Girls track and field: Scouting Northwest

  • Palatine's Erin Oleksak wins the high jump at the Mid-Suburban League boys and girls indoor track meet at North Central College in Naperville.

    Palatine's Erin Oleksak wins the high jump at the Mid-Suburban League boys and girls indoor track meet at North Central College in Naperville. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Wheeling's Nicole Nguyen crosses the finish line in the 400-meter relay during the Palatine Relays last season.

    Wheeling's Nicole Nguyen crosses the finish line in the 400-meter relay during the Palatine Relays last season. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

Updated 4/4/2019 2:47 PM

BarringtonCoach: Jody Gitelis

Last year: Had 13 state qualifiers. Placed first at the sectional meet, MSL conference champion, placed first at the Palatine Relays.


Lost to graduation: Jocelyn Long (1,600m, 3,200m, now running at Notre Dame), Eleni Filley (4x100, 4x200, now running at Washington and Lee), Megan Miller (4x100, 4x400 and 400m), Niki Barcroft (pole vault, now competing at Arizona)

Top returnees: Tochi Aliberi (throws), Anne Berquist (distance), Ally Butirro (jumps), Faith Caldwell (pole vault), Gabby Cossio (sprints, hurdles), Molly Fitzpatrick (distance), Olivia Helmer (sprints), Sophie Hoeltgen (distance), Eve Hoeltgen (distance), Brooke Husby (hurdles, high jump), Alyssa Norris (distance), Reagan Polorny (sprints), Sarah Ruesch (pole vault), Morgan Magro (distance), Lucy Ordway (sprints, high jump)

Top newcomers: Gaby Andrews (distance), Kathleen Baker (sprints, distance), Bre Dunn (sprints, hurdles, pole vault), Gabby Quaranta (sprints, jumps), Mounika Gadiraju (triple jump)

Outlook: Barrington went a perfect 11-0 in MSL meets last season but is missing three key performers that are now competing in college. Plenty of talent returns however as the Fillies look to put together another dominating season. "We want to stay healthy and improve from week to week," Barrington coach Jody Gitelis said. "We want to be competitive in the big meets." Gitelis will get off to a slow start herself. She is coming off of offseason shoulder surgery and will be relying heavily on assistant Debbie Revolta for the first month or so of the season.

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Buffalo GroveCoach: Martha Kelly

Last year: Placed 9th at the MSL meet

Lost to graduation: Naya Carr (Illinois)

Top returnees: Abigail Grenz, sr. (high jump), Lina Yashyna, jr. (100m, triple jump, long jump), Paige Sterker, sr. (200m), Kaylin Hellyer, jr. (1,600m), Rachel Sakwa, jr. (800m), Dagmara Sobalak, jr. (triple jump), Ginia Cottingham, jr. (shot put), Quinn Donahue, jr. (shot put)

Top newcomers: Kalia Davis, fr. (200m, 400m), Melanie Piotrowski, fr. (400m), Cassidy Kallas, fr. (800m)

Outlook: The Bison have big goals this season with a group of hungry competitors. "We are a young team, but a motivated one," Buffalo Grove coach Martha Kelly said. "The girls are working hard to improve and reach their goals. We compete in a tough conference but believe it will only help make us better toward the end of the season and that is what we are focused on. There are a number of girls who would love a chance to compete downstate and that is what we are working toward."

ConantCoach: Kalli Dalton

Last year: Placed 6th at the MSL meet

Lost to graduation: Kyla Chalmers (mid-distance, sprints, competing at Lewis), Leah Jones (sprints, hurdles), Wiktoria Marzec (sprints, jumps)

Top returnees: Chikere Oduocha (throws), Jessica Malecki (jumps, sprints), Maya Rahman (jumps), Hannah Huynh (sprints), Gracie Palomo (distance), Ava Miltz (distance), Manisha Muthu (jumps)


Top newcomers: Katie Auyeung (distance), Vashayla Bradley (jumps, sprints), Jillian Grabowski (distance), Angelina Graff (sprints), Jessica Meister (distance), Neveah Williams (throws)

Outlook: Having finished in the middle of the Mid-Suburban pack last year, the Cougars are looking to do more with a nice mix of veterans and newcomers. "We have a very young group of athletes who are eager to continue to compete and improve this season," Conant coach Kalli Dalton said. "We have a few upperclassmen looking to make their mark by leading our young team this season."

Elk GroveCoach: Sean Milligan

Last year: Placed 12th in the MSL meet

Lost to graduation: Kelly Walter (triple jump), Abby Casey (800m)

Top returnees: Izabela Sewerynski, jr. (400m), Monica Casillas, sr. (1,600m), Lillie Zahn, jr. (100m), Aiyanna Hudson, soph. (100m high hurdles)

Top newcomers: Natalia Garcia, fr. (200m, 400m, high jump)

Outlook: Kelly Walter, Elk Grove's school record-holder in triple jump, has graduated, but there is plenty of talent returning for a much improved run through the MSL. "We have the majority of our top athletes returning this season for a push to make some noise in the MSL," Elk Grove coach Sean Milligan said. "The return of Monica Casillas and Izabela Sewerynski give us a solid base from which to build. We have a strong group of underclassmen that will provide much-needed depth that has been lacking in the past. We are looking for strong showings in the early meets and that should set the tone of the remainder of the season."

FremdCoach: Jeremy Herriges

Last year: Placed 11th at the MSL meet, the 4x800 relay team qualified for state

Lost to graduation: Anayia Veremis (4x100, 4x200, 4x400, now running at Hillsdale), Sabrina Urban (4x100, 4x200, now running at Elmhurst), Clare Oehler-O'Sullivan (4x800), Nupur Pokharkar (4x800)

Top returnees: Julia Finegan, jr. (4x400, 4x800, 800), Sumin Cho, sr. (4x100, 4x200, 100m, 200m), Emma Schultz, sr. (4x200, 4x400), Marisa Ban (4x800, 3,200m), Rebecca Markham (4x800, 800m), Alexus Veasley, sr. (shot put)

Top newcomers: Elena DiVito, fr. (100m, long jump, 200m), Kiera White, fr. (long jump, triple jump, 100m, 200m) Jackie Fornarelli, fr. (hurdles)

Outlook: Senior leadership is important and Fremd seems to have it this season. "Our senior leadership is doing an excellent job of providing selfless guidance to our younger athletes," Fremd coach Jeremy Herriges said. "Our team has a nice mix of experience and young athletes and we are much improved from last year and are getting better every practice. We are just scratching the surface of our potential. Our team is dedicated, hardworking and pushing every day to get better."

HerseyCoach: James Miks

Last year: Placed 5th in the MSL meet

Lost to graduation: Barbara Rydzewski (throws, now competing at North Central College)

Top returnees: Alessia Olhava (all-state in jumps), Cate Gudaitis (throws), Anshu Jacob (sprints, jumps), Teagan Beckley (distance), Erin Barton (distance), Nataly Ahon (sprints), Janine Boyan (throws), Katie Fredian (distance), Meghan Caulfield (hurdles), Efeeloo Lege (sprints), Hannah Kersemeier (distance), Erin Moran (distance)

Top newcomers: Amy Arcizewski (sprints, jumps), Victoria Babinski (hurdles), Geanna Gwin (jumps, sprints), Victoria Jezioro (distance), Aditi Shah (sprints), Abby Tracz (sprints), Natalia Plewa (distance)

Outlook: All-state jumper Alessia Olhaa is back to lead Hersey after a middle-of-the pack finish in the MSL in 2018. "We have a balanced team," Hersey coach James Miks said. "We look forward to the hard work of indoor season paying off. We count on patience and work to be our best in May."

Hoffman EstatesCoach: Kirk Macnider

Last year: Placed 8th in the MSL meet, won the Maine East Invitational

Lost to graduation: Allison Schrader (all-state, 4x800)

Top returnees: Mikiyha Blackwell (shot put all-state, discus state qualifier), Anna Miller (4x800, 4x400), Janae Dean (4x400), Mikkaela Palmer (state qualifier 4x800, 4x400), Nikki Rong (state qualifier 4x800, 4x400), Aahniyah McAllister (sprints, long jump), Bella Alansari (distance), Michelle Diaz (distance), Toniyah Brown (sprints, long jump)

Top newcomers: Val Daniels (distance), Ashley Oliver (sprints, triple jump), Alex Carrasquillo

Outlook: With five athletes who were either all-state or state qualifiers back from last season, Hoffman Estates has high expectations. "This is an experienced and savvy squad hungry to have an historic postseason," Hoffman Estates coach Kirk Macnider said. "We are off to a great start with Top 10 3A rankings in the shot put, 4x800 and 4x400. We are ranked in the Top 25 in the long jump, triple jump, 400m and 800m." Newcomer Ashley Oliver has already set the school record in triple jump as Hoffman Estates got off to a quick start in the indoor season, winning the Burlington Central Invite and placing fourth at the MSL Indoor Invite with 81 points, the most points in school history at that meet.

LeydenCoach: Brent Dempsey

Last year: Placed 5th in the West Suburban Conference meet

Lost to graduation: Esther Aldana (sprints, jumps, now competing at DePaul)

Top returnees: Isabelle Ivy-Raydl, sr. (sprints, triple jump), Maya Garcia, sr. (hurdles), Jazmin Santoyo, sr. (distance), Gaby Hurtado, sr. (throws), Juliet Ocon, sr. (throws), Alexis Weiner, jr. (sprints), Olivia Pajer, soph. (high jump), Kennedi Burks, soph. (sprints, hurdles)

Top newcomers: Stephanie Dominguez, fr. (distance)

Outlook: In a competitive West Suburban Conference, Leyden finished the indoor season with a bit of an unexpected whimper at the conference meet. But the Eagles aren't discouraged. "We had a solid indoor season that ended in a disappointing indoor conference meet, but we are looking to rebound and have an even better outdoor season," Leyden coach Brent Dempsey said. "We are led by a solid core of upperclassmen along with a few really strong sophomores and freshmen. The conference is going to be especially tough this year but we are going to improve and continue to work hard toward a better finish in conference. There are a few girls on the team with a shot at making the state meet and we are working toward that ultimate goal for them as well."

Maine WestCoach: Gregory Regalado

Last year: Had 3 state qualifiers, placed 3rd in CSL North

Lost to graduation: Alisa Fallon (conference and sectional champion in shot put and discus, now playing basketball at Army), Nicole Palarz (sectional champion in 300m hurdles)

Top returnees: Dayanne Jacome, sr. (pole vault, sprints), Serenity McCrary, sr. (throws), Kara Dempsey, sr. (throws), Krysta Block, soph. (sprints)

Top newcomers: Marcell Podsiadly, sr. (jumps), Shannette Ellickal, fr. (distance)

Outlook: A few points here, a few points there. That's what separated Maine West from Central Suburban League supremacy last season. The Warriors placed third in the conference, but were oh-so-close to second and even first. "Our goal this year is to place in the top two for conference," Maine West coach Gregory Regalado. "Last year, we finished three points from second and only 13 points from first. We believe we will be even more competitive this year."

PalatineCoach: Joe Parks

Last year: Placed 2nd in the sectional, placed 3rd in the MSL meet

Lost to graduation: Tiana Henderson (sprints, now running at UIC), Ada Sieminski (jumps, sprints), Jaclyn Frank (mid-distance), Lauryn Simons (distance), Sherice Kendrick (throws)

Top returnees: Erin Oleksak, sr. (high jump, hurdles, sprints), Liz Lechowicz, sr. (distance), Kate Lechowicz, sr. (distance), Jess Streepy, sr. (pole vault), Fiona Metzo, jr. (mid-distance), Dejah Thomas, jr. (sprints), Dacia Foster, sr. (triple jump, long jump), Anya Ball, soph. (high jump, sprints), Laura Seeberger, soph. (mid-distance), Ellie Roy, soph. (mid-distance), Alyssa Eckels, soph. (hurdles, sprints), Jess Steffens, jr. (throws), Kayla Miotk, soph. (throws), Kylee Stammer, soph. (throws)

Top newcomers: Jocie Waddington, fr. (pole vault, sprints), Kaci Wimer, fr. (sprints), Evelyna Flowers, fr. (sprints)

Outlook: A second-place finish in the sectionals has motivated Palatine since last spring to come back for even more this year. Gone is sprint star Tiana Henderson, who is now running at UIC. But a solid core of upperclassmen will carry Palatine again in its quest to be a key player in the postseason. "We have some holes to fill and will have to count on girls stepping up big if we want to contend for a top 3 spot in the MSL meet," Palatine coach Joe Parks said. "We return a solid group of seniors mixed with a number of freshmen and sophomores with good potential." Parks will be relying heavily on Erin Oleksak, who competes in high jump, hurdles and sprints. "She will be our workhorse point-scorer when needed," Parks said. "She is a fierce competitor who can cover many areas and is extremely motivated to improve on her all-state performances last year." Meanwhile, junior Dejah Thomas will lead the sprint crew and will be surrounded by talented freshmen and sophomores. "Seniors Liz and Kate Lechowicz will lead the distance crew," Parks said. "They are experienced and looking to put together their best season yet." Parks thinks Oleksak and Anya Ball will be a tough 1-2 punch in the high jump as both were state qualifiers.

ProspectCoach: Peter Wintermute

Last year: Placed 3rd at sectional, placed 2nd in the MSL meet, won the MSL East, won the Conant Cougar Invitational

Lost to graduation: Mikayla Olsen (distance, now running at Illinois), Wilma Rishko (distance, now running at Harper), Annie Walsh (sprints), Sydney Kitzmiller (distance), Kaitlyn Rouse (distance), Emily DiBenedetto (throws, now competing at Knox College), Alex Ekiert (hurdles)

Top returnees: Samantha Berman, sr. (sprints, hurdles), Grace LaCamera, sr. (sprints), Natalie Kowalczuk, jr. (sprints, long jump), Ellen Sherwood, jr. (sprints, hurdles, long jump), Julia O'Grady, sr. (distance), Lia Skoufos, jr. (distance), Marissa Valentini, sr. (distance), Elena Barbaric, soph. (distance), Ashlyn Gadson, soph. (hurdles, sprints), Tessa Wrede, jr. (throws)

Top newcomers: Daria Tersina, fr. (sprints, jumps), Audrey Ginsberg, fr. (distance), Peyton DeCook, fr. (sprints, hurdles, pole vault), Jozaine Gardener, jr. (sprints, jumps)

Outlook: Now for the next step. In 2018, Prospect earned some state qualifiers after placing second in the conference and third at the sectional meet. In fact, the Knights qualified all four relays to the state meet. But they came home empty-handed. And now, they are ready to make up for that. "We gained valuable experience last year and this year we look to grow and learn from those experiences," Prospect coach Peter Wintermute said. "We have a slew of girls who are hungry to make their mark on the program and are ready to challenge for the top spots." Depth in the sprint and distance events will be one of the Knights' biggest strengths. "We welcome the competition to our practices and we will look to find the perfect mixture of ingredients and the chemistry of a great team."

Rolling MeadowsCoach: Charlie Henry

Last year: Placed 10th in the MSL meet

Lost to graduation: Macie Robinson (jumps), Kami Mladenova (pole vault)

Top returnees: Dakota Stewart, sr. (sprints), Julia Zumski, sr. (jumps), Dana Lapinski, sr. (distance), Zaya Batbaatar, jr. (pole vault), Nel Bochenski, jr. (hurdles), Isabella Balderas, soph. (sprints)

Top newcomers: Bernie Goodwin, fr. (hurdles, sprints), Lauren Schiele, fr. (jumps, sprints), Suma Urs-Juffa, fr. (sprints), Vasa Urs-Juffa, fr. (sprints), Molly Tavares, fr. (distance), Delaney Natzel, fr. (sprints)

Outlook: Rolling Meadows is riding high from a strong showing in the indoor season. "The indoor season was a dramatic improvement from where we have been as a program for the last few years," Rolling Meadows coach Charlie Henry said. "We are very excited to blend a strong freshman group coming in with our upperclassmen. The seniors have done a great job of setting the tone for the incoming class. We will be a much more competitive team across the board. Our hurdle and sprint teams will be much better and we will continue to be competitive in the jumps and vault."

SchaumburgCoach: Kristen Zillmer

Last year: Tied for 6th place at the MSL meet

Lost to graduation: Madison Marasco (800m, 400m, 4x400m, 4x800m, now competing at Illinois), Rachael Vaccarro (800m, 400m, 4x400m, 4x800m, now competing at North Central), Maggie Centeno (800m, 400m, 4x400m, 4x800m), Sarah Miller (400m, 4x400m, now competing at Elmhurst College), Lauren Kubinski (800m, 400m, 4x400m, 4x800m)

Top returnees: Jackie Williams, sr. (triple jump), Mikeelie Jensen, sr. (3,200m, 1,600m, 800m), Ashlee Jenks, soph. (3,200m, 1,600m), Karlie Vezzetti, sr. (300m hurdles, 100m high hurdles, 200m, 4x200m), Megan Gale, sr. (pole vault), Deja Patterson, jr. (100m, 200m, 4x100m, 4x200m), Kyra Lewis, sr. (triple jump, long jump, 4x200m, 4x400m), Mary Hilgart, jr. (discus)

Top newcomers: Erica Jensen, fr. (high jump, long jump, triple jump), Erin Repple, fr. (800m, 400m, 4x400m, 4x800m), Ameera Common, fr. (100m, 200m, 4x100m, 4x200m, long jump, triple jump), Alexis Rothmeyer, fr. (100m, 200m, 4x100m, 4x200m, 400m, pole vault), Julia Wiecek, fr. (400m, 200m, long jump, pole vault, 4x400m, 800m), Kayla Campbell, fr. (400m, 200m, 4x400m, 4x200m)

Outlook: Good numbers in track is key and Schaumburg certainly has good numbers this season. "Our program has taken a major shift," Schaumburg coach Kristen Zillmer said. "With 60 girls committed and attending practice, we are looking forward to seeing our numbers continue to grow and our standards continue to rise with the ability of our kids. The incoming freshman class is full of talent and continues to spark inspiration in the veteran athletes. Many girls are newcomers to track and field and we have seen a lot of growth already." A new outdoor track at Schaumburg has also created excitement to get off to a good start. "We plan to hit the ground running," Zillmer said. "There will be some growing pains, but this team has a lot of potential to have a few state nods and a positively correlated record to show for it."

Schaumburg ChristianCoach: Robert Common

Top returnees: Jordan Epps (100m)

Outlook: Now in its fourth year, the Schaumburg Christian track program includes athletes in the school from fifth grade to 12th grade. The middle school program last year featured a 4x100 team that set a school record and created excitement for this season.

St. Viator LionsCoach: Wayne Edelman

Top returnees: Katie Castelli soph. (3,200), Bella Pierce, sr., Kathryn Williams, sr., Kathryn Maderas, jr., Neda Kakish, sr., Gina Tolan, sr., Anne Sheriff, soph., Mia Raftery, jr.

Top newcomers: Joy Bergstrom, fr. (800), Brooke Davis, fr. (100m, 200m), Gabby Pierce, fr. (100m, 200m), Kylene Flood (200m, long jump)

Outlook: Distance standout Katie Castelli burst onto the high school scene last year by winning a sectional championship in the 3,200 meters as a freshman. She was also all-state in cross country and should be a formidable contender again this season. The Lions believe they will be formidable as a team, as well. "We hope to be top three in our conference (East Suburban Catholic Conference) this year," St. Viator coach Wayne Edelman said.

Wheeling WildcatsCoach: Tim Nowicki

Last year: Placed 3rd in the MSL meet, won the Wildcat Indoor Relays, won the Mark Saylor Indoor Invite

Lost to graduation: Yailene Leon (mid-distance, now running at University of Indianapolis), Fifi Ghiorsk (sprints, hurdles, now competing at North Central), Nansy Velev (sprints, jumps, now competing at Carthage), Saleta Anda (mid-distance, now competing at Robert Morris)

Top returnees: Alexis Knight, sr. (sprints, jumps), Nicole Nguyen, sr. (sprints, hurdles, jumps), Nosa Igiehon, sr. (sprints, hurdles, jumps, throws), Christina Pierini, sr. (mid-distance), Emily Lucas, sr. (pole vault), Jessica Stavros, sr. (pole vault), Dania Vargas, sr. (sprints), Luz Martinez, sr. (sprints), Chloe Drozdz, jr. (mid-distance), Lizeth Leon, jr. (mid-distance), Valencia Smith, jr. (throws), Heidi Wenson, jr. (throws), Jasmine Bautista, soph. (mid-distance), Kiannah Hayes, soph. (sprints, jumps)

Top newcomers: Riana Hayes, fr. (sprints, jumps), Jessica Avalos, fr. (sprints), Brianna Ruiz, fr. (mid-distance), Symantha Rohwedder, jr. (sprints, jumps), Johanna Veloso, soph. (sprints, jumps)

Outlook: It's been about 30 years. And the Wildcats are ready to put an end to that drought. "We have a senior-heavy group that is looking to capture Wheeling's first MSL championship in nearly 30 years," Wheeling coach Tim Nowicki said. "Alexis Knight, Nicole Nguyen and Nosa Igiehon are all returning state medalists. We will be relying on them to score big points in four events each. We have a young, but talented group of sprinters surrounding Alexis, Nicole and Nosa and that will give us a little more depth this year." On the distance side, Christina Pierini is ready for a breakout season and will lead the charge for that group. "We expect to pick up some additional points in the field with big seasons out of Emily Lucas and Jessica Stavros in the pole vault as well as Valencia Smith and Heidi Wenson in the throws," Nowicki said.

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