Girls cross country / Class 3A state preview
Where: Detweiller Park, Peoria
When: Class 3A at 1 p.m.
Teams to watch: This should be a great battle between Naperville North and Glenbard West. Defending Class 3A champion Naperville North has a solid pack and the Huskies showed that by cruising to the Waubonsie Valley Class 3A sectional title with 34 points. The Huskies had five girls in the top 12. Senior Maria McDaniel and junior Elly DeTurris led the charge last Saturday, finishing 2-3. Freshman Claire Hamilton, sophomore Kate Shannon and sophomore Judy Pendergrast were not far behind. Glenbard West finished third in Class 3A last season and counters with defending Class 3A state champion Madeline Perez. The Hilltoppers senior did not race until the West suburban Silver meet, where she finished second. But Perez was back in business in winning a regional and sectional title. Junior Lisa Luczak and sophomore Lindsay Graham both have the potential to finish in the top 10 giving the Hilltoppers some serious firepower. The three finished in the top five leading Glenbard West to the Lake Park sectional title. This one is too close to call, but Naperville North may be a slight favorite. Not too far off is Palatine. The Pirates have not shown their full hand yet. If they hit on Saturday it could be a three-way race for the title. New Trier and Minooka should round out the top five.
Palatine: The Pirates offer one of the best packs in state. Sophomore Kelly O'Brien has emerged in the postseason, taking third at the Schaumburg sectional, and is on course for a state medal. Sophomore Sabina Yosif took second at the regional meet and is capable of matching O'Brien. Juniors Amy Kieliszewsi and Kara Burton will keep the line moving. Seniors Liz Cox, Cassidy McPherson and Jessica Lincoln will play key roles. The Pirates have been coming on strong during the postseason, which included a Mid-Suburban League title, regional and sectional titles. Naperville North and Glenbard West have been creating the buzz, but watch out for Palatine. The Pirates could slip under the radar to capture the state title.
Hoffman Estates: The Hawks are closing strong and showed it by taking second at the Schaumburg sectional. Senior Solome Haile will pace the Hawks and is in contention for a state medal but junior Alondra Aguirre and sophomore Meagan Biddle could jump into the top 25, too. Junior Yazmin Nunez, sophomore Reena Prahbu and senior Elsabet Haile will be the key for a Hawks team that has top 10 potential.
Schaumburg: The Saxons are powered by a talented top four. Junior Ali Gutt won a regional title and followed it up with a fifth-place finish at sectionals. Freshman Ellie O'Connell has shown a lot of promise with juniors Caroline Kurdej and Erin Falsey adding to the Saxons' attack. This team is primed for a big meet and looking to make a statement.
Barrington: The Fillies have been looking to close their gap all season and they have been making progress in the postseason. Senior Caroline Reynolds has been Barrington's No. 1 runner all season and will push for a state medal on Saturday. Sophomore Lauren Conroy has battled illnesses this season but is a talented athlete. Key for the Fillies will be sophomore Arushi Agarwal, sophomore Lauren Cropsey and senior Kristin Patino.
Individuals to watch
Defending Class 3A champion Madeline Perez leads the field. The Glenbard West senior missed the entire regular season but looked very strong in winning the Lake Park sectional. Hinsdale Central freshman Alexa Haff has had an outstanding season and beat Perez in her first race back at the West Suburban Silver conference meet. Haff has the closing speed to take the title. Speaking of closing speed, McHenry junior Lauren Opatrny showed hers in winning the Schaumburg sectional over Buffalo Grove sophomore Kaitlyn Ko. Both will be in the mix on Saturday. Glenbard West junior Lisa Luczack and sophomore Lindsay Graham will push for a top-ten finish. New Trier junior Mimi Smith, Fenwick junior Olivia Ryan and Jacobs junior Lauren Van Vlierbergen will also be in the hunt.
Kaitlyn Ko, Buffalo Grove: The Bison sophomore won the MSL title and likes to run up front. Ko took second at the Schaumburg sectional and is primed for a big state meet. Ko will be tested on Saturday but the Bison sophomore is not afraid of a challenge.
Vanessa Sanchez, Rolling Meadows: The Mustangs senior qualified to the state meet as a sophomore but injuries sidelined her last season. Sanchez is back this season and has been a pleasant surprise. She knows how to run the final mile and that may be a key in helping her secure a state medal.
Hannah Getschman, Prospect: This will be Prospect coach Dave Wurster's final state meet as head coach for the Knights. Getschman would like nothing better than to send her coach out in style. She ran a strong sectional race and may be peaking at the right time.
Class 2A state
Meghan Carroll, St. Viator: The Lions senior finished 19th in Class 2A last season and is eyeing a top-10 finish this season. Carroll has come back from a midseason injury and took third at the Wheaton Academy sectional. The Class 2A girls race will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
-- Michael Eaken