Girls cross country: Scouting Lake County
NORTH SUBURBAN LAKELake ZurichCoach: Ian Silverman (17th season)
Last year's record: 15th in Class 3A, tied for fourth in sectionals, second in regionals, first in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Nicole Syverson (Trinity Christian College), Laura McNair (Augustana), Christina Eddleman, Ruthie Rosenkranz
Top returning competitors: seniors Caitlin Shepard (35th in Class 3A, fourth in NSC), Kristie Houghton (97th in Class 3A, 14th in NSC); sophomores Kelly Ledinsky (152nd in Class 3A, 19th in NSC), Alyssa Krause
Key newcomers: not available at this time
Outlook: After graduating four of their seven varsity runners from the state meet qualifying team last year, the Bears will be spending much of the early season developing confident varsity runners and finding out who will best fit into those spots. Lake Zurich does have its top two runners from state back in Shepard and Houghton ready to lead its pack into competition. Coach Silverman is still hoping that his team can repeat as conference champions and return to the 37th Annual IHSA state meet Nov. 7 in Peoria.
LibertyvilleCoach: Bill Etnyre (fourth season)
Last year's record: regional champions, third in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Kristi Del Prato
Top returning competitors: seniors Sarah Pirih (29th in NSC), Mia Bertaud; juniors Audrey Paglia (26th in NSC), Sami Campbell; sophomores Melissa Manetsch (first in NSC), Jenna Ocheltree, Nora Tucker, Sara Townsend
Key newcomers: freshmen Alex Houser, Emma Hollinger, Corey Kuchler, Sydney Donovan
Outlook: With only two of their top runners being seniors, the majority of the Wildcats' team will be together for the next few years despite having some big holes to fill due to graduation and injury. Manetsch gives Libertyville a strong No. 1-runner to fall back on as the defending NSC individual champion and she has two all-conference runners backing her up in Paglia and Pirih. Coach Etnyre hopes that some of his promising freshmen can jump right into the mix, and if the Wildcats' pack comes through they can be a dangerous team by the end of the season.
MundeleinCoach: Adam Pauley (first season)
Last year's record: 10th in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Kelsey Loar, Jackie Shannon, Ashley Parola
Top returning competitors: seniors Abby Grein (37th in NSC), Crystal Arroyo; juniors Marissa Richards, Sarah Quimet, Victoria Willman; sophomores Kelly Delgado, Lizzy Meister
Key newcomers: freshmen Beth Clow, Andrea Cordova, Clarissa Wieuckowski
Outlook: With new coach Adam Pauley taking over the reigns from former head coach Jamie Adkins, the Mustangs are hoping to move up in the NSC standings this season. Grein came close to making the all-conference team as a junior, and Mundelein also has Richards as a potential top runner to help lead the way for its relatively young pack this fall.
StevensonCoach: Maureen LeVanti (third season)
Last year's record: seventh in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Julide Ozmeral, Amy Lin (Case Western)
Top returning competitiors: senior Jessica Philipp (13th in NSC); juniors Sydney Pacernick, Jessica Woodard, Claire Sullivan; sophomores Isabelle Sparreo (eighth in NSC), Shea Kirby (35th in NSC), Gabriela Jagielo
Key newcomers: sophomore Natalie Sparreo; freshman Kendal Roberts
Outlook: The Patriots should have a really good 1-2 punch at the front of their pack in Isabelle Sparreo and Philipp, and they have five experienced varsity runners back in their lineup this fall. Stevenson has put in a solid summer of distance running, and coach LeVanti is very optimistic that her squad will be ready to compete when the starting gun sounds in 2015 despite only having one key senior on the roster.
WarrenCoach: Brett Heimstead (fifth season)
Last year's record: second in regionals, second in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Becky Haight, Brooke Wilt, Sammi Jo Nixon (Lawrence University), Michelle Klimt, Taylor Weiss (Drury University), Katlyn Campbell
Top returning competitors: seniors Emily Jahn (17th in NSC), Maureen Strong; juniors Elizabeth Abundes, Jessica DePalma, Alejandra Saravia-Romero, Jacki Bobadilla
Outlook: The Blue Devils would like to continue to be one of the top teams in the NSC. But with numerous key losses to graduation, coach Heimstead sees some potential bumps in the road along the way. Jahn should give Warren an excellent No. 1-runner to lead its pack as the Blue Devils hope to do their best racing when the championship portion of the season rolls around in late October.
NORTH SUBURBAN PRAIRIEAntiochCoach: Chris Bailey (seventh season)
Last year's record: ninth in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Colleen Gaborek, Kayla Fahey (transferred)
Top retuning competitors: junior Tessa Furlong (28th in NSC); sophomore Jessica Lamberty
Key newcomers: senior Natalie Nielsen; freshman Natalie Hill
Outlook: The Sequoits will look to their youth for success as freshman Natalie Hill could potentially be their top runner this season. Furlong is coming back slowly from injury, but she is hoping to repeat as an all-conference runner for Antioch this fall. Lamberty is also expected to battle Hill for the top spot on the squad while Nielsen is a newcomer to cross country after playing field hockey the past two years.
GrantCoach: Jeff Durlak (ninth season)
Last year's record: sixth in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Kaleigh Bauer, Katerina Dague
Top returning competitors: seniors Madison Romig (60th in Class 3A, sixth in NSC), Stephanie Zimbru; juniors Rachael Temple (16th in NSC), Lauren Troemel (34th in NSC), Brooke Drabek, Shealyn Robinson; sophomores Samantha Kaye (33rd in NSC), Roxanne Temple, Savannah Barnes, Karleigh Bolton
Key newcomers: freshmen Danielle Osmon, Eva Cardy
Outlook: With six of their top seven runners back, including 2014 state qualifier Romig, the Bulldogs are looking to improve upon last year's strong end of the season finish. Romig has made three straight all-conference finishes for Grant and she is poised to return to the fabled state meet at Detweiller Park in early November. Temple should be another huge difference-maker for the Bulldogs while Troemel and Drabek could also have a major impact in 2015 after suffering through injuries late last season.
LakesCoach: Keith West (12th season)
Last year's record: eighth in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Danielle Griesbaum (Drake), Ashley Espinosa (Iowa), Nicole Towne (Colorado State), Emily Sprague (Arizona State)
Top returning competitors: seniors Kortney Schardt (seventh in Class 2A, second in NSC), Sarah Sprague; junior Alyssa Stromsland
Key newcomers: freshmen Megan Knuettel, Rae Dwyer, Simone Lippmann, Hannah Grant
Outlook: Not only do the Eagles have one of the top runners in the state returning in elite senior Schardt, they also have four incoming freshmen from their middle school state championship runner-up cross country team to fall back on. On the down side, Lakes did lose three key senior contributors to graduation, so coach West is hoping his young runners can jump in and be productive right away. Schardt is poised to continue her running career at the college level after what she and the entire Lakes program hopes is a fantastic senior season.
Round LakeCoach: Kevin Brady (11th season)
Last year's record: 12th in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Lluvia Chavarria, Vicky Villa (North Central College), Maria Zadina, Sarah Holbert, Mariela Jasso, Anayeli Rosales
Top returning competitors: senior Alondra Alvarez; junior Lizeth Rogel; sophomore Jessica Cuna
Key newcomers: junior Vanessa Allanach; sophomores Yeni Aguirre, Olimpia Cruz, Michelle Guerrero; freshman Alex Wawrzyniak
Outlook: Coming off their most successful season in over a decade, the Panthers are looking to rebuild this season as they lost four of their top five runners, including three sectional qualifiers to graduation. Coach Brady is looking for many of his key newcomers to join forces with his more experienced runners to build a strong core group for this year and beyond.
Vernon HillsCoach: Suzanne Curry (11th season)
Last year's record: eighth in Class 2A, fifth in sectionals, third in regionals, fifth in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Samantha Hershman, Lauren Kim (Loyola), Melanie Rogers, Mackenzie Renihan (Augustana)
Top returning competitors: seniors Vivian Overbeck (13th in Class 2A, third in NSC), Shannon Skeoch (97th in Class 2A, 22nd in NSC), Ally Spence, Molly Wasserberg, Lexi Reich (injured); sophomore Lauren Katz (68th in Class 2A, 23rd in NSC)
Key newcomers: freshmen Payton Makowskyj, Vivian Tsai, Hannah Ray
Outlook: After placing third in the state in 2013, and eighth last year, the Cougars will need some new faces in their lineup to step into much bigger roles if they are hoping to have the same amount of success this fall. Vernon Hills does have an elite front-runner back in Overbeck as she placed 11th in the state as a sophomore and 13th as a junior. The trio of Overbeck, Skeoch, and Spence bring a lot of senior leadership to the table with a returning all-conference runner in Katz.Now the Cougars are looking for some other runners to take it to the next level in 2015.
WaucondaCoach: Jeff Helberg (first season)
Last year's record: 13th in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Angela Cruz, Andrea Thiltgen, Daisy Ortiz
Top returning competitors: seniors Vanessa Guerrero, Hannah Sundquist; juniors Erin Levon, Laura Cederholm
Key newcomers: freshmen Lily Sanchez, Dakota Thompson
Outlook: The Bulldogs will have the luxury of bringing their top runner back as Levon is a two-time sectional qualifier for Wauconda. Sundquist will be aiming to return to sectional competition for the first time since her freshman year while Sanchez has shown a lot of promise in the early stages of her freshman season. After 36 years at the helm, former Wauconda head coach Al Willhoit has been replaced by new coach Jeff Helberg this fall.
EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC CONFERENCECarmel CatholicCoach: Jim Halford (29th season)
Last year's record: fifth in ESCC, second in ESCC North Division
Top graduated seniors: Riley Felicicchia, Kally Morozin, Shea Collins
Top returning competitors: juniors Maddie Cusack, Lauren Caffarelli; sophomores Aileen Hull, Lauren Laughlin, Molly Machala, Alyssa Zamora; freshmen Zella Stockhausen, Gabrielle Terselic
Key newcomers: senior Grace Duffy; sophomore Emily Silge
Outlook: The Corsairs do not have much experience or senior leadership to count on this year, but they do have a strong No.1-runner in Hull, who should be an elite runner according to coach Halford. Stockhausen is only a freshman, but she could make a huge impact this season along with proven young runners like Laughlin, Cusack, and Machala. If all goes according to Carmel's plan, Halford believes his young squad can be a top 12 team in Class 2A state and a top two or three team in the ESCC.
FOX VALLEY CONFERENCE / FOX DIVISIONGrayslake CentralCoach: Jimmy Centella (seventh season)
Last year's record: third in regionals
Top graduated seniors: Emma Mitchiner, Hannah Dwinell, Yazmin Lomas
Top returning competitors: seniors Lura Quandt, Umaiyal Sridas, Sara O'Malley; juniors Megan Girmscheid, Riley Achtemeier, Rosalind Searle
Key newcomers: junior Elizabeth Aho; sophomore Amy Moore; freshmen Greta Ruhlmann, Malena Chiodi, Abby Tonkery
Outlook: Like the Rams' boys team, coach Centella believes this is the most talented girls team he has had, but traditionally Grayslake Central is in a really tough Class 2A sectional meet. "The goal is to try to get back downstate (for the first time since 2012), and we need to have a good pack, not too far behind Girmscheid," said Centella in reference to his squad's key to success in 2015.
Grayslake NorthCoach: Brandon Boyd (11th season)
Last year's record: 12th in FVC
Top graduated seniors: Meghanne White
Top returning competitors: junior Cammy Cowperthwaite; sophomore Amanda Steiner
Key newcomers: freshman Caroline Riss
Outlook: Coach Boyd expects the Knights to be in somewhat of a rebuilding situation this season. But having Cowperthwaite back from a knee injury should make a big difference at the front of the Grayslake North pack. Boyd also mentioned that the Knights' numbers are up this year, and with some of their injuries behind them they are hopeful for a better showing than they had in 2014.