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Girls have chance to three-peat in 2020

Few programs have experienced as much success in recent years as the Northwestern girls cross country team. The Tigers doubled down in 2019, with both the boys and girls winning District 11 titles and qualifying for states.

“Our teams have been training hard and they have been running well together,” said head coach Chris Stitzel. “I know they’re all chomping at the bit to get out there and compete, because all they’re doing is training with each other. They’re training hard, and they just want to get out there and compete.”

Last year marked the second straight district title for the Tiger girls team and the first for the boys since 2013.

The Lady Tigers have also been one of the top teams in the Colonial League over the past 10 years.

From 2010-19, they won seven league meet titles. During that same span, they won five district titles and were runners-up on three other occasions. They finished in the top-10 in the team standings at states six times, placing third in 2018.

“We’re excited,” said Stitzel. “I know it’s been a long time since they competed against somebody, but we’ve got a good team and I’ve got some additions with middle school girls coming up and other girls coming out for the team so they look pretty strong again this year.”

Angelina Klein returns after a stellar freshman season and should continue to build on the success she had a year ago.

“She’s been working hard and she’ll probably be my top runner,” said Stitzel.

In addition to Klein, the Tigers also return Maci Fisher, Kailyn Jones and Molly McGorry, who was injured much of last year but returned for the postseason.

Alexis Vennera and Nicole Landes also return, and Stitzel is hoping the group will be able to offset the loss of Allison Costa, who was a key contributor on last year’s team.

In addition to a deep and talented high school roster, Northwestern has 28 middle school runners combined between boys and girls. From varsity down through middle school, the Tigers have over 65 runners in the program.

“I’ve just been blessed, trying to keep kids healthy,” said Stitzel. “They come out and they work hard for me. But we certainly don’t take anything for granted.”

PRESS PHOTO BY LINDA ROTHROCK Angelina Klein led the Tigers with a fifth-place finish at districts last year.