Fenwick senior Olivia Ryan owns the most all-state girls track and field medals in program history.
In 2014, junior Grace Cronin captured the program’s most all-state medals at one state meet.
The Friars boast arguably their most talented freshman class ever.
Expectations are understandably high for coach Dale Heidloff and the Friars this outdoor season. And that’s even though they have moved from Class 2A to 3A for the first time since 2011.
“I think the mindset is the (3A) competition is that much stiffer. The qualifying standards are a little harder,” Heidloff said. “We look forward to the competition. Most of the meets we run in all year are 3A (opponents). We don’t shy away from it. We’ve got to go after it.”
Fenwick finished 10th at the 2014 2A state meet (24 points) with five top-nine, all-state performances.
Cronin became the program’s first athlete with three all-state medals at one state meet. She was second in the 100-meter high hurdles (14.93 fully automatic time), third in the 300 low hurdles (school-record 43.93) and sixth in high jump (5 feet-3 inches).
Ryan was sixth in the 1,600 (5:10.63) and ninth in the 3,200 (11:15.65) to increase her career all-state medals to five. The 3,200 relay with juniors Arriana Arroyo and Mary Grace Babbo was 24th (10:05.19).
On Saturday, Cronin was third in the 60 hurdles (8.94) at the Illinois Top Times Indoor Championship at Illinois Wesleyan University. Cronin previously set fieldhouse records in the 55 hurdles at Morton East (school-record 8.34 FAT-converted Feb. 14) and Morton West. At the Hononegah Classic March 7, she set the 200 hurdles record (28.80) and was named Most Valuable Runner.
Like last year’s sectional, Cronin’s fourth event could be the 1,600 relay. Cronin was part of the school-record 4:05.54 in 2013.
“She’s had a really nice year so far,” Heidloff said. “Her times are going to be competitive in 2A or 3A.”
Ryan, who will compete at Penn, also was sixth at state in the 1,600 in 2013 and sixth in the 3,200 in 2012. The 3,200 relay with Ryan and Arroyo was fourth in 2013 (school-record 9:31.24).
Ryan also is the only four-time top-25, all-state finisher for the girls cross country program. Heidloff said the 1,600 probably will be her outdoor focus along with the 3,200 relay or 800. Ryan owns the 800 school record (2:18.7 in 2012).
“She’s running well. She looks good, very strong,” Heidloff said.
With two state appearances, Arroyo is the leading 3,200 relay candidate and probably will add the 800. Other varsity returnees include juniors Isabella FioRito, Desiree Gibson, Casey McCarthy and Presley Owunsu-Bonsu and sophomores Claire Cahill and Nicole Finn. Sophomore Sarah McManus is a distance newcomer.
More than half of a large 60-plus roster consists of freshmen that competed varsity indoors. They include Taylor Calcagno, Leticia Camacho, Annie Mannion, Alexis Montino, Margaret O’Brien, Tess Shannon, Anna Waring and Sarah Winkiel.
“They’re coming in as freshmen, but their maturity level is like that of juniors,” Heidloff said. “They’re just solid athletes. They work hard, train hard and don’t let anybody push them around.”
The depth could help the Friars contend for the East Suburban Catholic Conference title. They were fourth in 2014 (73 points) with titles from Ryan in the 800 and 1,600 and Cronin in both hurdles races.
“I really think we have a strong enough team that we might be able to score some points in field events at conference and make a run at it,” Heidloff said. “Obviously our second goal is to get as many people downstate as possible.”