Warren hangs on for NSC title
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Brittny Ellis wanted no part of a repeat for herself and her Warren track teammates.
Libertyville senior Carly Stewart badly wanted to repeat her championship in the 800-meter run.
And no one wanted a repeat of last year's North Suburban Conference meet, when, with two events to go, lightning stopped all competition and eventually suspended the meet until the following day.
The storms stayed west of Lincolnshire on Thursday night, and Warren weathered the high winds and its competition in the Stevenson-hosted NSC meet to post a winning 109 points, comfortably ahead of runner-up Lake Forest (75.5). Libertyville (65) edged NSC Prairie champ Lakes (64) for third, while Grant (63) was right behind in fifth.
Warren, which won the Lake Division title during the regular season, was looking for redemption after a botched handoff in the 400 relay cost the Blue Devils the conference championship last year at Round Lake.
"Definitely," Ellis said. "That hurt us a lot last year."
Ellis started Thursday's finals by anchoring the 400 relay (50.28), which also included leadoff-leg Marquesa Daniels, Brynn Santos and Autumn Santos. Ellis then sped to no-contest wins in the 100 (12.22), 200 (25.41) and 400 (57.84) dashes.
"I did like that the wind was at your back for the backstretch because that helped push me," said the speedy sophomore, who needs no help. "Especially on the last stretch of the 400, I was so tired."
Ellis and her teammates compete in the Class 3A Palatine sectional next Friday. She says she'll probably run the 200, 400 and 400 relay.
"Next week I just want to get amazing times to go down to state with," said Ellis, the defending 400 meters state champ. "Hopefully the weather will be nicer."
An overjoyed Stewart was moved to tears after successfully defending her title in the 800.
The Wildcats senior, who went to state in the race a year ago, posted a time of 2:17.78, breaking her own school record and edging Lake Forest star Helen Schlachtenhaufen (2:18.33). Schlachtenhaufen earlier anchored the Scouts' winning 3,200 relay (9:46.10) and later ran to first place in the 1,600 (5:20.00).
"This season I've been going a little slower," said Stewart, who's been sick this spring and was seeded third in the 800. "I knew that if I wanted to win and get (first place) again this year, I had to go. My coaches and I talked times before (the race) and I had to come around (the first lap) in 65 (seconds). But I came in at 68 (seconds). So I knew the second lap I just had to go. I gave it everything. It was much more than I expected."
As expected, Grant senior Melissa Dunham won the shot put (38-4.5) and discus (136-5), and Delaney Basala wowed with a runner-up finish to Ellis in the 400, but the Bulldogs suffered heartache in the 100 hurdles final. Top-seeded Julia Sangster was battling for the lead but clipped the penultimate hurdle and hit the track hard. She crawled under the last hurdle and limped to the finish line.
She was disqualified, while Warren's Jessica Gromala won with a time of 15.91. Grant's Emily Troemel (16.12) was second.
"I think the person next to me and I bumped legs," said Sangster, who cut up the inside of her left leg and injured a finger on her right hand.
"I just wanted to (finish and) do what I could," she added. "I'm just a little disappointed."
A week after placing fifth in the 3,200 run at the Lake County meet, Mundelein senior Ellie Palacios cut 20 seconds and won the event in a season-best 11:06.05. She beat second-place finisher Rachel Shoemaker of Warren by three seconds.
"Last week I just felt pretty tired because we had been doing a lot of workouts in preparation mostly for this meet and next week," said Palacios, who stands just 5 feet 2 and will run at the University of Illinois. "I just took it out slowly (Thursday) because my coach told me he wanted me to run a certain pace and he wanted me to maintain a pace."
Palacios was initially at the end of the pack but never panicked. She stuck to the game plan, before finally moving her way up. She took the lead midway through the race.
"It was scary, at first," Palacios said. "I felt pressure to move up quickly, but I just heard my coach yelling that I was perfectly fine and to stay relaxed. I knew they would come back eventually, so it worked out."
Vernon Hills' Alli Tran smoked the field in the 300 hurdles, clocking a 46.27. Lake Zurich boasted one champion, as Navy-bound Lindsey Moritz, Madeline Jordan, Kali Hough and Teagan Hough comprised the winning 800 relay (1:47.65).
Besides Stewart, Libertyville got a conference title from junior Rachel Metcalf in the triple jump (33-5.5). Stevenson's Jackie Setina high-jumped a winning 5-3.
Lakes ended the meet by capturing the 1,600 relay with Rachel Terry, Erica Terry, Danielle Griesbaum and anchor Brittani Griesbaum. It appeared the Griesbaum twins nearly came to a complete stop on their exchange.
"I didn't see a thing," said Lakes coach Matt Rife, who wasn't standing in the exchange area. "I said (after the race), 'Get off the track and let's go celebrate.' "
It capped an up-and-down meet for Lakes. Brittani Griesbaum won the long jump (17 feet), but the Eagles took third in the 3,200 relay -- "I was hoping to win that," Rife said -- and didn't score in the 400 relay, 100 hurdles or 3,200 run.
"It was crazy," Rife said. "A lot of emotions -- good and bad."
At least the night ended well.
"No rain," Rife said. "So, yeah, we're good."
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