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Girls track previews: Downers South has outdoor conference title on the mind

Westmont, Downers Grove North start outdoor season with state meet on the mind.

Downers Grove South's Katie Strelau competes in the 3,200-meter run at the state meet last spring. File photo by Bill Ackerman —
Downers Grove South's Katie Strelau competes in the 3,200-meter run at the state meet last spring. File photo by Bill Ackerman —

The goal for outdoor track and field athletes is to drop time (or add feet and inches) in hopes of making it to the state meet. Achieving those goals is underway as the gun has gone off on the outdoor season.

Downers Grove North

Coach: Tim McDonald

Top returners:

Meghan Bonfield jr. sprints

Rebecca Ridderhoff sr. hurdles, sprints

Stephanie Urbancik jr. middle distance

What to watch: A trio of athletes — Meghan Bonfield, Rebecca Ridderhoff and Stephanie Urbancik — competed in multiple events at last year's outdoor state meet. That experience should go a long way to helping the Trojans succeed this spring.

Freshmen Kaitlyn Bonfield and Grace Maletich ran in the varsity 1,600 at the West Suburban Silver indoor meet and finished in the top five against a stacked field of upperclassmen. Ridderhoff, Urbancik, Maletich and Megan Bonfield had top-10 finishes at the indoor state meet.

North will be tested throughout the season starting with Wednesday's first outdoor meet — a triangular with York and Downers Grove South. The invite schedule takes the Trojans to Homewood-Flossmoor (April 6) and Palatine (April 20) while they host their own Ritter invite April 12.

Downers Grove South

Coach: Egle Staisiunaite

Top returners:

Sam Baeten sr. sprints

Meaghan Bosman jr. middle distance/distance

Jada Franklin sr. triple jump

Abby Kargol so. distance

Amanda Thate so. distance

What to watch: Former South standout Egle Staisiunaite takes over as head coach, and she might wish she had some eligibility left from her high school days.

"We have a really small team, so at big meets such as conference the more talented girls end up having to compete in four events," Staisiunaite said. "We just don't have enough athletes to choose from while making meet lineups."

So far that hasn't hindered the Mustangs, who won the West Suburban Gold indoor meet. Triple jumper Jada Franklin was sixth at the indoor state meet. A group of distance runners with extensive cross country experience, including Abby Kargol and Amanda Thate, provide depth not only in the individual distance events, but also in the 4 x 800-meter relay.

Freshmen Shaliyah Dixon-Tucker, Michaela Hackbarth and Maggie Seitz join senior Sam Baeten as solid sprinters, though Staisiunaite is still looking to develop the sprint relays as the outdoor season progresses.

South hosts its own invite Saturday and will also compete at invites at Wheaton Warrenville South (April 12) and Lake Park (April 20) before looking to capture the WSG outdoor title as the first step on the road to state.

"Our goals  are to win outdoor conference and have two mini buses full of girls going to state meet," Staisiunaite said.


Coach: Steve Wolf

Top returners:

Maggie Arndt jr. distance

Maureen Bailey sr. distance

Chloe Marshinski sr. distance

What to watch: During the indoor season, the Sentinels scored a second-place finish at the Reed-Custer invite, which included 2012 state qualifier Chloe Marshinski setting a new school record in the 3,200-meter run.

The distance events, with Marshinski and fellow 2012 state-qualifier Maggie Arndt leading the way, should be a particular strength for Westmont. With Marshinski running lead leg, the 4 x 800 relay (which also featured sophomores Imogene Asa and Victoria Thomas and senior Maureen Bailey) was also a winner at Reed-Custer.

Freshman Annie Carlson helps make the Sentinels more well-rounded in the sprints and horizontal jumps.

Westmont will test itself at the Plano invite (April 20) and against Class 3A-foe Addison Trail in an April 16 dual, in the hope of competing for titles at the Interstate Eight Conference (May 2) and sectional (May 10) meets.

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