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Girls Track and Field: Previewing teams in the Kane County Chronicle coverage area

Katrina Schlenker (center) of Batavia leads (from left) St. Charles East's Alice Abbott, Wheaton Warrenville South's Laurel Moneysmith and Geneva's Sophia McDonnell in the 3,200-meter run during the 2019 DuKane Conference Meet at Geneva High School on May 3, 2019.
Katrina Schlenker (center) of Batavia leads (from left) St. Charles East's Alice Abbott, Wheaton Warrenville South's Laurel Moneysmith and Geneva's Sophia McDonnell in the 3,200-meter run during the 2019 DuKane Conference Meet at Geneva High School on May 3, 2019.

The girls track and field season is on hold indefinitely, but we’re still previewing the season. Here are previews of teams in the Kane County Chronicle area.

Batavia Bulldogs

Coach: Justin Allison

Top athletes: Mackenzie Benkers, jr., pole vault; Mia Gianfrancesco, sr., middle distance, distance; Meghann Hartmann, fr., sprints, jumps; Audrey Pellico, sr., middle distance; Jenna Schifferer, jr., middle distance, distance; Katrina Schlenker, so., sprints, middle distance, distance; Sabrina Schlenker, sr., sprints, hurdles; Davinia Wilson, jr., sprints

Outlook: Batavia should be one of the finer programs in both its conference (the DuKane) and Kane County. The Schlenker sisters are poised for monster seasons. Sabrina, a senior bound for Illinois State, attempts to regain her all-state hurdling form at 300 meters after missing the discipline last year with a knee injury. Sabrina Schlenker, Pellico, Gianfrancesco and Schifferer provide outstanding depth at 800 meters. “Sabrina is just getting back to her potential that we lost that half-year last year,” Allison said.

Burlington Central Rockets

Coach: Vince Neil

Top athletes: Olivia Angvick, sr., sprints, hurdles; Brooke Barkocy, jr., sprints, hurdles; Jenna Dinges, sr., distance; Lauren Dowd, jr., sprints; Megan Gasparaitis, sr., pole vault; Carolina Hintz, jr., throws; Fiona Pedone, jr., sprints, jumps; Emily Stark, sr., sprints

Outlook: The Rockets, along with Rosary, will unquestionably be the area standard-bearers in Class 2A. “We have some girls who have been working real hard,” Neil said. Burlington Central has its fair share of state meet-seasoned veterans, headlined by reigning all-staters Hintz and Barkocy in the discus and 100 hurdles, respectively. Sprint relays are seemingly loaded with talent. “Now that they are older and more mature, it’s not just about getting down there,” Neil said of the state finals. “It’s time to take the next step.”

Geneva Vikings

Coach: Peter Raak

Top athletes: Katie Beitzel, jr., sprints, pole vault; Kaitlyn Brucci, sr., throws; Andrine Larsen, sr., distance; Kelly McCloughan, jr., sprints, hurdles, jumps; Sarah Pratt, sr., middle distance; Niyah Udoiwod, jr., sprints, jumps; Julia Zuzsinski, sr., sprints, jumps

Outlook: All coaches desire senior depth. “This is a solid group,” Raak said. “We have 15 or 16 seniors. I don’t think I have ever had that many senior girls before. We’ll see how that leads to the underclassmen filling in and playing a big role as well.” McCloughan is a state threat in the triple jump and potentially both hurdle distances. Larsen anchors the Vikings’ traditional strength in the two longest races. “She could qualify in multiple events,” Raak said of McCloughan.

Kaneland Knights

Coach: Andrew Franklin

Top athletes: Olivia Franklin, jr., middle distance, distance; Riley Kuffel, jr., sprints; Abbey Peeler, jr., throws; Rachel Richtman, sr., middle distance, distance; Olivia Rohman, so., throws; Emma Stoker, sr., sprints; Olivia Yarbrough, so., sprints, jumps

Outlook: First-year coach Franklin eyes the Interstate Eight as his immediate focus. “We should be strong in our new conference,” Franklin said. “I am excited about this group and their growth.” Richtman, the only four-time all-state athlete in Kaneland girls cross country history, is the Knights’ senior linchpin. In their third year in Class 3A, the Knights should be well-suited to compete in sprint relays, middle distance and the throws.

Rosary Royals

Coach: Vic Meade

Top athletes: Maia Italia, jr., middle distance; Katie Lifka, jr., sprints, middle distance; Annie Molenhouse, jr., sprints, jumps; Lauren Roskuszka, jr., sprints, jumps; Libby Saloga, fr., sprints, pole vault; Lianna Surtz, so., middle distance, distance; Mary Tork, jr., jumps; Katie Ubertino, so., sprints, middle distance

Outlook: Rosary has grand expectations this spring, as all of the returnees qualified for the Class 2A state meet last year. Surtz, injured for much of last spring, is coming off consecutive state championships after augmenting her 1,600-meter title last spring with the Class 1A cross country crown last fall. “I want to help the team as much as possible to achieve our goals for the season,” Surtz said. “I do plan to focus on the 3,200 as much as the 1,600.” The Royals return multiple all-state contributors to their 1,600 and 3,200 relays.

St. Charles East Saints

Coach: Brad Kaplan

Top athletes: Alice Abbott, jr., middle distance, distance; Ava Abbott, so., middle distance, distance; Makenna Brown, jr., sprints, jumps; Katie Kempff, so., sprints, jumps; Torrie Kortan, jr., sprints; Alivia Silvestri, jr., pole vault

Outlook: The Saints will look to make inroads in the six non-running events this spring. “We have been really strong in the field events this year,” said Kaplan, who will be in his first season as coach. Much will be expected of Alice Abbott at 1,600 and 3,200 meters. The junior is exceptionally talented. “She is extremely focused and motivated,” Kaplan said of his standout. “The last two state meets didn’t go like she wanted it to.”

St. Charles North North Stars

Coach: Kate Mehalic

Top athletes: Natalie Buratczuk, so., jumps; Nikole Custer, sr., sprints, jumps; Kaylee Hopp, jr., sprints, jumps; Kayla Mikottis, sr., throws; Audrey Sheehy, so., distance; Jenny Todd, fr., sprints, jumps; Ella Townsend, jr., distance

Outlook: Mehalic feels the program is at its most balanced in her brief career as coach. “I have a very positive outlook for the girls,” Mehalic said. “It would be very unfortunate if we don’t have the chance to showcase that ability.” Mikottis’ junior season ended with an all-state medal in the discus. Mikottis is equally potent in the shot put. “She has already broken the indoor record twice this season,” Mehalic said of his senior standout. Custer looks to garner another state bid after missing last year. 

St. Francis Spartans

Coach: Mike Prizy

Top athletes: Maddie Andelbradt, so., sprints, jumps; Alyssa Falco, fr., distance; Leah Gaul, so., distance; Kellyn Halliday, so., sprints, hurdles; Gabby Hernandez, jr., middle distance, distance; Isabella Naling, so., sprints; Anna Schmitt, so., sprints

Outlook: Prizy takes over both track programs at St. Francis from Scott Nelson, who held the position for 36 years. Andelbradt anchors the Spartans’ deep sophomore class. Andelbradt was fifth in the high jump last spring in Charleston in Class 2A. “She is going to be a multi-event athlete,” Prizy said of Andelbradt. “She is a well-rounded athlete.” Prizy is optimistic St. Francis’ middle-distance runners can propel the team to new heights this spring.

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