Top teams: Glenbard West, Naperville North, Naperville Central, York, Hinsdale Central, Downers Grove South, Glenbard South, Wheaton Warrenville South, Downers Grove North, Lake Park.
Top athletes:Addison Trail: Jennifer Hurtado, jr., Jocelyn Hurtado, fr., Jenny Mancilla, sr., Addie Saavedra, fr.; Benet: Anna Brown, soph., Elli Chalkey, jr., Alexis Mayfield, jr., Clare McCabe, soph., Emma Sliwinski, sr.; Downers Grove North: Kaitlyn Bonfield, soph., Meghan Bonfield, sr., Grace Maletich, soph., Stephanie Urbancic, sr.; Downers Grove South: Haley Albers, sr., Meaghan Boseman, sr., Abby Kargol, jr., Amanda Thate, jr.; Fenton: Diana Morales, sr., Samantha Strandberg, jr., Mirelle Vallors, jr., Alyssa White, sr.; Glenbard East: Amanda Chlebek, soph., Kelly Heniss, jr., Jayne Peters, jr., Olivia Ramos, soph., Yoselin Toledo, jr.; Glenbard North: Simone Carr, sr., Ellie Castellon, fr., Jaclyn Dziewior, jr., Roshelle Rodriguez, jr.; Glenbard South: Caroline Arlasky, jr., Diana Lipa, soph., Bailey Reese, sr., Jayne Schlenker, jr., Rebecca Sipel, jr.; Glenbard West: Lindsay Graham, soph., Lisa Luczak, jr., Megan Ozog, jr., Grace Rogers, soph., Christina Sedall, soph.; Hinsdale Central: Sarah Brennan, jr., Becca Marcotte, sr., Sophie May, jr., Emma Sullivan, soph.; Hinsdale South: Megan Bruckhauser, jr., Sarah Leganski, jr., Teri Salazar, jr., Erika Thiel, jr.; IC Catholic Prep: Nicole Caodoas, jr., Mikko Eguia, soph., Arianna Estrada, jr., Rachel Hill, sr., Tessa Langan, fr.; Lake Park: Nicole Alfano, sr., Danielle Falk, sr., Hannah Morrison, fr., Maria Zepeda, jr.; Lisle: Shelby Anderson, jr., Mary Chernov, soph., Caitlyn Stanley, jr., Dawn Yackley, sr.; Metea Valley: Kendall Cast, sr., Annalise Carmona, sr., Rachael Harris, sr., Taylor Majher, sr.; Montini: Brittany Fisher, sr., Maggie Hallerud, sr., Emma Makowski, soph., Gianna Salzbrunn, soph.; Naperville Central: Allie Ciha, sr., Katie Hoffman, jr., Nicole Hoffman, jr., Rachel Hoffman, jr., Grace Lee, sr., Ruta Raulickis, sr., Emily White, sr.; Naperville North: Elly DeTurris, jr., Emory Griffin, soph., Maria McDaniel, sr., Judy Pendergast, soph., Kate Shannon, soph., Jenny Smith, jr.; Neuqua Valley: Anastasia Bernat, jr., Claire Costelloe, sr., Julie Pena, soph., Maria Pendolfi, sr., Lauren Penkala, jr.; St. Francis: Kate Martin, jr., Tessa McKenna, sr., Meghan McShea, sr., Kate Vilimek, soph.; Timothy Christian: Hannah Bosman, soph., Abby Dykema, soph., Alexis Hoogendoorn, sr., Nicole Terpstra, soph.; Waubonsie Valley: Courtney Demitris, jr., Gabriel Pineda, soph., Alison Schenone, jr., Ellen Wagenknecht, fr., Allison Wilson, sr.; West Chicago: Diana Beltran, sr., Ana Flores, jr., Mae Elizabeth Gimre, jr., Lindsay Sayner, sr.; Wheaton Academy: Shelby Fritz, jr., Gretchen Pearson, fr., Annika Pearson, jr., Anna Joy Setran, fr., Sierra Steapleton, fr.; Wheaton North: Allison Farnsworth, sr., Jill Humecke, soph., Lindsay Johnson, sr., Kate Shirkany, sr.; Wheaton Warrenville South: Victoria Adamshick, jr., Mary Erdman, soph., Stephanie Gorski, soph., Kendall Laveen, soph., Katie Popejoy, jr.; Willowbrook: Taylor Burton, sr., Kathrene Garcia, sr., Shannon Jones, soph., Jocelyn Rodriquez, soph., Danielle Velasquez, soph.; York: Caitlin Blum, sr., Elizabeth Hagstrom, soph., Dayle Mueller, jr., Allison Smith, sr., Hannah Wahlgren, jr.
Scouting report: This could be one of the best seasons in DuPage County history. Naperville North returns six of its seven starters from the fifth state championship it recorded in program history last fall. But Glenbard West, which placed third at the Class 3A meet last November in Peoria, has a triumvirate rarely witnessed in Illinois. Naperville North and Glenbard West are the consensus top-two programs in the state; their expected showdown this year has national implications. The Hilltoppers rate a slight edge over the Huskies in a national poll released late last week.
Madeline Perez sculpted a running resume last year of near perfection. The Glenbard West then-junior set the all-time state record -- a shade over 16 minutes -- in cruising to the individual state cross country championship; Perez then completed the triple crown of distance racing by sweeping the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs at the Class 3A track and field finals in May. "It was pretty amazing the way everything fell into place," Perez said. "It was a really special year." The extraordinary season Perez scripted left area coaches scrambling to put her accomplishments in historical perspective. "(Perez) is clearly the best cross country runner we have ever had in the state," Naperville North coach Dan Iverson said. "I think it is possible Maddie could leave this year as the most-decorated distance runner in state history. She is not there yet, but she is pretty close."
"It's time for us to take a moment," said Downers Grove North coach Tim McDonald, whose Trojans are also one of multiple West Suburban Silver teams state ranked heading into the season. "(Perez) might be the best we have ever seen in the state of Illinois."
"I can't really put into words what Madeline has accomplished so far," Glenbard West coach Paul Hass said.
But Perez has a unique opportunity to add a team state championship to her individual treasure trove. The Hilltoppers also return junior Lisa Luczak, fifth in state last fall, and Lindsay Graham, an all-state freshman from sister-school Glenbard East last year, transferred to the Glen Ellyn school over the summer. "If they all place in the top 10 at state, I don't think anybody can beat them," Glenbard East coach Joe Latala said.
There are some coaches who feel top five for Perez, Luczak and Graham is clearly within reach. "I was being conservative," Latala said when told of other predictions.
Perez enters her first competition this weekend at a major invitational hosted by the two Hinsdale high schools not trying to get carried away by the increased publicity. "It is so incredibly early," Perez said. "You never know what is going to happen. Naperville North is pretty stacked. They are going to be ready to defend their championship."
The Huskies ended the three-year reign of fellow DuPage Valley Conference powerhouse Wheaton Warrenville South at the league championship en route to a flawless postseason run last fall. The hallmark of the program has not changed. "Naperville (North) is probably one of the deepest teams in history," McDonald said. "Everybody overlooks the fact that Naperville has some good front-runners, too."
"It's a process every year," Iverson said. "People come, people go. I know we're going to get hit with some curveballs. I think we can be equally (good) this year. They don't give the (team) state champion (to the program) with the top 10, 12, 15; it's the top five."
Glenbard West has never won a state championship in girls cross country; the third-place team result last fall was the best showing since the 1980 edition finished runner-up. "It's a great honor (to be nationally ranked)," Hass said. "The only rankings that matter, though, are at the end of the season. I think (Naperville North is) the favorite going into the year because of their depth and balance. They are the state champions until someone beats them."
Glenbard West and Naperville North will not see each other until the Wheaton North Invitational in early October. Lake Park, runner-up to the Huskies last fall, Wheaton Warrenville South, Hinsdale Central, York, Downers Grove South and Naperville Central all return teams that placed in the top 16 in the large-school division last fall. The Lancers begin their first campaign in the DuPage Valley Conference with an almost entirely different roster as nine of the 12 members of their second-place team graduated.
Naperville Central, however, will welcome its new conference rival with 10 returning members of its downstate crew. Naperville Central coach Aislinn Hicks has a true rarity: the Hoffman triplets are her top three runners. "We'll see how the conference plays out with Lake Park coming in," Hicks said. "We should have a little more reinforcements than we did last year."
Wheaton Warrenville South coach Rob Harvey no longer has the incomparable duo of McKenna Kiple and Hope Schmelzle at his disposal. The two powered the Tigers to back-to-back state trophies in cross country as sophomores and juniors. "They hold every school record between the half- (mile) and 2-mile (in track) and cross country," Harvey said.
Hinsdale Central, York and Downers North all occupy lofty preseason state rankings in the incontestably top league, the West Suburban Silver. In Class 2A this fall the four returning state-qualifying teams -- Glenbard South, Montini, St. Francis and Fenton from the area -- have their collective focus on Yorkville, the two-time defending state champion. Glenbard South will look to Lipa as its workhorse in trying to tame the Foxes, who have finished no worse than state runner-up the last four years.
Key dates: Sept. 7, Red Devil-Hornet Invitational; Sept. 7, St. Charles East Invitational; Sept. 7, Lake Park Invitational; Sept. 14, Peoria Central Invitational; Sept. 21, Peoria Notre Dame Invitational; Oct. 5, Wheaton North Invitational; Oct. 12, West Aurora Invitational; Oct. 18-19, Conference championships.
Predicted state champions: Class 1A: Decatur St. Teresa; Class 2A: Yorkville; Class 3A: Glenbard West.