Scouting girls cross country sectionals
Class 3A Schaumburg sectional
Where: Busse Woods
When: Saturday, 10 a.m.
What to know: Top five teams and top seven runners from non-qualifying teams advance to Class 3A state meet At Detweiller Park in Peoria on Nov. 9.
Quick look: No. 4-ranked Palatine will be tough to beat. The Pirates offer a deep and powerful attack. Buffalo Grove sophomore Kaitlyn Ko has it on cruise control and will be the individual favorite.
Team outlook: Palatine has shown its talent and depth the past two weeks, winning the Mid-Suburban League title with a 63-point cushion and taking the regional title with a 59-point edge. Sophomore Kelly O'Brien has been the Pirates' most consistent runner. Sophomore Sabina Yosif is coming off a strong regional performance where she took second. Senior Liz Cox also is tone-setter for a Palatine attack that can go seven deep. Palatine is on a roll and seems to be targetting a state trophy. No. 11 Barrington, No. 13 Schaumburg, and No. 15 Hoffman Estates are very close; the three schools were separated by only 14 points at the MSL meet. Senior Caroline Reynolds has been solid in helping Barrington take second at the MSL and Palatine regional. Schaumburg junior Ali Gutt returned and won the Hoffman regional title, leading the Saxons to a 3-point victory over host Hoffman Estates last weekend. And Hoffman has been close the past two weekends, as senior Solome Haile has helped set the tone for a Hawks. This will be a great three-way battle for second. It could get crazy for the fifth and final team qualifying spot. Cary-Grove, Prospect, Crystal Lake South, Lake Zurich, and Libertyville all will be in the mix.
Kaitlyn Ko, Buffalo Grove: Ko has been the most consistent runner in the area from start to finish. The BG sophomore has entered the mix for a possible state title. She has had only one setback this season to Whitney O'Bryan from Kentucky at the Palatine Invite. Ko has definitely proven herself this year.
Lauren Opatrny, McHenry: Opatrny came from behind to win the Palatine regional. The junior will be up front on Saturday.
Ayako Higuchi, Fremd: Higuchi missed the regionals due to the flu, but if she has recovered she will be in the front group. The Fremd junior has looked much stronger this season and showed it with solid second place finish at the MSL meet.
Ali Gutt, Schaumburg: Gutt was held out of the MSL race for missing a practice, but the junior came back with a vengeance in winning the Hoffman Estates regional.
Kelly O'Brien, Palatine: O'Brien has been steady all season for a fluid Pirates rotation. While other Palatine runners have moved up and down, O'Brien has always been near the front.
Other to watch: Sabina Yosif (Palatine), Amy Kieliszewski (Palatine), Liz Cox (Palatine), Kara Burton (Palatine), Caroline Reynolds (Barrington), Lauren Conroy (Barrington), Morgan Schulz (Cary-Grove), Meaghan Gelinas (Lake Zurich), Emily Olsen (Libertyville), Ali Urbanski (Libertyville), Erin Falsey (Schaumburg), Ellie O'Connell (Schaumburg), Caroline Kurdej (Schaumburg), Solome Haile (Hoffman Estates), Alondra Aguirre (Hoffman Estates), Yazmin Nunez (Hoffman Estates), Meagan Biddle (Hoffman Estates), Vanessa Sanchez (Rolling Meadows), Brooke Wilson (Prospect).
St. Viator senior Meghan Carroll finished eighth at the Wheaton Academy Class 2A regional. This week the Lions senior will be back at Kress Creek Farms for the Wheaton Academy Class 2A sectional that starts at 10 a.m. Leyden senior Angela Pyrdol qualified as an individual for the Lake Park Class 3A sectional at 1 p.m.