NORTH SUBURBAN LAKE Lake Zurich Coach: Ian Silverman (16th season)
Last year's record: 15th in Class 3A, first in NSC
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Top graduated seniors: Meaghan Gelinas (two-time state qualifier)
Top returning competitors: seniors Nicole Syverson (112th in Class 3A, ninth in NSC), Laura McNair (175th in Class 3A, 22nd in NSC); juniors Kristie Houghton (51st in Class 3A, fifth in NSC); sophomores Maryjane Koza (141st in Class 3A, 14th in NSC), Jemma Kim (163rd in Class 3A, 32nd in NSC)
Key newcomers: seniors Ruthie Rosenkranz, Christina Eddleman; junior Caitlyn Shepard
Outlook: After bringing home the NSC championship with six all-conference runners in the top 22 last season, the Bears will be coming back strong again in 2014 with four all-conference runners returning and a fifth runner (Kim) with valuable state-meet experience under her belt. Lake Zurich's winning combination over the years has proven to be its great depth and consistent pack running and it appears that the Bears will be using that same formula to try to retain their NSC title under the guidance of coach Silverman this fall. Lake Zurich will really miss senior Katie Fabbrini (19th in NSC), who is going to focus on soccer this season.
Libertyville Coach: Bill Etnyre (third season)
Last year's record: third in NSC, Class 3A regional champions
Top graduated seniors: Ali Urbanski (fourth in NSC), Emily Moroz
Top returning competitors: seniors Kristi Del Prato (11th in NSC), Gina Palmieri (31st in NSC); juniors Sarah Pirih (23rd in NSC), Hannah Manetsch (26th in NSC), Mia Bertaud (44th in NSC); sophomores Emily Olson, Sami Campbell, Audrey Paglia
Key newcomers: sophomore Maddie Olson; freshmen Melissa Manetsch, Avryl Johnson
Outlook: The Wildcats will have one more go-around this season with four-year varsity standout Del Prato, who is a two-time state qualifier ready to make one final push for Peoria in her senior year. Libertyville is coming off a very solid third-place finish in the competitive NSC last year and the Wildcats have all but one of their top seven runners returning in hopes of putting together a great season for coach Etnyre. After winning the regional crown last year, Libertyville will be even deeper this season with a lot of competition for the top-seven varsity spots.
Mundelein Coach: Jamie Adkins (first season)
Last year's record: ninth in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Emily Schlebecker (27th in NSC)
Top returning competitors: seniors Kelsey Loar (33rd in NSC), Ashley Parola; juniors Abby Grein, Crystal Arroyo; sophomore Marissa Richards
Key newcomers: seniors Lyliana Chavez, Jacqueline Shannon; sophomores Claire Bullington, Sydney Grace (transfer from Tennessee), Sarah Ouimet, Victoria Willman; freshman Elizabeth Meister
Outlook: After an injury-plagued season in 2013, the Mustangs hope to return to form strong this season under new head coach Jamie Adkins. Mundelein did lose its top runner in Emily Schlebecker to graduation. But Loar has plenty of big-meet experience to fall back on after just missing one of the 30 all-conference places last year.
Stevenson Coach: Maureen LeVanti (second season)
Last year's record: 11th in NSC
Top graduated seniors: none
Top returning competitors: seniors Amy Lin (43rd in NSC), Julide Ozmeral (47th in NSC), Rachel Cole; junior Jessica Philipp; sophomores Sydney Pacernick, Eliza Sullivan
Key newcomers: freshmen Isabelle Sparreo, Shea Kirby, Gabriella Jagielo
Outlook: After struggling through the 2013 season with little to no experience at the varsity level, the Patriots have returned this fall with much more optimism after putting together a solid summer of distance running. Stevenson will still need a lot of its new runners to grow into some pretty big roles, but the Patriots are hoping to show some significant improvement with some key seniors leading the way in the NSC Lake Division.
Warren Coach: Brett Heimstead (fourth season)
Last year's record: sixth in NSC, second in Class 3A regionals
Top graduated seniors: Greta Doden, Tori Nelsen
Top returning competitors: seniors Becky Haight (16th in NSC), Sammi Nixon, Michelle Klimt, Taylor Weiss; junior Emily Jahn; sophomore Elizabeth Abundes
Key newcomers: senior Brooke Wilt; freshman Jensen Bernard
Outlook: Besides good team chemistry, coach Heimstead is hoping to build off of a strong summer of running that the team has put in. The Blue Devils should have some really solid senior leadership to help mold the squad with Haight coming off an outstanding all-conference season as a junior last year.
NORTH SUBURBAN PRAIRIE Antioch Coach: Chris Bailey (sixth season)
Last year's record: 10th in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Ashley LaPointe (Lindenwood University), Katie Holmes, Hannah Bohn
Top returning competitors: junior Kayla Fahey; sophomores Tessa Furlong, Emily Holmes
Key newcomers: sophomore Allison Smith; freshman Jessica Lamberty
Outlook: The Sequoits did lose all-conference runner LaPointe to graduation, but they will have many of their top-seven runners back and ready to compete with a year of valuable experience behind them. Antioch's young squad should also get a lift from key newcomer Lamberty as well as Furlong, who put in a solid summer of distance running.
Coach: Jeff Durlak (eighth season)
Last year's record: fourth in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Lindsey Lewis (Illinois State, four-time all-conference)
Top returning competitors: seniors Kaleigh Bauer (37th in NSC), Jenna Pecorini, Katerina Dague; juniors Madison Romig (12th in NSC), Stephanie Zimbru, Delaney Basala; sophomores Lauren Troemel (sixth in NSC), Brooke Drabek (34th in NSC), Rachael Temple (38th in NSC)
Key newcomers: sophomore Shealyn Robinson; freshmen Roxanne Temple, Samantha Kaye, Savannah Barnes
Outlook: The Bulldogs are coming off of a solid fourth-place finish in the NSC last year and they have six battle-tested runners back from that team ready to make a big impact in 2014. Grant will certainly miss the presence of four-year varsity starter Lewis in the lineup But the Bulldogs' relatively young squad should have enough depth and experience to put together another strong push in the conference by season's end with Romig and Troemel already proving themselves at the varsity level last fall.
Lakes Coach: Keith West (11th season)
Last year's record: seventh in NSC, Class 2A regional champions
Top graduated seniors: Marisa Franson
Top returning competitors: seniors Danielle Griesbaum (52nd in Class 2A in 2012), Ashley Espinosa (18th in NSC), Nicole Towne (20th in NSC), Liz Thompson, Fiona Floden; juniors Kortney Schardt (77th in Class 2A in 2012), Hayley Lettera (45th in NSC), Sarah Sprague
Key newcomers: freshman Meghan Steinert
Outlook: After going through some growing pains with a pretty inexperienced team at the varsity level in 2013, the Eagles should make some great strides this season with the solid senior trio of Griesbaum, Espinosa, and Towne ready to lead their pack. Lakes will still face some very tough competition in the NSC Prairie Division alone as Vernon Hills is the favorite to win the division. But with two 2012 Class 2A state qualifiers in their lineup (Griesbaum and Schardt), the Eagles should be ready to make a big splash in 2014.
Round Lake Coach: Kevin Brady (10th season)
Last year's record: 13th in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Jessica Arteaga (Aurora University), Nayeli Hernandez
Top returning competitors: seniors Vicky Villa, Maria Zadina, Anayeli Rosales, Lluvia Chavarria, Mariela Jasso; junior Alondra Alvarez; sophomore Vanessa Allanach
Key newcomers: sophomore Lizeth Rogel; freshman Jessica Cuna
Outlook: After only graduating one of their top-tier girls from last year, the Panthers are hoping to be much more competitive as the new season progresses. Round Lake will still have to face a lot of tough competition in the NSC Prairie Division alone, but coach Brady is optimistic that his squad can show significant improvement as the latter stages of the campaign roll around.
Vernon Hills Coach: Suzanne Curry (10th season)
Last year's record: third in Class 2A, second in NSC, second in Class 2A regionals
Top graduated seniors: Cassie Lira (Lake Forest College)
Top returning competitors: seniors Samantha Hershman (73rd in Class 2A, 17th in NSC), Lauren Kim (130th in Class 2A, 30th in NSC), Melanie Rogers (117th in Class 2A); juniors Vivian Overbeck (11th in Class 2A, first in NSC), Shannon Skeoch (57th in Class 2A, 25th in NSC), Lexi Reich (97th in Class 2A, 29th in NSC)
Key newcomers: freshman Lauren Katz
Outlook: The future looks very bright for the Cougars once again as they return from a third-place finish in the state with six of their top seven runners back in the lineup.Overbeck is an outstanding No. 1-runner for Vernon Hills to fall back on in every single meet while coach Curry has the luxury of trotting out no less than five returning all-conference runners this season. After placing second at regionals and third at sectionals in 2013, the Cougars refused to be denied the third-place trophy at state as they easily toppled fourth-place Marengo by 50 points to bring home the hardware. Vernon Hills will have to overcome the loss of all-state runner Lira (22nd in Class 2A) to graduation.
Wauconda Coach: Al Willhoit (36th season)
Last year's record: 12th in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Ashley Heath
Top returning competitors: senior Angela Cruz; junior Hannah Sundquist; sophomore Erin Levon (40th in NSC)
Key newcomers: none
Outlook: The Bulldogs' squad will not have much depth to fall back on in 2014, but they do have two returning Class 2A sectional qualifiers ready to lead their pack in Levon and Sundquist. Wauconda will be facing a lot of Class 3A competition throughout the season and that should help prepare the Bulldogs even better when the state series rolls around in late October.
EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC CONFERENCE Carmel Catholic Coach: Jim Halford (28th season)
Last year's record: sixth in ESCC
Top graduated seniors: Theresa Gray, Nicole Bitter
Top returning competitors: seniors Riley Felicicchia, Kally Morozin, Shea Collins; sophomores Jilly Johnson, Lauren Caffarelli, Maddy Cusack, Sarah Speranza, Gianna Day
Key newcomers: sophomores Jaclyn Psenka, Emily Tyndorf; freshmen Aileen Hull, Molly Machala, Lauren Laughlin, Emily Silge
Outlook: After reaching the sectionals as a team last year, the Corsairs will be relying heavily on some outstanding sophomores and freshmen at the varsity level this fall. Coach Halford has set goals for his young squad to challenge for the ESCC North Division crown, to finish in the top three in the ESCC overall, and to make a return trip to the sectional meet.
FOX VALLEY CONFERENCE / FOX DIVISION Grayslake Central Coach: Jimmy Centella (sixth season)
Last year's record: eighth in FVC, fourth in Fox Division
Top graduated seniors: Jamie Brew, Korina Gomez (Winona State), Maggie Wehde, Callie Calamia (St. Louis University), Meghan Brewster
Top returning competitors: seniors Emma Mitchiner, Hannah Dwinell, Yazmin Lomas; juniors Umaiyal Sridas, Sarah O'Malley; sophomores Megan Girmscheid, Hannah Groenke, Riley Achtemeier
Key newcomers: junior Lura Quant; sophomore Rosalind Searle; freshman Amy Moore
Outlook: After reaching the Class 2A sectionals as a team last year, the Rams lost a lot of key runners that had been the heart and soul of their program for quite a while to graduation. Grayslake Central will now be turning to some eager new runners looking to make their own mark on the program and they are headed in the right direction after putting in a lot of hard work this past summer.
Grayslake North Coach: Brandon Boyd (10th season)
Last year's record: Class 2A sectional qualifiers, 10th in FVC
Top graduated seniors: Erin Llanes-Smith
Top returning competitors: senior Meghanne White; junior Paloma Alcala; sophomores Camryn Cowperthwaite, Cindy Alcala
Key newcomers: freshman Madelyn Wilkinson
Outlook: With a young squad and a lot of new runners, it is very much of a rebuilding sort of year for the Knights this season. Grayslake North's youth movement will focus on how quickly the team can adapt to running longer distances and aiming to compete in big meets. Cowperthwaite showed a lot of promise as a freshman in 2013, but she is recovering from a torn ACL which she sustained during spring soccer tryouts