Girls cross country: Negovetich, Grant, Grayslake Central lead the way in Lake County
In a 2020 season filled with chaos and uncertainty, the Grant girls cross country team was filled with positive stories.
Returning senior Aly Negovetich is the top returning runner in Lake County and one of the best in the state. She went undefeated last year, qualified for the sectional and took fourth at the Shazam quasi-state meet. Classmate Laura Bishop finished high enough at the sectional to qualify for state if there had been a meet, while junior Brianna Osmon missed almost the entire regular season, but still earned all-Northern Lake County Conference honors and made the sectional as an individual.
One additional longer-term positive: Grant has no seniors on the roster.
"Everyone returns from last year," coach Jeff Durlak said. "We are definitely looking to improve as a team with all these returners, led by our three sectional qualifiers. Our training and consistency this summer was much better than last year and I am excited to see the individual improvements many of our runners will make."
Also in the NLCC, look for big things from a loaded Grayslake Central squad. The Rams were second in the conference last year. Sophomore Bella Domier (runner-up regional and sectional finishes as a freshman) set school track records in four events and was second in the state in the 800. Coach James Centella expects big postseason things from her this fall. Senior Bryan Sato and sophomore Sara Armstrong will be atop the Central lineup as well. "This is the most talented girls team I have ever coached in my 13 years," Centella said. "What makes this team special is we will have a great 1-2 punch as well as a great pack not too far behind."
Antioch was third in the NLCC and returns sophomore Addison Lane, who qualified for the sectional as a freshman, and senior Sarah Benes, a state qualifier in 2019. "We are expecting strong leadership from Sarah and Addison Lane is coming off a solid freshman year," Sequoits coach Chris Bailey said. Freshman Piper Ipsen will make an immediate impact, Bailey noted.
Seniors Jessie Pakaski (would have qualified for state), Sara Meyer and Emma Schuette return for Wauconda and coach Emily Waters. Returning sectional qualifier Jenny Cortes leads the way for Round Lake.
In the North Suburban Conference, Libertyville was second last year right behind Lake Forest. Senior Bree Ponchak finished fourth in the NSC, while junior Sheila Tucker was fifth for the Wildcats. Ava Torres, Katie Meyer and Margaret McGormley also are back. "We want to continue being one of the top teams in our conference, but we also want to remain healthy throughout the postseason," Libertyville coach Megan Sharp said.
Lake Zurich was third in the conference and would have earned a team state finals berth. Junior Brooke Johnston was ninth at the Shazam meet last fall and all-state in track this spring by being one of five girls that finished Top 10 in two distance events at state. Senior Kristin Loftus was sixth at sectionals a year ago and will also help the Bears.
Sophomore Adeline Gobble is Stevenson's top returning runner, and senior Natalie Dugaesescu, junior Shannon Moser, and sophomores Stella Plendl, Hope Plendl, Autumn Greaney and Sophia Sun also will help the Patriots. Senior Jocelyn Gomez was all-NSC for Mundelein a year ago. Junior Praise Oyebanji also will help boost the Mustangs. Warren's Mia Pasha qualified for state in the 3,200 this spring, while Caralyn Whalen, Delaney Juenger, Madie Tyler, Emily Towson and Kylie Florence also had strong cross country and track seasons a year ago for the Blue Devils.
Vernon Hills won the Central Suburban North, finished second at the Shazam state event and is led by the returning trio of juniors Anna Todd, Reina Hill and Rose Sheridan. Big bright spots for Carmel include senior all-East Suburban Catholic pick Maddie Ives (state track qualifier this spring) and freshman Izzy Bing, who is currently the Corsairs No. 1 runner (5:24 mile last track season).