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Girls track previews: Race to state finals is underway

Published: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 1:30 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:41 a.m. CDT

The outdoor track season is just getting underway as Saturday marked the first day of big outdoor invites for area teams. With that in mind, it's hard to believe that girls state meets are less than six weeks away (May 22 to 24). Here's a look at what to expect over those next six weeks for area girls track and field teams.

Fenwick Friars

Coach: Dale Heidloff

Top athletes:

Grace Cronin, so., hurdles, 400, high jump

Briana Daley, sr., distance

Olivia Ryan, jr., distance

Outlook:

The Friars return three individual state qualifiers and could bring back two relays as well.

Distance runners Briana Daley and Olivia Ryan are among the contenders in Class 2A for the 1,600-meter run. Both runners and sophomore Arriana Arroyo competed in the 4 x 800 relay at state last year.

Sophomore Grace Cronin got a taste of state by qualifying in the 300 low hurdles, but is more than an event specialist. In the indoor season she also competed in the 400 dash, the 4 x 400 relay and the high jump.

Lyons Township Lions

Coach: Greg Frandsen

Top athletes:

Vanessa Flaherty, so., 800, 1,600

Grace Flynn, jr., pole vault

Katie Hamor, jr., 800, 3,200

Emma Haugen, jr., jumps, hurdles

Lexy Rudofski, sr., 800, 3,200

Jessica Stabenow, sr., jumps, hurdles

Sam Stuba, jr., relays

Outlook:

The Lions won the West Suburban Silver indoor title and are looking for a third straight outdoor title.

Junior Emma Haugen is back for another season. She was the state high jump champion as a freshman and has shown her elite quality already.

“She's probably our top all-around athlete,” coach Greg Frandsen said. “She already has the top jump in the state.”

Haugen will also compete in the long jump, triple jump and hurdles.

Jessica Stabenow also competes in jumps and hurdles, but is versatile enough to compete in a variety of different events.

Jess Fuller, Mayra Baeza and Lucy Lussier will be the team's top sprinters.

LT hosts a sectional and should send many athletes to state, but Frandsen wants to push for more all-state athletes.

"We were indoor conference champs and usually we’re a much better team outside than inside, so that bodes well for us," Frandsen said.

Morton Mustangs

Coach: Chris Tompkins

Top athletes:

Desteny Casteneda, sr., sprints, hurdles

Lilibeth Mendez, sr., throws

Nija Redmond, fr., sprints

Janeka Stokes, jr., high jump, sprints

Outlook:

Morton has two state qualifiers back and won indoor conference titles in four events.

Lilibeth Mendez (shot put) and Janeka Stokes (high jump) are the state returners. Both also won at the West Suburban Gold indoor meet. Freshman Nija Redmond joined the group by winning the 55-meter dash at the same meet.

Redmond, Stokes, Shayla Ross and Ashley Graham also won the 4 x 200 relay and will present a strong team this outdoor season.

"We were 10 points out of second place at the indoor conference meet," coach Chris Tompkins said. "We would like to claim that spot at the outdoor conference meet ... and improve upon last year's third place finish in sectionals."

Desteny Casteneda, who is the defending outdoor conference hurdles champ, will also play a role in the Mustangs' push for those goals.

In Morton's first outdoor meet at Homewood-Flossmoor on Saturday, Mendez won the shot put with a throw of 38 feet, 5.5 inches. Stokes was second in the high jump, Lesley Lopez was third in the 1,600-meter run and Rocio Hernandez was third in the pole vault.

Nazareth Roadrunners

Coach: Joe Wejman

Top athletes:

Kim Curtis, sr., throws

Devinne Love, sr., throws

Meg O'Kane, sr., mid-distance

Outlook:

Meg O'Kane is the only Roadrunners' state qualifying returner. She was a sectional medalist last year.

Fellow seniors Devinne Love and Kim Curtis, both throwers, were conference medalists a year ago in the discus.

"Our goals are to earn more points than last year at the conference meet and send a couple of athletes to the state meet," coach Joe Wejman said.

Riverside Brookfield Bulldogs

Coach: Bob Bensfield

Top athletes:

Clare Bollnow, sr., 1,600

Jackie LaBelle, jr., pole vault

Outlook:

The Bulldogs were sixth in the Metro Suburban Conference indoor meet, but do have a few top athletes.

Junior Jackie LaBelle was a Class 3A state qualifier in the pole vault last year and won the MSC indoor title by clearing nine feet. Clare Bollnow, who was one of the RB's top cross country runners, was third in the MSC indoor meet in the 1,600.

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