Often a leader of races, Palatine junior Tess Wasowicz took control of a post-meet team photo.
"We're not going to smile," said a straight-faced Wasowicz, who then ... smiled.
Naturally, she was kidding. Never mind that despite helping Palatine begin the finals of Thursday's Class 3A Grayslake North sectional by running a leg on the winning 3,200-meter relay, Wasowicz wasn't feeling all cheery.
"Coming off the 4 by 8 (3,200 relay), I was kind of tired and I was doubting myself (going into the 1,600 run)," she said. "But once I started the first lap in the mile, I just knew that I could take it over and that I could finish it off."
Wasowicz won the 1,600 run in 5:02.40, well ahead of runner-up Katie Filosa (5:11.12) of Fremd, then came back two events later to help Palatine finish the meet in style, as the Pirates came from behind to win the 1,600 relay in 3:59.54.
When it was over, Palatine was, yes, posing for pictures and, yes, smiling. The Pirates totaled 86 points, well ahead of Warren (73), which got a pair of wins from freshman standout Brittny Ellis (200, 400), who also anchored the winning 400 relay.
Fremd (66), Waukegan (60) and Lake Forest (50) rounded out the top five, with Barrington (46) edging Hersey (45) for sixth.
In addition to winning the 3,200 and 1,600 relays and Wasowicz taking the 1,600, Palatine got state-qualifying efforts from Laura Schweikert in the 400 (58.14, second), Meg Jump in the triple jump (35-10, second) and Megan O'Brien, who won the shot put (38-2.5) and took second in the discus (118-2).
Palatine freshman Kara Burton anchored the 3,200 relay (9:24.92), which also featured Wasowicz, Cassidy McPherson and Taylor Tenca.
"It was good," said Burton, who ran downstate in cross country last fall. "We were just hoping to qualify for state."
Tenca, Jump and Wasowicz ran the first three legs of the 1,600 relay. Wasowicz's lap significantly closed the gap between her and Barrington's runner.
"I didn't really know what was going on," Wasowicz said with a laugh. "I kind of spaced out, and then I noticed that I was making up ground on the backstretch and I got really excited. I knew that we could get (Barrington) on the next (leg) when I handed off to Schweikert."
Schweikert took it home, getting the baton in second place but finishing first.
"At the end, I just try to think of it as a new 200 to finish the race as hard as I can," Schweikert said.
"It's nice with Tess," she added. "She can just come back after the mile and she's totally fine."
It was the first time that the four had run the 1,600 relay together this season.
"We have a really good group of girls," Wasowicz said. "We're just all really excited to go downstate. We're all super tight and best friends."
Barrington got victories from senior Caroline Carley in the 800 (2:15.19) and then senior Melissa Madden in the 300 hurdles (46.80). Madden also qualified for state in the 300 hurdles last year and ran downstate on relays as a freshman and sophomore.
"I came out here to win, and that's what I accomplished, so I'm happy," Madden said. "It's always fun (qualifying for state) and we got a lot of other good qualifiers tonight. It's a big group going down."
Barrington's 3,200 relay finished second with Stephanie Bergren, Carley, Caroline Reynolds and Elizabeth Tracy. Samantha Babiuk, Bergren, Madden and Carley comprised the 1,600 relay. Fillies junior Ashleigh Kleinjan ran a state-qualifying 11:19.40 (third) in the 3,200.
Warren's 400 relay, which was disqualified at the North Suburban Conference meet, redeemed itself by clocking a winning 48.93 with Marquesa Daniels, Aly Lowe, Autumn Santos and Ellis. Ellis then sped to easy wins in the 400 (season-best 55.99) and 200 (25.14). The Blue Devils also advanced the freshman Santos in the 100 (12.54, second), Alyssa Phillips in the long jump and Amber Cook in the triple jump.
Libertyville senior Jen Angster finished second to Ellis in the 200, clocking a 25.86 to earn her first state berth since her sophomore year. Her teammates were so excited for her that thrower Nikoletta Frangos ambushed Angster from behind and bear-hugged her friend to the ground.
Angster didn't get hurt, which was good considering she fractured her elbow riding a mountain bike last spring. She missed three weeks of the track season and never reached her peak performance.
"I knew what I really wanted," Angster said. "It's my last year and getting to go to state means everything to me. I just gave it my all from start to finish."
Carly Stewart (800). Nicole Jaffke (pole vault) and Haley Becker (high jump) also advanced downstate for Libertyville. Lake Zurich got through Amanda Papke in the 300 hurdles and Kaeley Ferguson in the triple jump.
Fremd will be sending to state Filosa in the 1,600 run, sectional champs Kelly Breen (3,200, 11:09.28) and Stephanie Uhrich (high jump, 5-4), Kathryn Kendzior in the 100 hurdles and its runner-up 800 relay team of Anne Mahoney, Leah Ferguson, Stephanie Hurwitz and Ida Crawford. Uhrich also qualified for state in the discus.
Other state qualifiers included Hersey's Nora Gawlik (3,200), Hannah Helminiak (discus champ. 130-8), Carolyn Crost (shot put) and Kelly Hill (pole vault), and Stevenson's Jackie Setina (high jump) and Kerrie Spaven (discus).