Rosary rides its depth to win SCC
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At a girls track and field invitational, the four relays are worth their weight in gold.
Rosary came away with a mini-version of Fort Knox Wednesday at home, scoring 38 out of a possible 40 points with three victories and a runner-up result.
The Royals' relay dominance, bolstered by consistency in the other 14 events, enabled the squad to capture their first Suburban Christian Conference title in three years with 146.5 points in Aurora.
Reigning Class 2A state runner-up Walther Lutheran was second with 118 points, followed by Montini, Aurora Central Catholic, Aurora Christian, St. Francis, Immaculate Conception, Marian Catholic and Chicago Christian.
St. Edward, Wheaton Academy and Guerin Prep participated but failed to score.
"We really wanted this," said Rosary junior Molly Stefanski, who teamed with Emily Bakala, Courtney Cox and Abby Hammer to ice the team championship with a sterling time of four minutes and 3.54 seconds in the 1,600-meter relay. "Last year we came so close (to Aurora Christian). We went out there and did it. This was Courtney Cox's last time running (at home). I did it for her. It's all about the seniors."
Stefanski, partnering with Kane County champion 800 relay members Sydney Zaragoza, Megan Conlin and Kristyna Perillo, not only defended its conference title at 800 meters; the junior nearly caught defending state champion Walther Lutheran at 400 meters from her anchor position.
The Rosary 3,200 quartet of Rachel Choice, Cox, Amelia Anderson and Bakala held off Montini to win the opening relay.
"The relays are ready for the (Class 3A West Aurora) sectional (next Thursday)," Rosary coach Vic Meade said. "The 4-by-8, we weren't supposed to win that. There's no one superstar on this team. It's a real team."
Kara Kalisz captured the Royals' lone individual title.
After placing third at 800 meters, the senior broke free from Montini milers Brittany Fisher and Catherine Kitz at the gun lap of the open 1,600 to win in 5:26.81.
"If I hear (my competitors) behind me, I have to go faster," Kalisz said. "I wasn't even thinking about the (conference or school) record. I'm a strong kicker."
The 200 dash epitomized the Royals' cohesion as Zaragoza and Conlin were second and third, respectively, to clinch the team title.
"I think we scored in every event," Meade said.
Lisa Rodriguez and Karina Liz picked up right where they left off after county championships last Friday.
Rodriguez, the Aurora Central Catholic senior leader, and Liz, the Chargers' breakout freshman performer, eased to titles at 200 and 800 meters.
Rodriquez lost the 100 dash to Walther three-event champion MaShayla Kirksy by seventh one-hundredths of a second.
"I came in very confident (in the 200 after winning county)," Rodriguez said. "I was hoping to break the meet record. (Coming into the season) I wanted to make (the 200) my (specialty) race."
Taylor Knauf, the Illinois State University-bound indoor Class 1A state champion for Aurora Christian, captured the pole vault Tuesday afternoon at Aurora Central.
Nursing a groin injury, Montini senior leader Theresa Connelly proved to be a dangerous animal.
After skipping the 3,200 relay and the triple jump, the Broncos' senior ran a commendable 2:21.48 time at 800 meters before winning the 300 hurdles with a personal-best time of 46.98.
"That's my first conference win," Connelly said after holding off Rosary junior Hammer and St. Francis' 100 hurdle champion Amanda Nunley. "That was my lifetime PR (at 300 meters). I have never broken 47 (seconds). I think we're going to go for (another state run in the 3,200 relay) again in all probability."
The Broncos have been all-state in Class 2A the last two years behind Connelly in the 3,200 relay.
Thirty-two hundred meters also suited Montini junior Maggie Hallerud.
Pitted against St. Francis' tandem of Jenna DiValerio and Meghan McShea, Hallerud had enough in reserve over the final 400 meters to outlast the Spartans' distance runners.
"Win," Hallerud said of her strategy. "Nothing else besides that means anything ó just win and race smart."
Nunley dominated the 100 hurdles for St. Francis' sole victory, winning by more than a second over Walther Lutheran senior Dana Turner.
"(The time) was a little bit slow today," Nunley said. "We were going into a headwind. I have continued to focus on the 300 hurdles this year (after qualifying for state at 100 meters last season)."
Allie Cervone accounted for 20 of the 22 points Immaculate Conception scored with her twin wins in the shot put and discus.
"(The shot put title) was a big one for me," the Medinah native said. "That was my goal. Even though there were girls seeded ahead of me (in both events), I had the mentality that I could do it."
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