Coach: Harvey Braus
Top returning athletes: Seniors Megan Seidl (400), Haley Hasenstein (high jump), Nicole Watkins (800); juniors Courtney Jones (long jump, 200), Candace Trent (200).
Top newcomers: Juniors Kendall Barlass (sprints), Kayla Gallagher (sprints), Mariah Brown (distance); sophomores Taylor Kenney (sprints), Cristina Santana (400), Juanita Smiley (sprints), Emily Dowden (distance); freshmen Monica Smialek (400), Gabby Murdoch (distance).
Season outlook: The Hawks return a state qualifier in Seidl, who made it downstate last year in the 400. Watkins just missed in the 800 and could be a threat to run in Charleston in late May. "Our team goals are to continually improve during the outdoor season and finish in the top half of the Upstate Eight Conference," said Braus, in his first year as head coach. "We are strongest in sprints, sprint relays and middle distance. We need to improve our performance in the field events." Braus looks at Lake Park, Neuqua Valley and St. Charles East as the top teams in the UEC.
Burlington Central Rockets
Coach: Vince Neil
Top returning athletes: Seniors Kayla Wolf (800), Katie Trupp (high jump, pole vault), Natalie Overstreet (pole vault), sophomore Brice Weinrich (low hurdles).
Top newcomers: Sophomores Melissa Leone (sprints, 400), Liz Spencer (sprints, 400), Jasmine Castillo (hurdles, sprints), Karli Chmelik (jumps); freshman Brenna Williams (throws).
Season outlook: The Rockets return two of the state's best in Class 2A in Wolf and Trupp. Wolf, who finished seventh at state last year and will run at Missouri, recently won the state indoor 800 title."She's got afraid to go out; she has that sprinter's mentality and that's good," said Neil of Wolf, who will also run the 3,200 relay. Trupp, who will compete at SIU-Carbondale, was second in the high jump and third in the pole vault at the indoor state meet, as well as 11th in the long jump, an event she had never competed in yet broke the school indoor record on her first jump. "She's been huge for us," Neil said. "She scores 30 points a meet for us. She's something special."
Overstreet was seventh at the state indoor meet in the pole vault and Weinrich 16th in the low hurdles. Neil is also high on his newcomers. "We've got a good group of young girls we feel in another year or so can have a big impact," said Neil, the former Dundee-Crown star. Neil says the Big Northern Conference will be loaded again this year. "With Rock Falls and Dixon in the mix it's really loaded," he said. "We get to host a sectional and it should be a fun season."
Coach: Mark Anderson (13th year)
Top returning athletes: Seniors Emily Barnes (sprints), Ketyra Taylor (throws), Anna Wcislo (throws), Maddie Lundin (distance), Sarah Englund (distance), Megan Jacquier (hurdles), Joslyn Nicholson (jumps); juniors Faith Furio (jumps), Erika Sternard (jumps) Natasha Gieger-Powell (distance); sophomores Talia Duzey (distance), Oliva Roehri (throws), Gretchen Price (distance), Delaney Perrone (sprints, jumps), Eva Burk (hurdles).
Top newcomers: Junior Lauren Schoepke (sprints); sophomore Morgan Schulz (sprints); freshmen Nikki Freeman (throws), Nicole Robins (jumps, sprints), Allie Renner (sprints, jumps), Maggie Cherveny (sprints, jumps), Sabrina Mishall (jumps, pole vault), Sarah Riley (distance), Emma Kreutzmann (distance).
Season outlook: Cary-Grove lost a plethora of decorated athletes, all viable competitors in making Cary-Grove a top team in the Fox Valley Conference. But even without their talents, the Trojans are the proverbial favorite yet again in the Fox Valley Conference, and they come reloaded. "We were worried," Anderson said, after losing his seniors. "What do you do? We graduated some of the best athletes in school history."
Anderson gets an influx of freshmen in Robins, Freeman, Renner, Cherveney, Mishall, Riley and Kreutzmann to offset the loss, but that story will tell itself over the course of time as they adjust to varsity competition. But with 120 girls and the likes of Furio coming back in the long jump, Duzey in the distance events and Roehri, who threw 120-feet last year, in discus the target may just stay put on the Trojans.
"We have depth across the board," Anderson said. "Duzey's all-state in cross country, she keeps improving in the mile and we hope she gets downstate. Olivia has experience under her belt now and hopefully she punches a state ticket as well."
The main thing will be to see if the freshmen can adjust from the middle school ranks, as well as their own competition from those returning.
"We're a lot more competitive than what I saw last season," said Anderson." There's a good mix of veteran leadership and rookie talent on this team."
Crystal Lake South Gators
Coach: Matt Dunker (5th year)
Top returning athletes: Seniors Nikayla Dahl (discus), Laura Biederwolf (distance), Jessica Stumpner (mid-distance), Courtney Christin (pole vault); junior Malgorzatra Waz (mid-distance, distance); sophomore Gaby De Jesus (sprints).
Top newcomers: Junior Rachel Reimann (mid-distance); sophomore Kiana Clark (shot put, sprints), freshman Brandie Minogue (sprints, mid-distance), Andie Kobrick (distance).
Season outlook: As a whole the Gators finished fifth last season in the Fox Valley Conference, but two individuals did have success. Sisters Lexi and Nikayla Dahl both were state qualifiers, as Lexi placed sixth in state in Pole Vault while Nikayla qualified in discus. Lexi graduated and while Nikayla returns for one more season, the Gators will need strong efforts from their underclassmen.
"We are a very young team, especially in the sprints and field events," Dunker said. "We have some talented athletes that we hope can develop into state qualifiers. Our goal every year is to get every athlete on our team to improve." That could be in the form of Clark, Kobrick, Minogue and De Jesus, while seniors Stumpner, Christin and Biederwolf all bring senior leadership.
Coach: Christine Hopkins-Muehl (1st year)
Top returning athletes: Seniors Julia Parreno (hurdles, jumps), Natalie Himmle (mid-distance, distance), Maggie Grant (hurdles, pole vault), Claire Blume (jumps, pole vault); Juniors Emily Michalsi (jumps, 400), Kyra Flynn (sprints), Shelby Spliethoff (jumps, sprints), Nara Zolzaya (throws); sophomores Jazmine Askew (sprints), Sofia Marquez (hurdles, jumps, sprints), Mandy Mosher (throws).
Top newcomers: Senior Carolyn Schneider (distance); sophomore Kiana Mays (throws, jumps); Freshman Kayla Lawrence (sprints), Brittany Ryes (sprints), Maggie Himmel (distance).
Season outlook: Much like Cary-Grove, Dundee-Crown has its largest team to date with close to 80 girls. But unlike their conference foes, the Chargers will have many new faces at all grade levels and events and will depend on their seniors to lead. "We have a good group of senior leaders this year and we are hoping they will guide our underclassmen to set expectations to the highest level," said Hopkins-Muehl, who will look to Parreno, Himmle, Grant, and Blume to do just that. Juniors Michalski, Flynn, Spliethoff, Zolzaya will join sophomores Askew, Marquez and Mosher while it'll be interesting to see if freshmen Lawrence, Reyes, Himmel, sophomore Mays and senior Schneider can add anything as well. "We are looking forward to setting personal records and contributing to the team at the best of their abilities," Hopkins-Muehl said.
Coach: Dave Borg (3rd year)
Top returning athletes: Senior Amelia Westberg (sprints, distance, long jump); junior Maggie Powers (sprints), Lauren Alexander (sprints), sophomores Abby Pierre-Louis (100, 200), Megan Alexander (sprints, distance).
Season outlook: Powers and Pierre-Louis were vital members of this year's basketball team and they will inherit those roles again but in a new season outdoors. If her health allows, Pierre-Louis can be a threat in the 100 and 200 and has a shot to qualify for conference while Powers, in her second year on the track team, will look for success in the 200 meter, the 4x1, 4x2 and triple jump. But the jack of trades, Westerbeg, does it all, which is an added plus next to the hoopsters.
"It's like having an extra coach out there," said Borg. "The 100, 200, 400 relay, long jumper, she does it all. She's nice to have out there."
The strength for Elgin will be its sprinters. The Alexander sisters will look to make splashes in the 200 and 400, and Lauren will be used wherever she's needed. It remains to be seen whether any newcomers will burst on the scene, but while Borg admits it's rather tough with a fresh group every year, he's found success with some who have come over from cross country and realized what track is compared to cross country and the expectations won't have that much pressure . "Finish in the middle of the pack at invites," said Borg. "It's all about reaching your personal best, getting ahead of the game from last year and have fun doing it, too."
Elgin Academy Hilltoppers
Coach: Adrian Ayala (3rd year)
Top returning athletes: Seniors Claire Fluegal (shot put), Susanna Cain (triple jump); junior Siyona Ravi (long jump); sophomore Brooke Barry (sprints), freshman Corrine Lamb (mile).
Top newcomers: Junior Julia Yerger (800, high jump, discus).
Season outlook: For the kind of numbers the Hilltoppers draw per year, Elgin Academy will surely be happy to have 16 members, up 5 from last year. And with that notion and the fact the Hilltoppers fell short in several meets last season by just a few points, Ayala feels they can move up the ranks a little bit. "I could see fourth place if everyone is on par and healthy," he said. "Trying to be out a team like U-High and Latin with the numbers we have aren't practical, but fourth is within reach." Elgin Academy will do so behind the senior Cain, who triple jumps and is captain for the sprinters and jumpers for both the boys and girls teams. Ravi is coming back from a fractured tailbone last year and is ready to go in the long jump while Barry (100, 200) and Fluegal, who took third in shot put at the ISL conference meet last year. Julia Yerger looks to compete in the 800, high jump and discus as Elgin Academy's top newcomer. "With the numbers up in all events, we feel strong with the exception of the 1600-3200," Ayala said.
Coach: Patti Nihells
Top returning athletes: Seniors Ashley Fouch (200), Angela Wozniak (hurdles, triple jump), Jen Dumoulin (shot put, discus), junior Elizabeth Pagan (long jump, 400, 200, 100), Caitlyn Graff (hurdles, sprints); sophomores Dallas Kruger (high jump), Natalia Sztuk Vel Sztuksowski (1,600).
Top newcomers: Freshmen Nikki Dumoulin (triple jump, sprints), Jessica Flatland (pole vault), Abbey Gering (long jump), Elizabeth Evans (400, 800).
Season outlook: The Whip-Purs qualified their 800 relay team as well as Fouch, who placed fourth, in the 200 at state last year.
Hampshire wants to climb up the conference ladder as a team. "We're always thinking team," Nihells said, whose Whip-Purs placed seventh in the Fox Valley Conference last year. "We'd like to be in the top three. We have our largest team with 55 girls." With graduated star Cassie Kruse now running at the University of New Hampshire, there's going to be someone else who has to pickup the slack. But the Whip-Purs look well-rounded in every event but distance. "(Fouch) looks to do better than fourth (in the 200) and Jen Dumoulin has been working hard. She just started discus also. Nikki Dumoulin will compete in the 200, 400, 800 and triple jump." Graff, Kruger and Wozniak should also be in the mix.
Harvest Christian Lions
Coach: Steven Bland (2nd year)
Top returning athletes: Senior Kylie Knox (long jump, triple jump); juniors Sydney Doby (shot put), Valerie Richter (800).
Top newcomers: Freshman Hannah Nelson (mile, relays).
Season outlook: The Lions were fortunate not to lose any athletes to graduation for this upcoming year, but then again last season was Harvest's first in competition. They will join the Northeastern Athletic Conference this season and with the likes of IMSA and Christian Life, they will have their work cut out for them. "We're pretty optimistic," Bland said. "Our first goal is a conference championship. That's goal number one. " Bland would like to send the girls to the state meet, and there's possibilities with Nelson, who runs the mile and several relays. She's the one to watch for. "She's just getting started," Bland said. "That's the scary thing."
Nelson finished 12th in the NAC Indoor championships this month and her personal best in the mile is just 5 seconds off what would qualify her for state. She joins a squad that saw Valerie Richter place third in the 800 in sectionals last season, while Knox and Doby should contend in the triple jump, long jump, shot put and discus. Doby, the volleyball standout, might be a qualifier in the shot.
"She's throwing further than some of our boys," said Bland. "In two meets Knox has reach 30 feet, that's pretty remarkable."
Harvest is primed to make some strides this season and has prepared itself with meets at Burlington Central and the Elgin city championships in preparation for state along with the competition IMSA and Christian Life will bring during the conference season.
Huntley Red Raiders
Coach: Shawn Nordeen (14th year)
Top returning athletes: Seniors Anthonia Moore (sprints), Omo Tseumah (high jump, sprints), Katlyn Leubke (hurdles), Amanda Zbilski (sprints); juniors Taylor Schau (sprints), Tina Driscoll (sprints, triple jump, long jump), Ali Cazel (distance), sophomores Macy Tramblay (hurdles, triple jump, long jump), Delaney Lyman (pole vault).
Top newcomers: Junior Callie Ochotnicki (distance); sophomore Tess Miller (sprints); freshman Alyssa Bushman (sprints), Chloe Fashoda (long jump, triple jump), Kate Mitchell (distance), Nicole Zielinski (sprints).
Season outlook: The Red Raiders finished second to Cary-Grove last season in the Fox Valley Conference and with the experience Huntley returns, it could give Cary-Grove a run for its money. "The team has a wealth of experience throughout many events," said Nordeen. "(We're) looking to these veteran athletes to lead the team to our team goals this season."
Huntley returns Moore, a senior sprinter and Tseumah, a senior high jumper, who finished second in the high jump. "The team is very excited about the upcoming challenges that they will be facing weekly during this season," Nordeen said. "The veteran athletes are challenging the new comers which is only making our team that much stronger."
Jacobs Golden Eagles
Coach: Ryan Lemanski (3rd year)
Top returning athletes: Seniors Tori Tamburinno (400, 800), Nikki Diana (throws); juniors Kayla Giuliano, (state qualifier 400, relays), Erin Jameson (Jumps. Sprints), Elizabeth Berry (mid distance), Brina Whittier (Throws), Elizabeth Warner (sprints); sophomores Lauren VanVlierbergen (state qualifier 800, relays) Kira Whittier (throws, sprints), Taylor Bradford (sprints, throws), Molly Barnes (mid distance).
Top newcomers: Senior Sam Baran (distance); freshman Caliegh Walsh (sprints, jumps, hurdles).
Season outlook: Jacobs could be the team that might be the X-factor in the Fox Valley Conference, with state qualifiers VanVlierbergen and Giuliano, who still have two years of varsity eligibility. Added to the mix is former softball player Diana, who will throw. The freshman Walsh, who set the JV long jump record in her first jump in a Jacobs uniform, participated in gymnastics and that's translated very well into track and field for Lemanski, who's excited about the level of competitiveness.
"(We) are more competitive this year," he said. "Our 4x800 team is looking to make a run in the state competition. The team is happy to welcome Sam Baran to the team who made an excellent addition to our relays." Baran is here after 4 years on the cross country team, another multisport athlete and the core of the Golden Eagles will surround their youth. "Nikki (Diana) is a tremendous athlete and a strong thrower," Lemanski said. "Caliegh (Walsh) will be involved in the sprint relays, hurdles, and jumps this year. Lauren (VanVlierbergen) looks stronger than ever and will be extremely competitive in the conference this year."
Coach: James Henk (2nd year)
Top returning athletes: Seniors Annalise Gaston (200, 4x1 relay), Martyna Malinowska (200, high jump), Crystal Nava (mile, 300 hurdles), juniors Danielle Bogan (400, 4x1 relax, 4x4 relay), Sarah Fischer (400, 4x1 relay, 4x8 relay); sophomores Damaris Fuentes (hurdles, 4x8 relay), Jada Love (shot put, discus), Elizabeth Alvarado (relays, mile).
Top newcomers: Junior Edrika Nelson (shot put, discus); sophomores Ariel Jones (relays, 200), Janeka Taylor (long jump, 100).
Season outlook: There are new faces aplenty at Larkin, but the team's numbers have doubled from last season, going from 13 to 27. The lack of experience may be a weakness. "We have high hopes and we hope that offsets last year's weaknesses," Henk said. "We have raw talent to mold over the next few years to put together a productive team."
Bogan should contend and rebound in the 400, after missing last season with a torn ACL. Henk says she's actually running quicker in practice than before the tear while Fuentes, who placed eighth in the UEC JV meet, has been impressive since she began training in January for the 55 hurdles. Larkin figures to be strong in the longer distance events and relays, while looking to sophomores Taylor, Jones and junior Nelson to fill the gaps from last season. "Our strengths are our returning athletes to help the newer ones out with the knowledge they have and other little tricks they may have found that work well for them," said Henk.
St. Edward Green Wave
Coach: Mike Olenek
Top returning athletes: Sophomores Claire Cholewa (hurdles, relays), Brianne Lagtapon (sprints, relays).
Top newcomers: Freshmen Alyssa Doruelo (middle distance), Maegan Gross (400, relays), Katie Kremer (sprints, relays), Clarissa Olenek (middle distance, throws)
Season outlook: Coach Olenek hopes the six girls who comprise the St. Edward girls track and field team act as catalysts to grow the sport's popularity within the school. "The six girls we have out are well-liked kids, so I hope others see how much fun they're having at the meets and want to join the program," he said. "My goal is to grow the team." Olenek said the team goal this spring is to qualify one or more individuals for the state meet, then take the rest of the team to Charleston so they can draw motivation from viewing the state meet. The most likely qualifiers are Cholewa, Lagtapon and Gross. Cholewa is trying to cut her time in the 100-meter hurdles, though her coach likes her chances to qualify in the 300-meter hurdles. Lagtapon is the team's fastest sprinter. Gross is a strong athlete with an outside chance of qualifying in the 400. Strong runners Kremer, Clarissa Olenek and Doruelo make the Green Wave relays competitive.
Coach: Jen Porto (2nd year, 6th overall with team)
Top returning athletes: Seniors Deja Moore (sprints), Cassandra Lesavage (mid-distance), Candice Hawkins (shot put); Junior Sukurat Giwa (sprints); sophomores Addie Kelly (distance), Cassidy Wingred (distance), Aaliyah Winters (sprints), Berenice Cabral (mid-distance).
Top newcomers: Sophomores Gabby Juarez (mid-distance), Samantha Harding (distance); freshman Sophia Roberts (sprints).
Season outlook: Distance is the name of the game at Streamwood, where the Sabres will be a force to be reckon with. Kelly, Harding and Wingred look to be strong in the distance relays and the 1,600. Streamwood hopes Hawkins can do some of the things she did last year as a junior in the shot put but the underclassmen will really have to step up again this year. "We're made up of sophomores," said Porto. "We battled a lot of inexperience. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores in the sprints, but (the sophomores) came out last year in cross country and are back for a second season. " Mid-distance runners Lesavage, Juarez and Cabral all have experience from last season and sprinters Moore, Giwa, Roberts and Winters all have chances to have strong performances. "I'd love to see the girls go downstate; it's attainable," said Porto.
South Elgin Storm
Coach: Jorie Bartholomew
Top returning athletes: Senior Casey Schoenborn (800, 1,600, 4x8 relay); juniors Brittany Carson (400), Mariah Sanchez (4x1 relay, sprints), Imani Ward (sprints, relays), Taylor Warrick (distance), Taylor Withers (jumps, hurdles, sprints), Taj Williby (400).
Top newcomers: Sophomores Janese Bibbs (200, 400, 4x4 relay); freshmen Emalee Smith (triple jump, 100, 200, 4x1 relay), Bridgette Williams (shot put, sprints).
Season outlook: Bartholomew has high hopes for a couple of individuals to do well this season, calling Smith a "diamond in the rough." Improving and scoring more points will be a focus for the Storm this season. "Hopefully we can get some medals in conference," Bartholomew said. "As a team we just want to stay healthy, have a successful season and get as many points as we can in conference."
Westminster Christian Warriors
Coach: Ron Froeschke
Season outlook: The Warriors have four girls out for the team this season, all juniors -- Madeleine Engle, Sydney Engle, Alexis Gutilla and Annika VanNoord.