Wasowicz, Palatine: The Pirate senior has been on since the beginning of the season. She earned an all-state medal her sophomore year, and finished one position shy of a medal last season, taking 26th place. Wasowicz has plenty of experience in big races.
Kaitlyn Ko, Buffalo Grove: Ko may not be big in size, but the Bison freshman has loomed large in big races is not afraid to mix it up with the top runners. She won the Libertyville regional and finished second at Schaumburg sectional. Ko will definitely be in the mix for a state medal.
Lauren Conroy, Barrington: The Fillies freshman was a bit off at the Schaumburg sectional, but she did win the MSL title and has to be considered for a state medal on Saturday. Conroy is also not the biggest runner, but she is a gamer.
Caroline Kurdej, Schaumburg: Kurdej has been near the top all season finishing second at the MSL and Hoffman Estates regional meet. Last weekend Kurdej took third at the sectionals. Kurdej is a tall runner and will be a threat for a state medal.
Lauren Poplawski, Prospect: Poplawski showed her talent with a victory at the Hoffman Estates regional, she took sixth at the Schaumburg regional. The Knight senior has what it takes to get a medal.
Kelly Breen, Fremd: Breen is looking to cap a brilliant career by earning her third consecutive state medal. The Vikings senior has dealt with iron issues this season, but she has not backed down at all. Breen may not get the headlines but she is definitely one of the top runners in the state.
When: Saturday at 11 a.m.
Outlook: Defending Class 2A champion Yorkville is looking to continue its success this season, with freshman Skyler Bollinger leading the charge. Normal University and Marengo will also be in the mix for a state trophy. Crystal Lake Central finished second last year and will challenge again this season. Also looking strong is Kaneland. St. Viator ran to an impressive sectional title at Fenton, scoring just 22 points. Senior Hanna Winter was all-state in Class 3A last season and powers the Lions' attack. Junior Meghan Carroll is also a threat for a state medal. Senior Shannon Cooney, junior Dominique LoVerde and junior Katie Malek will push St. Viator attack that is looking to crack the top 10.
-- Michael Eaken