Scouting Cook and Lake girls track and field
After getting edged-out by Homewood-Flossmoor 44-43 for the second-place trophy last spring at the IHSA Class 3A state meet, the Prospect girls track team is ready to make another strong run downstate in 2023.
The Knights' programs have been on a roll lately by winning the MSL and sectional track championships last spring before following up those performances with the first IHSA girls cross country title in school history last November. Prospect's track team will have to replace graduated standouts Audrey Ginsberg (U of I), and Daria Tersina (Winona State).
But the Knights still have an abundance of depth and talent back on their squad that easily rolled to the MSL indoor crown. Junior Lily Ginsberg is a standout in the 800 while senior teammates Hailey Erickson and Cam Kalaway are proven distance runners. Prospect's Charlotte Deines (relays) and Anna Niebrugge (relays) both reached state last year as did teammates Giselle Salom Hamwi (pole vault), and Emma Letzig (300 hurdles) for coach Peter Wintermute's elite squad.
Barrington will see a great era come to an end as Jody Gitelis will be in her 36th and final season as the Fillies coach as her storied career includes a total of 47 years coaching girls track in Illinois.
Gitelis will have no shortage of standout athletes to guide this year as sophomore Scout Storms prepares to return to state in the 1,600 and 3,200. Junior Sofiabella Amirante reached the state finals in the shot put while senior teammate Sofia Rosenzweig reached state in the 4x400 and the triple jump (No. 4 on Barrington's Top 10 since 1988- 11.28 '21). Claire Kavanagh is now competing at Western Michigan University while Bre Dunn is competing at the University of South Dakota. Gitelis plans to move to Las Vegas in June where she may continue her coaching career out west.
Buffalo Grove still has a very young team heading into the new season, but junior Martyna Ostrega (100/200) is a good building block for the Bison as she reached the state meet last year in the 100. Junior Gabby Cooley (200/400) is another top returner along with sophomores Taylor Watson (long/triple jumps/300) and Olivia Potapo (400/4x200). Freshmen Gabi Tybor (100/200) and Eva Greiner (100/200) hope to make an impact at the varsity level.
Conant got a great performance from freshman standout Daisha Brunson recently as Brunson won the 55-meter sprint in 7.22 seconds, the 55-meter hurdles in 8.34 seconds, and the 200-meter dash in 25.29 seconds at the Mid-Suburban League indoor meet.
Elk Grove will be looking to improve its standing in the MSL East Division and conference meet as well as qualify some athletes to the state meet with many new faces in its lineup according to coach Michael Kamedula. Sophomore Delaney Malone placed fourth in the MSL indoor meet at 800 meters.
Fremd lost a big-time performer in graduated Kiera White (University of Kentucky) as White set school records in the triple jump and long jump while earning a third state medal in the 4x200. The Vikings have the senior trio of Amanda Markham (400/800), Ava Fumarolo (throws), and Norah O'Brien (400) back along with juniors Katie Kuehn (200/400), and Sarah Strachowski (pole vault/400). Fremd's Tammi Foreman (100/200), and Melia Bohrer (hurdles) will also be key contributors.
Hersey lost three state qualifiers from its third-place sectional team, including Becca Caliendo (throwing at Purdue), Chinemerem Iwuagwu (throwing at Drake), and Natalia Plewa (sixth in 4x800). The Huskies hope to make a return trip downstate with Catherine Hany, Emily Lifka, Mackenzie Ginder, and Gabi Makowski ready to compete in the 4x800. Anna Harden placed 11th at state in the 3,200 while Claudia Sepko was 18th in the 100 hurdles. Harden smashed her own school record on March 25 with a time of 4:52.83 in the 1,600 at the Prep Top Times meet. Nicole Rozskowski (throws), Aaleyiah Haughton (100 hurdles), Ogechi Iwuagwu (jumps/100), and Victoria Sulewski (sprints) are also ready to make a big impact.
Hoffman Estates is happy to have senior Amaya Hendrickson back after she placed eighth in the state in the shot put last year. The Hawks lost standout Ashley Oliver (sixth in 400, U of I) to graduation. But they have senior captain Nicole Vlahov (3,200), junior Bella Ortega (400/800), and sophomore Karyn Opara (long jump/400) ready to compete in the powerful MSL.
Leyden is now without the services of Patricjia Karpiesiuk (College of DuPage) and Mariah Fontanez (UIC). But it has experienced seniors back in Olivia Lorens (800/4x800) and Victoria Coronel (shot put/discus). The young Eagles team also features sophomores Jasmin Diaz (1,600/3,200), Analy Arredondo (1,600/3,200), and Najawa Jackson (jumps/sprints).
Maine East will be hard-pressed to catch teams like Vernon Hills and Highland Park in the CLS North. The Blue Demons have a strong 50-meter hurdler in Amina Hadziahmetovic, who is also outstanding at 400 meters. Junior Dannika Faith is a solid competitor in the shot put as is teammate Clarisse Laguda (200).
Maine South has sophomore Sofia Arcuri ready to thrive after Arcuri won the sectional title and placed 10th in the state last year at 3,200 meters. Junior Madison Basquin (triple jump) finished second at sectionals while junior teammate Reese LaBorne placed third at sectionals in the triple jump. The Hawks also got a fifth from junior Olivia DeLuca (3,200) with a season-best time of 11:17 last year. Maine South has won the Rockford Showcase and CSL South Indoor Conference Invites already this season.
Maine West has a proven leader in senior Jaclyn Riedl, who was all-state in both shot put (fifth in state), and discus (eighth in state). Riedl was ranked No. 1 in the Top Times Meet recently at Illinois Wesleyan, and she has a season-high mark of 12.86 meters in the shot put this season. Junior Amelie Mach will compete in 55 hurdles, 400, high jump, and long jump. Mach took first place in all four of those events last year in conference.
Palatine had a total of 17 state qualifiers (relays and individuals) after the Pirates placed third in the sectional meet last season. Sophomore Abigail Jordan (15th in Class 3A) was all-state in cross country last fall and her top events are the 4x800, 800, and 1,600. Returning state qualifiers for Palatine are seniors Mia Foy (6-time state qualifier/relays/200), Brooke Donnelly (3-time state qualifier/4x400), and sophomore Aisha Kazeem (300 hurdles/4x400).
Rolling Meadows had an impressive start to the season recently from senior Melina Moreno as Moreno won the pole vault competition at the MSL indoor meet with a vault of 3.43 meters. The Mustangs will have an uphill struggle battling against powers like Prospect and Barrington this season in the MSL.
St. Viator lost an elite distance runner in Mary Grace Hegberg, who is now running track and cross country at Georgetown University. The Lions are coming off a great season as they placed fourth in the Class 2A state meet last year by a narrow 47-44 margin to third-place Geneseo. St. Viator has a strong sprinter back in Emmi Scales while the Lions' 4x400-meter relay team of Sidney Jones, Caroline Schermerhorn, Katie Fitzpatrick, and Catie Glasstetter are preparing to have a huge impact in the ESCC and beyond.
Schaumburg finished in the middle of the pack in the MSL last year, and the Saxons lost state qualifiers Jackie Tuzil (Carthage College) and Layla Jessie (triple jump) to graduation. Senior Antenise Williams placed ninth in the state in shot put while senior Chali Baumann excels in long jump and sprints. Sophomores Kaylee Meyer (high jump), and Amy Carhee (high hurdles) will also help boost Schaumburg's scoring.
Wheeling has a lot of depth heading into the new season with team numbers up to over 60 athletes this year. Seniors leading the way will be Eleni Dafnis (hurdles/relays), Aly Walker (sprints/relays), Brenda Torres (distance/relays), and Jordan Palmer (sprints/long jump). Junior Noelle Lawson (hurdles/jumps) is another key competitor along with teammates Katie Moser (four events), Lindsay Kane (sprints/relays/ high jump) Julia Kozlowski (distance), Lauren Raun (distance), Emi Taba (throws), and Yecenia Garcia (throws).
Antioch has NLCC shot put champion Charlee Kempf ready for her junior season as Kempf also placed second in the NLCC discus last year. The Sequoits have a lot of experience back in Zamora Rodriguez (pole vault), Rosie Gonzalez (won 3,200 at NLCC indoor meet), and Julia Kraus (2021 state qualifier in both hurdles). Newcomers are freshmen Abby Fuesting (second in 60-meter dash), and Kennedi Copeland (second in 200). Fuesting, Copeland, Kraus, and Nora Lubkman were 4x200 NLCC indoor champs.
Shyanne Hernandez is making waves in the long jump (second in NLCC) while Addison Lane recently ran a lifetime best time of 2:28 in the 800.
Carmel Catholic will try to replace key performers Anna Kegel, who is now running at Carthage College, and Theresa Flor (seventh in state, ESCC discus champion). After placing second in the ESCC, and third in the sectional meet, the Corsairs will turn to Nora Christensen, Ella Dicara, and Abby Hartzer, who were all a part of Carmel's 4x200 relay team that placed seventh at state. Sophomore Izzy Bing is state-ranked in the 3,200 while Norah Belmonte (4x800), Zubaydah Akorede (triple jump), Paulina Sroka (discus), and Angela Coe (400/800) will all play key roles.
Grant no longer has the luxury of elite runner Aly Negovetich (second in 3,200) to lead its pack as Negovetich is now running for Lipscomb University in Tennessee. The Bulldogs also lost key seniors Laura Bishop (Mt. Mercy Iowa), and Kelsey Albovias (Milwaukee School of Engineering) to graduation. Grant's Amelia Szopinski placed 14th in the 400-meter run at the Illinois Top Times Meet. The Bulldogs will also be counting on Melissa Ketter (hurdles) and Noelle Patrick (hurdles) as leaders.
Grayslake Central has an elite senior sprinter in Catherine Guckenberger (60/200) as well as some great middle distance runners in juniors Bella Domier (800), and Sara Armstrong (800). Central's 4x400 team of Domier, Armstrong, Sofia Witt, and Ava Pietruszynski is a team to beat while senior Abigail Bergonio (shot put) is a top contender.
Grayslake North placed third in the NLCC in 2022, and the Knights are looking solid heading into 2023 despite the loss of state long jump qualifier Christina Hall (Carthage College). Seniors Angela Caliendo (high jump), Kamila Chwieros (300 hurdles), and Sophia Barszcz (jumps) are experienced competitors along with key junior Meadow Ptak (high jump).
Lakes brought home the Class 2A sectional championship from Carmel Catholic last year. Now graduated Amelia Plohg ran to sixth place in the state in the 4x400 relay along with current standouts Becca Runyan, Shelby Stall, and Madison Perez. Runyan, Perez, Madison Twarling, and Paige-Elicia Caruth placed second in the state in the 4x800 while Perez also placed 10th in the 800. Joycelyn Crum placed eighth in the 60 hurdles, and ninth in the pole vault for the Eagles, who are poised for another strong season.
Lake Zurich is looking very strong heading into the new season after the Bears won their fourth straight NSC title, their first sectional crown in school history, and placed 12th in the state last year. Lake Zurich is one of the few teams that had no key losses to graduation as senior all-stater Brooke Johnston placed third in the 3,200 and fourth in the 1,600 last spring. Seniors Emilia Kubik (11th) and A.J. Burk (14th) both made the state finals in pole vault while junior Baelyn Zitzmann was the state runner-up in the high jump. Junior Riley Betz reached the state finals in the 100, and she will be joined by Zitzmann, Anya Farb, and Sydney Lappin on the Bears' powerful 4x200 team. Junior Olivia Verden (100 hurdles) is another key to what could be the best squad in school history.
Libertyville has a solid 4x800 relay team with Isabelle Karl-Martinez, Ava Castro, Amy Bermingham, and Sheila Tucker trying to close the gap on NSC powerhouse Lake Zurich. The Wildcats also have a strong competitor in senior Anna Becker (triple jump/high jump) to help boost their team scoring in the field events.
Mundelein placed fourth in the NSC last year, and the Mustangs' Jordyn Miller (eighth in 800) is now competing at Howard University. First-year coach Jonathan Mahoney also has Miami of Ohio-bound senior Sharron Kagan (discus/shot put), and UIC-bound Praise Oyebanji (middle distance) ready to be team leaders this season. Mahoney praised the great work assistant coaches Carsyn Rodriguez and Brenda Zagula have done with Oyebanji and Kagan to reach their best marks ever during the indoor season.
Round Lake lost Jenny Cortes (Ripon College) to graduation, and the Panthers also lost senior Lilli Burton (school record in triple jump as a junior), who has chosen to go back to the softball team this spring. Round Lake will rely heavily on the senior trio of Iyonna Nixon (sprints), Karime Llamas (thrower), and Cynthia Avila (jumper) as well as sophomore Miranda Espino (distance) to help guide their squad this season.
Stevenson has nothing but fond memories of state shot put champion Ella O'Neall, who is now competing at Iowa State. The Patriots also lost Eve Traficanti (Miami of Ohio) to graduation from their NSC runner-up team. Stevenson senior Kaitlyn Robinson and sophomore Ava Wilson are top sprinters while junior Adeline Gobble will be a leader in the distance races.
Vernon Hills lost five state qualifiers to graduation, including Kylie Spytek, who is now running at Washington University where she has qualified for nationals in the 400-meter dash and the 4x400 relay, and Jenna Coty (UW-LaCrosse). After winning the CSL North Division Conference meet last year, the Cougars have sophomore state qualifier Livy Tran (long jump) back along with senior teammates Becca Tran (pole vault), and Anna Todd (800). Junior Miya Malfait was a part of the 4x200 relay team last year that qualified for the indoor Illinois Top Times.
Warren has a strong distance runner in Mia Pasha (eighth in state in 1,600) as Pasha also runs the 3,200 for the Blue Devils. Senior Maddie Hecker has a good shot of making it downstate in the 400 as she looks to be in top form now after running at less than 100 percent last year. Junior Carolina Martinez (100/200) has improved dramatically from last year, and she has a decent chance of reaching state in the 200. Warren graduate Jada Vaughn is now running at Bradley.
Wauconda lost three key performers to graduation, including state qualifier Amanda Lisi, who is now competing in the high jump at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee. The Bulldogs will also try to replace graduated Jessie Pakaski (basketball at Carthage College), and Sara Meyer. Senior Ashley Chan will be a Wauconda runner to watch this season in the 400.