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.
Coach: Dale Heidloff
Grace Cronin, so., hurdles, 400, high jump
Briana Daley, sr., distance
Olivia Ryan, jr., distance
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
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
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.
Coach: Chris Tompkins
Desteny Casteneda, sr., sprints, hurdles
Lilibeth Mendez, sr., throws
Nija Redmond, fr., sprints
Janeka Stokes, jr., high jump, sprints
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.
Coach: Joe Wejman
Kim Curtis, sr., throws
Devinne Love, sr., throws
Meg O'Kane, sr., mid-distance
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
Clare Bollnow, sr., 1,600
Jackie LaBelle, jr., pole vault
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.