Aurora Central Catholic
Coach: Troy Kerber (26th year)
Last season: fourth in the Suburban Christian Conference; second place at Class 2A Princeton sectional.
Top returnees: Jenna Cebulski, soph., throws; Irene Crown, jr., middle distance; Annabel Englehardt, soph., sprints, hurdles; Karina Liz, soph., sprints, middle distance; Anekke Nilles, jr., middle distance; Emily Ziegler, jr., middle distance, jumps.
Top newcomers: Amy Brouch, fr., distance; Lexi Cortes, fr., sprints; Alexa Rendella, fr., sprints, hurdles; Krystal Velasquez, soph., sprints, middle distance.
Outlook: Only a sophomore, Liz is the face of the program after winning two sectional titles en route to a state runner-up finish at 800 meters in middle-tier class last spring. "If she stays healthy and things come together, it will be a good season," Kerber said of his prized underclassman. "Track is her main passion. She is very fit." Aurora Central Catholic, in its final year in the Suburban Christian Conference, has only two seniors in the program. But the Chargers are very strong the distance events as the 3,200 relay should be particularly potent with the return of Crown, Nilles and Ziegler.
Coach: Anna McQuade (second year)
Last season: fifth in the Suburban Christian Conference; Class 1A Lisle sectional champion; third in the state meet.
Top returnees: Alyssa Anderson, sr., sprints; Natasha Brown, jr., sprints; Meghan Haggerty, jr., sprints, pole vault; Peyton Wade, sr., sprints, hurdles, jumps; Becca Wert, jr., middle distance.
Outlook: Aurora Christian should figure prominently once again on the state stage. Wade is the defending state champion in both the long jump and 100 hurdles. In addition, Wade teamed with Haggerty, Anderson and Brown to capture the 800 relay. Aurora Christian was also state runner-up in the 400 relay. Haggerty will be expected to shoulder the graduation loss of Taylor Knauf, who won a third individual state championship for Aurora Christian last year in the pole vault.
Coach: Justin Allison (third year)
Last year: Upstate Eight River championship canceled; 10th place at Class 3A West Aurora sectional.
Top returnees: Natalie Bartos, sr., sprints; Alicia Grant, soph., middle distance; Allison Hartmann, soph., jumps; Leah Norup, soph., sprints, hurdles; Hailey Plata, jr., sprints; Miranda Rae, jr., middle distance; Dakota Roman, soph., middle distance, distance; Caitlin Ross, jr., sprints; Taylor Stieve, sr., sprints, hurdles; Madison Theuerkauf, jr., throws; Hannah Ullberg, sprints; Megan Zeddies, sr., pole vault.
Top newcomers: Sam DelMundo, fr., jumps; Hannah Schlamann, fr., sprints.
Outlook: Excitement abounds at Batavia for the outdoor season after a solid fifth-place showing at the Upstate Eight Conference indoor championship. "We've got a lot of depth this year, pretty much in every event," Allison said. Roman anchors the Bulldogs' state-returning 3,200-meter relay quartet, but Schlamann is arguably the most talented freshman to enter the program since former state champions Natalie Tarter and Kathryn Warner almost a decade ago. Schlamann was nipped at the wire by Metea Valley state returnee Emily Cowan for the 55 championship last week. "Our sprint group looked phenomenal (at the indoor conference championship)," Allison gushed. The Bulldogs should contend with Geneva and St. Charles North to give favorite St. Charles East a run for the outdoor River championship.
Coach: Peter Raak (eighth year)
Last season: Upstate Eight River championship canceled; eighth place at Class 3A West Aurora sectional.
Top returnees: Kathryn Adelman, sr., middle distance, distance; Shannon Callahan, soph., jumps; Mary Kate Fee, jr., sprints; Grace Ginsberg, jr., sprints, hurdles; McKenna Happold, soph., jumps; Foster Ignoffo, jr., sprints; Paige Korte, jr., sprints, jumps; Liz Markuson, jr., pole vault; Molly McQueeny, soph., middle distance; Bella Medina, sr., sprints; Therese Niedbala, soph., sprints, hurdles; Brooke Nusser, jr., middle distance; Ana Samples, sr., distance.
Outlook: Adelman and Medina are the senior leaders for the Vikings this spring. The former was all-state at 800 meters last spring, and the Carthage-bound latter has catching up to do after the Vikings' extended postseason basketball run. "I will primary be focusing on (sprint) relays," Medina said. The Vikings should be particularly lethal in their traditional areas of strength: middle and longer distances. Adelman also gives the Vikings immediate legitimacy in the 3,200 relay. But the senior could opt to do the 800-1,600 individual double for the state series. Callahan and Markuson are the Vikings' field leaders. "I am very positive about our season," Raak said.
Coach: Doug Ecker
Top returnees: Brianna Bowers, soph., distance; Christina Delach, sr., pole vault; Kyle Goodine, sr., sprints, hurdles; Olivia Galor, soph., sprints, jumps; Sydney Strangs, sr., middle distance, distance; Elle Tattoni, jr., throws; Lauren Zick, sr., sprints, jumps.
Top newcomers: Carly Elliott, fr., sprints; Becca Richtman, fr., middle distance; Nicole Sreenan, fr., sprints, jumps.
Outlook: Kaneland has a legitimate chance for a top showing in the Class 2A state meet this spring. "We return a lot of girls," Ecker said. "It could be one of the more well-rounded teams we have had in the last eight to 10 years." Zick is looking to complete her four-year career in style. The St. John's softball recruit was robbed of her junior year by an illness that left her hospitalized the day before the sectional. But Zick is one of the top long jumpers and 400 runners in the state. Kaneland has also been infused with a host of talented newcomers; Sreenan is the most promising of the Knights' freshmen, who finished state runners-up in the unofficial middle-school state tournament last year.
Coach: Vic Meade (19th year)
Last season: Suburban Christian Conference champion; competed at Class 3A West Aurora sectional.
Top returnees: Emily Bakala, sr., sprints, middle distance; Abby Hammer, sr., sprints, hurdles, middle distance; Kristina Perillo, jr., sprints; Molly Stefanski, sr., sprints, middle distance; Sydney Zaragoza, sr., sprints.
Outlook: Rosary should be much more competitive this year at the state level after being reclassified to the middle-tier for the state series. "We're really excited to be back in Class 2A," said Bakala, the Royals' only returning state qualifier. "That's where we should be." Stefanski and Zaragoza have been members of the Royals' back-to-back Kane County champions in the 800 relay. They were headed for a second consecutive state appearance last spring, but a passing error torpedoed their hopes. "We're really excited to see how many girls we can qualify for state this year," Bakala said. "We want to see how many we can get to be all-state."
St. Charles East
Coach: Tim Wolf
Last season: Upstate Eight River championship canceled; Class 3A West Aurora sectional champion; eighth in state
Top returnees: Kim Abels, sr., sprints; Corrin Adams, sr., middle distance, distance; Allison Chmelik, jr., sprints, jumps; Elizabeth Chmelik, jr., sprints, jumps; Hannah Ewald, soph., distance; Krista Fitzmaurice, sr., middle distance; Anastasia Honea, soph., middle distance; Torree Scull, jr., middle distance, distance; Jordan Shead, sr., sprints, middle distance.
Outlook: St. Charles East is in an ideal position to make a serious statement during the outdoor girls season. Seven members of their two all-state relays return to the fold. Shead and the Chmelik twins are the defending champions in the 1,600 relay; Adams and Scull are award-winning 800 runners, with Honea and Fitzmaurice also back for an encore in the 3,200 relay. Allison Chmelik has posted the best triple-jump distances in the state during the indoor season, and Shead, bound for Notre Dame, is a threat from anywhere between 200 and 800 meters. "I just want to keep improving in the open four," said Shead, all-state at 400 meters last year. "For the four-by-four (the primary goal is) trying to defend our state championship." But the Saints, who tied Neuqua Valley for the Upstate Eight indoor championship last week in Batavia, need to get healthy. Fitzmaurice and Elizabeth Chmelik both missed the meet.
St. Charles North
Coach: John Osmanski (third year)
Last season: Upstate Eight River championship canceled; seventh place at Class 3A West Aurora sectional.
Top returnees: Sydney Brellethin, jr., middle distance; Ashley England, sr., distance; Stephanie England, soph., middle distance, jumps; Natalia Gawlik, sr., middle distance; Jessica Grill, jr., pole vault; Brittany Kostrzeski, sr., sprints, hurdles; Nina Olshever, soph., middle distance; Alex Prejna, sr., sprints, hurdles; Sabrina Rabin, sr., sprints; Quinn Samanic, jr., sprints; Hannah Schlib, soph., sprints, jumps; Kaylee Wessel, sr., middle distance, distance.
Outlook: Schlib, the sectional triple jump champion as a freshman last year, broke school records in both vertical jumps last week. "We're looking to keep her on the roll that she's on right now," Osmanski said of his prized sophomore. Schlib is one three area state contenders in the event. The North Stars also return three members of their state-qualifying 3,200 relay in Brellethin, Gawlik and Wessel. Kostrzeski set the third program record at the Upstate Eight championship last week with her preliminary time in the 55 hurdles. The senior should be a favorite in the 100-meter variety during the upcoming outdoor season. "It's been really a great group to work with," Osmanski said. The North Stars' sprint relays could surprise this spring behind Rabin, Samanic, Kostrzeski and Schlib. "We were running our best times of the season (at indoor conference)," Osmanski said.
Coach: Teresa Towles (ninth year)
Last season: second place DuPage Valley Conference; second place at Class 3A West Aurora sectional; tied for fourth in state
Top returnees: Nadine Dunsing, sr., pole vault; Miranda Gollwitzer, sr., middle distance, distance; Becca Moore, jr., pole vault; Joslyn Noel, jr., sprints; Maya Marion, sr., throws; Emma Spagnola, sr., sprints, hurdles, jumps; Kyla Walton, sr., sprints, jumps; Elisa Zinn, sr., sprints.
Top newcomers: Rajiah Andrews, fr., sprints, hurdles; Kardia Dunah, fr., sprints, jumps; Tamia Rayford, fr., sprints.
Outlook: West Aurora seeks its first trophy in program history behind the indomitable Spagnola. The Minnesota recruit put on a display at the Class 3A state meet a year ago, scoring 26 points with a victory in the long jump and runner-up finishes in both hurdle events. Spagnola has only tasted defeat four times the last two seasons in the 100 and 300 hurdles -- all in the state finals. "We can rule out high jump," Towles said of the fourth event Spagnola will do for the state series. "I have something in mind. But I don't want to say yet. We want to put her in something where we know she can score." Spagnola has won 11 individual DuPage Valley Conference championships during her three outdoor campaigns. But the Blackhawks also have Central Michigan-bound sprinter and jumper Walton as well as Marquette-bound thrower Marion. Zinn is the leader of the Blackhawks' traditionally gifted sprint crew. "I am very excited about what the outdoor season is going to bring," Towles said. West Aurora edged Naperville Central for its fifth indoor conference championship since 2009 last week at North Central College.