Aurora Central Catholic Chargers
Coach: Troy Kerber (27th year)
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Last year: Fifth place in the Suburban Christian Conference; fourth place at Class 2A Mendota sectional.
Top athletes: C.C. Crown, (soph., distance); Cynthia Elizondo, (sr., sprints); Sineap Filip, (soph., throws); Olivia James, (soph., middle distance); Jenna Koerner, (sr., middle distance); Karina Liz (fr., sprints, middle distance); Katie Marter, (jr., throws); Erin Maurer (jr., sprints); Anneka Nilles, (soph., distance); Rachel Rahn, (sr., sprints); Lisa Rodriguez, (sr., sprints, jumps); Shannon Vogt, (fr., sprints); Lauren Weisbrock, (jr., sprints, jumps); Jessica Wiercinski, (soph., middle distance, jumps) Nicole Wiercinski (soph., sprints, jumps); Emily Ziegler, (soph., sprints, middle distance).
Outlook: The Chargers have bookend talent with senior state veterans Rodriguez and Koerner to mesh with freshman wunderkind Liz. Rodriguez, a former sprint-relay state champion at Aurora Christian, has high expectations for the season. "I want to break the school record in the 200- and 400-(meter dashes)," said Rodriguez, who hopes to continue her running career at Aurora University next fall. "I want to be all-state in those two events." Liz posted the fourth-fastest indoor 800 time in the state -- regardless of class -- before settling for second at the Indoor Top Times meet last weekend in Bloomington. With Liz joining forces with the Chargers' historically sound 3,200 relay quartet -- led by two-time open 800 qualifier Koerner -- Aurora Central is unquestionably a legitimate contender for all-state distinction in Class 2A. ACC could very well challenge defending champion Aurora Christian, Walther Lutheran and Rosary for top honors in the Suburban Christian Conference.
Coach: Anna Morgan (first year)
Last year: Suburban Christian Conference champion; runner-up at Class 2A Mendota sectional
Top athletes: Alyssa Andersen (jr., sprints, throws); Sarah Boss, (soph., sprints); Natalie Brown (sr., sprints); Natasha Brown (soph., sprints, jumps); Taylor Eaves, (soph., hurdles); Meghan Hagerty, (soph., sprints); Taylor Knauf, (sr., pole vault); Teresa Murray, (sr., sprints); Anna Pape, (sr., middle distance); Ripley Vonhoff, (soph., distance); Peyton Wade, (jr., sprints, hurdles, jumps); Becca Wert, (soph., middle distance, jumps).
Outlook: There was mixed news for Aurora Christian this school year for the girls track and field team. Former state champion Mackenzie Bolllinger transferred to Yorkville, but the news was softened by the Eagles being reclassified by the state as a Class 1A program. "I am grateful that we are 1A this year," said first-year coach Anna Morgan, a former multiple-event state qualifier for Aurora Christian. "I think it is going to pay off big time at conference and state. We've got great leaders on the team." Knauf has already had a major breakthrough, and the outdoor season has yet to commence. The senior soared 12 feet last weekend to win the unofficial state indoor championship in Bloomington. Wade and Wert return from state appearances last year in the high jump and 1,600 run, respectively. The Eagles look to defend their league title through a balanced attack. "I'm really excited about these girls," said Morgan, who also oversees the boys program. "We're going to be strong in the field. Without the phenomenal assistant coaches I have, I would be buried."
Coach: Justin Allison (second year)
Last year: Runner-up in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division; seventh at the Class 3A Bartlett sectional.
Top athletes: Grace Ball, (sr., distance); Chanelle Gibson, (sr., sprints); Alicia Grant, (soph., middle distance); Allison Hartmann, (soph., jumps); Jessica Hartmann, (jr., sprints, jumps); Morgan Hess, (sr., jumps); Jenny Muehbauer, (soph., middle distance); Leah Narup, (fr., sprints, hurdles); Dakota Roman, (fr., middle distance, distance); Skylar Schoen, (sr., pole vault); Paulina Szakiel, (sr., jumps); Maddie Theuerkauf, (soph., throws).
Outlook: Batavia has as illustrious a girls track and field program in the last decade-plus as any of the surrounding teams. With three state champions between 2006 and 2010, plus a slew of consecutive conference championships, the Bulldogs look to ascend to their lofty status once again. "I think we will have a lot of success outdoors," Allison said. "Our numbers are up from last year. I am excited about the outdoor season." Schoen is the senior stalwart for the Bulldogs as the lone returning state qualifier. "(Schoen) puts a lot of positive pressure on herself to do well," Allison said. At the other end of the spectrum, Narup is the Bulldogs' most promising newcomer since former state champion Kathryn Warner entered the program in 2007. Allison has a common theme for Batavia this spring. "Our two main goals: to place as high as possible in conference and qualify as many (athletes) as we can for the state meet. Allison knows St. Charles East will be hard to beat at conference. "They have so much depth," Allison said of the Saints.
Coach: Peter Raak (eighth year)
Last season: Fourth in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division; Fourth at the Class 3A Bartlett sectional.
Top athletes: Kathryn Adelman, (jr., distance); McKenzie Altmayer, (fr., distance); Emma Anderson, (sr., jumps); Shannon Callahan, (fr., jumps); Hayley Carroll, (sr., jumps, pole vault); Aimee Dappas, (jr., hurdles, jumps); Hannah Davison, (soph., sprints, jumps); Jenna Ginsberg, (sr., sprints, pole vault); Isabeau Guglielmo, (sr., sprints, jumps); McKenna Happold, (fr., distance, jumps); Foster Ignoffo, (fr., distance, jumps); Hundley Ignoffo, (jr., sprints); Katie Kelly, (sr., throws); Allie Pospisil, (sr., throws).
Outlook: Only a sophomore, Davison is the heart and soul of the Vikings' girls track and field team. A gifted natural athlete -- she has already orally committed to play soccer for Northwestern -- Davison looks to overcome a disappointing triple-jump state preliminary after posting one of the best sectional results in the state last year. Davison, with key assistance from senior leader Guglielmo, should also anchor the Vikings' sprint relays. Adelman is the latest in a long line of athletic distance runners for Geneva. "The girls showed grit and determination to rebound nicely by placing fourth at the sectional meet (last year)," Raak said of the Vikings' disappointing fourth-place conference finish. "We hope to carry over that attitude (from the Bartlett sectional) and effort to this season and continue to be competitive in the county, conference and sectional meets. This year's team will once again be well-rounded, fueled by sprinter depth, quality distance runners and good field events." Davison is the Vikings' sole returning state qualifier.
Coach: Doug Ecker (third year)
Last year: Sixth in the Northern Illinois Big XII Conference; fourth at the Class 2A Sterling sectional.
Top athletes: Brianna Bower, (fr., distance); Maggie Brundidge, (sr., middle distance, distance); Ashley Castellanos, (sr., sprints, jumps); Victoria Clinton, (soph., distance); Christina Delach, (jr., pole vault); Abby Dodis, (sr., distance); Olivia Galor, (fr., sprints); Allie Heinzer, (fr., sprints); Amanda Lesak, (fr., sprints, middle distance); Sydney Strang, (jr., middle distance); Elle Tattoni, (soph., throws); Lauren Zick, (jr., sprints, jumps).
Outlook: The Knights have their eyes on a possible Class 2A state trophy after a very successful indoor season. The news is nothing but bright this spring as Zick emerged a state force over the weekend at the Indoor Top Times meet in Bloomington. After missing virtually her entire sophomore outdoor campaign, Zick is fully healthy this spring. "(Zick) is as fast as she has ever looked before," Kaneland sprint coach Keith Snyder said. The Knights' state legitimacy received an invaluable boost with the announcement that reigning cross country state champion Clinton is joining the team Monday for the outdoor season. "You add a state champion to the mix, and you only get that much better," said Snyder. Clinton was not on the team a year ago. The Knights also have an exceptionally strong freshman sprinter core, led by Galor and Heinzer. Kaneland could very well qualify all four relays to the state meet behind senior leader Castellanos in the sprints and state-veteran Strang in the 1,600 and 3,200 relays.
Coach: Vic Meade (24th year)
Last year: Third in the Suburban Christian Conference; ninth at Class 3A Joliet West sectional.
Top athletes: Amelia Anderson, (sr., sprints, middle distance); Emily Bakala, (jr., sprints, middle distance); Nicole Basile, (sr., jumps); Megan Conlin, (soph., sprints); Courtney Cox, (sr., sprints, hurdles); Emma Doyle, (sr., pole vault); Anne Duhig, (jr., hurdles); Nicole Filardi, (sr., throws); Abby Hammer, (jr., sprints, hurdles, middle distance); Kara Kalisz, (sr., middle distance, distance); Hannah Kapadia, (jr., hurdles, jumps); Biz Nasharr, (jr., distance); Sarah Nyaeme, (jr., jumps); Kristyna Perillo, (soph., sprints); Monica Powers, (jr., middle distance); Madeline Saloga, (soph., sprints, jumps); Molly Stefanski, (jr., sprints, jumps); Jessica Suchaczewski, (jr., sprints); Sydney Zaragoza, (jr., sprints).
Outlook: Even with a declining enrollment, the Royals' status as a single-gender, private school has placed them in Class 3A for girls track and field. Rosary will return to Class 2A next year. Conlin, Stefanski and Zaragosa powered the Royals' first-ever Class 3A state-qualifying event in the 800 relay last spring. Meade is realistic as the squad attempts to overcome Aurora Christian and Walther Lutheran for supremacy in the league. "We don't have that one dominant person, but we have kids who can finish second and third," Meade said of the Royals' depth. One of his league counterparts has anointed Rosary as the favorite in the Suburban Christian this spring. "I think Rosary is the team to beat," St. Francis coach Scott Nelson said. "They have all the field events covered." Basile, Cox and Kalisz are the Royals' senior tri-captains.
St. Charles East
Coach:Tim Young (first year)
Last year: Upstate Eight Conference River Division champion; Class 3A Bartlett sectional champion.
Top athletes: Kimberly Abels, (jr., sprints); Corrin Adams, (jr., middle distance); Allison Chmelik, (soph., sprints, jumps); Elizabeth Chmelik, (soph., sprints, jumps); Laney Deckrow, (sr., jumps); Lizzie Deutsch, (sr., distance); Amanda Passaglia, (sr., throws); Torree Scull, (soph., middle distance); Jordan Shead, (jr., sprints); Monika Stoskute, soph., (sprints); Lauren Towne, (jr., sprints); Britney Williams, (sr., sprints).
Outlook: Young has inherited a supremely gifted group in his first year at the helm of the Saints' program. St. Charles East was narrowly defeated by Neuqua Valley at the indoor conference championship, and the Saints have serious designs on ending the three-year West Aurora reign in the county. The Saints have three returning former all-state performers in Scull, Shead and Williams. St. Charles East will be particularly strong in all four relays; the Saints swept the conference indoor relay races. "The girls have been very cohesive," Young said. "The one thing (Shead and Williams) bring is leadership. It motivates the other girls to want to do well." The two quarter-mile specialists make the Saints' reigning all-state mile relay all the more dangerous. In addition, Allison Chmelik is ready to make a defining statement outdoors after winning the indoor conference triple jump and powering two relays to easy wins. Scull and Adams swept the 800 run indoors for the Saints, the two half-milers have totally energized the Saints' 3,200 relay. Passaglia has made tremendous strides after winning the conference indoor shot put title.
St. Charles North
Coach: John Osmanski (second year)
Last year: Third in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division; sixth at the Class 3A Bartlett sectional.
Top athletes: Ashley England, (jr., distance); Natalia Gawlik, (jr., middle distance); Jessica Grill, (soph., pole vault); Brittney Kostrzewski, (jr., sprints, hurdles); Kaylee Raucci, (sr., sprints, jumps); Molly Soltesz, (jr., sprints); Kaylee Wessel, (jr., middle distance, distance); Megan Young, (sr., middle distance, distance).
Outlook: The North Stars seek look to improve upon their fourth-place indoor conference finish. Raucci is the unquestioned senior leader for St. Charles North; the triple-jumper specialist is the lone returning individual state qualifier for the team. "I am definitely looking to beat those personal records (36 feet, 2 inches in the triple jump and 16-2 in the long jump) this year," said Raucci, who should also figure prominently in the North Stars' sprint relays outdoors. St. Charles North picked the most inopportune time to participate in the fastest 3,200 relay in state history last year. Wheaton Warrenville South and Glenbard West each broke the Barrington state record in finishing in the top-two spots last year in Charleston, and the North Stars' school-record time could not place them on the medal stand. Young and Gawlik return to not only bolster the North Stars' relay but also lay serious claims in the open 800. Wessel is a dynamic athlete who can score from any distance between 800 and 3,200 meters for St. Charles North. Grill continues the North Stars' tradition in the pole vault.
Coach: Teresa Towles (ninth year)
Last year: Runner-up in the DuPage Valley Conference; Runner-up at the Class 3A Joliet West sectional.
Top athletes: Nadine Dunsing, (jr., pole vault); Monique Dunum, (sr., sprints); Miranda Gollwitzer, (soph., distance); Maya Marion, (jr., throws); Tykia Neal, (sr., sprints, hurdles, jumps); Joslyn Noel, (soph., sprints); Anita Saffa, (sr., sprints); Jade Siler, (soph., middle distance); Emma Spagnola, (jr., hurdles, jumps); Kyla Walton, (jr., sprints, middle distance, jumps); Alysha Wiggins, (fr., sprints); Elisa Zinn, (jr., sprints).
Outlook: Towles has turned West Aurora into a state power in less than a decade. Spagnola is the conductor of the Blackhawks' steamroller. The junior, who lost the 100-meter hurdle state championship by two one-hundredths of a second last year, also placed in the long jump for a second straight year as well as the 300 hurdles. Equally remarkable, Spagnola has eight individual conference championships in the one of the most celebrated girls track leagues in the state her first two years. "Since (Spagnola) is playing softball in college (Northern Illinois), I have a suggestion," Wheaton Warrenville South coach Rob Harvey joked. "I think she should play on the West Aurora softball team. April 1st would be a perfect date for her to start." But West Aurora is far from a one-woman operation as Saffa was all-state at 100 meters last year. Walton is another blessed athlete with vaunted versatility, and Marion is a state threat in both throwing events. "Emma casts such a wide shadow on our team," Towles said. "But Kyla is just as talented. She definitely had a breakthrough year last season." West Aurora and WW South are almost certain to have another epic showdown for supremacy in the DuPage Valley Conference. "Wheaton Warrenville South and West Aurora are awesome teams," Naperville North coach Joanna Wilson said.