Scouting DuPage County girls track and field

  • Joe Lewnard/jlewnard@dailyherald.comMadeline Andelbradt returns for her senior season after helping Naperville North tie for third at last year's Class 3A state meet.

    Joe Lewnard/jlewnard@dailyherald.comMadeline Andelbradt returns for her senior season after helping Naperville North tie for third at last year's Class 3A state meet.

 
by Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 3/31/2022 5:08 PM

Top teams:

Naperville North, Naperville Central, Neuqua Valley, Metea Valley, Downers Grove South, Hinsdale Central, York, Downers Grove North, Glenbard West, Wheaton Warrenville South.

 

Top athletes:

Brianna Alandy, Willowbrook, jr., sprints; Audry Allman, Glenbard West, sr., sprints, middle distance, distance; Madeline Andelbradt, Naperville North, sr., sprints, hurdles, jumps; Chioma Anyaegbunam, Neuqua Valley, jr., sprints; Amelia Barrington, Willowbrook, jr., sprints, jumps; Bria Bennis, York, jr., distance; Brooke Berger, York, jr., distance; Zawadi Brown, Neuqua Valley, jr, sprints, jumps; Angelina Camachi, Addison Trail, sr., sprints, jumps; Louisa Diamond, Benet, jr., distance; Adeline Draper, West Chicago, soph., sprints, hurdles; Keeli Dunaway, Glenbard East, sr., sprints, jumps; Nora Fieweger, WW South, jr., sprints; Sarah Fischer, Hinsdale Central, jr., distance; Christina Gu, Naperville North, sr., sprints, middle distance; Carissa Hamilton, Neuqua Valley, jr., distance; Kyla Harris, Metea Valley, soph., sprints; Denise Hernandez, Naperville North, sr., sprints, jumps; Mackenzie Huber, Glenbard East, jr., sprints, hurdles, jumps; Celia Huelskoetter, WW South, sr., sprints; Gianna Huerta, Glenbard South, jr., sprints, hurdles; Holly Johnson, Downers South, fr., distance; Katherine Klimak, York, soph., distance; Elle Kowalski, Downers North, sr., sprints, jumps; Sophie Kusserow, Naperville Central, jr., sprints; Mariah Lambert, Metea Valley, sr., sprints; Martina Latoria, Lake Park, sr., sprints, jumps; Jackie Liu, Naperville North, sr., sprints, middle distance; Paulina Lucer, Lake Park, sr., sprints, hurdles, pole vault; Kyrah Maas, Glenbard West, sr., sprints; Annie Macabobby, WW South, sr., middle distance, distance; Grace Macabobby, WW South, sr., sprints; Sarah Maggio, Metea Valley, sr., distance; Carly Manchester, IC Catholic Prep, sr., distance; Catie McCabe, Hinsdale Central, jr., middle distance, distance; Sophia McNerney, Downers South, sr., distance; Annastasia Murphy, Metea Valley, soph., sprints, jumps; Katarina Petrovic, Hinsdale South, jr., sprints; Liv Phillips, Naperville Central, soph., distance; Julie Piot, Naperville North, soph., middle distance, distance; Tess Placek, Willowbrook, sr., sprints, hurdles, jumps; Maya Reed, Hinsdale Central, fr., sprints, jumps; Brooke Sawatzky, Naperville Central, soph., hurdles, jumps; Grace Schager, Glenbard North, jr., distance; Christina Tresslar, Hinsdale Central, soph., sprints; Inara Ukawube, Neuqua Valley, soph., sprints, hurdles; Kali Waller, West Chicago, soph., sprints, jumps; Lily Weder, Willowbrook, sr., distance; Nina Wintermute, Glenbard West, sr., pole vault; Katelyn Winton, York, sr., middle distance, distance;

Season outlook:

The sport of girls track and field invariably engenders versatile athletes.

Naperville North senior Madeline Andelbradt attracted covetous eyes from the Big Ten as a result.

In her first full season with the Huskies last year -- Andelbradt was an all-state Class 2A high jumper for St. Francis as a freshman in 2019 before transferring and losing virtually her entire sophomore year to the pandemic -- the Iowa recruit achieved a program first for the 2018 Class 3A team state champion.

At the modified single-day state finals last June, Andelbradt jumped, hurdled and sprinted her way to three top-five performances in leading the Huskies to their third team trophy in the last four conducted state meets in Charleston.

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Andelbradt was fourth in the high jump, fifth in the 300-meter hurdles and led off the Huskies' third-place 1,600 relay as the 7 points earned in the closing relay helped Naperville North tie Whitney Young for third place.

But Andelbradt was far from satisfied -- especially in the high jump, where she held the top mark for much of the regular season -- leaving Eastern Illinois University last June.

"I am going to push myself to do a lot better than I did last year," Andelbradt said.

Dan Iverson, the only Class 3A girls coach in state history to direct a state-championship cross country and track team in the same school year, could relate.

"Every competitor wants to do her very best in the state championships," Iverson said of Andelbradt. "Obviously, she is really good and keeps getting better."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Andelbradt plans to unveil a new wrinkle for her final prep season at the major competitions.

"That's one of my main goals this season is to do both long and short (100) hurdles," said Andelbradt. "I need to work on my technique. Last year was my first year doing hurdles."

The transition was seamless for Andelbradt, who specializes in the metric quarter-mile on the track.

But her speed and athleticism are also critical in the high jump; Andelbradt had the top indoor mark in the state at 5 feet, 7.25 inches.

"I think my focus (in the high jump) will be consistency," Andelbradt said. "I want to get to at least 5-8 in the outdoor season."

Andelbradt, along with fellow returnee Christina Gu, will ideally have the privilege to conclude their senior campaigns in the final event of the season at Charleston: the 1,600 relay.

"I will definitely be part of the four-by-four at the bigger invites," Andelbradt said.

Andelbradt cannot wait to be unleashed outdoors this spring.

"Winning DVC was awesome," Andelbradt said. "We achieved our goals for the indoor season."

The Huskies could potentially have plenty of local company in the widely-cherished metric-mile relay.

Wheaton Warrenville South and Glenbard West, fourth and fifth last year, collectively return seven all-state sprint-relay runners.

Glenbard West workhorses Kyra Maas and Vanderbilt-bound Audrey Allman were also fourth and sixth, respectively, in the open 400 and 800 runs.

"We are always stronger outdoors," said Glenbard West coach Kelly Hass, whose team was dramatically slowed indoors by nagging injuries and illness. "We have nice depth in the sprints. We are going to be very open-minded (with the events Allman runs). That kid is very confident right now. She ran a 4:52 mile at New Balance (a national indoor invitational)."

WW South, meanwhile, dominated the DuKane Conference indoor championship sprint-relays behind its triumvirate of Nora Fieweger, Celia Huelskoetter and Grace Macabobby.

The Tigers' interchangeable sprinters were also seventh at 800 meters last year.

"I feel really confident we will have the outdoor season to shave some seconds off (both relays)," Fieweger said. "It's a great atmosphere to be in."

"We already have so much chemistry," Huelskoetter said. "We will be able to fill all the (sprint) events."

"We have such really good coaches, and I think (our relays) are going to do really well at state," Macabobby said.

Inara Ukawube and Kali Waller are the area sophomore sprinters to watch this spring.

The former, seventh in the 100 hurdles for Neuqua Valley, and the latter, eighth in the open 200 in her maiden season at West Chicago, could very conceivably be major sprint-relay leaders for their programs as well.

"It takes a lot of work and working with my team to get me where I am," said Waller, who will also seek diversification as a first-time long jumper. "There's more work I need to put in to get better. I can see our four-by-one getting to state."

The western suburbs have become synonymous with distance running as the landscape has been dominated in recent decades by multiple Division-I athletes who honed their skills during the mutually supporting cross country and track seasons.

This spring will be no different.

Glenbard North junior Grace Schager has emerged from relative obscurity to become a force in distance racing since the grip of the pandemic restrictions gradually eased.

Schager, fifth in the 3,200 run last June, capped a brilliant indoor campaign last weekend in Bloomington at Top Times by dominating the field in the metric 2-mile.

Schager is expected to be equally lethal this spring in the 1,600 as well.

"This definitely is a confidence-booster," Schager said of her indoor prowess. "It will hopefully be a lot better times being on a (400-meter) track. I want to be able to compete with the best in the state."

But the Silver and Gold divisions of the West Suburban Conference will undoubtedly have a say in determining distance supremacy come late May.

Downers Grove South has a dynamic one-two punch at both ends of the class spectrum as senior Sophia McNerney--runner-up in the 3,200 run--and freshman sensation Holly Johnson power the Gold indoor champions.

In terms of distance conferences, however, the Silver is seemingly in another league.

"(Distance) is the face of West Suburban Conference kids," Hass said. "They are top notch."

But the health of Josephine Welin could fundamentally alter the state series in the two longest races.

The Oak Park-River Forest senior, who dominated both the 3,200 run last spring and the state cross country finals the subsequent fall with back-to-back championships, is recovering from a stress fracture in her foot.

While Welin was garnering all the individual glory in Peoria last November, the York girls stormed to the team title.

The Dukes' fall state-champion trio of Brooke Berger, Bria Bennis and Katherine Klimak figure to play a determining role in the two longest races in Charleston.

Catie McCabe, fourth in the fastest metric mile in state history last June, will not only power the Hinsdale Central distance individual hopes; the junior will likely be a key member of the Devils' historically lethal 3,200 relay.

Downers Grove North, third last year in the sub-discipline relay, can never be discounted as well in the meet-opening four-by-eight.

At the state level, the shadow of Normal wunderkind Allie Ince is ominous for any mid- and long-distance runner this spring.

As a freshman last June, Ince swept the 800 and 1,600 runs--breaking the all-time Katelynne Hart (Glenbard West) record in the latter--en route to a third title in the 1,600 relay.

In Class 1A, IC Catholic Prep senior Carly Manchester is riding high after vanquishing the field in the Top Times' 3,200 run last week.

The DuPage Valley Conference, also long renowned for its distance prowess, is quietly undergoing a mini-sprint revolution as well.

Kyra Harris and Aurora Christian transfer Mariah Lambert have taken Metea Valley to heights perhaps never viewed during the indoor season.

Naperville North would never own a third state trophy had senior Denise Hernandez--who has emerged as a significant threat in the long jump in the aftermath of her runner-up showing in Bloomington last Saturday--not powered the Huskies' 800 sprint relay to seventh last year.

Sophie Kusserow returns from injury to revitalize the Naperville Central sprint relays; the Redhawks' 400 and 800 relays were both viable state contenders last year.

Glenbard East senior Keeli Dunaway certainly deserves some good fortune.

A dispiriting combination of injuries and the pandemic has derailed the Rams' senior standout, but Dunaway had a monster indoor campaign.

Multi-event athletes Brooke Sawatzky, a sophomore Naperville Central hurdler and jumper, and Lake Park senior Martina Latoria, who does likewise, also bear watching.

In Class 2A, the members of such schools as Glenbard South, Montini, St. Francis and Wheaton Academy will look to address none of the programs advancing any athletes to state last June.

Benet has been reclassified to 2A by the IHSA.

Louisa Diamond, the last link to the Redwings' 2019 state-champion cross country team, should be a major threat in the 1,600.

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