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home : sports : sports   April 29, 2016

3/29/2013 10:54:00 AM
Girls track and field preview

Princeton senior Phoenix Smallwood is back after qualifying for state in two events last year. Smallwood, who is doing track and field full-time this season after also playing soccer in the past, went to state in the long jump and triple jump.NewsTribune file photo
+ click to enlarge
Princeton senior Phoenix Smallwood is back after qualifying for state in two events last year. Smallwood, who is doing track and field full-time this season after also playing soccer in the past, went to state in the long jump and triple jump.
NewsTribune file photo
Kevin Chlum
Sports Editor

Area girls track and field lost some top-notch talent with the graduation of La Salle-Peru’s Ellen Renk and Hall’s Liz Mosbach, but the Illinois Valley boasts four returning state medalists along with 23 state qualifiers for the 2013 season.

Below is a look at each area team’s outlook for the season:

La Salle-Peru
Head coach: John Beatty
IHSA classification: 2A
Returning outdoor state qualifiers: None
Season outlook: The Lady Cavaliers may be young, but Beatty feels they have plenty of talent, led by sophomores Jena Argubright, Megan Krolak and Lesly Rocha.

Argubright notched a state-qualifying height in the high jump last season but fell shy at the sectional, Krolak missed state by one second in the 800 meters last year and reached the state meet in cross country last fall and Rocha had a strong cross country season.

“Our team goal is to get as many people to qualify for state as we can,” Beatty said. “I really think we have a shot at getting at least three to make it on just qualifying marks and maybe more. There might be some improvement throughout the season and we might get even more than that down.”

Other young athletes expected to contribute are freshmen Stephanie Prostko (triple jump), Olivia Sheridan (distance), Taylor Stopa (shot put), Hanna Uranich (long jump), Kristen Williams (distance) and Alexa Zimbelman (long jump).

First-year senior Tonisha Thacker, senior Melissa Rodriguez and juniors Sidney Heinz and Natasha Slimko will run distance.

The Lady Cavs have more than 40 athletes on the roster, which is up from just 17 when Beatty took over the program in 2010.

“Increased numbers makes for a better, well-rounded team,” Beatty said. “It’s nice that it keeps growing.”

St. Bede
Head coach: Mike Skoflanc
IHSA classification: 1A
Returning outdoor state qualifiers: None
Season outlook: Skoflanc has more numbers than he’s had in the past with 17 girls, but the Lady Bruins have little experience.

“The nice thing is we have 17 girls, and we’re going to be able to fill a few more relays and a few more events maybe a little bit better than what we have the last couple years,” Skoflanc said.

Back from last year are senior Lauren Urbanowski (throws) and sophomores Maddie Ellis (triple jump, sprints) and Holly Gregorich (200, 400, 800).

Junior distance runner Laura Sickley is back out for track after opting to play softball last year.

Also expected to contribute are junior Morgan Bosnich (sprints, shot put) and freshman Zoe Postula (high jump, hurdles).

“As the season goes on, maybe Lauren Urbanoski or Laura Sickley could make some improvements to where we could be talking about (state),” Skoflanc said. “Other than that, we have a lot of young kids we want to bring along the next 2-3 years and make progress with them.”

Head coach: Nick Hanck
IHSA classification: 1A
Returning outdoor state qualifiers: Katie Hoffert (400 relay, 1,600 relay), Ashley Keegan (1,600 relay)
Season outlook: Despite his lowest numbers (15) since taking over the program four years ago, Hanck looks to continue the Lady Red Devils’ recent trend of strong relays after sending the 400-meter and 1,600-meter relays to state last year.

“It’s going to take, I think, that whole month of April to mix and match and see what we have and see what we can put together, but I’m still thinking our best shots (at state) are probably to put together some relays,” Hanck said. “Just knowing that tough sectional we feed into and what those other schools have, I know we’re not at that level in individual events, so it’s nice to be able to get four girls who may not be able to make it as individuals and piece them together and get a relay to make it down.”

The senior Hoffert and junior Keegan will once again contribute to relays. Others expected to be on relays are senior Jacquie Wallaert, junior Brittany Foster, sophomore Lexi Piccatto and freshman Brooke Keegan.

Individually, Hoffert will triple jump, Ashey Keegan and Wallaert will run mid-distance with Wallaert possibly dropping to sprints, Foster will sprint and Piccatto will do both jumps.

Others who will contribute are freshman Tanja Acamovic (hurdles), freshman Lindsey Conrad (400), sophomore Carlee Yuvan (throws) and junior Clarissa Gerrard (throws).

Putnam County
Head coach: Missy Carlson
IHSA classification: 1A
Returning outdoor state qualifiers: Paige Griffith (300 hurdles)
Season outlook: Griffith was PC’s first state qualifier in four years, and with increased numbers this season, the Lady Panthers hope to build on that success.

“We’d like to get a few more people down to state and we want to better our times and be competitive,” Carlson said. “We’re still building our program. We hope each year to go out and show everyone what a good showing we can have and keep building our program from that.”

Along with Griffith, Carlson believes Kirsten Davis has a strong shot at state in the 800 after placing third in the sectional last year.

Others expected to be strong contributors are Lydia Warren (sprints, long jump), Brooke Veronda (discus), Ashley Heagy (distance) and Claire Griffith (sprints), a senior who is able to run for the first time since suffering an injury as an eighth grader.

Carlson also hopes to be competitive in the 800 and 3,200 relays.

Head coach: Kevin Wohrley
IHSA classification: 2A
Returning outdoor state qualifiers: None
Season outlook: The Lady Trojans will rely heavily on the junior class in Wohrley’s first season as coach.

Whorley said juniors Kaitlyn Horn (throws) and JoEllyn Parks (jumps) are Mendota’s best chances for state qualifiers.

Other juniors expected to contribute are Elivia Ambler (jumps/sprints), Kady Halbmaier (hurdles) and Madison Myers (sprints).

Mendota also will look for strong contributions from the freshmen class, including Elizabeth Willis (throws), Elizabeth Ross (distance), Pamela Larrison (sprints) and Jenny Rodriguez (sprints).

Wohrley, who also coaches Mendota cross country, hopes to have some strong relays.

“I think we should be able to put together some nice relays,” Wohrley said. “We have some decent speed in the sprints. It’s largely dependent on where we find help from our underclassmen. We’re going to experiment and find out what combinations are going to work.”

Head coach: Pete Armstrong
IHSA classification: 2A
Returning state qualifiers: None
Season outlook: The Lady Pirates were hit hard by graduation, which cost them state-qualifying thrower Alyssa Mussatto.

“We lost a lot to graduation. We’ll be down a little bit this year overall, but our numbers aren’t bad. We’re still mid-40s as far as total kids,” Armstrong said. “We have 16 freshmen. It’s going to be interesting to see how they do.”

Armstrong expects to be strong in sprints and hopes for solid relays with such high numbers.

Senior Haley Harsted is the top returning sprinter. Junior Dani Melgoza and senior Taylor Sellett also will run sprints. Sellet will throw the discus as well.

Juniors Megan Ward and Allison Warren will be the team’s top distance runners.

In field events, freshman Shawna Goins will contribute in the throws, while junior Maddy Mach is expected to be strong in the pole vault.

Armstrong said Mach may be the team’s best chance for a state qualifier.

Head coach: Jessica Kuhn
IHSA classification: 1A
Returning outdoor state qualifiers: Dani Aurit (1600, 3200, 3200 relay), Elizabeth Dyche (3200 relay, 400)
Season outlook: Despite losing some of their top athletes to graduation, the Lady Crusaders still return plenty of talent despite having just 13 athletes.

The returnees are led by the junior Aurit, a three-event state qualifier last spring.

At the state meet, Aurit placed eighth in both the 1,600 and 3,200, while she also finished fourth in the 3,200 at last weekend’s indoor state meet.

“Her goal is to make it down to state again for sure in the one and two mile and, if possible, in the 800,” Kuhn said. “She performed so well down at indoor state last weekend and looked very, very good. She worked very hard in the offseason on her own, so I think she should have a pretty good year.”

Aurit’s younger sister, freshman Paige, will compete in mid-distance events after a standout cross country season, while Marquette has depth in the sprints, led by the senior Dyche — who qualified for state in 400 last season — and senior Allison Taylor.

Senior Angela Evola also returns in the high jump — an event in which she set the school record last season — while senior Maggie Wenzel will compete in the hurdles.

Head coach: Pat Hodge
IHSA classification: 2A
Returning outdoor state qualifiers: Zoe Mead (3,200 relay), Phoenix Smallwood (LJ, TJ), Sierra Storm (3,200 relay)
Season outlook: In her first full-time season of track after also playing soccer in the playing soccer in the past, Smallwood will lead a team strong in the field events. She placed second in the triple jump and third in the long jump at the Illinois Prep Top Times Meet.

Storm is expected to perform well in the pole vault, and PHS has three strong throwers in sophomores Taylor Clark, Nicole Holland and Colbi Schertz.

Mead will lead the way on the track and is expected to be strong in the 400 and 800.

“The field events should be a constant strength for us,” Hodge said. “We’ll be OK on the track but lack depth there, especially in the distance events, which have been a strength for us in the past.

“The rest of our returning letter winners will need to combine with some of our newcomers to fill out the sprints and sprint relays plus the jumping events.”

Head coach: Josh Johnson
IHSA classification: 1A
Returning outdoor state qualifiers: None
Season outlook: Senior Velinda Lopez is back after a strong cross country season. She’ll run the mile for the Lady Giants.

Classmate Alicia Marquez also returns and is expected to be a strong thrower. She won the discus and placed third in the shot in the opening meet Thursday.

“Outside of (Lopez and Marquez), we’re a really young team,” Johnson said. “We have a lot of first years and a couple second years who are growing.”

Bureau Valley
Head coach: Dale Donner
IHSA classification: 1A
Returning outdoor state qualifiers: Lindsey Hoffert (LJ, 400, 100), Katelin Johnson (3,200 relay), Regan Weidner (1,600, 3,200, 3,200 relay)
Season outlook: Sophomores Hoffert and Weidner both earned two state medals last season. Hoffert was second in the long jump and ninth in the 400, while Weidner — who placed second in the IHSA Class 1A State Cross Country Meet in the fall — finished third in the 3,200 and ninth in the 1,600.

The pair also dominated the conference as freshmen. Hoffert is the defending Three Rivers Athletic Conference champion in the 100, 200, 400 and long jump, while Weidner won conference titles last year in the 3,200 and 1,600.

Other returning letter winners for the Storm are Johnson and fellow juniors Kelly Sirens (hurdles) and Lauren Peterson (hurdes), senior Krista Naaktgeboren (pole vault) and sophomores Haley DeVoss (sprints), Riley Francis (distance) and Sidney Lebahn (throws/triple jump).

Newcomers are freshmen Savannah Dean (jumps), Abby Howes (high jump/hurdles) and Sam Stocking (throws).

Head coach: Carol Bauer
IHSA classification: 1A
Returning outdoor state qualifiers: Maria Baldwin (1,600, 3,200), Tessa Holland (HJ, 3,200 relay, 400), Alivia Kroeschen (3,200 relay), Addie McMullen (3,200 relay), Caitlin Pongracz (3,200 relay)
Season outlook: Bauer is “very, very excited” for this season and with good reason.

Fieldcrest has state-medalist Holland and Baldwin back to lead a 22-athlete roster
While high jump is Holland’s main event, Bauer feels she can also qualify for state in the long jump, 400, 300 hurdles or relays, while Bauer believes Baldwin has a strong shot at a state medal in the 3,200 with a possibility of medaling in the 1,600 as well.

Kroeschen, McMullen and Pongracz are back after running the 3,200 relay at state last year.

Freshman Annette Baldwin will contribute after a strong cross country season, while classmates Aleksa Ladd and Makenzie White also will compete for relay spots.
Bauer wants to get the 1,600 and 3,200 relays to state and hopes to medal in a relay for the first time in program history.

“The nice thing is nothing is guaranteed,” Bauer said. “Most of the girls are of similar speed and ability, so they will have to work very hard. … They’re very hungry to fight for those spots, and that will just make the team better.”

Sophomore Jayla Gensler returns to throw and freshman Abbie Fuller will run sprints.

Head coach: Clark Owsley
IHSA classification: 1A
Returning outdoor state qualifiers: Emma Cluskey (800 relay), Amanda Kereta (800 relay, 1600 relay), Amber Kereta (800 relay, 1600 relay, 3200 relay), Alyssa Martynowski (3200 relay), Nicole Woodall (1600 relay, 3200 relay), Melanie Yanke (800 relay, 1600 relay)
Season outlook: After winning the Tri-County Conference team title last season, the Timberducks return plenty of talent this spring.

After H-M had three of its four relays qualify for state last season, 11 of the 12 relay members return.

“We lost a lot of kids from that big (sophomore) group, but we still have a lot of contenders back, specifically those who were in the relays that qualified for state,” Owsley said.

The relays are highlighted by the 3,200 relay, which returns Midland seniors Nicole Woodall and Alyssa Martynowski as well as Henry sophomore Amber Kereta. Fellow Henry sophomore Amanda Kereta rounds out the relay, which finished fifth at last weekend’s indoor state meet.

Both the 800 and 1,600 relays return the entire quartet.

Back in the 800 relay are Henry sophomores Emma Cluskey, Melanie Yanke and Amanda and Amber Kereta.

The 1,600 relay returns the Kereta sisters, Woodall and Yanke.

“The training has gone really well,” Owsley said. “We’ve had a couple of injuries here and there, but it’s nothing we can’t work through.”

The team also returns Midland sophomore Jillian Monier, who finished 10th in the 3,200 at last weekend’s indoor state meet.

Head coach: Bob Halberg
IHSA classification: 1A
Returning outdoor state qualifiers: Laura Rieker (HJ)
Season outlook: The junior Rieker, the school record holder in the high jump, leads the nine LaMoille girls on the roster.

Junior Shiela Browning is the school record holder in the triple jump, and senior Meredith Stamberger is expected to be a strong contributor in mid-distance events and relays.

“We’re very young,” Halberg said. “We will be strong in several field events and I believe we will have some pretty competitive relay teams.”

Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.

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