The area returns two all-state cross country runners in Hall senior Al Baldonado and Amboy sophomore Megan Grady, and another, Bureau Valley’s Regan Weidner, who looks to make it back.
Coach Tom Keegan said Baldonado looks to improve upon his all-state status from last year, placing 17th in the 1A meet. He has done plenty of work in the offseason and he is looking forward to Saturdays this fall, Keegan said.
He will be backed by senior Tyler Pullam, Gage Ripka and Kyle Follmer with the Red Devils No. 5 runner coming from a group including Moises Aldana, Luke Lee Brown, Chris Enriquez or Ben Aranda. As a team, Keegan said, “we recognize that the gaps between the scorers is going to have to become narrower as the season progresses.”
The top returner for the Hall girls is sophomore Kaylee Olivares, who will be pushed by Amelia Moreno and Paige Orlandi, who returns to the sport after a year off. They will be backed by junior newcomer Lindsey Conrad with the five spot coming from the group including Tanja Acamovic, Destiny Ruiz, Liz Aldana, Mariah Landeros and Crystal Hurtado.
Weidner, the Storm’s senior standout, is a two-time state qualifier, placing second as a sophomore in 2012. She looks to bounce back from an injury-plagued junior year.
Weidner will have some familiar faces this year in teammates Riley Francis, Heather Williams and Marissa Mungia, also adding freshman sister Haley into the Storm family. BV coach Dale Donner said the younger Weidner will be up for the challenge, having had a good summer competing at 5K races.
“We have a good amount of experience, and look to build on it. We feel we can have two all-conference runners on the team, and that can help us place in the top three at conference,” Donner said.
The BV boys have none of their top five runners returning, hit hard by graduation losses. Donner will be looking for senior Charlie Lotspiecht and Michael Trijilo and junior Yulian Osorio to step up this year. Other squad members include sophomore Michael Eastwood and freshmen Bradley Siren, Morgan Strader, Austin Catton and Kurt Bitting.
Donner said he will run the young kids down at the F/S for a lot of meets, but by mid season will have them ready for varsity races. He is hopeful to place in the top five in the conference.
PHS has lost four-time sectional qualifier Zoe Mead to graduation, sending out seniors Lindsy York and Megan Hendrickson, junior newcomer Brianna Legner, junior transfer foreign exchange student Anna Rosendal of Denmark and sophomore Casey Schertz.
There are just three boys out, headed by junior Cody Workman, a 2013 sectional qualifer, who is joined by junior newcomer Denver Wyatt and freshman Kendile Whitford, who is also playing football.
The Tigers are not scheduled to run until Sept. 2 at the LaSalle-Peru Invite at Baker Lake Park in Peru.
The boys team at the Academy is 14 strong, including seniors Garett Barto, Jeff Barnes, Felipe Takaesu and juniors Joey Chai, Jacob Hockings, Johnny Kerasotes, Andrew Lopez and Arthur Wang. F/S runners include sophomores Joe Chau, Jeremiah Johnson and Brent Koogler and freshmen Dominic Bernabei, Prince Li, Tyler Marcinkus, Luke Wamhoff and Jackson Zhou.
There are eight girls running at the Academy with Holly Gregorich the lone senior in the bunch. She’s joined by juniors Destiny Kwiatek, Rachel Sickley, Julia Pohar and Sadie Long, and sophomores Madaline Anderson, Thea Mauck and Annie Needs.
The Bruins are scheduled to open the season Tuesday at Centennial Park in Rock Falls.
Senior Hector Madrigal logged a lot of miles over the summer and ran a strong 5K in DePue in July. He’ll be tested by sophomore Miguel Lopez for the No. 1 spot, joined by sophomore Edgar Moreno, who is running cross country as second sport, but has great endurance, coach Keith Garcia said.
There are also three girls in the running, including senior Daniela Ross, sophomore Larisa Moya and freshman Lupita Villalobos.
The Amboy girls return their top five from their conference championship team, headed by Grady, the conference champion, who became the first girl in school history to qualify for state.
She’s joined by Jennifer Popovich and LaMoille’s Kaitlyn Boers, sophomores Brenna Rieker and Erin Hosto.
LaMoille also sends freshman Thomas Molln to the boys team.