Naperville Central Girls Cross Country; Team Profile

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The first Naperville area school to bring home a state girls cross country trophy was the Naperville Central Redhawks in the fall of 1987. In fact, the running Redhawks had four consecutive top ten finishes at state from 1985-1988. But beginning in the early 90’s, Naperville North took over as the area’s marquee girls cross country program, with 17 state trophies and 10 state championships since the 1993 season. Find out more in the latest Team Profile, presented by Advantage Acura.

While Naperville Central has had some very strong seasons in that time as well and outstanding individual performances like Amanda Fox winning the 2011 state meet, the red and white entered the 2021 season with only two top ten state finishes in 30 years. But 7-year head Coach Matt Blondell was encouraged by his young group, based on the 2020 season and strong summer workouts.

Over the course of the fall, the varsity Redhawks ran better and better each week, culminating with one of the best seasons for the program in decades.

Naperville Central finished as the runner up at the Oswego East regional, just four points behind Batavia. The team then qualified for state at the loaded Hinsdale Central sectional after finishing in 7th place. The following week at Detweiler Park, the performance was even better. The Redhawks had their best state finish since 1990 by taking 6th place, one spot ahead of Naperville North.

What makes this team so exciting is that the core is still so young. While sophomore Liv Phillips is almost always the top finisher after bursting onto the scene a year ago, fellow sophomores Ava Hendron and Kate Teuting have improved mightily and now accompany Phillips near the front of the pack.

Juniors Addison George and Julia Laird provided strong times and veteran leadership while freshman Lola Satre-Morales showcased her potential all season. Another sophomore Abby Mogg gives Coach Blondell another reliable option. After missing out on the state experience a year ago due to COVID cancellations, the team was thrilled to have a chance to compete at the historic Detweiler Park amongst the best Illinois has to offer.

With all seven top runners eligible to return next season, it’s hard not to be excited about the ceiling for this team. While we won’t know until next November if this group can bring home the program’s second ever state trophy, there is no denying that this young pack of Redhawks is on the rise.

For Naperville Sports Weekly, I’m Justin Cornwell.