Duneland Athletic Conference
Runners to watch: Melanie Buckmaster, Sr.; Hannah Hoffman, Sr.; Haley Cushway, Jr.; Kassidy Scott, So.; Josie Tolin, So.
Outlook: The perennial semistate bridesmaids could end a string of near misses and claim an elusive state berth. The roster is largely intact and the addition of senior Rosie Biehl, who played soccer up until this year, will help. The freshman class could also provide a lift.
Quote: "I think we're pretty deep. We're just looking for some of those kids to be low scorers. On paper, we look like we're one of the top six teams in the semistate, if we can keep everyone healthy." -- coach Brian Carden
Runners to watch: Allison Wortel, Sr.; Alex St. Amour, So.; Lyndie Pierce, Jr.; Ally Carpenter, Sr.; Kayla McGurk, Jr.; Hannah Wallace, Sr.
Outlook: Adam Piaskowy takes over as coach for C.P, which has six consecutive sectional titles and five straight state berths. Pack running is the key as Pierce and Wortel will lead the way in most races.
Quote: “The girls’ biggest strength right now is their depth. By working together as a team, the girls are primed for success.” -- Piaskowy
Runners to watch: Amanda Onest, Sr.; Tatiana Lazic, Jr.; Sarah Hudi, Sr.; Alexa Klapkowski, Jr.; Megan Zajac, So.; Alaina Willis, Sr.; Hallee Willis, Sr.
Outlook: After two years out of coaching, former longtime assistant Ann Downey takes over another loaded group that has great chemistry and competition in the ranks. Shelby Carroll graduated as the last relic from the 2008 state runner-up squad, but this group is eager to keep a streak of eight sectional titles alive and make another bid for state.
Quote: “We want to keep the tradition alive.” -- Downey
Runners to watch: Elena Lancioni, Jr.; Alyssa Gerick, Jr.; Kristin Cave, Jr.; Kailee Schoof, Fr.
Outlook: Lancioni (21st at state) leads what could be a much improved team. Gerick, who was No. 2 as a freshman, returns after not running last year, when the Slicers missed semistate by a point. Schoof heads a strong frosh group that should impact the lineup right away.
Quote: "We hope to narrow the (conference) gap and maybe bust into that top group. (Semistate) is a big goal. I've asked a lot of them this summer and they're stepping up. I know Elena would really love to have some company all the way through the tournament." -- coach John Dearing
Runners to watch: Megan Vinson, Sr.; Kara Phillips, Sr.; Tori Collins, Sr.
Outlook: A triumvirate of experienced seniors leads the way with a bunch of newcomers seeking the opportunity to round out the top five. Phillips was 52nd at semistate, and Collins holds the school record, so the foundation for the present and future are in place.
Quote: "The team is looking stronger than it has in a long time." -- coach Aaron Crawn
Runners to watch: Christine Brennan, Sr.; Alexis Jackson, So.
Outlook: Tom McGrath was named coach just before the start of practice, taking over for Tim Bumber. Brennan, one of two returning letter winners, was a semistate qualifier. The Wolves have four first-year runners.
Quote: "Leslie Samuelson has come up from the middle schools to help. She will be a great asset in establishing a good link with the 8th graders so we can build a solid feeder program." -- McGrath
Runners to watch: Paige Pizer, Jr.; Keanna Crum, Jr.; Rhyan Sloan, So.
Outlook: The Indians had five seniors in the lineup at state, where they finished 17th. The roster of 19 features just one senior, but there are plenty of prospects capable of filling the voids.
Quote: "We're young and inexperienced, but I think the potential is there. If you asked me who it's going to be, I couldn't tell you. They're going back and forth in practice. The goal's still the same: to get to Terre Haute." -- coach Jay White
Runners to watch: Tiffany Fortney, Sr.; Alison Mundell, So.; Aurora Bonner, Jr.
Outlook: The Vikings graduated three mainstays, including all-stater Katelyn DeVries (Ball State), leaving a young, yet promising group for new coach Boomer Nellessen. Freshmen Ellie Joll, Alena Tonne and Sydney Nossbusch could all step in immediately.
Quote: "There isn't tons of pressure on them because expectations are pretty low. I think we're going to surprise a lot of people. I've already seen strides. We have all the ingredients to be a good team. The future continues to look bright." -- Nellessen
Greater South Shore Conference
Runners to watch: Abbey Dybel, Jr.; Andie Fremouw, Jr.; Jackie Esparza, Jr.; Nancy Medrano, Fr.; Hera Ford, Fr.
Outlook: After nearly a decade without a full team, Noll fielded a squad of five. Ten girls are out this year, though most are newbies still learning the sport.
Quote: “It’s going to have to be a growing experience each meet, and that’s good for them.” -- coach Karl Repay
Runners to watch: Danielle Smar, Sr.; Ashley Redd, So.; Deena Hayes, Jr.; Summer Brown, Fr.
Outlook: The Warriors earned the first regional berth in program history, and graduated Andrea DeGard was the second semistate qualifier, success that helped recruit new students to the team.
Quote: “The girls work together really well.” -- coach Rob Lukowski
Runners to Watch: Alyce Kessler, So.; Alexis Strubing, Sr.; Edith Espino, Sr.; Gabby Jackson, Jr.
Outlook: Viable competitors in the conference, the Spartans have some returning talent, solid newcomers (Kaila Moskalick, Brianda Fregoso and Thania Munoz) and dreams of a regional berth.
Quote: "I have been pleased with the work ethic the girls have displayed so far, and I am looking forward to good things." -- coach Tim Loughmiller
Runners to watch: Caridad Ramos, Jr.; Lauren Rothbauer, Jr.; Maria Cervantes, So.
Outlook: New coach Rebeca Dominguez is hoping for improvements from Ramos and Rothbauer. Cervantes is a first-year runner.
Quote: "We may not have a full team, but we hope to fill that once school starts." -- Dominguez
Runners to watch: Citlali Lopez, Jr.; Abby Bondi, Sr.; Lauren Markovich, Sr.; Ambria Sotello, So.; Maira Huizar, So.
Outlook: Three runners return, and the Oilers have the depth to compete for a GSSC title.
Quote: "They work hard together in practice every day, and they’re starting to understand the team concept. I’m excited about this year." -- coach Kevin Moynihan
Runners to watch: Kelly O'Shea, Jr.; Liz Mitten, Sr.; Alex Mendoza, So.; Abbie Janda, So.; Nicole Skopelja, Sr.
Outlook: The GSSC champion Bearcats return most of their roster, paced by O'Shea, a semistate qualifier. Mendoza and junior sister Mackenzie are both new to the team.
Quote: "We're still trying to take it to the next level. The girls are coming together strongly as a team. I'm thinking this, in fact, is the year we get out of sectionals." -- coach Ben Kosal
Great Lakes Athletic Conference
Runners to watch: Camyrria Baggett, Sr.; Corina Wilson, Jr.
Outlook: Baggett is a threat in the sectional, and some new faces might help the Pioneers field a full squad.
Quote: “We are going to hope for the best and get them ready. Right now we’re just young and trying to get into shape here.” -- coach Eric Curosh
Runners to watch: Alex James, So.; Kristina Palmerin, Sr.
Outlook: Most of last year’s main scorers are gone, but several returners spur optimism.
Quote: “They’re showing up each day, willing to do the best they can.” -- coach Rich Jay
Runners to watch: Kristen Powers, Sr.
Outlook: Tony Chase is out as coach, and depth will not be easy to find.
Northwest Crossroads Conference
Runners to watch: Becca Conley, Sr.; Alyson Janiga, Jr.; Angeline Barthel, So.; Kellyn Vale, So.; Kaycee Crist, So.
Outlook: Conley -- 14th at state last year -- is among the area’s elite, but the 59ers are aiming to be elite as a unit, too, after advancing to semistate. A wealth of experience returns, and a week in the Smoky Mountains in July bonded the squad.
Quote: "They enjoy running, and it’s not something they’re forced to do. They’re small in numbers, which is sometimes a blessing." -- coach Rick Torres
Runners to watch: Taylor Austin, Sr.; Brittany Burbridge, So.; Jessica Leslie, So.; Alex Leon, Fr.; Danielle Ayala, Fr.
Outlook: Austin's been to state twice, finishing 24th last fall, and Burbridge is back after a regional berth.
Quote: “We are a young team but are excited to see the eagerness of the freshmen coming out. We have a team who is willing to put in the hard work along with the great leadership of Austin and Burbridge.” -- coach Shannon Scheidel
Runners to watch: Fanny Davalos, Sr.; Amber Przyborski, Jr.; Renee Cox, Sr.; Clarissa Magley.
Outlook: Can you say turnover? Nine seniors departed, but 16 newcomers are out for a team bent on improving in great strides en route to a deep postseason run.
Quote: “I’m expecting good things out of them. We hope to improve our standings in conference and advance to semistate.” -- coach Ellie Belli
Runners to watch: Celena Guerrero, Jr.; Mindy Whidden, Jr.; Kaylee Gubricky, So.; Harley Sutton, So.; Carrie Buhman, So.; Carrie Tam, Sr.
Outlook: Guerrero, 20th at state as a freshman but 51st at semistate as a sophomore, missed track with stress fractures in both feet. The Brickies advanced to semistate but finished last there and hope this group exceeds that finish. The roster is full, and Marissa Porras leads six strong freshmen.
Quote: "This has been the most fun I think I’ve ever had in a summer and early season. The assistant coaches and myself are really enjoying this group.” -- coach Ty Artherhults
Runners to watch: Allison Rockley, Jr.; Michelle Kent, So.; Brittany Stepp, Jr.; Kaylin Orsburn, Jr.; Kate Lott, Jr.
Outlook: In the past five years the Kougars have three NCC titles and three semistate berths, accomplishing both last year. With no graduation losses, the top seven are back for what could be a magical year for a team in Indiana Runner’s preseason top 50.
Quote: “If we can continue to stay strong and healthy, we can have a really good year. I’m really looking forward to this fall.” -- coach Lane Lewallen
Runners to watch: Sarah Wieser, Jr.; Sarah Edwards, Jr.; Mackenzie Nichols, Sr.; Rachel Megquier, Jr.
Outlook: Semistate qualifier Wieser leads a veteran group that graduated no one from the top eight. An undefeated NCC regular-season slate in 2011 and tougher summer workouts have bred confidence.
Quote: "We’ve got high hopes for the season, and we’re looking forward to it." -- coach Scott Coil
Runners to watch: Emily McNicholas, Jr.; Colleen Ogren, Sr.; Rebecca Karnezis, Jr.; Brittany Barajas, So.; Mykaela Burton, Sr.
Outlook: Injuries have derailed some potentially spectacular teams in recent years, but the returning athletes are improved significantly and should compete with K.V. for the NCC title with some new faces pushing the veterans.
Quote: “(Newcomers are) really igniting a sense of vitality back into the team. To have that young vivaciousness back is very welcoming.” -- coach Michelle Duffy
Porter County Conference
Runners to watch: Mariah Rodriguez, Jr.; Sarah Steinhilber, Jr.; Karalynn O'Neal, So.
Outlook: The Wolves snuck out of the sectional, but a move to a tougher Chesterton site will be a challenge.
Quote: "We've got quite the top group so far. The freshmen are starting to come into it. They're really working at it together." -- coach Trish Kloth
Runners to watch: Emily Furman, Sr.; Nikki Hahn, Sr.; Sammie Hunt, Jr.; Olivia Umlauf, Fr.; Lyndsay Kolanowski, Fr.
Outlook: Stalwart Taylor Hillegonds graduated, but Hahn has made the move from the track team, and three freshmen will combine with the vets to add hope and promise.
Quote: “The team's success will be dependent upon the improvement of each runner.” -- coach Steve Foulds
Runners to watch: Abby Getautas, So.; Liz Fox, So.; Natalie Kaczmarski, Jr.; Lexie Schatz, So.; Jordan Keehn, So.; Emily DeFries, Sr.
Outlook: The Hawks have six runners back from their PCC and sectional champion squad, and will get a lift from freshman Payton Schaatz. The move to the Crown Point Regional could bolster their semistate aspirations.
Quote: "This could be the best team I've ever had. They look good. They look fast. They're all pushing each other, working hard every single day. We're all anxious to get going." -- coach Mike DeFries
Runners to watch: Bekah Case, Jr.; Kylie Kuebler, So.
Outlook: Sectional champion Tara Hamstra now runs for Grace College and the numbers crunch has hit the Fillies, who have just two girls. Case was limited by injuries.
Quote: "It's kind of disappointing. A lot of kids are doing soccer and volleyball. I'm hoping when school starts we can get some freshmen out." -- coach Pam Thurner
Runners to watch: Taylor Guse, Sr.; Gabby Sievers, Sr.; Jill Warner, Sr.; Makayla Gordon, Sr.
Outlook: The Tigers have four seniors on a roster of six. Guse should challenge for all-PCC honors.
Quote: "They're dedicated. The seniors may be looking at it like, 'Hey, it's my last year,' so they're all really pushing themselves. They're trying to get better." -- coach Brian McMahan
Runners to watch: Elly Johansen, Sr.; Kaylee Sheets, Jr,.; Lucia Calderon, Sr. Megan McDaniel, So.; Ashley Krantz, So.
Outlook: The Cherokees graduated semistate qualifier Ellen Turman, but have an older group that made significant strides over the summer.
Quote: "There's definitely nobody to fill Ellen's shoes right away, but I think we'll have more of a pack. Most of them have really improved. A couple dropped other sports so I think they can do good things, concentrating on one thing." -- coach Kellee Hitz
Runners to watch: Kyleigh Werner, So.; Hope Myroup, Fr.; Abbie Smith, So.; Hannah Kohout, Jr.; Carly Kohout, Fr.
Outlook: Fortunes are looking up for the Satellites, who had just two runners in the sectional. Werner, who missed the regional by one spot, will have some solid support on what remains a young squad.
Quote: "I'm excited about this group. They all get along well, which makes all the difference. I see them doing some great things." -- coach Rachel Werner
Runners to watch: Liz Masson, Jr.; Molly Evans, Sr.; Emily Tezak, Sr.
Outlook: The Senators return three of the four runners who finished the season. A handful of newcomers will enable W.T. to post a team mark.
Quote: "(The older kids) know the routine. I don't have to teach them and they can take the underclassmen along with them. I'm just expecting them to go out and try their hardest every time." -- coach Angela Kniefel-Mendenhall
Runners to watch: Rachael Dobson, Sr.; Morgan Garrity, So.; Riley Hickman, Fr.; Leealison Korniak, Fr.; Ashley Oliver, So.
Outlook: With no juniors, the Bombers have six hungry freshmen pushing established seniors as they set their sights on second in the Hoosier Conference behind perennial state power West Lafayette.
Quote: “It’s a good, hard-working crew of young runners. They like to work hard.” -- coach Sid Dobson
Runners to watch: Molly Scholz, Sr.; Summer Mitchell, So.; Stephanie Popp, So.
Outlook: New coach Dan Ferrell has three girls returning to go with three newcomers, giving the Blackhawks a chance to post a team score.
Quote: "They're not just running for themselves, for their own gratification. They're running for the team." -- Ferrell
Note: Information was not available from Bowman Academy, E.C. Central, Lake Station, Morton, Lew Wallace, West Side and Roosevelt.