Glenbard North made quite a statement at the Mike Rebeck Invitational at Schaumburg on Saturday.
The Panthers won 11 events in cruising to the title in the nine-team field with 183 points.
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Rockton Hononegah took a distant second with 91 points, with host Schaumburg (86 points) nipping St. Ignatius (85 points) for third and Whitney Young (83.5) taking fifth.
"It's a team sport, and we got it done on both the field and track," said Glenbard North coach Gary Heilers. "I think our kids have that itch that they want to win and they go out and compete. It's great to see them feeding off each other."
Senior Kailey James led the way in taking first in the high jump (5-foot-2), then winning both the 100 high hurdles (15.57) and 300 low hurdles (49.51). The Panthers senior finished her day by taking a leg on the first-place 1,600 relay (4:09.93).
"We're getting points from everywhere," said James who cleared 5-6 in the high jump indoors. "The coaches set the tone, and we are really working hard."
Glenbard North junior Simone Carr broke her toe at the sectional meet last year, ending her season prematurely. But she's back this year, and giving the Panthers a huge lift. Carr went head to head with defending Class 3A 800 champion Courtney Clayton of Hononegah twice on Saturday and came away victorious each time.
In the 400, Carr (57.61) came from behind in the final 200 meters to nip Clayton (58.51). The Panthers standout then faced off with Clayton in the anchor leg of the 1,600 relay, and Carr once again came from behind to lead a Panthers win.
"It was a disappointing ending to last season," said Carr of her sectional setback. "But it has given me a lot of drive this season. I'm looking to make up for what I missed last season."
Carr (2:22.4) also took an impressive second place in the 800 behind Whitney Young's Shianna Bagget (2:20.76).
Sara Stankowskey also came up big for the Panthers winning the 100 (13.35), then anchoring the 400 relay (51.15) and 800 relay (1:49.51).
Katy Wisniewski (96-0) went first in the shot put, Tasia Collins added a first in the discus (35-02), and Jackie Howard took first in the long jump (15-11.5) for Glenbard North.
Clayton won the Class 3A 800 title last season, and has the top mark in Illinois this season after hitting a cool 2:09.30 at the prestigious Arcadia Invite in California last weekend.
Clayton skipped her main event on Saturday, but still put in a full day's work in leading Hononegah to first place in the 3,200 relay (9:56.03). The Vanderbilt-bound senior ran a controlled 2:13 final leg in pacing Hononegah to the title.
Clayton then added second places in the 400 and 200 (26.6) and finished her day by helping Hononegah take second in the 1,600 relay.
Now Clayton is eyeing the state record in the 800 (2:07.54) set in 1984 by Crete-Monee's Shelly McBride.
"2:07…I'm hoping to get that this year," said Clayton who has won three state medals. "Right now I'm working on the speed, but it was a good day."
Schaumburg was missing two of its top competitors with sprinter Darneisha Spann and distance runner Caroline Kurdej both out with injuries. But the Saxons responded well.
Sophomore Ali Gutt did her part, taking second in 1,600 (5:32.19), third in the 800 (2:25.67) and anchoring the 1,600 relay (4:18.01) to third place.
Gutt took the baton with the lead in the 1,600 relay but couldn't hold off the hard charging Carr and Clayton.
"They just zoomed past me," said Gutt who is looking forward to the return of both Spann and Kurdej. "Overall everything can improve, but getting those two back will really help."
Sophomore Erin Falsey gave the Saxons a lift by winning the 3,200 (11:56.12). She led the whole way.
"My coach told me to go out and grab the lead," said Falsey. "Each time I felt a challenge, I was able to surge."
Freshman Enfiniti Kelly also helped the Saxons by taking second in the long jump (15-11), third in the 100 (13.57) and a leg on the third-place 1,600 relay.
"I feel tired, but it feels good," said Kelly of her full day.
Krista Legan stepped up for Schaumburg taking second in the shot put (34-0) and adding a third-place finish in the discus (91-10). Senior Jasmine Bethea finished fourth in the 100 (13.64).
"The girls that are here are definitely stepping up their game," said Schaumburg coach Courtney Smith.
Chelsee Wilson took third in the 200 (27.23) and helped Grayslake North to a third-place finish in the 400 relay (52.78). Allie O'Connell took second in the 100 high hurdles (16.12) and third in the 300 low hurdles (51.60) for the Knights.