Girls track and field: Scouting Lake County
NORTH SUBURBAN PRAIRIE
Coach: Dan Oslage (14th season)
Last season: 13th in NSC meet, seventh in Class 2A Vernon Hills sectional
Top returning athletes: Alexis Duehr (Sr., sprints), Anna Arden (Sr., hurdles), Mikayla Christian (Sr., throws), Jatiyah Childs (Sr., jumps/sprints), Taegan Gandolfi (Sr., pole vault), Emma Miller (Jr., pole vault), Sabrina Long (Sr., throws), Amanda Rowe (So., sprints/middle distance), Miranda Karellas (So., sprints/middle distance), Elisa Pokorny (Jr., sprints/middle distance), Mia Fogal (So., middle distance)
Newcomers: Diana Anghel (Fr., hurdles), Amber Phillips (Fr., sprints), Rachel Phillips (Fr., sprints), Shelby Purcell (So., sprints), Jill Everett (So., throws)
Season outlook: The Sequoits received a huge boost with the return of speedy Alexis Duehr, who took her junior year off after breaking her leg during the basketball season. She qualified for state in three events (100, 200, long jump) as a sophomore and ran on a state-qualifying relay as a freshman. The Sequoits return two other athletes with state-meet experience, as seniors Anna Arden (300 hurdles) and Mikayla Christian (discus) advanced last spring out of the Class 2A Vernon Hills sectional. Senior Jatiyah Childs is expected to contribute again in the long jump and sprints. Coach Dan Oslage said senior Taegan Gandolfi and junior Emma Miller will look to get downstate in the pole vault. "We have strong senior leadership with the potential for several girls to punch a return ticket back down to Charleston," Oslage said. "Last year we had several girls place third at sectionals and with hard work I think this is their year. I would expect to by strong again in the throws, hurdles and jumps. As always, we will continue to look for improvement over last year's performances.
Coach: Greg Wodzien (1st season)
Last season: Second in NSC meet, second in Class 3A Rockton Hononegah sectional
Top returning athletes: Madison Romig (Sr.), Delaney Basala (Sr.), Rachel Bicknase (Sr.), Brooke Drabek (Jr.), Morgan Race (Jr.), Arizona Wallace (So.)
Newcomers: Mariah Soeder (Fr.), Sam Robinson (Fr.), Danielle Osmon (Fr.)
Season outlook: After finishing second in the NSC meet and second in the Class 3A Rockton Hononegah sectional last season, the Bulldogs approached the offseason with "grit and determination," first-year coach Greg Wodzien said. Senior Delaney Basala placed ninth in the 400 dash at state last spring, while senior Rachel Bicknase took eighth in the discus. Delaney also qualified for state in the 100 and ran at state as a sophomore, as well. Senior Madison Romig earned a state berth in the 1,600 run. Brooke Drabek qualified for state in the 800 as a freshman two years ago. "The team captains set lofty expectations for the team in 2016 and are motivating each girl to not settle for anything less than their best effort," said Wodzien, who replaces Jackie Randall, who is now the assistant athletic director at Elk Grove. "Several girls have their eye on Eastern Illinois as they hope to make a return trip to the state meet."
Coach: Keith West (1st season)
Last season: Fourth in NSC meet, seventh in Class 3A Fremd sectional
Top returning athletes: Toyin Jackson, Kortney Schardt, Alyssa Stromsland, Taylor Tilmon, Maeve Tuley
Newcomers: Paule Ceneac (Fr.), Rae Dwyer (Fr.), Dominique Hardy (Fr.), Megan Knuettel (Fr.)
Season outlook: Sensational twins Brittani and Danielle Griesbaum, state qualifiers in both track and field events since their freshman year, graduated. But the Eagles return plenty of talent, including three school-record holders. Kortney Schardt returns for her senior campaign with "unfinished business," coach Keith West said. Competing in the 1,600 and the 3,200, the multiple state qualifier and all-state cross country runner will look to race her way onto the Class 3A medal stand. The school-record holder in the 1,600 and 3,200 runs, the Belmont-bound runner will be counted on to score big points for the Eagles during the invite season. Freshman distance runners Rae Dwyer and Megan Knuettel will also be asked to provide a spark for the team. Both freshmen were top-five runners for the state-ranked cross country team and will be able to contribute immediately, West said. Maeve Tuley is another multiple state qualifier and school record holder in the pole vault. Toyin Jackson is a returning state qualifier (triple jump) who "turned the corner at the end of last season," West said. She finished the 2015 season with a school-record jump of 35-10. "Toyin has put a lot of time and energy into making herself stronger for this season," West said. "She has set her goals high and is ready to make a run for a podium spot down in Charleston." On the sprints side, Taylor Tilmon returns and hopes to improve upon her eighth-place finish in the 100 at sectionals. She is looking to participate in additional events this season as well. Freshman Paule Ceneac, a state qualifier in the IESA state meet last year, has made an immediate impact on the 800 relay and sprint squad. Freshman Dominique Hardy, another IESA state qualifier, leads an improved throws squad.
Coach: Gerry Volenec (2nd season)
Last season: Tie for 11th in NSC meet
Top returning athletes: Noemi Powell (Sr.), Alondra Alvarez (Sr.), Quayla Fitcher-Moreno (Sr.), Andrea Ponce (Sr.), Tamera Cawelle (Jr.), Lizeth Rogel (Jr.), Emelia Salgado (Jr.), Amparo Vargas (Jr.)
Season outlook: The Panthers boast 29 returning athletes, including four seniors, four juniors and 21 sophomores. Coach Gerry Volenec also notes his squad has six new seniors, three new juniors, six new sophomores and 24 freshmen. Noemi Powell placed third in the 100-meter dash at the NSC meet last spring. "We are a young team with a bright future," Volenec said. "We are looking forward to building upon last year's success. The team has some talented freshmen and sophomores. Noemi Powell is working diligently to qualify for the state championships, and our younger athletes are improving every day. Overall, the future looks bright for the girls track program."
Coach: Jason Rush (7th season)
Last season: Sixth in NSC meet, first in Class 2A Vernon Hills sectional
Top returning athletes: Vivian Overbeck (Sr., distance), Jordyn Bunning (So., hurdles, pole vault), Lauren Katz (So., sprints, middle distance), Molly Wasserberg (Sr., sprints), Emily Carido (Jr., sprints)
Newcomers: Raeden Mays (Fr., sprints), Kennedy Smith (Fr., sprints), Payton Makowskyj (Fr., distance), Katelyn Dohler (Fr., distance), Tayla Wilkerson (Fr., throws), Iyanha Bouie (Fr., throws)
Season outlook: With four returning all-staters, many returning athletes who are "ready to step up" and a "crop of fast and strong freshmen," coach Jason Rush says, on paper, this is the best team he has ever coached. Rush's returning state qualifiers are Northern Illinois-bound Vivian Overbeck (3,200 and 1,600 runs), senior Molly Wasserberg (1,600 relay), sophomore Jordyn Bunning (pole vault, 100 and 300 hurdles) and sophomore Lauren Katz (800 run). Overbeck, Bunning and Katz were all sectional individual champs. Overbeck placed third in the 3,200 at state. Bunning was all-state in two events (third in 300 hurdles, sixth in 100 hurdles) as a freshman last spring. Katz was fifth in the 800 downstate. "This will be a fun year," Rush said.
Coach: Ali Luetschwager (4th season)
Last season: 11th in NSC meet, sixth in Class 2A Vernon Hills sectional
Top returning athletes: Corrina Vaughan (Sr., throws), Alison Beeman (Sr., sprints), Janvee Patel (Sr., distance), Sabrina Jurcisin (So., distance), Kelly Minor (So., hurdles), Hailey Dibas (So., hurdles), Laura Cederholm (Jr., distance), Japan Ivory (Jr., sprints)
Newcomers: Grace Daun (Fr., high jump/sprints), Megan Sinnot (Fr., sprints), Erin Levon (Jr., middle distance), Lorraine Krawczyk (Fr., sprints), Carlye Pichman (Fr., hurdles), Billie Sullivan (Fr., sprints)
Season outlook: The Bulldogs return a pair of state qualifiers in Alison Beeman (400 dash) and Corrina Vaughan (shot put). Beeman placed fifth in the state. "We can't wait to see how much they achieve this year," coach Ali Luetschwager said. "The team is filled with talented ladies. We will be very competitive this year. It's going to be a fun season and the ladies will see a lot of success. The team is hardworking and enthusiastic. I'm positive that a couple of school records will be broken and a handful of girls will qualify for state."
NORTH SUBURBAN LAKE
Coach: David Antczak (3rd season)
Last season: Ninth in NSC meet, 12th in Class 3A Fremd sectional
Top returning athletes: Vada Murray (Jr.), Mackenzie Weider (Jr.), Makenzie Bridges (Jr.), Alyssa Morello (Jr.), Madison Bridges (Jr.), Kristie Houghton (Sr.), Rachel Rauchfuss (Sr.), Katie Skoby (Sr.), Elizabeth Gilbert (Sr.), Alexa Ocampo (Sr.), Kelly Kerrigan (Sr.), Rachel Kerrigan (Sr.), Kim Souther (Sr.), Bella Murin (Sr.), Caitlin Shepard (Sr.), Maya Brown (Sr.)
Newcomers: Georgia Adam (Fr.), Emily Burns (Fr.), Kendall Kearnan (Fr.), Haley Eder (So.), Emma McCabe (So.), Melody Multra (So.), Jessica Houghton (So.)
Season outlook: There's no shortage of quality athletes on the roster, and the returnees include state qualifiers Alyssa Morello (11th in pole vault at state) and Caitlin Shepard (15th in 3,200 run). It was the first state meet for both Morello and Shepard. "This season our program is currently the largest it has been over the past four years, and this is a testament to the athletes that have helped to create an environment of hard work, family, and community," coach David Antczak said. "A lot of credit for this belongs to the previous and current senior classes which have taken an active role in make our program an inclusive environment for all student-athletes to experience success on and off the athletic field. This season we have our sights set on a top five finish at the North Suburban Conference meet led by an experienced and large group of juniors and seniors, especially senior distance runner Caitlin Shepard and junior hurdler/vaulter Alyssa Morello."
Coach: Tom Bizosky (9th season)
Last season: Seventh in NSC meet, ninth in Class 3A Fremd sectional
Top returning athletes: Kristina Boroweic (Sr., sprints), Molly Goebel (So., sprints), Avryl Johnson (So., distance/sprints), Melissa Manetsch (So., distance), Kelly Waldvogel (Sr., field events), Lily Moore (Sr., pole vault)
Newcomers: Erin McCane (Fr., sprints/jumps), Kylie Skie (Fr., pole vault), Hannah Nelson (Jr., sprints)
Season outlook: The Wildcats' returnees include Avryl Johnson, who qualified for state last spring in the 400 and 800 dashes. Seniors Lily Moore and Kelly Waldvogel have competed field events for the varsity since they were freshmen. Coach Tom Bizosky said it's "status quo" as far as his team's outlook this spring. "By that," Bizosky said, "I mean our expectations would be to do what we always try and accomplish: do the best we can and help the athletes be as successful as possible while building team unity and strong bonds."
Coach: Kurt Rutz (4th season)
Last season: 10th in NSC meet, 14th in Class 3A Fremd sectional
Top returning athletes: Lauren Owen (Sr., high jump/sprints/relays), Megan Schlebecker (Jr., sprints/jumps/relays), Marissa Richards (Jr., distance), Sarah Ouimet (Jr., distance), Alex Maldonado (Jr., throws), A'mauri Thomas (Jr., sprints/relays), Gemma Chavez (So., sprints/relays), Kalli Majewski (Jr., sprints/middle distance), Sydney Grace (Jr., distance), Bree Park (So., hurdles/sprints)
Newcomers: Khari Thompkins (Fr., sprints/jumps/relays), Ryann Ray (Fr., sprints/jumps), Natalia Ozymko (Jr., jumps), Andrea Cordova (Fr., distance), Clarissa Wienckowski (Fr., distance)
Season outlook: The Mustangs graduated some key contributors, including Hannah Gustafson, who won the 300 hurdles at the conference meet, and state-qualifying high-jumper Katie Stanczykiewicz, who's competing at Illinois State. This will be a young team. "We lost a lot of good seniors, but have a large and potentially talented group of freshmen," coach Kurt Rutz said. "Our sprints should be vastly improved, as well as the jumps. We have a number of girls competing for spots on the 4 x 800 relay, which to this point has been better than expected. (Juniors) Sarah Ouimet and Kalli Majewski came into the season in great shape and look to have breakout years. The freshmen should give us balance and greater depth in the sprints and field events."
Coach: Emma Degen (3rd season)
Last season: Third in NSC meet, eighth in Class 3A Fremd sectional
Top returning athletes: Janine Fajardo (Sr.), Isabelle Sparreo (So.), Natalie Sparreo (So.), Juhi Jhaveri (Jr.), Kesina Daley (So.), Eliza Sullivan (Jr.), Claire Sullivan (Jr.), Gabriela Jagielo (So.), Shea Kirby (So.), Meghan Liss (So.), Amy Atkinson (Sr.), Jessica Philipp (Sr.), Abbie Sise (Jr.), Bridget Huston (Sr.), Marie Pascual (So.)
Newcomers: Kendall Roberts (Fr.), Lauren Appell (So.), Miffy Tani (Fr.), Emily Ossentjuk (Fr.), Taylor Belgrade (Fr.), Maddie Kadens (Fr.), Emma Ramagnano, Johnna Geick (Fr.), Julia Osuch (So.), Taylor Yen (Fr.), Jessica Wang (So.), Ashley Campos (Jr.), Jakayla Murphy (Fr.).
Season outlook: The Patriots return several good athletes, including senior Janine Fajardo, who qualified for state in the 100 hurdles last season, and sophomore Isabelle Sparreo, who raced downstate in the 800 and 1,600 runs last spring. "We are going to be a well-balanced team this year," coach Emma Degen said. "We have strong sprinters in junior Juhi Jhaveri and senior Janine Fajardo. We also have a tough group of distance runners, including senior Jessica Philipp and Isabelle Sparreo." The Patriots' field events will be "strongly represented," Degen said, by Kasina Daley, Amy Atkinson and newcomer Johnna Geick, who will be competing in the pole vault. "With this balance and the amount of new talent," Degen said, "we are hoping to win a conference championship and take some talent down to the state meet come May."
Coach: Ryan Dunn (10th season)
Last season: First in NSC meet, second in Class 3A Fremd sectional, tie for second in Class 3A state meet
Top returning athletes: Abena Atuobi (Jr.), Hannah Harrison (So.), Kiara Mabien (Jr.), Brynn Santos (Sr.)
Newcomers: Jataia Harris (Fr.), Janii Jenkins (Fr.), Clara Macheras (Fr.)
Season outlook: The Brittny Ellis era is over after four remarkable seasons ended with a Class 3A state "triple" (state championships in the 100, 400 and 200 dashes) and scholarship to Miami. But the Blue Devils, who also graduated Keely Knobbe (fifth at state in discus), still boast talent, led by state-qualifying shot putter Abena Atuobi and veteran sprinter Brynn Santos. Coach Ryan Dunn will rely on some freshmen, too. "We are excited to see our returning athletes continue to improve and hit PRs, and are also looking forward to seeing how the newcomers to the team develop and fit into our lineup," Dunn said. "We expect to be a diversified team able to compete in both the track and field events."
FOX VALLEY FOX
Coach: Shawn Murphy (4th season)
Last season: Fourth in Class 3A Fremd sectional
Top returning athletes: Alexa Schmitt (Sr.), Katie Schroeder (Sr.), Sara O'Malley (Sr.), Umaiyal Sridas (Sr.), Faiola Alsina (Sr.), Savanna Culhanne (Sr.), Riley Achtemeier (Jr.), Elizabeth Aho (Jr.), Megan Girmscheid (Jr.), Sarah Ishamuddin (Jr.), Jordan Meciej (Jr.), Krystyna Marynevytch (So.), Cydnie Paul (So.), Lexi Remshak (So.), Katie Coonan (So.), Ania Barnes (So.), Erika Galeczka (So.)
Newcomers: Lura Quandt (Sr.), Amanda Larson (Jr.), Meredith Clancy (So.), Lauren Brunk (Fr.), Japhia Powell (Fr.), Meghan Fletcher (Fr.), Greta Ruhlmann (Fr.)
Season outlook: The Rams moved up from Class 2A and 3A last year and barely missed a beat. They look to have another strong season and showed that again by winning the FVC indoor meet. They boast a pair of future Ivy League talents in Alexa Schmitt (Cornell) and Katie Schroeder (Penn). Schmitt placed ninth in the long jump at state last spring and also qualified for state in the 300 hurdles. Schroeder won the Fremd sectional pole vault title last year. Both Schmitt and Schroeder were Class 2A state qualifiers as sophomores. "We are looking to have an amazing season," coach Shawn Murphy said. "Our program has grown to over 100 girls with the combination of a strong senior class mixed in with a ton of returners and great freshmen. ... It would be easy to single out a few girls, but this year we are the deepest we have ever been. We are looking to show well in all of the major invites and develop our younger talent. We believe we have a chance to place in the top five at county, place well at the FVC meet and get multiple girls down to state. With such a great coaching staff, cohesive and mature team, we will have a lot of fun this season."
Coach: Jesse Wolter (3rd season)
Last season: 15th in Class 3A Fremd sectional
Top returning athletes: Allison O'Connell (Sr., hurdles/high jump), Ameilia Robinson (Sr., hurdles/relays), Sierra Herrington (Jr., pole vault/long jump/sprints), Megan Reinhart (Sr., jumps/sprints), Milan Stubblefield (Sr., long jump/sprints/relays), Jacque Garza (Jr., 800/mile/relays), Valarie Zamora (Sr., 800/relays), Kennedy Krieg (Sr., shot put/discus)
Newcomers: Emily Stoneham (Fr., pole vault/hurdles/relays), Caroline Riss (Fr., mile/800/relays), Marissa Zaehringer (Fr., 400/relays), Shelia Cox (Fr., high jump/relays), Corey Warren (Fr., sprints/relays)
Season outlook: The Knights return more than just three-time state-qualifying hurdler Allison O'Connell, who won the 110 high hurdles at the Class 3A Fremd sectional last spring. "This is, by far, our best team we've ever put out on the track," coach Jesse Wolter said. "We had a very strong freshman class come in which makes us deeper than we've been in the past. The girls have been working really hard in the off-season and it has already shown in the early portion of the season. A couple of our goals are to finish in the top half of all our big invites, break the most school records in school history, and be the first team to qualify multiple girls to the state meet. The way things are starting out we believe that these are all very attainable goals, while we look to turn some heads and have our best season yet."
EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC
Coach: Jim Halford
Last season: Fifth in ESCC meet, eighth in Class 2A Vernon Hills sectional
Top returning athletes: Emily Silge (So.,), Aileen Hull (So.), Grace Duffy (Sr.), Katie Smith (Sr.), Meagan O'Toole (Sr.), Jaclyn Psenka (Jr.), Lauren Cheslog (Sr.), Delaney Kennedy (Jr.), Lauren Laughlin (So.), Alyssa Zamora (So.)
Newcomers: Zella Stockhausen (Fr.), Melanie Zimmerman (Fr.), Danielle Duffy (Fr.), Lauren Thompson (Fr.), Emma Jensen (Fr.), Gabby Terselic (Fr.)
Season outlook: The Corsairs graduated Hasana Huff, who qualified for state in the high jump after winning the triple jump in the ESCC meet.
"This is one of our strongest teams since 2010-12," coach Jim Halford said. "We hope to qualify all four relays and have many individual qualifiers as well. We would also like a top three in the ESCC. Many young talented athletes. We have some great distance runners and sprinters."