Girls cross country / State meet scouting, Northwest
Where: Detweiller Park, Peoria
When: Saturday, Class 1A at 9 a.m.; Class 2A at 11 a.m.; Class 3A at 1 p.m.
What to know: Naperville North has been on pretty special run. The Huskies have earned six consecutive state trophies since 2011, including three Class 3A state titles Look for Naperville North to continue that streak on Saturday. Naperville North coach Dan Iverson has his team lined up to record its seventh state title. It would tie Palatine for the second-most team titles in the state behind only Winnebago, which has 10 state titles. Yorkville could be one team to challenge Naperville North. The Lady Foxes have had their own impressive run, earning eight consecutive state trophies, including a run from 2011 through 2015 in which they won five consecutive Class 2A trophies. Last year the Lady Foxes earned their first Class 3A state trophy by taking second. Downers Grove South, Wheaton Warrenville South, Edwardsville, Barrington, Lyons Township, and Hinsdale Central could push for a state trophy. Individually Glenbard West sophomore Katelyn Hart will be looking to defend her state title. She has been nothing but phenomenal since hitting course last season, and it is just a matter of if Hart will go under 16 minutes and challenge the state record (15:54) set by Naperville North's Judy Pendergrast at the 2015 state meet. It will be wet on Saturday, and that will be a factor in the times. Keep an eye on Argo sophomore Abby Lopez who won the Hinsdale Central sectional in only her fourth career race; she could be a wild card at Detweiller. Naperville North senior Sarah Schmitt, Naperville North junior Alex Morris, Yorkville senior Alyssa Edwards, Minooka senior Emily Shelton, Barrington senior Jocelyn Long, Schaumburg senior Maddie Marasco, Libertyville senior Melissa Manetsch, Evanston senior Enyaeva Michelin and Glenbard West's Lindsay Payne will all contend for state medals.
Barrington: The Fillies have been the most consistent team in the area from start to finish this season. Barrington won the Mid-Suburban League title, Palatine regional title and Hoffman Estates sectional title and will enter the Class 3A state meet on a roll. Senior Joceyln Long leads the way. The Northwestern-bound senior took fifth in Class 3A in 2015 and finished seventh at the state meet last season. She should be in the top 10 once again on Saturday. Long took second at the MSL meet, won the Palatine regional title and used a strong finish to secure her second consecutive sectional title last Saturday. "Jocelyn has been a constant on the team for four years. She has an excellent work ethic and I think that rubs off on the younger runners," said Barrington coach Deb Revolta. Freshman Molly Fiztpatrick has not been far off Long's pace this season, having taken third in the MSL, second at the Palatine regional and fifth at the sectional. The Barrington freshman is also on pace for an all-state finish, giving the Fillies a nice 1-2 punch up front. Sophomore Alyssa Norris, freshman Katherine Shein, and freshman Anne Berquist rounded out the Fillies' top five at both the regional and sectional. Junior Eve Hoeltgen and Sophie Hoeltgen have both run in the top five this season and add depth to the effort. Barrington is definitely a top 10 team on the rise and could push for a top-five finish on Saturday. "We have a team that works really well together," Revolta said. "They push each other to get better every day, and that is why you have seen a different top five from week to week. The youngsters fit in from the beginning because they are not afraid to work hard."
Prospect: The Knights broke through at the Hoffman Estates sectional to secure a state qualification after missing the cut by one spot the previous two seasons. Prospect started to find its rhythm at the Peoria Central Invite in late September and finished the season by taking second at MSL meet, rolling to the Hoffman Estates regional title and then taking second at the sectional. "The goal this weekend is to continue the momentum we've had in the back half of the season. The girls continue to work hard, are hungry, and are ready to improve upon the past couple of weeks," said Prospect coach Pete Wintermute. Senior Mikayla Olsen has done a fine job of leading the group, and junior Marissa Valentini has also come on strong. Those two should push the pace on Saturday. Freshman Reese Lettow, junior Julia O'Grady, and sophomore Emily Hubbard did nice job of pushing the back pack at the sectional meet and will look to do the same at the state meet. Senior Kaitlyn Rouse and senior Sydney Kitzmiller have combined with Olsen to provided strong senior leadership. "They are all-around great kids and are dedicated to the program -- this season is what it is because of the seniors," said Wintermute. The state field is loaded but Prospect should push for a top-10 spot.
Palatine: The Pirates showed a lot promise by finishing third at the Peoria Notre Dame meet on the state course in mid-September, but injuries have provided a challenge of late. Palatine took third in the MSL, added a third-place regional finish and hung tough in securing the fifth and final qualifying spot at the Hoffman Estates sectional. Freshman Ann Marie Jordan has been running strong all season and she led the Pirates at the sectional with a ninth-place finish. "What impresses me the most is how poised she's become. As the season has gone on, her transition to high school running has gone very well and we are excited for her future," said Palatine coach Joe Parks. Junior Kate Lechowicz, senior Lauryn Simons and junior Liz Lechowicz form the second wave and they will need to narrow the gap on Saturday. Senior Jaclyn Frank was the fifth runner at sectional and was key to the Pirates advancing. Sophomore Christina Buckstaff and freshman Ellie Roy have also flashed potential this season. "The key for our success will be to focus on ourselves, our race plan, and simply compete," added Parks
Individual qualifiers: Schaumburg senior Maddie Marasco was the lone individual area qualifier. Marasco is a two-time state medalist, having earned a 16th-place finish in 2015 and an eighth-place finish last season. The Illinois-bound senior will push for a top-five finish this season. Marasco won the MSL title and the Hoffman Estates regional title. She finished second at the Hoffman Estate sectional and is primed for a big run on Saturday. "Maddie has had a wonderful season," said Schaumburg coach Kristen Zillmer. "She has gone into every race with a 'why not' attitude and gone for the win. She has been training hard and gone above and beyond what is expected of her."
St. Viator: Freshman Katie Castelli has done a nice job pacing a Lions group this season as the program returns to the state meet for the first time since 2012. Castelli ran to a third-place finish on Saturday, helping Viator to a second-place team finish at the Chicago University sectional. The Lions also won the Fenton regional and finished fourth in the East Suburban Catholic Conference. Junior Payton McDonnell and Loreta Dugo have helped power the Lions' late-season charge. Freshman Maddie Fitzpatrick, junior Maura Hogaboom, freshman Sophie Limberakis and junior Claire Bottcher have also aided the Lions attack. Viator. The junior core just missed qualifying to state as freshmen, missing the cut by a mere 6 points, but they got the job done this season. "It's beyond exciting for the team. These girls have worked so hard these past three year to get to this point and they have finally achieved their goal," said St. Viator coach Kelli Wosick.
-- Michael Eaken