Conference meet: Oct. 1 at Rockridge High School, Edgington. Defending team champion: Orion. Defending individual champion: Karlie Hey, Sterling Newman.

Teams to watch: With all but one of their top seven runners back this season, Orion's Chargers look to be a strong favorite to repeat as Three Rivers champions. ... The next three teams after Orion were separated by 14 points, and the leader among that trio, conference runner-up Erie-Prophetstown, returns five of its top six runners and could challenge the Chargers for the top spot. ... Sherrard edged Princeton by two points for third place, and also returns the bulk of its lineup. ... Rockridge, like Orion, E-P and Sherrard a 1A sectional qualifier, also returns the majority of its top runners and could be a potential dark horse.

Individuals to watch: Reigning conference champion Hey looks to make it three straight titles, and is coming off a fifth-place finish at last year's state meet in Peoria. ... A pair of juniors, Orion's Maryn Bollinger and E-P's Jorden Robinson, finished 12 seconds apart at the conference meet, with Bollinger (a sectional qualifier) edging Robinson for third place. ... Bollinger's Charger teammates, senior Brooke Norberg, was a top 10 Three Rivers placer. ... E-P senior Makayla Dornbush missed the top 10 by 13 seconds. ... Riverdale sophomore Lily Tackett also fell just short of the top 10. ... Four more younger runners -- E-P sophomore Dylan Chandler, Sherrard sophomore Addison Knox, Rockridge junior Carlie Ruckey and Orion sophomore Hayley VanDuyne -- all turned in top 20 efforts at conference.

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Conference meet: Oct. 10 at the Kewanee Dunes Golf Club. Defending team champion: Stark County. Defending individual champion: Olivia Frail, Stark County.

Teams to watch: With all of their runners back, Stark County's Rebels are a strong favorite to retain their team title, but one can never count out Annawan-Wethersfield, a perennial contender in the LTC, although the Titans were hit hard by graduation, losing four of their top six runners.

Individuals to watch: Frail is back for her senior season as she looks to defend her individual title, and classmate Josie Price could be one of the runners to challenge her for LTC supremacy. ... The senior duo of Princeville's Sorin Hilsabeck and United's Anne Gregory took fourth and fifth, respectively, but need to continue to shave seconds if they are to challenge Frail. ... Others to keep an eye on in 2019 are United senior Natalie Gillette, Ridgewood junior Lauren Anderson and Mercer County sophomore Bailey Hardin.

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Terry is a part-time sports reporter for Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com.

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