Duneland Athletic Conference
Athletes to watch: Erin Socha, Sr., pole vault; Jordyn Kincy, Sr., sprints; Claire Brady, Sr., sprints; Kassidy Scott, Jr., distance; Molly Wilson, So., sprints; Erinn Kerkes, So., discus/shot put.
Outlook: The Trojans will again be a well-rounded squad with more strengths than weaknesses. A prime example is freshman Cara Sullivan, who will compete in an unusual combo of the 3,200 and high jump.
Athletes to watch: Kayla McGurk, Sr., distance; Kristen LaCosse, Fr., long jump, middle distance; Lauren Feder, Fr., long jump, sprints; Jenna Arnold, Sr., distance; Kara Breuckman, Sr., throws.
Outlook: The Bulldogs weren't happy with finishing sixth in the conference a year ago. Coach Adam Piaskowy said the team's performance at the Hoosier State Relays shows improvement from last season, with three relays qualifying for the finals.
Athletes to watch: Brooke Lambert, Sr., PV; Megan Zajac, Jr., sprints; Parriss Bettis, Sr., hurdles; Gabby Zwoll, Sr., hurdles; Renee DiNino, So., sprints.
Outlook: Coach Ron Fredrick says he has only three seniors among his top 28 athletes, so inexperience is the biggest concern. Lambert, already committed to Michigan, will give the Indians an advantage at pole vault. The relays should be strong.
Athletes to watch: Jenice O’Neal, Sr., sprints; Elena Lancioni, Sr., distance/relays; Kailee Schoof, So., distance; Kate Ulmer, So., long jump, high jump; Marie Didion, So., distance.
Outlook: The Slicers should be dominant in most running events with more than just Lancioni, but they’re developing a nice group of throwers, two of which are tossing the shot put more than 30 feet.
Athletes to watch: A’Leah Scott, Sr., high jump, hurdles; Shaquida Dillard, Sr., long jump, 400; Jordan Stanley, Jr., shot put; Alivia Ash, So., high jump; Jaz Talley, Jr., pole vault.
Outlook: The Pirates are young, but not necessarily inexperienced. Coach Jeff Fairbairn says it will take some work to fill events with more than one competitive athlete at each varsity event.
Athletes to watch: Jasmine McLemore, So., 400; Ellisha Martin, So., sprints; Emily Trunk, Jr., pole vault, long jump, hurdles; Cariana Young, Jr., 100 hurdles; ShaLynn McNeal, Sr., distance.
Outlook: The Wolves have finished last in the DAC two straight years, but coach Tim Bumber is confident this group of all-around athletes can turn things around. Hurdles and distance runs look like strengths.
Athletes to watch: Ashley Sosbe, Sr., discus/shot put; Tara Kostelnik, Sr., shot put; Paige Pizer, Sr., distance; Kyra Ball, So., distance; Madison Kurtz, Jr., hurdles.
Outlook: Throws and distance are the Indians’ strengths, but that isn’t a huge surprise, because that’s been Portage’s mantra for a few years. Inexperience in sprints and other events will tell the tale of how successful the team will be.
Athletes to watch: Allison Mundell, Jr., distance; Alena Tonne, So., distance; Hannah Nolan, Fr., long jump; Collette Collins, Sr., high jump; Malerie Mech, So., long jump.
Outlook: Last year, field events were a weak spot for the Vikings, but they look like a strength this year after a good showing at the DAC indoor meet in which Valparaiso won.
Great Lakes Athletic Conference
Athletes to watch: Corinna Wilson, Sr., hurdles; Bobbie Douglas, So., sprints.
Outlook: The Pioneers look to improve upon last season's finish, when they scored only one point as a team at the Highland Sectional.
Athletes to watch: Alexandria James, Jr., distance; Marqui Glinsey, Jr., sprints.
Outlook: The Gladiators return quite a bit and hope to take a run at Morton in the GLAC. James is a decorated cross country runner.
Athletes to watch: Paris Nunnally, Sr., sprints; Vanessa Weaver, Sr., middle distance; Shakiya Portwood, So., sprints; Darian Robinson, So., distance; Tazane Dixon, Jr., hurdles.
Outlook: Numbers are always a concern for the Wildcats, but last year's youth gained experience. Nunnally was dominant last season, winning the 100, 200 and 400 at the GLAC meet.
Athletes to watch: Kendria Huff, Jr., hurdles, sprints, LJ; Luna Mireles, Jr., distance; Leslie Ciprez, Jr., middle distance; Monica Brigham, Sr., throws, high jump.
Outlook: The Governors have won every conference title since the GLAC was formed, and there's no reason to expect that to change. Huff and Ciprez were both conference champs in two events last season.
Greater South Shore Conference
Athletes to watch: Asya Hobbs, Sr., HJ, sprints; Carissa Jones, Sr., hurdles, HJ; Shana Cooper, So., sprints.
Outlook: Cooper won three events at the GSSC meet last year and was a state qualifier in the 100. Hobbs, a three-sport athlete, has hops to rival any area jumper.
Athletes to watch: Ashley Redd, Jr., 800; Symone Hayes, So., throws.
Outlook: The Warriors' strength was distance last season, but coach Mike Leyendecker expects the sprinters and field events to carry this year's squad. Experience is an issue with 15 new athletes.
Athletes to watch: Kayla York, Jr., throws; Kaylin Fanta, Sr., sprints, jumps; Kristen Roper, Sr., sprints; Olivia Umlauf, So., distance; Lindsey Kolanowski, So., distance.
Outlook: The Wildcats look to challenge for the top spot in a new conference. York is a returning state qualifier and one time Junior Olympic bronze medalist in the discus.
Athletes to watch: Valarie Miller Sr., hurdles, sprints; Jessica Rivera, Sr., distance; Tiara Crenshaw, So., sprints.
Outlook: There are 24 athletes on the roster -- 10 more that last season. One of those newcomers is basketball standout Joanna Dwyer. Coach Kelly Schmelzer is cautiously optimistic.
Athletes to watch: Rachel Levy, Jr., throws; Liz Cowley, Jr., sprints, long jump; Gabby Jackson, Sr., middle distance, pole vault; Alyce Kessler, Jr., distance.
Outlook: The Spartans lost quite a bit to graduation and numbers are down, but coach Tim Loughmiller still expects his team to be competitive. Jackson was conference champ in the pole vault in 2013.
Athletes to watch: Jessica Serrano, Sr., sprints; Alondra Avalos, Jr., sprints; Elicia Winkler, So., hurdles, high jump.
Outlook: Coach Rebeca Dominguez goes into her second season with a young team, but not quite as young as the one she had last year.
Athletes to watch: Kelly O’Shea, Sr., 800, relays; Abbie Janda, Jr., 800, relays; Rachel Metzger, So., 800, 1,600; Jenna Giorgi, So., 400, relays; Courtney Hessling, So., sprints; Kelley Frey, So., sprints.
Outlook: The Bearcats are going to be strong in relays and sprints with leadership and hard workers across the board. Their dominance in the GSSC should continue.
Northwest Crossroads Conference
Athletes to watch: Ta'vonya Bush, Sr., sprints; Kellyn Vale, Jr., middle distance; Brianna Scott, Sr., shot put.
Outlook: The 59ers have almost nowhere to go but up after finishing sixth at last season's NCC meet.
Athletes to watch: Camesha Scheeringa, Sr., sprints, jumps; Marissa Perez, So., hurdles.
Outlook: Taylor Austin is gone, and the Panthers will need to find a new leader this season. Scheeringa is one to watch in the sprints.
Athletes to watch: Jasmine Anguiano, Sr., distance; Reilly Panozzo, Fr., distance; Khi-Lee Warner, Sr., throws; Ciara Carmichael, Sr., sprints.
Outlook: Coach Siobahn Sullivan is in her second year at the helm. The Trojans finished last in the 2013 conference meet, but the team has experience, and Sullivan expects the distance runners to be strong.
Athletes to watch: Mindy Whidden, Sr., sprints; Celena Guerrero, Sr., distance; Kara Cooke, Jr., sprints, jumps; Autumn Beal, Sr., long jump; Harley Sutton, Jr., distance, hurdles.
Outlook: The Brickies hope to make a run in the conference this year with a lot of talent returning. Whidden and Guerrero are household names in region track and cross county circles. Cooke was a state qualifier in the high jump.
Athletes to watch: Leanna Mulloy, Sr., sprints; Joli Jungels, Sr., LJ, hurdles; Jenna Jungels, So., long jump, hurdles; Kara Gouwens, Jr., 400; Leah Gouwens, So., hurdles.
Outlook: Coach Lane Lewallen has built the Kougars into a dynasty with three straight sectional championships. There is talent all over the place as K.V. hopes to finally dethrone Munster in the NCC.
Athletes to watch: Nicole Kiszenia, Sr., throws; Sarah Wieser, Sr., distance; Skyler Lewis, Jr., hurdles, sprints, pole vault.
Outlook: The Red Devils are young, with only three juniors and three seniors. But that's nothing new, coach Scott Coil said. Lewis returns from a back injury the held her out all of last season after an impressive freshman campaign.
Athletes to watch: Olivia Askew, Sr., sprints; Emily McNicholas, Sr., distance; Elisabeth Kloos, Sr., jumps; Brittany Barajas, Jr., middle distance; Abbey Kapitan, So., throws.
Outlook: Sprints aren't a problem. Distance is solid, as are field events. Depth looks good, too, as the Mustangs look to continue their NCC dominance with a 15th consecutive conference title. The dual meet streak sits at 72.
Athlete to watch: Alyza Dennie, Sr., sprints.
Outlook: Arielle Borders leaves big shoes to fill. Maybe Dennie's feet fit.
Athletes to watch: Tyeisha Hunter, So., sprints, long jump.
Outlook: West Side always fields a solid team. Hunter is a talented youngster who could make waves in the 100.
Porter County Conference
Athletes to watch: Rachel Cantwell, So., pole vault; Jacey Snapp, So., 200, 300 hurdles; Olivia McCafferty, Sr., sprints; McKayla Tucker, Fr., 1,600.
Outlook: Head coach Trish Kloth has a group of 20 girls out for the team, including 10 freshmen who have never run track before. Talented upperclassmen will have to be good leaders.
Athletes to watch: Kelly Steffan, Jr., throws; Carli Sowonik, Fr., pole vault; Danielle Roeske, Fr., throws; Sydney Marrs, Sr., 400, 800; Sarah Benjamin, Jr., 400, 800; Katie Clemens, Sr., sprints.
Outlook: Distance running and throws will be strengths for the Hawks, while sprinters are thin. Coach Rhonda Walker likes her team’s influx of freshmen that should feed off the returning athletes.
Athletes to watch: Kayla Moyer, Jr., sprints; Kylie Kuebler, Jr., 800; Jessica Huycke, Jr., hurdles.
Outlook: After losing some key athletes to graduation, the Fillies’ strength this season should be sprints and mid-distance races.
Athletes to watch: Kelcey Jonas, So., sprints; McKenzie Bruder, So., hurdles; Jailynn Goodwin, Jr., throws.
Outlook: When one of the smallest schools in the state loses a few seniors, it’s going to hurt. The Tigers’ losses were mostly in distance running, so that will be a weakness this year.
Athletes to watch: Courtney Maxwell, Jr., mid-distance, relays; Allison Goetz, Jr.; Trina Coleman, Sr.
Outlook: Maxwell competed in several events last year for the Cherokees, but she’ll have help from a pair of talented basketball players (Coleman and Goetz) coming out for the team.
Athletes to watch: Kyleigh Werner, Jr., distance, relays; Taylor Johnson, Sr., hurdles, long jump; Sydney Payne, Sr., high jump; Rylee Nunemaker, Sr., sprints; Riley Popplewell, So., 400, relays.
Outlook: The Satellites had a good showing at the Hoosier State indoor. That effort, as well as having 31 girls out for the team (up from 19 last year), have coach Rachel Werner hoping for big things.
Athletes to watch: Elizabeth Masson, Sr., distance; Jude Connelly, So., sprints, pole vault.
Outlook: Coach Greg Simms is optimistic last year’s “good season” can carry over to this spring, thanks to the dedication of Masson and Connelly, despite being limited in some events.
Athletes to watch: Savanna Jackson, Sr., throws; McKenzie Hyatt, Jr., hurdles, relays; Stephanie Popp, Jr., 100, high jump; Molly Corder, Sr., 400, 3,200.
Outlook: Coach Brian Ton has a younger team, but field events will still be a strength. Jackson looks to return to state in shot put. Sprints are also deep for a smaller school.
Athletes to watch: Ivorie Stalling, Jr., sprints; Diamon Harvey, So., sprints; Kylea Foster, So., sprints, Annette January, Jr., sprints.
Outlook: The Eagles are young but strong in the sprints, boosted by Stalling, who comes over from West Side.
Athletes to watch: Dominique Findley, Sr., sprints; Cierra Callico, Jr., sprints; Abigail Pineda, Sr., distance; Shareese Billups, Sr., high jump; Dominique Kimble, Sr., long jump.
Outlook: The Cardinals have to fill some holes left by the class of 2013, but the cupboard is far from bare. Kimble was sectional champ in the long jump.
Athletes to watch: Megan Dobson, Jr., middle distance; Leealison Korniak, So., middle distance; Emily Tonner, Jr., sprints; Riley Hickman, So., distance.
Outlook: The field events will have a lot of new faces, but the Bombers should be competitive on the track in both sprints and distance.
-- Compiled by Times Correspondents David P. Funk and Steve T. Gorches