Girls cross country: Scouting Cook and Lake County

After winning its second straight Class 2A title in a row by a narrow 18-point margin over runner-up rival Lakes last year, Grayslake Central is gearing up for a potential three-peat as the Rams head into the 2023 season.

And with all four of their top runners returning, the Rams could definitely accomplish that monumental task despite losing Katie Armstrong (66th) and Vicky Piela (120th) to graduation. It was nothing but championships for Grayslake Central in 2022 as it won the NLCC, regional, sectional and state titles under coach Jimmy Centella.

The Rams' "Fab Four" are sophomore Ave Henne (seventh), senior Sara Armstrong (16th), sophomore Jordan Sutter (25th), and senior Bella Domier (31st). Senior Sofia Witt (111th) could be a pivotal runner when the 44th state meet is held on Nov. 4. Central cruised to the Lake County title Wednesday by a 37-107 margin over Lake Forest.

"All four of these girls are hard workers and super competitive," said Grayslake Central coach Jimmy Centella. "So don't be surprised if they are trading places all season long."

Other potential varsity runners for the Rams are sophomores Violet Rowe, Brynn Domier, Ellie Chevrier, Ava Peitruzynski, and junior Emma Wentz.


The Sequoits lost Alison Pasdiora (Bedmidji State University) to graduation from a team that placed third in the NLCC, seventh at sectionals, and 27th at state. Antioch has all seven of its state meet runners back including junior Piper Ipsen (98th in Class 2A), Rosie Gonzalez, Angela Ortiz, Abby Sooley, Addison Lan, Annalise Lowrance, and Nora Lubkeman. Coach Chris Bailey said the team put in a great summer, and they are further ahead of where they were a year ago. The Sequoits will be competing in the Lake County Invite for the first time in a long time, and that will allow them to see how they stack up against some of the top teams early in the season.


The Corsairs have an outstanding front-runner in all-state junior Izzy Bing (23rd in Class 2A) to lead their pack along with junior state qualifier Norah Belmonte (129th). Junior Sydney Krcmarik and sophomore Ashlyn Beattie are key runners for coach Jim Halford, who hopes his team can contend for the ESCC title. Seniors Noelle Waldschmidt and Mollie Gibbons will also be top runners. Freshmen Isabella Renguso, Chloe Bing and Adelyn Albanse hope to be running with the top pack.

Grayslake North

The Knights lost two key seniors to graduation in Nicole Brown and Brook Davies. But coach Jenny Spangler's team does have two state qualifiers returning in sophomore Madison Petersen (61st in Class 2A), and junior Yaremi Ramos (135th). Sophomore Lucy Roscoe just missed a berth to the state meet as an individual by one spot. Grayslake North placed fourth in the NLCC last year, and the Knights are pushing for the entire team to qualify for sectionals after three individuals made it in 2022.


The Bulldogs will be without the services of Brianna Osmon (93rd in 3A), Melissa Ketter, and Lucia Enciso after they placed fifth in the NLCC and seventh at regionals last year. Juniors Amelia and Andrea Szopinski are expected to be among the pack leaders for coach Jeff Durlak followed by teammates Allison Thomas, Kennedy Kilmer, and Ashlyn Bartlett. After graduating their top three runners, Durlak said that there will be more opportunities for girls to step up this season. "The goal is to improve over the course of the season and to run well at the NLCC and regional meets," said Durlak.


The Eagles are coming off a banner season as they placed second to now two-time defending state champion Grayslake Central by a 106-124 margin in Class 2A. All-stater Becca Runyan (19th), and Madison Perez (UW-Parkside) were lost to graduation. But Lakes has great senior leadership back in Paige Caruth (eighth), and Madison Twarling (34th). Juniors Hannah Rojas (59th) and Bri Gara (79th) return with state meet experience as does senior teammate Rachel Colwell. Senior Aine Boyd, sophomore Diksha Guganathan, and freshman Hannah Salbilla hope to make an impact as coach Travis Shepherd is hoping for great things if this group can stay connected and make progress each day.

Lake Zurich

The Bears lost an elite runner in Brooke Johnston (third in 2021, UCLA) to graduation as Johnston missed state due to illness the week of the meet. Seniors Lindsey Bitzer and McKenzie Bergfeld are expected to be among Lake Zurich's leaders this season along with Polina Krupsky, Ruby Nissen, Bianca Perez, Celia Blaylock, and Hannah Gillhaus. Coach Jeremy Kauffman said that the Bears turned in the best summer of training they've ever had since he became coach. The Bears had the most runners attend their team camp in Michigan. Attending the Wildwood Clinic in Naperville hosted by Naperville North coach Dan Iverson had a massive impact on their training and Kauffman's coaching approach.


The Wildcats placed third at regionals and 14th at sectionals as Sheila Tucker was the only key senior lost to graduation. Senior Margaret McGormley provides coach Megan Sharp's experienced team with a solid front runner while seniors Ava Torres, Molly Neary, Lauren Hilts, and Katherine Gajewicz also ran at sectionals. Libertyville senior Lilya Botten is off to a good start this season as are sophomore Isabelle Karl-Garcia and freshman Julia Garrison as the Wildcats prepare for the long and grueling season.


The Mustangs will be without standout Praise Oyebanji (state cross country qualifier, fourth in 800-meter run in Class 3A track, UIC) after they placed seventh in the NSC. Sophomore sectional qualifier Molly Price, sophomore Brooklyn D'Ambrosio, and senior Amber Dean will be team leaders for coach Carsyn Rodriguez along with teammates Vivi Gonzalez, Chloe Engelbrecht, and Jeni Bolanos. D'Ambrosio, Dean, Gonzalez, and Engelbrecht all saw huge time drops in the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 during the track season last spring.

Round Lake

The Panthers have their deepest team in about 10 years according to coach Kevin Brady even though America Martinez is the only key returning senior in the lineup. Round Lake juniors Miranda Espino, Desiree Mendoza, and Evelyn Cruz will be a major part of their pack along with sophomores Ximena Arias and Emily Torres. Freshman Allison Dominguez is expected to gain valuable experience running with the varsity. "We would like to grow and be competitive," Brady said. "I'm not sure they are ready to compete for a sectional spot, but maybe put themselves into a position where it is a definite possibility next year."


The Patriots did not lose any seniors to graduation from a team that finished fourth at regionals and 15th at sectionals. Senior Adeline Gobble competed in the state finals in the 800-meter run while junior teammate Nanoko Seki was one place away from being a state qualifier in cross country. Stevenson senior Stella Plendl and sophomore Olivia Ruiz should be a part of the top-four pack for the Patriots. The remainder of the Pats' lineup could be filled out Isabel Edgcomb, Anna Edgcomb, Sophia Pan, Minnie Shao, or Allison Castro according to coach Lindsay DePaul.

Vernon Hills

The Cougars lost four seniors in Anna Todd (UMass), Ashlee Shoemaker, Reina Hill (Tufts), and Hannah Thomas from their 22nd-place state meet team. Vernon Hills won the CLS North before placing fourth at regionals and fifth at sectionals. Juniors Jori Ellen (121st in Class 2A), and Daniela Gomez Anez (166th) ran at state while seniors Anna Lester (newcomer), Maddie Thomas, and Maddie Wayne give new head coach Chris Wolf good experience. Freshman Ella Ollinger should make a big impact on varsity along with sophomore Jillian Leuck. Moving up to Class 3A will be a tough challenge for the Cougars this fall as they brought home six top-three trophies under former coach Suzanne Curry between 2013 and 2021, including the runner-up trophy to Belvidere North in 2018.


The Blue Devils took second in the NSC, first at regionals, and ninth at sectionals. Top runner Mia Pasha (17th in Class 3A) is now running at Georgetown University. Warren has an experienced threesome back in seniors Emily Towson, Emma Leung, and Elinor Hanner. Sophomore Kate Mondejar (18:47 at sectionals) was its No. 2 runner last year. Coach Louie Klein said that many of his runners put in a ton of work in the summer as No. 3 runner Kylie Florance was also lost to graduation.


The Bulldogs lost top runner Ashley Chan to graduation, but their young squad still has senior Alyssa Vodicka returning as their new No. 1 runner. Wauconda will be fielding a young lineup this fall as sophomore Emilia Jozwiak, freshman Lily Schubert, and freshman Kylah Blohm are expected to be a part of its front pack. Senior Alexis Rininger will be supported by junior teammates Emily Carney and Lilah Hill as the Bulldogs will try to move up in the NLCC and regional standings this fall.



The Fillies did not have any seniors on varsity last year as they placed second in the MSL, second in regionals, third in sectionals, and 17th in the state meet. Junior Scout Storms placed third at 1,600 meters in Class 3A last spring, and Barrington has great depth back this season. Abby Lewis (65th), Samantha Rowley (102nd), Kaleigh Burns (124th), Claire Thome (135th), Sabrina Roach (158th), and Sydney Sukel (169th) all ran in the state meet for coach Debbie Revolta. Many new runners are in the mix who could crack the top seven including Mia Sirois, Angelica Hill, Kari Drage, Viktoria Higgins, Madison Miles, and Allie Edwards. The Fillies edged Palatine for the 2003 state title before placing second in 2006.

Buffalo Grove

The Bison will miss the presence of two-time sectional qualifier Jenna Pullega, Claudia Wojciechowski, and Isabella Wojciechowski leading their pack this season. Senior Delaney Janus is expected to be Buffalo Grove's top runner while sophomore teammates Ella Halter and Eva Kavalerchik will be key parts of coach Martha Kelly's inexperienced team. The Bison are looking for steady improvement throughout the season as they continue to grow as a program.


The Cougars will be hard-pressed to replace graduated three-time sectional qualifier Lucy Scales. Conant seniors Andrea Kehaiova and Sara Al-Azzeh will bring their experience to the team while sophomore teammates Amanda Albrecht and Lenna Szczesniak are key underclassmen. Coach Kalli Dalton's aspirations are for the team to move up the MSL standings and fight for a sectional berth as a team.


The Vikings lost three seniors, including top runner Amanda Markham from their sectional qualifying team. Sophomore Isa Hasty (sectional qualifier) is the top returning runner for Fremd's very young squad along with freshman Addie Dietrich, junior Sia Purohit, sophomore Gabi Weber, and junior Allison Price. Sophomores Paige Ariagno and Michelle Coombes should also be keys for coach Joe Marcin's team as he hopes to see the squad develop and become more competitive as they gain experience.

Elk Grove

The Grenadiers were hit hard by graduation as they lost five of their top seven to graduation. The junior threesome of Delaney Malone, Emma Somenek, and Hannah Varughese should be among the front-runners on the team. Senior Lannalyn Visperas is another runner to watch for coach Laura Bjankini along with junior Addison Kester and sophomore Reagan Malone. Elk Grove has a lot of new runners on its roster, and the Grens will be hoping to move into the top half of the MSL, work together as a team, and compete as one.


The Huskies lost a star runner to graduation in Anna Harden (fourth in Class 3A, Air Force Academy) not to mention Mackenzie Ginder (UW-LaCrosse), Renee Skiera (Pepperdine University), and Gabi Makowski (Colorado State) from their 14th-place state meet team. After taking third in the MSL and fifth at sectionals, Hersey's only remaining key senior is Catherine Hany. But the Huskies do have four runners back with state meet experience. Freshmen Alexa Izenstark and Sofia Donner are ready to test the varsity level while junior teammates Margaretha Grabske (77th in Class 3A) and Madeline Bialko (129th) should be key cogs to coach Mikayla Olsen's young pack. Sophomores Helena Vincent and Elizabeth Waltz ran downstate last year, and they will also help guide the Huskies to another potential berth to the state meet on Nov. 4.

Hoffman Estates

The Hawks placed eighth in the MSL and eighth at regionals as two seniors were lost to graduation. Sophomore Maya Zabiegly and senior Bella Ortega should provide coach Matt Ihms with a solid 1-2 punch with good support from junior Maddy Rakoci. Other possible top-seven runners will be juniors Yu Xin Li, Sandy Chagoya, and Yaretzi Benitez as well as key freshman Ella Macnider. The Hawks will be aiming to improve on last year's conference and regional finishes while hoping to qualify for the sectional meet for the first time since 2018.


The Eagles placed second in the WSC Gold Division last year and fifth at regionals. Graduated senior Jazmin Diaz is now running for UIC. Leyden has three returning juniors in Analy Arredondo, Emily Casarez, and Elany Jimenez ready to lead its team. Coach Thomas Cartwright's squad has good depth and experience in seniors Sherlyn Cebrero and Victoria Lorens. Junior Emily Garcia will be joined by sophomores Alison Dimaranan, Allisson Huitron, and Nadia Morawska as the Eagles are hoping to advance some runners to the state meet.

Maine East

The Blue Demons did not advance out of the powerful Wheeling regional meet last fall as their young squad continues to build for the future. Maine East will have plenty of tough competition and obstacles in its way again this season as the Blue Demons will attempt to improve their record and standing in the Central Suburban League's North Division.

Maine South

The Hawks are coming off a very successful season as they won CSL and regional titles before placing fourth at sectionals and 19th in Class 3A. Morgan Gioia (104th, NIU) and Caitlin Seurynck were lost to graduation. Junior Sofia Arcuri is back with state track meet experience after missing the cross country season last year due to injury. Seniors Olivia DeLuca, Ryan Mullarkey, and Sophie Jaroch all ran downstate last year as did junior Luisa Arcuri. Senior Lauren Marogil and junior Ally Seurynck competed in the 4x800 relay at state last spring and they should help Maine South's push for a return trip to state this fall.

Maine West

The Warriors placed fourth in the CSL and ninth at regionals last fall as Kennedy Young was the only key senior who graduated. Maine West coach Greg Regalado's squad has senior sectional qualifier Amelie Mach returning to lead his pack. Maine West junior Jamie Daube is expected to be another top runner while senior Ana Gamez will be a key scorer for the team. Freshmen Lily Ulbert and Ester Collingsworth will be key newcomers who hope to push the Warriors into the top two in the CSL.


The Pirates placed 16th in Class 3A and lost Ruth Hall, Emma Zach, Katelyn Whitcomb, Tara O'Sullivan, and Brooke Donnelly to graduation. Palatine took fourth in the MSL, third at regionals, and fourth at sectionals, and it has a great front-runner returning in all-state junior Abigail Jordan (15th). Sophomore Monika Urbaniak placed 130th downstate while seniors Fatima Siddiqui and Roxy Soto were alternates for the state meet. Sophomore Jocelyn Huila Cortes was also an alternate while sophomore teammates Ava Dugar and Jasmine Ayala are ready to jump up to varsity. Despite the losses to graduation, coach Anthony DeStephano is looking to remain competitive and vie for another state berth. Palatine's seven IHSA titles (four in a row from 1989 to 1992) are second only to Naperville North (10) as the Pirates last won the crown in 2009.


The Knights reached the mountaintop last November with an exciting 39-58 triumph over runner-up York to bring home the IHSA Class 3A state championship for the first time in school history after the Dukes had beaten runner-up Prospect 62-151 for the 2021 state title. Hailey Erickson (fifth, Calvin College), Cameron Kalaway (18th, University of Iowa), and Samantha Patterson (36th, Taylor University) are huge losses to graduation. But the Knights have fantastic experience back with three high-end all-staters returning in junior Veronica Znajda (sixth), sophomore Meg Peterson (eighth), and senior Lily Ginsberg (13th) ready to shine. Junior Ireland Wildhart placed 41st downstate for coach Pete Wintermute's squad. Seniors Kaitlin Skelton and Bridget Derengowski are other top returnees as are juniors Sophie Fransen and Emma Skelton. Sophomores Rachel Asper and Anna Zajac will try to help the Knights repeat as MSL, regional, and sectional champs.

Rolling Meadows

The Mustangs lost Colette Lampa (sectional qualifier), who is now running for UIC to graduation. Rolling Meadows placed sixth in the MSL, and it will turn to the trio of junior Lucy Bollweg (26th in MSL), senior Renata Santinello, and sophomore Grace Trunnell for leadership this fall. Coach Chris Marks said numerous young runners will be competing for the top-seven spots including Izzy Lee, Stella Butler, Grace Lisy, Katelyn Thomas, and Kendal Niemiec.


The Saxons placed sixth at regionals to earn a berth into the always powerful Hoffman Estates Class 3A sectional. Schaumburg only lost one of its top seven runners to graduation in Kaitlyn Minniear. Schaumburg's program won only the fourth IHSA girls state meet championship ever contested in 1982 under former coach Jon Macnider. The Saxons showed their longevity by winning state championships in three different decades under Macnider as they won it again in 1999, and 2010 not to mention capturing runner-up trophies in 1986 and 1991.

St. Viator

After reaching the Kaneland sectional last year, the Lions will really miss the presence of graduated seniors Maddie Reddin (captain) and Sidney Jones in 2023. Coming out of summer camp the varsity team is shaping up to include senior Nadia Diaz and the junior trio of Catie Glasstetter, Caroline Schermerhorn, and Mackenzie Schwabe. Sophomores Emily Walberg and Allie Long will gain valuable experience this season on varsity along with freshman teammate Celia Fuentes. Glasstetter should be the team leader while coach Bill Stanczak is hoping the team can make a push for the state meet in November.


The Wildcats lost a great leader to graduation in Brenda Torres (two-time state qualifier, EIU) as Torres recorded the second fastest time in school history. Wheeling returns a young squad for coach Alex Brown in 2023 with the trio of sophomore Julia Rakoczy, junior Karen Luna-Gutierrez, and junior Sherlyn Ruiz expected to be pack leaders. Brown said that the biggest goal of the season is to have personal records across the board and to break some lifetime personal records as well. Wheeling won the first girls state meet ever in 1979 before winning it again in 1983, 1984, and 1986. Wheeling's Dana Miroballi (1984-1987) is one of only two four-time state champions.

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