Girls cross country: Scouting Fox Valley
Batavia continued its consistent run as one of the state's best girls cross country programs last year, and the Bulldogs could be even better this fall.
Chad Hillman's squad ran to a ninth-place finish at the Class 3A state meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria, the second straight season Batavia has finished ninth in state. It marked the fifth consecutive year Batavia has been a top 20 state team following finishes of 18th in 2016, third in 2015 and 11th in 2014.
Alexa Andrews, Batavia's fifth runner at state last year, was the only senior in the Bulldogs' top seven.
Sophomore Katrina Schlenker leads Batavia's returnees after a sensational freshman season capped by a second-place finish at state in 16:07, eight seconds behind Glenbard West's Katelynne Hart.
Senior Mia Gianfrancesco also earned all-state for Batavia running a 17:07 for 24th. Junior Jenna Schifferer, senior Audrey Pellico, senior Erin O'Brien and senior Katie Cole also return from the state team. And Hillman has another strong freshman class led by Lily Bednarek, Ava Thomas and Brooke Silbernagel.
The only other Fox school who qualified for the 2018 3A state meet was Cary-Grove who finished 19th. Juniors Maggie Mason (17:38, 52nd) and Morgan Dieschbourg (17:58) led the way for the Trojans.
Three other all-state individual runners return. St. Charles East junior Alice Abbott took ninth, South Elgin sophomore Naomi Ruff 12th and St. Charles North sophomore Rachel Price 18th.
Grace Jackson, Venezia Munoz, Hannah Kilpatrick, Gia Klasa and Faith Piercy join Abbott at St. Charles East along with newcomers Ava Abbott and Claire Van Lue.
"We've had a great track season and are looking to take good summer training into this season," Saints coach Bradley Kaplan said. "Alice will lead the group and we're hoping our 2-5 pack will be very close together."
Price will run at St. Charles North with junior Grace Dorrance, junior Ella Townsend and sophomore Miles Watts plus newcomers Audrey Sheehy, a sophomore, and freshmen Megan Strong and Braelyn Rich.
"I expect our team to be stronger than our team was last season," SCN coach Shari Hayes said. "We are hoping for big improvements from top to bottom this season."
Hampshire returns six of its top seven led by senior Stella Oury and junior Lindsey Baron.
"Our program numbers have increased which should make things more competitive as the girls fight for a spot on the varsity roster," said Hampshire coach Ryan Hollister, whose team has been moved to 2A.
Senior Aly Doherty is healthy and ready to lead a Jacobs squad that also includes senior Alyssa Demma, sophomores Elisabeth Kania, Kelly Carpenter, Allie Skuza and Ella Tamburrino, and newcomers Avery Mason, Jackie Cardenas and Abby Peterson. Mason is transitioning from swimming.
"Aly has had a terrific summer," Jacobs coach Kevin Christian said. "She is looking to return to being one of the top runners in the FVC."
Dundee-Crown coach Ron Delarmente said his team is aiming to move up the FVC standings with twice as many out led by sectional qualifiers senior Mary Florance and sophomore Pundit Tetteh.
"Our hope this season is to develop our young talent and to crack the top half," Delarmente said.
Senior Mackenzie Aldridge, who is planning on running in college but hasn't made a decision yet, leads Crystal Lake South.
"We have a nice pack after her, but it's too early to say if anyone will emerge from that group as a clear-cut second runner," Gators coach Ken Greenfield said.
Huntley returns Bailey Wilk, Emily Glass, Grace Allen, Genevieve Collatz, Rachel Carlson, Annie Mitchell, Delaney Cairns, Madison Grubbs and Emma Hornickel while adding freshman twins Breanna Burak and Brittney Burak.
Senior Giulia Boschi and sophomore Victoria Sinclair lead Streamwood.
"We have girls who have been in this program for at least one season now, so I am expecting to see girls that can put together a complete race," Sabres coach Dylan Lau said. "I want to see negative splits and smart running."
Bartett adds seven newcomers to a group that includes returning state qualifiers junior Camille Buchanan and sophomore Jenna Buchanan. Seniors Anna Zaborowski and Madelyn Polly, junior Bridget Benson and sophomore Jillian Murdoch also return.
"We have two front-runners, so a lot of our focus this season will be pushing our number 3 through 7 runners to improve our overall team performance," Bartlett coach Christina Rentner said.
Larkin junior Samantha Amaro, who was running 35-minute times last year, is now competing for the first spot on varsity with freshman Jinni Jimenez. Seniors Alyssa Durrant and Miranda Preuss have been setting personal records. Freshmen Anahi Uribe and Giselle Naranjo are off to a good start.
"I am excited that we have so many promising freshmen this year who are really excited to push themselves, improve, and are already showing leadership skills on the team," Larkin coach Kylie Smith said.
In Class 2A, Burlington Central is coming off a seventh place state finish -- a breakthrough season for the Rockets with only one runner graduating.
Returnees Erin Jossart, Brooke Barkocy, Lauren Dowd, Avery Andersen, Fiona Pedone, Grace Comparone, Jocelyn Victoria and Jenna Dinges will be joined by newcomers Michaela Kruse and Tia Brennan.
"The girls had a great fall last year and carried that momentum into the spring track season and the summer training program," Rockets coach Vince Neil said. "All of the girls are a year stronger and more experienced which we believe will translate into big success. The expectation for our squad is to go deep into the postseason. The new conference (FVC) will be an awesome challenge for our team."
Kaneland is another school to reckon with in 2A. The Knights return five of their top seven including senior Rachel Richtman who was 15th in state last year and has been all-state her first three years. Junior Olivia Franklin took 34th last year in 2A.
Rosary's Lianna Surtz ran a 16:35 to finish second in state in 2A as a freshman last year.
Aurora Central Catholic missed qualifying for state last year by 2 points. Returning individual state qualifier Lesley Viveros leads ACC along with returnees Shaley Gonzalez, Jenna Stuck, Lily Velasquez, Viviana Ponce, Anna Ponce, Kaitlin Dineen and Mary Kate O'Hare. Newcomers include Isabella Orosco, Isabella Gillette, Natalie Garcia and Maggie Dervis, a junior state qualifier in track.
Fox Valley girls cross country at a glance
Top teams: Batavia, Burlington Central, Cary-Grove
Top runners: Alice Abbott, St. Charles East, jr.; Mia Gianfrancesco, Batavia, sr.; Rachel Price, St. Charles North, so.; Rachel Richtman, Kaneland, sr.; Katrina Schlenker, Batavia, so.; Lianna Surtz, Rosary, so.
Season skinny: Geneva graduated all-stater Sophia McDonnell, and the Vikings also said goodbye to retiring longtime coach Bob Thomson who guided his teams to the 2007 and 2008 state championships. New coach Peter Raak will look to seniors Andrine Larsen and Sarah Pratt and junior Lauren Hasty in his first season. "We have a quality group of girls who are very committed to the program every day," Raak said. "They enjoy the process and are looking forward to seeing progress this season. With some new coaches in some new roles, this will be a new evolution for Geneva cross country, and we are all looking forward to what this season will bring." ... Bartlett junior Camille Buchanan and sophomore Jenna Buchanan recently placed in the top 10 for their age groups at the USA Triathlon Youth and Junior Championships earlier this month ... Kaneland coach Doug Ecker likes his freshman class. "We have a freshman class coming in with good numbers with some talent and a good work ethic," Ecker said. "They should add some depth to the team. Our goals are to stay healthy, be competitive in invites at all levels, and put the team into position to compete for a conference title and qualify for the state meet as a team." ... Crystal Lake South coach Ken Greenfield also is encouraged by his freshmen. "I've been really excited about our numbers this summer," Greenfield said. "Our returning varsity runners have been very dedicated and focused and that's rubbed off on the newcomers. I'm looking forward to a fun season with these girls." ... Harvest Christian had its three-year streak of 1A state trips snapped and is looking to start a new one. Senior Lydia Camp is coming off an all- state track season in the 3,200 and 1,600 relays. "She has the potential to be a top 25 runner this season, maybe even a top 10, maybe better," HCA coach Steven Bland said. "It's unbelievable how strong she has become." Ella Richter, Eva Camp, Eva Serrato, Faith Winkelman, Annika Learned, Jessica Fuja and Maddy Martin follow Camp. ... Also in 1A, Westminster Christian has five runners out led by junior captain Kelly-Anne Bickhart, who has four years running experience in Annapolis, MD., and sophomore Megan Baker.