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updated: 5/25/2012 12:21 AM

A relay to remember

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  • Wheaton Warrenville South's McKenna Kiple lies on the ground as teammates Amy Yong, top, Hope Schmelzle, bottom, and Erin Hermann laugh with her after they set a meet record in the 3,200-meter relay Saturday in Charleston.

      Wheaton Warrenville South's McKenna Kiple lies on the ground as teammates Amy Yong, top, Hope Schmelzle, bottom, and Erin Hermann laugh with her after they set a meet record in the 3,200-meter relay Saturday in Charleston.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent

CHARLESTON -- Wheaton Warrenville South girls track and field coach Rob Harvey had a hunch about the Class 3A 3,200-meter relay after the sizzling Friday preliminaries.

"I thought for Glenbard West or us, I thought to win (on Saturday) you would have to be under the (2008 Barrington) state record," Harvey said after his quartet of Amy Yong, Erin Herrmann, Hope Schmelzle and McKenna Kiple recorded the fastest time in the nation -- 8 minutes, 59.04 seconds -- in becoming the first team in state history to break the nine-minute barrier. "The talent in the western suburbs is too much with half-milers."

The Hilltoppers' quartet of Maddie Nagle, Julia Sakach, Madeline Perez and Emma Reifel posted the fourth-fastest time nationally in eclipsing 9:01 to finish runner-up. York was fifth, with defending champion Downers North sixth; Naperville North rounded out the local contenders in eighth.

"(The 3,200 relay) was a recurring theme (of excellence) for the entire weekend," Glenbard West coach Kelly Hass said. "How many kids should have made the mile finals (the cutoff was under 5:01)? What an incredible (relay) from start to finish. I give Wheaton South a lot of credit. They were tough as nails."

It was the first state championship in WW South girls history; Karon Lackland won the Class AA 400-meter run in 1981 for Wheaton Central.

Making a name for herself:

Kaylee Flanagan is no longer operating in the shadow of her legendary cross country champion older sister Lindsay after becoming the first Lake Park track champion in program history with her win at 3,200 meters.

"We're completely different people," Kaylee said after vanquishing defending champion Ariel Michalek (the Oswego East senior who came back to capture the 1,600 run) and fellow former cross country state champion Amanda Fox (Naperville Central) in 10:30.47.

"Really, the only thing we share in common is the same last name."

In addition to Flanagan, the Lancers recorded the highest area team finish -- fifth place -- behind twin medalist Shayna Clark in the shot put and discus and repeat all-state high jumper Tyshai Freeman.

Maya Golliday headlined three local medalists in the pole vault with her fifth-place result.

The Wildcats are back:

Two years removed from not qualifying a single individual for the state finals, Neuqua Valley coach Gretchen Parejko was thrilled for her senior leaders who helped propel the Wildcats to the Joliet West team sectional championship.

Junior Savannah Carson and freshman Maya Neal orchestrated the Wildcats' seventh-place state team finish by placing first and third in the long jump as well their respective all-state performances in the 100 dash and 300 hurdles. The duo also collaborated with seniors Alex Rozgony and Caitlin Blalock to finish eighth in the 400 relay.

"Obviously, it was my first time going downstate," said Rozgony, who also teamed with Blalock in the Wildcats' state-qualifying 800 relay. "It's still an honor to win a medal. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Rozgony plans to walk on at the University of Kentucky next spring. "Once a Wildcat always a Wildcat," the sprinter quipped.

Another Mustang first:

Jasmine Davis had a historic weekend by becoming the first all-state athlete in the brief three-year history of Metea Valley with a nearly 41-foot effort in the shot put, good for sixth overall.

"It was an amazing experience," the onetime Oswego East transfer said. "I'm glad it turned out the way it did."

Getting it done:

Class 2A had a small area presence last weekend, though the Montini 3,200 relay of Brittany Fisher, Ericka Laviste, Catherine Kitz and Theresa Connelly held an early lead Saturday before falling to Lakes for second in the event.

"They continually improved (during the season), and it turned out even better (than expected)," Montini coach Pete Connelly said. "We knew there would be an opening with some of the schools (defending champion Yorkville and Crystal Lake Central) moving up to 3A (this year)."

Laviste was ninth in the open 1,600 run, while the other local program to score -- Fenwick sectional champion Glenbard South -- received all-state efforts from Sam Howard in the discus and its historically strong 1,600 relay (seventh).

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