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’08 Girls AAA State Preview

For Sure shots (top five probable): these are teams that should place within the team trophy status (top 3) and among the state elite (top 5).  
Coach: Bob Thomsen
Nickname: Vikings
Team bio: consensus #1 Dyestat Illinois; USA #5; Nike Cross Nationals Midwest Regional #1; undefeated in ’08; defending state champions.
Probable scorers (top 5): Kelly Whitley (So.), Sarah Heuer (Sr.), Liza Tauscher (So.), Meghan Heuer (Jr.), Tess Ehrhardt (So.).
Analysis: one of the most dynamic teams to come along in a long time on the girls’ side in a long time.  The Vikings took the world by storm in 2007 by winning the state championship over favorite Hinsdale Central with six freshmen and one sophomore.  #1 runner Kelly Whitley unexpectedly finished second in the individual race.  This same set up can happen as she has just one defeat on the season.  This year the team from the far western Chicago suburbs is much deeper with two transfers from Minnesota (Heuer sisters).  In fact, Geneva is so good that two returnees were relegated to the junior varsity ranks.  Coach Thomsen has had the task of keeping his roster fresh and happy throughout the season by mixing and matching lineups for meets throughout the season.  Still, total domination existed throughout the year.  For any team in Illinois to even think about defeating this vaulted squad they are going to have to break up the 3-5 pack that often finishes races well.
Likely race scenario: STATE CHAMPION.

Naperville North-
Coach: Dan Iverson
Nickname: Huskies
Team bio: #4 Dyestat Illinois; multiple state champions in 2000 era.
Probable scorers (top 5): Joanna Brodecki (Jr.), Michelle Stratton (Sr.), Christina Rei (Jr.), Jamie Schertz (Jr.), Adrienne Schertz (So.).
Analysis: the Huskies are a threat no matter how they come into a state championship.  Coach Iverson is perhaps the savviest coach no matter the gender when it comes to competing for a state championship.  NN placed 5th at last year’s Schaumburg sectional but left Peoria with a state trophy and third place.  This year the team is in a similar spot after placing a distant 4th at St. Charles East.  The key to the success is incredibly strong pack runner that often runs in the 20 second range 1-5.  This will have to be the remedy again as there appears to be no front runner among the troops.  Stratton has the ability to step up and surprise the top 25 ranks.  It should not matter though, as long as the top 5 stay up front or in the 30-50 scoring range.
Likely race scenario: 3rd.

Orland Park (Sandburg)-
Coach: Christina Soldan
Nickname: Eagles
Team bio: #6 Dyestat Illinois/#5 MW NXN; several top 5 state finishes including runner-up in 1997.
Probable scorers: Kimberly Christensen (Jr.), Elise Prieto (So.), Sarah Czuprynski (So.), Nikki Gleisner (Fr.), Erin Czuprynski (Sr.).
Analysis: a hot team at the right time.  The Eagles are probably the second best team in the state.  They were particularly fired up near the end of the regular season at the West Aurora Stampede, when they came within striking distance of the vaulted Geneva team.  Of course, the Orland bunch knew Geneva dialed it down a bit in that meet, but they also know that they can compete with any team in the field and will pounce on mistakes of the top teams.  Christensen has been running extremely well of late and could be a top 10 finisher.  Erin Czuprynski appears to have shaken the injury bug and is having a great season.  In fact, the entire Eagle clan has been overachieving and could surprise some folks.
Likely race scenario: STATE RUNNER-UP

Hinsdale Central-

Coach: Mark McCabe
Nickname: Red Devils
Team bio: #3 Dyestat Illinois/#7 NXN Midwest; state champions in 2006 and placed 4th last year.
Probable scorers: Elaine Kuckertz (Sr.), Graylin Harrison (Sr.), Heather Stevens (Sr.), Roey Hines (Sr.), Niamh McCarthy (Sr.)
Analysis: don’t ever bet against this group because is an experienced bunch whose yearly raid on the trophy case may be coming to an end.  That means the five outgoing seniors are starving to make up for coming up empty handed last year at Detweiller.  This year has been good not great as they showed flashes of what they can do.  They beat Palatine but lost to Orland Park Sandburg.  The Red Devils will be in the hunt for at least a third place trophy because they have a front runner in Kuckertz and a steady pack.  Stevens and Harrison will lead the pack.  Hines is back after suffering foot injuries over the past year.  Senior Lauren Zumbach has been an important cog the past four years, but has yet to get untracked like she is capable of.
Likely race scenario: 4th.

Coach: Steve Currins
Nickname: Pirates
Team bio: #2 Dyestat Illinois/# 6 NXN Midwest; perennial top 10 state placer; 6-time state champions (four under coach Currins).
Probable scorers: Sarah McIntosh (So.), Courtney Brown (So.), Ruth Allen (Jr.), Tory Wright (Sr.), Becca Sund (So.).
Analysis: 2009 may be the year the Pirates challenge for state title… but don’t tell outgoing legendary coach Steve Currins that.  He would like nothing more than to win another state plaque.  That task seemed like a shoe in several weeks ago became a little more difficult.  After having a great regular season and winning the MSL conference in a breeze, the Pirates have limped into the state meet: 1st at regionals by on 4 pts; 2nd at sectionals to Buffalo Grove after beating them handily two weeks prior.  McIntosh is not the issue- she continues to run well.  The usually trusty 2-5 pack has faded a little over the past weeks.  Brown, Allen, and Wright are good but may be tiring after having endured a long season.  Sund could help out and move back challengers to the team top 5.  If anything, coach Currins got the girls attention for the final time this week and that should pay off for something good.
Likely race scenario: 5th.

Sure shots (next five squads): teams that are good enough to creep into the top five but not quite ready for trophy status.  They are more than likely to settle for spots 6-10.

Elmhurst (York)-
Coach: Annette Schulte
Nickname: Lady Dukes
Team bio: #7 Dyestat Illinois; championship program that won state in ’00;
Probable scorers: Meghan Frigo (Jr.), Shari Lund (Fr.), Shreya Singh (Sr.), Kayla Spencer (Fr.), Stephanie Huster (So.).
Analysis: the Lady Dukes have completed another good regular season.  Although the girls looked a little tired at the Niles West sectional they won by nearly 30 pts.  Meghan Frigo hit a bump in the road there with her worst finish- 19th.  She will bounce back.  It is always good to have depth and the Elmhurst bunch has that as the 2-5 pack generally runs under 30 seconds and 6th and 7th runners are solid too.  Singh picked up M. Frigo at Niles, becoming the team’s #1 runner placing 9th.  There shouldn’t be any letdowns as the team goes after its quest of a top 5 finish.
Likely race scenario: definite top 10 finish.

Buffalo Grove-

Coach: Sara Cleveland
Nickname: Bison
Team bio: #9 Dyestat Illinois; 1st- Lake Forest Regional; 1st- Schaumburg Sectional; 2nd- MSL championship.
Probable scorers: Olivia Jones (Fr.), Sarah Peluse (So.), Erin McGrath (Sr.), Cary Geyer (Jr.), Erin Cleary (Jr.).
Analysis: a lot of teams and media have disregarded the success of the Bison but they keep on winning.  They have revenged every loss this season.  They defeated Palatine and Hoffman Estates after absorbing losses to them.  The Bison are the new breed despite a lack of post-season talent.  They have never been to state compared to MSL queens Palatine’s yearly top finishes.  The young guns that include the 1-2 punch of Jones and Peluse will be leading things.  As long as they can keep the remaining Bison under control they will be ok.  If they get nervous and try and do too much early in the race, they will be in for a longer run than anticipated.
Likely race scenario: definite top 10 finish.

Hoffman Estates-
Coach: Kirk Macnider
Nickname: Hawks
Team bio: Peoria Central Invite champs; first state appearance since 1993.
Probable scorers: Melissa Schmidt (Jr.), Hanna Worman (Jr.), Gaby Duenas (Sr.), Haley Worman (Fr.), Kathy Kenley (Sr.).
Analysis: at one during the season the Hawks were 90-plus wins and one loss.  They were on a high after narrowly winning the Peoria Central Invitational in early October and slipped to third at MSL championships.  The key to cracking into the top 8 or better will be front running and the 3-5 runners keeping the gap low.  Schmidt and Hanna Worman are virtual co- number one runners that have top 15 potential in them.  The remaining scoring pack ran with three seconds at sectionals.  They can be bad as well as conference attested.  They were over one minute apart.  Keeping it simple and sweet will be the goal.
Likely race scenario: top 8.

Lisle (Benet Academy)-
Coach: Scott Brooks
Nickname: Red Wings
Team bio: #6 Dyestat Illinois; 3rd in ’06 states.
Probable scorers: McKinzie Schulz (Jr.), Katie Porada (Jr.), Meghan Murphy (Sr.), Molly Allen (Sr.).
Analysis: the Red Wings were very fortunate to advance to state.  They copped the last spot at Burbank Reavis by four points over Lockport. Schulz is the team’s star.  She bounced back from a less than stellar performance at the regional to a runner up finish at sectionals.  Porada has been the team’s #2 runner all season, and was in the top 10 on the final straight before collapsing near the finish.  She placed 49th.  Should she recover for state it will be a boost for Benet.  Allen is someone that needs to get untracked for the team to realize its full potential.  As it now stands, it will be incredibly hard to break into the elite top 5.  The team pack is just too spread to accomplish such a feat.
Likely race scenario: 9th.

LaGrange (Lyons Twp)-
Coach: Julie Metz
Nickname: Lions
Team bio: #10 Dyestat Illinois; state runner-up in ’07.
Probable scorers: Katherin Rehn (Jr.), Kelsey Kilrea (Jr.), Lisa Gordon (Fr.), Katie Flaherty (Sr.), Holly Rhode (Sr.).
Analysis: this is a vastly different team than what coach Metz is accustomed to.  Gone are several key pieces like Keegan Kilrea and the venerable Jane Simpson.  This “younger” team has some experience on it.  Rehn, Flaherty, and Rhode were in last year’s championship race.  The usual pack attack style the Lions deploy is still effective.  Whether or not Lyons can duplicate last year’s success will be a wait and see process.
Likely race scenario: top 10.

Good shots (mid of pack teams): teams that could crash the top 10 door on a great day, but more than likely will finish in the 11-15 range.

Chicago Whitney Young-
Coach: Bob Geiger
Nickname: Dolphins
Team bio: #12 Dyestat Illinois; 14th in ‘07
Probable scorers: Lavinia Jurkiewicz (Jr.), Devyn Thompson (Jr.), Maisie Vachuska (So.), Rori Nalls (Fr.), Rachel Joravsky (Jr.).
Analysis: the Dolphins had the toughest schedule of any state final team.  They competed in Peoria, Wheaton North Flighted Classic, Great American Cross Country Festival in Birmingham.  So, are they are battle tested after all of this experience?  It appears that Jurkiewicz has led by example.  Her late season push has rubbed off on Thompson with sub 18:00 efforts at Niles West.  It may just yield all-state bonuses as well.  But the key to the Dolphins improving on last year and getting into the exclusive club will be some other contributions.  Look for Maisie Vachuska to continue her late, great race finishes helping keep the team score low.  The “X” factor will be Rachel Joravsky.  She has been fighting illnesses throughout much of the season.  She is getting healthy and should contribute in a big way as will the two freshman, Rori Nalls and Veronica Roznyek.
Likely race scenario: top 12.

Roselle (Lake Park)-
Coach: Harvey Braus
Nickname: Lancers
Team bio: #15 Dyestat Illinois.
Probable scorers: Lindsay Flanagan (Sr.), Juliet Vogel (Sr.), Elizabeth Riggio (Jr.), Ashley Prochazka (Jr.), Colleen Briscoe (Jr.).
Analysis: the Lancers are poised to do something special this weekend in Peoria.  They have been beset by injuries and/or illnesses all season, and they now appear healthy.  They could possible finish in the top ten if the 2-5 runners compete up to their capabilities. Vogel and Riggio will be key here.  Also, Prochazka will keep any bleeding that occur down if the 2-3 falter.  It appears obvious that Flanagan is going to win going away and that should help lower the score.
Likely race finish: top 15.

St. Charles East-
Coach: Denise Hefferin
Nickname: Saints
Team bio: #11 Dyestat Illinois; two-time state champion in ’96 & ‘97
Probable scorers: Lizzy Hynes (Sr.), Mallory Abel (Fr.), Dayna White (Sr.), Grace Gordon (Jr.), Holly Robertson (Jr.).
Analysis: Coach Hefferin has gotten the team she inherited in shambles back to state level prominence.  The Saints finished second at the SCE sectional to beat out several great teams including Naperville North and Wheaton-Warrenville South.  Besides the usual dominant running of Hynes and Abel, the top and bottom scoring pack has been getting the job done.  White has rebounded after a so-so ’07 campaign to shore up any holes.  If the Saints can continue their climb one more race, they may be able to break into the top 20.
Likely race finish: 11th.

Coach: Beth Emody
Nickname: Hawks
Team bio: #16 Dyestat Illinois
Probable team scorers: Alyssa Schneider (So.), Kristen Schneider (Sr.), Sam Salinas (Sr.), Taylor Crawford (Fr.), Janessa Baker (Fr.)
Analysis: the best trio in the state.  It’s possible this great three-some could earn all-state honors and the team still get shut out of the trophy round.  The reason being is the 4th and 5th runners are more than two minutes behind on average.  This trend hasn’t improved much over the course of the season and it might be too late for wishful thinking.
Likely race finish: top 15.

Coach: Jon Macnider
Nickname: Saxons
Team bio: #18 Dyestat Illinois
Probable team scorers: Colette Falsey (So.), Britten Petrey (So.), Karen Lesiewicz (So.), Nora Ferguson (Jr.), Kelsey Steenstrup (Fr.).
Analysis: Macnider’s girls appear ready for a run.  They all appear healthy as their performance in the Schaumburg sectional asserts.  Falsey and Petry have been carrying the load in Lesiewicz’s absence, but the trio should be fighting for top 30 positions in Peoria.  The team thins out a little at the #5 spot.  However, keeping the 4th and 5th positions relatively close to the trio will be a major goal.
Likely race finish: top 15.

Long shots (lower case teams): teams that are like to place in the top 20 (16-20) and could potentially grab a top 15 slot if one of the good shots slip.

Frankfort (Lincoln-Way East)-
Coach: Wendy Hegarty
Analysis: the Knights won the Normal Community Sectional.  Coach Hegarty’s team has run well of late, much of it at the expense of county rival Lincoln-Way Central.  LWE has beaten LWC three consecutive weeks in a row to win championships.  They will need another solid performance if they hope to break into the upper pack.

New Lenox (Lincoln-Way Central)-
Coach: Matt Bowden
Analysis: a good team with a great runner in Monica Hahn. The remaining pack have a chance to get revenge on LWE by moving up as the race wears on.  They have a nice split under 45 seconds 2-5.

Wheaton-Warrenville South-
Coach: Rob Harvey
Analysis: the Tigers return back to the state meet after not advancing last year. Look for Lauren Mordini and Elise Anderson to place in the 25-30.  If they can do this then WWS could surprise some heads.  Also, the remaining scoring pack must push toward the end of the race.

Palos Hills (Stagg)-
Coach: Trisha Barkausas
Analysis: the Chargers were on the verge of being one of cross country’s biggest disappointments.  They underperformed until the state series got underway.  The Moylan sisters Kara and Krista are starting to run well as is Theresa Kurth.  Can they make a run in the top 10?

Mt. Prospect (Prospect)-
Coach: Dave Wurster
Analysis: this is a hard team to gauge.  One race they compete like world beaters and the next they get beat by teams who have no business in their class.  Annette White will lead the charge here.

Coach: Neil James
Analysis: the Tigers ran well in the early part of the season, placing high in big meets in metro St. Louis against some good teams.  In their only big meet against the state’s best at Wheaton North Flight meet, they didn’t do very well.  However, they rebounded by winning their conference meet and replaced Edwardsville as the top team from the south.  They won the Granite City Regional and placed third at Normal Community Sectional behind two solid teams in Lincoln-Way East and Central.  O’Fallon was ranked much of the season and has the potential to break into the top 20 if Chelsea Hendrix and company run well.

Coach: Kevin Gummerson
Analysis: the Indians have been a solid team throughout the year.  They ran in several big meets such as the Loyola Lake Front Invitational that prepared them for the big show.  Rachel Williams is one the state’s most underrated runners.

Normal Community-
Coach: Tom Patten
Analysis: the top team in central Illinois have a chance to make a statement.  They have been counted out numerous times, but if they lay it on the line Saturday…

Chicago (St. Ignatius)-
Coach: Matt Haffner
Analysis: either this team is underrated or peaking at the right time.  Quite possibly both.  One thing is for certain they had an awesome showing at the Niles West Sectional that turned a lot of heads.  Alec Brumfield finished second overall.

Park Ridge (Maine South)-
Coach: Jeff Downing
Analysis: the face of this team is Kristen Zillmer.  Now, they have a team that qualified for the state championship.  They will not be happy to just to run on the historic Detweiller course.