Last year’s girls cross country season could not have been more different for Yorkville juniors Skyler Bollinger and Summer Pierson.
The intrepid duo both were top-10 runners in engineering the Foxes’ repeat of their Class 2A team state championship as freshmen.
Bollinger had the anchor place for the second straight year as Yorkville made it three consecutive titles in Peoria.
But Pierson could only watch helplessly from the sidelines after missing her entire sophomore season with troublesome hamstring injuries.
Both Bollinger and Pierson return as the Foxes seek a fourth straight state title this season.
The Foxes, who would be moved to 3A if the success factor goes into place, have finished no worse than state runners-up the past five years in the team finals.
“We’re going to make the best of 2A this year,” said Bollinger, one of four Yorkville runners in the top 21 among qualifying schools last fall. “We’re moving up for sure next year.”
Glenbard South defeated Yorkville at the Wheaton Academy Regional, only to see the Foxes reverse the results 104-130 in the state finals.
“It was definitely a motivator to get into gear for state,” Bollinger said of the regional loss.
The Foxes competed in the highest class in track and field the last two seasons, but remain in 2A for cross country — for now.
“I am ecstatic for the season to come,” Pierson said. “(Freshman year) was my only chance to run state in cross country. I hope to get down to around 17 minutes at state and be in the top 10.”
With fellow All-State junior Erin Reynolds also in the mix, the Foxes enter the season as prohibitive favorites for a fourth consecutive title.
“I think we were ready for the challenge to move up (in class),” Yorkville coach Chris Muth said. “(The returning athletes) have very strong individual goals.”
Bollinger has individual as well as team performance notions as the season gathers momentum.
Newcomers to the program are yet another continuation of a recent trend.
“We have a lot of incoming freshmen, so we have to teach them the ropes,” Bollinger said. “The ultimate (goal) is (an individual) state championship. But the most important thing is to stay away from injuries and contribute to a state championship.”
Juniors Rebecca Jasutis and Julia Schultz also are back to bolster the Foxes’ state lineup from a year ago.
Maddie Dearborn, the Foxes’ freshman sensation a year ago, has transferred to IMSA for academic reasons.