Girls cross country: FitzPatrick, Barrington shooting for state hardware
Barrington junior girls cross-country runner Molly FitzPatrick returns to the course this fall holding a unique distinction.
She's the highest-returning state-qualifier in the area, having taken 26th as a 10th-grader in Peoria.
A year older, FitzPatrick is again looking to make her mark when it counts the most. She extended her spring track season a tad, competing in several postseason meetings, including the New Balance 5K in Greensboro, North Carolina.
"I have gotten better with the longer distances," she said. "I'm starting to enjoy the 2-mile more. That sets you up for a good cross-country. Making those long runs a little longer will pay dividends this season."
As far as what she wants to get out of this season? "We want to get the team downstate, of course," said FitzPatrick, part of Barrington's 3,200 relay team that took fourth this spring (she also was 11th in the 1,600 at state). "The past few years we haven't had our best races at state. We have to make sure everybody stays healthy. So big goals are to get the team to the state meet and feel good at the state meet. And I'm throwing this out there … a team trophy is always a goal."
FitzPatrick's place at the state meet last year still is fresh in her mind. "I missed out on all-state by one place," she said. "I would love to get all-state again."
FitzPatrick is excited about Barrington's chances this season. "We have a good group of freshmen that came in and we have Allison Drage, a transfer from Cary-Grove," she noted. "This is her senior season so it will be nice to have her come in as a veteran runner with a fresh perspective on things. It's also nice to have another girl to train with who is right at our pace. In the past, we've had a pretty young team. This year, we have a good group of returners. It's always good to have a lot of teammates with a lot of experience."
In addition to FitzPatrick, the Fillies welcome state members Alyssa Norris (senior), Anne Berquist (junior), Morgan Magro (junior), Julia Renetzky (junior) and Gaby Andrews (sophomore). Drage qualified for state as a junior as part of a Cary-Grove team that finished in the top 20 in Class 3A.
"We have a strong core of runners who have put in a great summer," Barrington coach Debbie Revolta said. "The strength of our team this year is that all the girls have experience at the state level. They all want to improve on the team finish from a year ago and they all have great attitudes when it comes to hard work."
Barrington was second in the Mid-Suburban League last year behind fellow state team qualifier Prospect. "We want to vie for the conference championship," said Revolta. "That being said, there are some great teams in the conference, so this will not be an easy task."
Defending MSL champion Prospect, which has won the crown three times in the last four years, took 11th in state and has four of its top seven runners back from that team. "This year's crew has learned a lot over the past few years and is ready to lead this team to greatness," Knights coach Pete Wintermute said. "They have the physical assets and the personalities to be a great team, and now it comes down to staying focused, driven and doing the little things for each other."
Senior Emily Hubbard, junior Annika Erickson, sophomore Audrey Ginsberg and junior Reese Lettow are back from the state team. Wintermute noted Prospect had 20 total all-MSL runners in the program last year at all levels. Prospect's 3,200 relay team also took fifth this spring in Class 3A. Ginsberg was part of that relay.
Hersey was 20th in Class 3A and brings back state qualifiers in Katie Fredian, Jane Stefaniak, Erin Barton, Norah Viers and Hannah Kersemeier. Fredian won the MSL East individual title and came close to breaking the program record in Peoria at the state meet. Stefaniak and Barton give the Huskies a strong 2-3 punch, while freshman Anna Harden is a name to keep an eye on.
"We have set some pretty high goals for 2019 and know none of them will come easy," Hersey coach Katie Freeman said. "We are in one of the toughest conferences in the state. It has been 30 years since we have brought home a conference title. And while beating the likes of a Barrington or Prospect squad will be tough, we have set the bar high. We also would like to qualify for state again and get back to a top-10 finish in state."
Fremd returns all seven of its runners from its sectional-qualifying team. Rebecca Markham, Emme Beaupre and Julia LaDuke were all-MSL runners for the Vikings. Anne Marie Jordan, Ellie Roy and Mia Solano lead the way for Palatine. Wheeling projects freshman Brenda Torres at the top of its lineup. Torres was 17th in the state as an eighth grader. Senior Lizeth Leon will be looked upon for leadership on a young Wildcats team. Elk Grove key runners include Sam Wadas, Sarah Damdinbazar and Yenny Valezquez. Buffalo Grove brings back junior Jillian Guittar, plus the rest of its team that qualified for sectionals last season.
Schaumburg's key returners include junior Ashlee Jenks and senior Katie Smith. Sophomore returning sectional qualifier Molly Tavares leads the way for Rolling Meadows. Hoffman Estates features senior Janae Dean, who was a three-event medalist in track this spring. Sophomores Val Daniel and Alex Carrasquillo also will help. Conant has senior leader Gracie Palomo back and freshman Lucy Scales is showing plenty of potential.
Maine South was third in the CSL South and qualified its team for sectionals. Sophomores Maria Marcucci and Kaylin Fahy, along with juniors Payton Tauber and Shannon Winkler are back for the Hawks. Maine West benefits from the leadership of senior returner Ashley Cruz. Leyden returns sophomore Nicole Virzi, who qualified for sectionals as a freshman.
Northwest suburbs' girls cross country at a glance
Top teams: Barrington, Fremd, Hersey, Prospect
Top returning state place finisher: Molly FitzPatrick (Barrington, Jr.)
Season outlook: Plenty of folks on the girls' side can raise their hand and say they ran in the state meet in Peoria last season. FitzPatrick joins teammates Alyssa Norris, Anne Berquist, Morgan Magro, Julia Renetzky and Gaby Andrews in that category. Allison Drage transferred to Barrington from Cary-Grove and was part of the Trojans' state team last year. Prospect won its third MSL title in the last four years and has Emily Hubbard, Annika Erickson, Audrey Ginsberg and Reese Lettow back from that 11th-place squad. Hersey, 20th in the state, welcomes back state runners Katie Fredian (MSL East champion), Jane Stefaniak, Erin Barton, Norah Viers and Hannah Kersemeier. Also keep an eye on Fremd which has all seven of its runner back from its sectional qualifier. Rebecca Markham, Emme Beaupre and Julia LaDuke were all-MSL a year ago.