Finishing a half point out of first place did not mean Lake Zurich's track-and-field girls were going to celebrate halfheartedly.
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So after freshman Lindsey Moritz anchored the Bears' victorious 1,600-meter relay, nearly Lake Zurich's entire team huddled, hopped happily together and shouted repeatedly, "L-Z, L-Z!"
"We've come a long way this season," junior Kelly Doheny said with a smile that wouldn't leave her face.
Doheny, senior Kelsey Iverhouse, freshman Madeline Jordan and fellow frosh Moritz captured the 1,600 relay in 4:08.10, but Lake Forest (4:10) held off Mundelein (4:12.3) for second place to secure the Scouts' championship in Thursday's North Suburban Conference meet at Mundelein.
Lake Forest finished with 87 points to Lake Zurich's 86.5, while Libertyville and Mundelein tied for third with 65 points each. Zion-Benton (60) rounded out the top five.
Lake Forest was led by versatile sophomore Carolina Carmichael and freshman Lauren Wyatt, each of whom won a pair of events. Carmichael claimed the 100 hurdles (15.7) and pole vault (11-feet-6), while Wyatt finished first in the 800 (2:19.9) and 1,600 (5:19.78). The Scouts also won the 3,200 relay (9:48.23)
Lake Forest held just a 79-76.5 lead over Lake Zurich going into the meet-ending 1,600 relay.
"Lake Forest won the meet," Lake Zurich coach Lance Pacernick said. "It's not that we underperformed. They just went out and got it."
Lake Zurich's satisfaction comes with knowing that it came into the season unsure of how it would compensate for the loss of perennial state-qualifying sprinter Oliva Allen (Bradley University).
"We're a team," said Pacernick, noting his Bears had the maximum 12 different girls compete in the six field events. "We had 27 kids compete tonight. I would argue that we don't have an all-stater. We don't have an Olivia. We have a team."
Doheny credited the new conference champ.
"Lake Forest was our best competition out there tonight, and they definitely brought it," Doheny said. "We're walking away with second and we took the county title last week. You can't win them all, but we were pretty close."
Lake Zurich junior Marrissa Wagner (1:00.1) and her teammate Moritz (1:00.2) went 1-2 in the 400 to hold off Libertyville's Ginger Yen (1:01.65) and Lake Forest's Chelsea Hargitt (1:01.8).
Moritz had what Pacernick called an "incredible night," as she also took third in a hotly contested 200, clocking a 26.6 to finish behind Zion-Benton's Carnesha Johnson (26.4) and Libertyville's Jennifer Angster (26.5). Moritz ran two relays, as well.
"We beat her up a little bit," Pacernick joked.
Antioch senior Erin Poss won the 3,200 in 11:06.39, outkicking Mundelein's Lauren Anderson in the last 100 meters, after Anderson had surged ahead with a little more than half a lap to go.
Poss, who raced wearing a multicolored glove on her right hand so she could wipe her face, knew early on that she had a battle on her hands, so to speak.
"I wasn't shaking her so I knew it was going to be a race to the end," Poss said.
The Sequoit senior's 3,200 time was a personal record.
"It was really frustrating because last year 11:20 was my PR, and this year I hadn't broken 11:20 yet," Poss said. "So this was a much-needed confidence boost."
Poss later finished second to Wyatt in the 1,600.
Like Lake Forest's Carmichale and Wyatt, and Zion-Benton's Johnson (200, 100), Stevenson's Rachel Redmond won two individual events. The Patriots junior finished first in the shot put (38-2.5) and discus (116-0).
Other winners included Mundelein's Megan Geldernick (300 hurdles, 46.8), Wauconda's Megan Tallman (long jump, 16-2), Warren's Amber Cook (triple jump, 36-0) and Libertyville's Haley Becker (high jump, 5-3).