After Naperville North's annual coed Gus Scott Track and Field Invitational is all over, coaches of all the teams meet in the field house to decide on boys and girls MVPs.
It could have been a lively debate on Friday.
St. Charles East's Britney Williams earned the girls honor for lighting up the oval in the 400- and 800-meter runs. The Iowa State-bound senior won the A-level of the three-tier meet with a time of 2 minutes, 18.87 seconds, nearly nine seconds ahead of Naperville North's Ella Guppy. Williams' time went under the Class 3A qualifying standard by almost a second.
Williams returned to win the 400 in 59.33, again dipping below the qualifying standard in an event that took her to Charleston as a junior.
"I never ran an open 800 before," she said. "I was just trying to feel everything out. I didn't really have a plan. I just kind of like drove out to that first 400 and then tried to push it at the end."
If she didn't have a plan, Saints coach Tim Wolf did.
"Tonight was another training opportunity for her," he said. "Running her up (in distance) gives her some confidence. I really wanted to push her to the edge tonight so she could kind of feel ... I don't want to say pain, but so we could push her threshold, push her to the edge so she could really feel it a little bit."
Williams was huffing and puffing after that 800, so that worked.
"It makes me feel I'm stronger than I thought I was," she said, "so it's like a confidence booster."
St. Charles East took second in the 3,200 relay -- Jordan Shead shook off a weeklong cold run a 2:19 split and Williams' fellow 400 runners Corrin Adams and Anastasia Honea won their levels as well. St. Charles East hurdlers Jess Glas, Caroline Tokarski, Sam Dinglasan finished no lower than second place in any flight of the 100 or 300 hurdles, and out of every female thrower at Naperville North, senior Amanda Passaglia finished third in both shot put and discus.
Those coaches discussing MVPs had to have considered Cary-Grove sophomore Morgan Schulz. A converted soccer midfielder who wanted to "try something new," in her first track season since seventh-grade she won the 100 and the 200. In between she anchored a victorious 800 relay for teammates Faith Furio, Nicole Robins and Lauren Schoepke.
"Easy" isn't quite the word, but Schulz didn't think she'd be this quick to adapt to track.
"No, I didn't really," she said. "I guess I'm not too confident in myself some of the times. But I feel like I'm more successful than I thought I was going to be."
Things have obviously gone swimmingly since she won her first 55-meter run this indoor season.
"So far it's really fun," Schulz said. "The best feeling is after a race when you've won. And it's really cool to get to know new people that are on the team."
Cary-Grove swept A-B-C triple jump with Joslyn Nicholson, Maggie Cherveny and Delaney Perrone, while Furio also won long jump, a quarter-inch over 16 feet.
Senior thrower Anna Wcislo won her level in discus, throwing in the dark. Good thing for those measuring her throw didn't go much farther than 105 feet, 11 inches.
"You don't really know where it lands," she said, "and you can't really see where it goes to."
Despite the bright showings from Williams and Schulz, Naperville North's girls dethroned Cary-Grove for the team title. Though the only A-level events they won were high jump with Stephanie Mueller and pole vault with Hope Turner -- Mueller and Jess Ives won their levels as well -- the Huskies were a constant presence on and off the track. Distance runners such as Abby Sikorcin, Grace Carballo and Kimber Meyer placed in the top two in every level from 800 to 3,200 meters.
"Everywhere I looked I felt like we were scoring and in a good place," said Naperville North coach Joanna Wilson. "This is a great meet. We have amazing athletes from teams all over and I honestly could not ask for more. We took the weather as a challenge and something that we knew we could rise up to the occasion."
Jacobs was led on the girls' side by open 3,200 winner Lauren Van Vlierbergen, who also anchored a winning 3,200 relay including Molly Barnes, Sam Baran and Kayla Guiliano.
On the boys side, the senior with the fullback physique, Nick Matysek, showed why he's one of the guttiest guys around. Anchoring the Golden Eagles' 3,200 relay for Sebastian Baran, Pat Nerja and Ryan Ross, he was challenged by New Trier's Peter Cotsirilos with 250 meters left. Cotsirilos got shoulder-to-shoulder with Matysek, but never passed him.
"Seeing him out of the corner of my eye, that was that extra motivation in my head to let me know, right now it's time to go, to run my race and run like I know I can," Matysek said.
In the 800, Matysek came from fifth with 300 meters to go to win the race over Sam Heavenrich of New Trier, which broke Oak Park's hold in the boys team title though Oak Park sprinter Zach Booth was boys MVP.
The 187-pound Matysek also ran the leadoff leg of Jacobs' second-place 1,600 relay. That cross country season helped his endurance.
"That was my big weakness last year without a doubt," he said, "and now it's one of my strengths to go along with the speed I already had."
Benet had a unique symbiosis going between its boys and girls teams. In the 3,200, Audrey Blazek lapped runners to handily win the A-level. Anton Vershay followed suit to win the boys 3,200.
Later on, Redhawks junior Loren Riedy won the 300 hurdles. Shortly thereafter Austin Dzik won the boys version.
"I can speak for the hurdlers, we've all been working as like a collective team, Benet boys and girls hurdlers," Dzik said. "We've been working very hard since we got to the outdoor season. Our first couple meets we all did pretty well."
Benet's Stephen Hubona in one level of shot put stopped Waubonsie Valley from sweeping all levels of both shot put and discus. The trio of returning state qualifier Riley Kittridge, Jon Harris and Jackson Hynes did take their discus competitions -- Kittridge going 159-6.
Kittridge had trouble on his first three tries in shot put before ditching the spin for a plain power throw that went 52-7.
"Three fouls, so I decided to do a power throw and just win it," he said.
Bringing back memories of Antonio Owens, Naperville North junior 400 runner Adam Milsap took the advice of his coach, Tim Brown, as well as his father to win the event in 51.58 seconds.
Brown's tip was to explode into the first seven seconds on the track. Mr. Milsap focused on those later moments when things start to break down.
"My dad taught me, when you're getting tired you start shortening your stride," Adam said. "You think you're going faster but you're actually not, you're slowing yourself down. So you've just got to keep on to your stride and keep that speed. And that's the form for me."