Push for points benefits WW South
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Wheaton Warrenville South senior middle-distance standout McKenna Kiple was commenting on her narrow win over Glenbard North junior star Simone Carr at 800 meters only moments after running the anchor leg of the Tigers' victorious 1,600-meter relay.
"I had to get the extra points," the Miami of Ohio recruit said of her win in 2:18.29 at the DuPage Valley Conference girls track and field championship Thursday night at Naperville North. "For against a team like West Aurora, 2 points can be the difference between winning and losing."
Kiple proved more than prescient as the two juggernauts gave no quarter in a scintillating showdown.
WW South trailed West Aurora, which featured six individual event winners, by 4 points going into the final event.
But the Tigers' quartet of Jessie Spera, Emma Dalan, Hope Schmelzle and Kiple won going away; when West Aurora settled for fourth, its 4-point lead was vaporized as WW South claimed its third title in the last four years with a 130-128 victory.
The epic encounter was also underscored by two lightning delays totaling more than two hours.
Glenbard North also eclipsed triple figures to place third, followed by Naperville North, Naperville Central, Glenbard East, Wheaton North and West Chicago.
Kiple and Schmelzle closed their extraordinary conference tenures with equally stunning performances, once again showcasing versatility and a collective innate drive.
Schmelzle was the unquestioned workhorse of the night: the Purdue-bound senior partnered with Kiple to lead the defending Class 3A champions in the 3,200 relay to their first title.
Schmelzle then came back to place second in the 3,200 run against Glenbard East freshman Lindsay Graham.
But Schmelzle later returned in the 1,600 run to overtake the Rams' wunderkind in winning in 5:10.85.
"I love the mile," Schmelzle said. "It's my favorite event. I knew we needed the points. I knew it was going to be close for the team race. (Kiple and I) are interchangeable."
"(Schmelzle) just has a phenomenal kick," said Graham, who won the 3,200 in a commendable time of 10:42,9.
WW South also received championship efforts from Jordan Elkey in the discus and Amy Smith in the pole vault.
"A lot of girls stepped up and did special things," WW South coach Rob Harvey said. "These girls love each other."
Carr became a three-time conference champion in the open 400 meters with her strong comeback after dropping the 800 run to Schmelzle for Glenbard North.
"I could tell (West Aurora all-state sprinter Anita Saffa) was on my shoulder," Carr said of her win over Saffa in. "My coach (Gary Heiler) emphasized to me that this was a big team meet. I really enjoy it. I'm hoping to get into it more next year."
Kailey James was second in both hurdles races and the high jump for Glenbard North.
Stephanie Mueller had the distinction of ending the perfect run West Aurora junior Emma Spagnola fashioned her first two years in the league.
The Naperville North junior cleared 5-foot-5 in the high jump to deny Spagnola 10 consecutive individual conference championships the last three years.
"I have always looked up to her," Mueller said. "It was amazing. I cleared it on my third attempt."
Tina Norris defended her title in the shot put for Naperville Central.
Mary Beth Blank anchored the Redhawks' 800 relay to first after being denied by Glenbard North junior Sara Stankoski by one-hundredth of a second in the 400 variety.
Emma Grisanzio was runner-up at 200 meters to lead Wheaton North.
The West Aurora-WW South rivalry in girls track and field—the schools have shared the last 10 combined indoor and outdoor conference championships, with the vanquished finishing runner-up each time — has invariably contrasted the Blackhawks' speed and athleticism against the Tigers' middle distance, distance and equally balanced field attacks.
Saffa was an inspired athlete for the Blackhawks; the Eastern Illinois-bound senior momentarily pulled up lame on the anchor leg of the 400 relay in placing third.
"I still don't know what happened in that race," Saffa said of being passed by Glenbard North and Naperville Central in the waning meters. "My leg just gave out."
"She asked me not to take her out (of her remaining three events)," West Aurora coach Teresa Towles said. "She asked me to let her try the 100."
Saffa headlined a first-and-third West Aurora finish in the event; the senior then duplicated her 100-200 double from a year ago after narrowing ending the two-year Carr winning streak at 400 meters.
"It's my last DVC," Saffa said. "I wanted to get the points for the team."
Spagnola also came back with a flourish in her two running events: the 100 and 300 hurdles.
All-state in both races last spring, including runner-up at the shorter distance, Spagnola was once again in a league of her own, winning the 100 hurdles by almost a second in a blistering 14.56.
The junior then won her 11th conference championship out of 12 tries by blowing away her runner-up at 300 meters by more than three seconds.
"I am disappointed (about not winning the high jump), but I'm happy with my three wins," Spagnola said. "My technique got a lot better because I worked on them over the weekend. I'm struggling mentally a little bit in the high jump. I just psych myself out."
Spagnola claimed her first title in the long jump as she and teammate Kyla Walton swept the event for West Aurora.
Walton came back to defend her championship in the triple jump.
The Blackhawks' 800 relay was also runner-up.
"It's bittersweet," Towles said of the loss to WW South. "But I'm not disappointed. We're going to start getting ready for the sectional."
West Aurora, defeated for the first time all year, hosts a Class 3A sectional Thursday.
This article filed under
- Carol Stream
- Glendale Heights
- Hanover Park
- North Aurora
- Sugar Grove
- West Chicago
- Glenbard East High School
- Glenbard North High School
- Naperville Central High School
- Naperville North High School
- West Aurora High School
- West Chicago Community High School
- Wheaton North High School
- Wheaton Warrenville South High School
- Track and Field
- Prep Girls
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