Girls cross country: DuPage County and Fox season preview
The Batavia girls cross country made a big statement for a strong season in late August.
The Bulldogs had a strong showing in the Kane County Meet to earn first-place, riding a wealth of experience in Liliana Bednarek, Ava Thomas, Brooke Silbernagel, Olivia Gebhardt, Madison Wnek and Sasha Semanision.
"Our girls have high expectations," Batavia coach Chad Hillman said. "Liliana is one of our senior leaders and will have another great season."
Addison Trail's senior duo of Lettia Hoda and Ximena Juarez are both back for their final season to lead the Blazers.
Bartlett, which placed third in the Upstate Eight Conference meet last season, is a team to watch with Arissa Kramer and Kristin Farabuagh both looking for repeat all-conference seasons.
Geneva is full of talent due to Mckenna Mertes, Becca Spezzano, Elise Waldchen, Agnes Bolender, Corinne Stanuch, Lila Storaasli and Lauren Verdecchia leading the way.
"The girls have worked hard this summer," Geneva coach Elizabeth Morrison said. "Our team is small, but we would like to build on what we have."
Led by sophomores Anastasija Jankovich and Mariflor Rosas, Fenton is a very young team without a single senior on the roster.
Downers Grove North has six runners back from last season's 13th-place state team, highlighted by Ava Geiger, Sydney Hnatiuk, Karly Harkness, Audrey Casten and Hannah Renner.
"This is a very talented and deep team," Downers Grove North coach Tim McDonald said.
Downers Grove South, paced by West Suburban Gold champion Holly Johnson, is a team to watch despite heavy graduation losses.
Glenbard South has a wealth of talented runners back, including Lauren Price, Mary Kate Pinkleman and Diana Kalvelage.
Glenbard West is always a team full of talented runners, sparked by nine straight state meets with at least one top-five placer in 3A. Carlin Hass, Maggie Hibbard, Devyn Carr, Moira Ahern and Maddie Morgan are the key runners this fall.
Hampshire is one of the youngest teams in the area, with several freshmen and sophomores taking up the top seven.
"I'm incredibly excited to see our girls in action this year," Hampshire coach Ryan Hollister said. "We have a very talented group of young runners and plenty of senior leadership."
Juniors Emma Leslie and Caitlyn Terrien are the top runners back for Harvest Christian.
Hinsdale Central, which took third in Class 3A last season, is returning numerous talented runners to make another run at state.
Huntley has a strong foursome in Breanna Burak, Brittney Burak, Molly Allen and Ava Allison that have led to high expectations following a 19th-place showing in Class 3A last season.
"This team needs a fifth girl to step up, and we will see how good this team can be," Huntley coach Matthew Kaplan said.
IC Catholic Prep is a young squad, with 11 of its 15 members either freshmen or newcomers. Sophomore Grazi Narcisi and juniors Kelsey McDonaugh and Meghan Van Koughnet are the top returnees.
Jacobs qualified for state for the first time since 1985 last season, but lost four of its top five runners. Bailey Schwartz is back, though, along with three runners from last season's team.
Kaneland brings back six of its top seven runners from last season, including top runner, Alli Gonnella.
"The goals the girls have this year are to regain the conference team title back from last year's champion, Morris," Kaneland coach Doug Ecker said. "The team depth should be better than last year with several underclassmen seriously challenging for varsity spots in the top seven."
Lake Park's Brynn Ellenbecker and Jade Benavides are both aiming to top last season's sectional showing.
Larkin senior Heather Durrant opened up the season by winning Saturday's Kane County Meet. Her twin sister, Hannah, along with Jinni Jimenez and Brinlee Jimenez and Makayla Preuss, give the Royals a solid group of runners.
Naperville Central has the luxury of returning its entire lineup from last season's Class 3A sixth-place time. Liv Phillips, Ava Hendren, Kate Tueting, Addison George, Lola Satre-Morales, Abby Mogg, Julia Laird and Becca Liaw round out a talented and deep team.
Naperville North's top runners includes Julie Piot, Emma Berres, Shania Tandon and Logan Brennan. The Huskies, who placed seventh in state, enter the season with high expectations.
"We expect to take a step forward from where we were last year," Naperville North coach Dan Iverson said. "The girls have worked hard, and continue to grow."
St. Charles East returns a strong group of runners, including Marley Andelman, Morgan Sandlund, Brooklyn Walker, Eleanor Clark and Colleen Thumm, to make them a potential contender for the Class 3A state title.
"We're looking to compete well in our regular season invites and then running well when it matters at our DuKane Conference meet and into the IHSA postseason," St. Charles East coach Bradley Kaplan said.
St. Charles North is looking top last season's third-place showing in the DuKane Conference. Led by Norah Dorrance, Camille Sabau and Paiten Kruse, the North Stars are hoping to build toward a strong season.
"We're a pretty young team, but I have high hopes that our young runners will develop into strong varsity runners by the end of the season," St. Charles North coach Shari Hayes said.
South Elgin is led by seniors Angelica Harris and Roberta Morales. "This year we're looking to be competitive within our conference, and we're hoping to get some of our new runners up to varsity," South Elgin coach Jorie Bartholomew said.
Streamwood's top three returnees of Sophia Baumert, Ashley Harrison and Jazlynn Castelon headline a promising group. "Sophia is ready to take the next step and try and qualify for state," Streamwood coach Dylan Lau said.
Timothy Christian senior Juliana Norman and freshman Ella Potoshnick are the runners to keep an eye on for the Trojans early this season, according to coach Rachel Mirra.
Wheaton Warrenville South has four runners with state series experience.
"We spent a lot of time focusing on getting stronger and building our aerobic strength after a speed focused track season," WW South coach Rob Harvey said.
York is overflowing with talent, as Bria Bennis, Michaela Quinn, Katherine Klimek, Maggie Owens and Brooke Berger are the veterans of the team.
Girls cross country at a glance
Key dates: Regionals Oct. 22, Sectionals Oct. 29, State Nov. 5
2021 state champions: York (3A), Grayslake Central (2A), Tolono Unity (126)
Top five at 3A state: York (62), Prospect (151), Hinsdale Central (197), Minooka (204), Yorkville (244)
Top five at 2A state: Grayslake Central (148), Crystal Lake South (162), Vernon Hills (165), Latin (188), Lakes (220)
Top area runners: Batavia's Liliana Bednarek, St. Charles East's Marley Andelman and Brooklyn Walker, Larkin's Heather Durant and Downers Grove South's Holly Johnson
-- Compiled by Bobby Narang