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La Grange

Girls cross country previews: Exchange student boosts RB girls

LT, Naz have team goals while Fenwick has a pair of elite runners

Scores of cross country runners got their first taste of Peoria’s Detweiller Park on Saturday in the First to the Finish Invitational. The big race is an early barometer for the season ahead. Lyons Township and Nazareth have team ambitions for this season while Fenwick and Riverside Brookfield have elite individuals that could push for a state title.

Riverside Brookfield Bulldogs

Conference: Metro Suburban

Head coach: Kristi Sterling

2012 results: 1st in regional, 8th in sectional

Top runners:

Mailin Struck, jr.

Clare Bollnow, sr.

Meaghan Dorsey, jr.

Sarah Melone, sr.

Amy Wagner, sr.

Outlook: Junior Mailin Struck has emerged as a state contender early in the cross country season. Struck is an exchange student from Germany that broke the course record at Lyons Township on Sept. 7 with a time of 16:50.

In addition to Struck, five of the top seven from last year’s lineup return for RB including state qualifier Clare Bollnow. Sarah Melone, who was second behind Bollnow in the RB regional a year ago, is also back.

“My other top runners are all returning veterans that are determined to make this year successful,” coach Kristi Sterling said. “Our goal is to qualify as a team for state.”

Lyons Township Lions

Conference: West Suburban Silver

Head coach: Stetson Steele

2012 results: 3rd in regional, 5th in sectional, 20th in state

Top runners:

Lexy Rudofski, sr.

Katie Hamor, jr.

Hannah Dutler, so.

Elaine Smith, sr.

Natalie Jaramillo, so.

Outlook: Many key runners are back from the Lions’ state qualifying team last year, led by senior Lexy Rudofski. Katie Hamor and Natalie Jaramillo also were a part of the postseason lineup last fall.

Sophomore Hannah Dutler and senior Elaine Smith have worked their way into the lineup in early races and could provide depth.

Morton Mustangs

Conference: West Suburban Gold

Head coach: Christopher Tompkins

2012 results: 6th in regional, 17th in sectional

Top runners:

Julissa Stokes, sr.

Lesley Lopez, sr.

Rocio Hernandez, sr.

Sara Sanchez, sr.

Zecily Guzman, sr.

Outlook: The Mustangs’ season got off to a later start than most teams; their first meet was Monday. With five seniors that ran in the postseason last year, the Mustangs should be ready to go.

Last year’s top runner, Sierra Downey, is gone, but Julissa Stokes and Lesley Lopez are back. Rocio Hernandez, Sara Sanchez and Zecily Guzman will hope to cut time and make for a formidable Morton lineup.

Nazareth Roadrunners

Conference: East Suburban Catholic

Head coach: Joe Wejman

2012 results: 2nd in regional, 7th in sectional

Top runners:

Gianna Levato, so.

Colleen Cavanaugh, so.

Claire Ramsey, fr.

Emily Beedie, jr.

Megan O’Kane, sr.

Maggie Harrington, jr.

Outlook: All seven of Naz’s postseason runners are back and there still is a lot of youth on the team, so this year’s team could have a big upside.

Gianna Levato qualified for state as a freshman and will lead the way for Naz. She was 78th in Class 2A last fall. Sophomore Colleen Cavanaugh and freshman Claire Ramsey also finished in the top 100 in the big field at the Class 2A First to the Finish Invitational in Peoria.

Fenwick Friars

Conference: East Suburban Catholic

Head coach: Mickey Collins

2012 results: 4th in regional, 8th in sectional

Top runners:

Olivia Ryan, jr.

Briana Daley, sr.

Rachel Clark, sr.

Quinn Reilly, so.

Ciara Hopkinson, so.

Outlook: The duo of Olivia Ryan and Briana Daley give the Friars two top level runners. Ryan was fifth in Class 3A last year and finished behind three seniors. Daley also cracked the top 50 in 48th place.

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