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home : sports : sports   May 24, 2016

9/5/2013 11:22:00 AM
Girls cross country preview

Kevin Chlum and Chris Yucus

The Illinois Valley girls cross country scene features some of the state’s elite talent, and the area hopes to make a splash at state this year.

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

La Salle-Peru
Coach: John Beatty
Returning NewsTribune All-Area runners: Megan Krolak (Jr.), Lesly Rocha (Jr.)

Season outlook: Krolak and Rocha lead a program with hopes of its best season in years.

Krolak advanced to the state meet last season, and Rocha started the 2013 season with a bang with a course record at the Morris Early Bird Invitational.

“Megan and Lesly will be leading the pack, and they’re both running very well at this point,” Beatty said. “I expect that if the team doesn’t qualify for state, which is the goal, that at least these two will go, and I’d like to see them be in the top 25 (to earn state medals). They’re working toward that goal.”

Sophomore newcomers Olivia Sheridan and Kristen Williams are expected to be in the top four.

Junior Kylie Booker is a returning contributor, while seniors Sidney Heinz and Natasha Slimko will round out the top seven.

The Lady Cavaliers also hope to place higher in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference Meet and place in every invitational they attend.

St. Bede
Coach: Dennis Summers
Returning NewsTribune All-Area runners: None

Season outlook:
Summers has one of the largest teams of his tenure, now in its eighth season.

Back are four letter winners in seniors Laura Sickley, Raley Mauk, Sophie Carus and Anna Jereb.

Newcomers are seniors Lexie Miranda and Morgan Knoblauch, junior Holly Gregorich, sophomores Sadie Long, Julia Pohar, Katy Kennamer and Destiny Kwiatek and freshmen Annie Needs and Thea Mauck.

“I think we’re going to be pretty deep,” Summers said. “Only five of these ladies are dual-sport athletes. When the whole group is there, I think we’ll be a pretty consistent team.

Summers is optimistic about the Lady Bruins and feels they should qualify for sectionals as a team.

Coach: Tom Keegan
Returning NewsTribune All-Area runners: None

Season outlook: The Lady Red Devils have a small roster in what looks like a rebuilding season.

Hall returns Becca Herrmann, Brittany Foster and Tanja Acamovic, while freshmen Amelia Moreno, Kaylee Olivares and sophomore Kaylee Turpen are new to the squad.

“(Moreno) ran a nice race for us last week,” Keegan said. “(Olivares) has an ankle injury right now. I think she can be pretty good.”

Keegan hopes the Lady Red Devils are able to advance out of the regional.

Putnam County
Coach: Chuck McConnell
Returning NewsTribune All-Area runners: None

Season outlook: Senior captain Amelia Lindstrom will return to lead the way for a three-girl PC squad.

She will be joined this fall on the trail by sophomore Ashlyn Haage and freshman McKenna Downey.

“Our goal is to get as many runners to the sectional meet as possible,” McConnell said.

Other goals for the Lady Panthers this spring include cracking into the top-10 individually at the Tri-County Conference Meet.

Coach: Keith Garcia
Returning NewsTribune All-Area runners: None

Season outlook: DePue will have two runners representing the Lady Giants this fall.
Leading the way will be senior Adilene Gavina.

“Last year she had a pretty good season, but she’s asthmatic and when that flares up she can really struggle,” Garcia said. “Her times have improved this year and I look for her to be pretty competitive, and barring any setbacks, I’d like to see her qualify for sectionals — that’s kind of our goal right now.”

Joining her is freshman Larisa Moya, who Garcia calls “a very hard worker.”

Coach: Kevin Wohrley
Returning NewsTribune All-Area runners: None

Season outlook: The Lady Trojans have a solid top three in sophomore Emily Ross, junior Bethany Wohrley and senior Gillian Brown.

Ross was Mendota’s No. 1 runner most of last season and was a sectional qualifier along with Wohrley.

Other runner expected to contribute are senior Madison Myers, junior Amber Preston and sophomore Jenny Rodriguez.

“We have a core of five from last year,” Kevin Wohrley said. “If everyone can run healthy, we should see some improvements from where we were last year.

“I think we can climb a little bit in the (Big Northern) conference. I think we can be a better team than last year. That’s always what you want as a coach.”

Coach: Doug Hearn
Returning NewsTribune All-Area runners: None

Season outlook: The numbers are a bit down for the Lady Pirates, but they do return five runners in seniors Megan Ward, Allison Warren and Megan Cameron and juniors Kaitlin Sumler and Autumn Oley.

Junior Eden Brewer and sophomore Claire Schaibley also will contribute along with some freshmen, including Lisa Gibbs.

Hearn looks for the Lady Pirates to have a better finish in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference Meet and advance to sectionals again.

“I’d like to climb up a notch or tow in the conference,” Hearn said. “We have to keep working on weekly mileage, getting packs together and developing as a group.”

Coach: Dr. Dan Cheatham
Returning NewsTribune All-Area runners: Dani Aurit (Sr.)

Season outlook: The Lady Crusaders will have a family-friendly 1-2 punch this fall with returning No. 1 runner Dani Aurit — last year’s Class 1A St. Bede Regional champion who finished 39th at state — and her younger sister Paige, a sophomore.

“Dani is ahead of Paige, but I wouldn’t doubt that Paige is going to be pretty close to Dani’s times this year,” Cheatham said. “They’re both getting better, and if they both work off each other, it’s going to be a nice 1-2 punch.”

Cheatham also expects returning junior Olivia Rhodes — in her third year of varsity running — to contribute this year, while sophomores Hunter Wright and McKinzie Adams will fill out the team and look to gain experience as the season goes.

Coach: Pat Hodge
Returning NewsTribune All-Area runners: Zoe Mead (Sr.)

Season outlook: Mead, who finished seventh at the St. Bede Regional last year and 34th at sectionals, will lead a PHS team full of new faces.

Junior Lindsy York, who transferred from Putnam County, will help add some experience to the team after running last year for the Lady Panthers.

“Lindsy York brings some experience with her from Putnam County and has been a nice fit for our team. Everyone else is new to distance running and it will take some time to get mentally and physically prepared for it,” Hodge said. “Hopefully, by the end of the year, we can be competitive at regional and challenge for a sectional spot.”

Rounding out the roster will be six first-year runners in juniors Ashley Rivera and Megan Hendrickson, as well as rookie sophomores Kira Harp and Alex Smallwood and freshman Casey Scertz.

Bureau Valley
Coach: Dale Donner
Returning NewsTribune All-Area runners: Regan Weidner (Jr.)

Season outlook: After suffering through some injuries last spring, Weidner, the 2012 NT Runner of the Year after a second-place finish at the Class 1A state meet, is healed up and ready for another strong postseason after a solid offseason program.

“Regan is not our only girl to put in the miles in the offseason. Most all of our girls logged quite a few miles over the summer,” Donner said. 

Weidner will lead a core of returning varsity letter winners for the Storm that also includes junior Riley Francis, and seniors Katelin Johnson, Lauren Peterson and Kelly Seierens.

New additions in junior Corrinne Wagenknecht and freshman Heather Williams should help bolster the roster.

“I really feel like we can compete for the (Three Rivers) conference championship,” Donner said. 

Coach: Clark Owsley
Returning NewsTribune All-Area runners: Ronna Pettis (So.)

Season outlook: The Timberducks return four of the their top seven runners from last year’s squad, which earned the co-ops first-ever team trip to the Class 1A state meet, where H-M finished 15th.

Jillian Monier, who led the team with a 34th-place finish at state, will be back to anchor the returning group along with fellow returners Ronna Pettis, Melanie Yanke and Erin McKee.

The co-op also will get a bit of a boost with the return of junior Emma Cluskey, who sat out last year due to injury, while senior Lauren Sendelbach and junior Brittnei Oser round out the squad.

“Adding Emma back to the roster was a boost, but we will lack the depth we’ve had the last two seasons with only seven total runners,” Owsley said.

Owsley said H-M looks to climb higher at state.

“If we can keep our top five healthy, this group should be competitive at the sectional. I look for them to improve upon their 15th-place finish at last year’s state meet,” Owsley said. “I also look for Jill and Ronna to fight for top-10 spots at the sectional and set personal best times at Detweiller.”

Coach: Carol Bauer
Returning NewsTribune All-Area runners: Maria Baldwin (Sr.)

Season outlook: The Knights return one of the area’s top runners in Baldwin, the 2012 NewsTribune Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year and a 2012 all-state cross country runner.

Bauer hopes to see her star place near the top 10 at state.

Joining Baldwin to create a solid top three for Fieldcrest is her younger sister, Annette, and freshman Claire Weers.

After that, Bauer is looking for runners to step up to round out the top 5.
Candidates include first-year senior Julia Jochums, Sydney McKay and Kayla Massmore along with Emily Hinrichson and Erin Pongracz.

“The possibility for state is there,” Bauer said. “With as strong a runner as Maria is, and with Annette and Claire being reasonably close to her, it does open the door for us. But those other girls are going to have to make a huge step.”

Coach: Bob Halberg
Returning NewsTribune All-Area runners: None

Season outlook: The Clippers have 10 runners, including returners Laura Rieker, Sydney Langler, Kaitlin Boers and 2012 MVP Jennifer Popovich.

Newcomers are Emma Scully, Renee Vaessen, Megan Grady, Erin Hosto and Brenna Rieker.

“I expect some really good things to happen this year,” Halberg said. “Popovic was all-conference last year and I expect her to be solid. She will be pressed by Boers, Grady, Hosto and Brenna Rieker. The nucleus looks good barring injuries, and hopefully, with competition in practice we’ll advance to sectionals.”

Kevin Chlum can Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6939, or at Follow them on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor and @NT_SportsChris.

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