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Girls track and field previews: Wheaton Warrenville South returns three from record breaking relay

Wheaton Warrenville South's McKenna Kiple returns after last year's record-breaking performance in the state 4 x 800-meter relay. File photo by Bill Ackerman —
Wheaton Warrenville South's McKenna Kiple returns after last year's record-breaking performance in the state 4 x 800-meter relay. File photo by Bill Ackerman —

Wheaton Warrenville South

Coach: Rob Harvey

Top returners:

McKenna Kiple, sr. (mid. distance)

Hope Schmelzle, sr. (mid. distance, distance)

Erin Herrmann, sr. (mid. distance)

Jessica Spera, sr. (hurdles, sprints)

Erin Zappia, jr. (high jump)

Jenny Fiola, jr. (sprints)

What to watch: Wheaton Warrenville South is coming off a banner 2012 campaign which included conference and sectional titles and a 20th-place finish at the Class 3A state meet.

Despite losing five individual state qualifiers to graduation, the Tigers have picked up right where they left off, placing first in every meet so far (primarily indoor and one outdoor meet) except for a second-place showing at the DVC indoor meet.

“This is a typical team for us,” said Wheaton Warrenville South coach Rob Harvey. “They step up when they have to and tend to run to their abilities.”

The squad is led by a trio of seniors in McKenna Kiple, Hope Schmelzle and Erin Herrmann, a group that teamed with the now-graduated Amy Yong to set the 4 x 800-meter relay state record with a time of 8:59.03 in winning the state title.

Kiple was also a state qualifier in the 800 while Schmelzle moved on in the 1,600.

Big things are also expected from Jessica Spera (state qualifier in the 100 high hurdles), Erin Zappia and Jenny Fiola. The team will have to overcome the loss of Maggie Dansdill, the school record-holder in the 200 who suffered a torn ACL during basketball season.

Goals include securing another conference title, though the Tigers will have to overcome a West Aurora team that edged them by eight points indoors.

“We would obviously like to defend our conference championship outdoors,” Harvey said. “We’ve had a nice little battle with West Aurora the past couple of years and it has made us both better.

“And then the ultimate goal is qualifying kids for state. We’ve got some kids with big individual goals. We’ve had a nice run the last few years and we want to keep it going.”

Wheaton North

Coach: Brian Zeglin

Top returners:

Emma Grisanzio, sr. (sprints, high jump)

Arica Secrest, sr. (hurdles, pole vault)

Alison Farnsworth, jr. (mid. distance)

Caroline Bullman, sr. (throws)

Ciara Kiely, sr. (throws)

Mary Jane Oviatt, jr. (sprints, jumps)

Mary Rosenwinkel, sr. (distance)

Lindsay Johnson, jr. (distance)

Lauren Griffin, fr. (sprints)

Lena Klein, jr. (sprints)

What to watch: With a young group of talented athletes joining a veteran core, Wheaton North hopes to continue to make strides as a program this spring.

The Falcons do return one state qualifier in senior Emma Grisanzio, who advanced to the Class 3A state meet in the 400-meter dash.

Wheaton North scored 19.5 points at the indoor DuPage Valley Conference meet. Junior Alison Farnsworth was the runner-up in the 800; freshman Lauren Griffin was fourth in the 55-meter dash and Grisanzio placed fifth in the 400; and sophomore Lena Klein added a sixth-place showing in the 200. The 4 x 400 relay was fifth.

“We return an experienced varsity group with the addition of a growing young core,” said coach Brian Zeglin. “With indoor results ahead of last season’s (results), I am excited to see the excitement and new personal bests that the outdoor season holds.”

West Chicago

Coach: Bob Maxson

Top returners:

Lindsey Sayner, jr. (distance)

Sarah Triner, sr. (hurdles)

Carla Dannug, sr. (jumps)

What to watch: The Wildcats will be led by junior Lindsey Sayner, who finished eighth in the 1,600-meter run (5:16.55) at the recent Illinois Top Times Class 3A meet. Sayner was also fourth in that event at the DVC indoor meet while also placing fourth in the 800.

Senior Carla Dannug placed seventh at the DVC meet in the long jump while fellow senior Sarah Triner was eighth in the 55 hurdles, 10th in the triple jump and 11th in the 200.

Coach Bob Maxson also said to keep an eye on a pair of young runners in Cindy Mendez and Emma McCarthy. Mendez is a freshman who won the 400 in the DVC junior varsity indoor meet, and McCarthy was fourth in the JV 800.

Last year, West Chicago had one state qualifier in Lali Valdivia, who has since graduated.

Wheaton Academy

Coach: Bill Bickhart

Top returners:

Gabby DeMerett, sr. (sprints, jumps)

Lizzy Larson, sr. (sprints)

Jackie Smith, sr. (distance)

Alyssa Pell, jr. (distance)

Morgan Durdan, jr. (sprints)

Katie Mann, jr. (mid. distance)

What to watch: The Warriors begin the 2013 season Thursday with a dual meet against Lake Forest Academy. The team’s first invite of the spring occurs two days later when Wheaton Academy travels to the Aurora Central Catholic Chargers Invite. The squad will also compete at the Irish Invite at Seneca on April 12, the Chicago Christian Invite on April 26 and the Suburban Christian Conference championships on May 1.

St. Francis

Coach: Scott Nelson

Top returners:

Jenna DiValerio, sr. (distance)

Amanda Nunley, jr. (sprints, hurdles, jumps)

Ali Frost, sr. (sprints, jumps)

Meghan McShea, jr. (mid distance, distance)

What to watch: The Spartans had a pair of state qualifiers last spring.

Jenna DiValerio, who is now a senior, advanced to the Class 2A state meet in the 3,200-meter race after placing fifth at the Fenwick sectional with a time of 11:47.71.

Also moving on was Amanda Nunley in the 100 high hurdles following a second-place time of 15.82 seconds in the 100 high hurdles.

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