The DGS girls cross country team will travel to Peoria’s Detweiller Park for the IHSA State meet. The Mustangs will race at 1:00pm on Saturday in 3A girls race. Downers Grove South is one of 25 qualifying teams that will compete for the state championship. There are probably 6-8 different teams that have a chance to come home with a trophy on Saturday. Here is my preview of the 3A girls team race:
Of the 25 teams, several teams stand out as favorites for one of the top 3 trophy positions. The team from Minooka is the defending 3A state champion. They have 3 very good front runners in Ashley Tutt, Emily Shelton, and Mackenzie Callahan who have all had outstanding seasons so far. They have a #4 runner who is not too far back from those first three. If their #5 runner can stay close enough, Minooka should be the favorites to repeat. Last year’s runner-up, Naperville North, also returns a strong team led by front runner, Sarah Schmitt. The strength of the Naperville North team will be in the pack that follows Schmitt. If they can stay close to her, the Huskies could end up state champions. Yorkville is new to class 3A, but not new to state championships. The Foxes won 5 consecutive 2A state titles before moving up to 3A this season. They are built in similar fashion as Naperville North with a front runner in Nicole Greyer, followed by a solid pack. The Foxes must keep their pack close to their #1 runner if they want to take home the team title.
Glenbard West has arguably the 2 best individuals in the state this season with Katelyn Hart and Lindsay Payne. Scoring only 3 points with your first two runners goes a long way in a meet this big. If their 3-4-5 runners can stay close enough to the dynamic duo, the Hilltoppers are capable of winning it all. Wheaton Warrenville South is another team with the ability to come home with a trophy. The Tigers are led by front runners, Sara Atkins and Allison McGrath. These two seniors provide a 1-2 punch that makes WWS a dangerous team. They have a solid 3rd runner, but their success will rely on how well the 4-5 runners perform in Peoria. Downers Grove South has been a surprise team much of this season after finishing 20th a year ago. The Mustangs have had a solid pack of 5 runners in nearly every meet this season. The finishing order has not always been the same, but the small gap between #1 and #5 has led to a lot of success so far. If that gap remains under 30 seconds, DGS will be in contention for one of those top 3 spots.
Lyons Township came up short at last week’s sectional meet, but it wasn’t because of their top 2 runners, Sarah Barcelona and Emily Henkel. If the Lions are going to compete for a top 3 finish, their 3-4-5 runners must close the gap up on their top 2. Lockport tied LT for 2nd place at the sectional meet. They are led by front runner, Morgan Bollinger. The key for the Porters, like many of these teams, will be how far back their 4-5 runners will be. The other surprise team this season has been Palatine. The Pirates have continued to improve all season long and their sectional victory last week proves that they have put themselves into position to compete with the top teams in the state.
A few other teams that should be competing for top 10 team finishes this weekend are: Neuqua Valley, Geneva, New Trier, Hinsdale Central, Hersey, and Metea Valley.