If Prospect was looking for a knockout punch, junior Christina Santiago sure delivered it.
Santiago came from behind in the third lap to take control of a loaded 1,600-meter field, cruising to the win in 5:10.30 and helping nail down a second consecutive Mid-Suburban League title for the Knights on Friday night at Schaumburg.
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Prospect won five events in winning with 153 points, Palatine took second (129 points) followed by Barrington (106 points), Wheeling (54 points), and Fremd ( 52 points).
"That kind of put a nail in the coffin," said Prospect coach Dave Wurster of Santiago's 1,600 victory. "We have great individuals and we have great depth, and there is no letting up."
Prospect had its share of outstanding performances, but Santiago proved to be a workhorse.
The Knights junior started the meet by helping Prospect take second in the 3,200 relay (9:39.41), she then took second in the 800 (2:19.11) right behind senior teammate Lauren Poplawski (2:17.29), who took first.
And Santaigo capped her night by patiently waiting in the first two laps of the 1,600, before exploding in the final two laps.
"I was just really feeling it after the first two laps, and I knew I was ready to make my move," said Santiago. "It's really exciting to win conference again, and to be on a team that can score so many points from all different angles."
And Prospect's definitely covered its share of events.
Sophomore Catherine Sherwood gave the Knights a huge lift by taking first in both the long jump (17-1.25) and triple jump (36-0). Freshman Jes Skudlarek added a first in the high jump (5-3). Junior Erin Reese stepped up big in throws, taking second in the discus (133-02) and third in the shot put (41-10).
Senior Brooke Wolfe added a second-place finish in the 3,200 (11:12.47) and a fifth-place finish in the 1,600 (5:20.04), with freshman Maya Mason adding a second-place finish in the 300 low hurdles (47.10).
"It's cool to win again," said Sherwood. "We lost some seniors from last year, but we have had a lot of people step up."
Palatine set the tone early with senior Tess Wasowicz and junior Liz Cox helping lead the Pirates to victory in the 3,200 relay (9:28.30). Sophomore Caitlin Riedy added a win in the 300 low hurdles (46.82).
Junior Cassidy McPherson took third in the 800 (2:21.11) and came back to push the Pirates to a second-place finish in the 1,600 relay (4:11.70), with senior Meg Jump adding a second-place finish in the triple jump.
"We knew Prospect was probably the favorite," said McPherson. "But we just wanted to give it our best shot; I think everyone gave it their all."
Senior Samantha Babiuk was busy from start to finish for Barrington. She started the night by keying the Fillies' third-place finish in the 3,200 relay (9:44.18). Babiuk continued by taking second in the pole vault (9-06).
Babiuk kept things rolling by winning the 400 (1:00.62) and she finished her night by helping lead the Fillies to a first-place finish in the 1,600 relay (4:09.34).
"Definitely a busy night," said Babiuk. "It was definitely a challenge, but it was worth it."
Barrington junior McCall Braun (15.84) came from behind on the last hurdle to nip Hersey senior Michelle Brown (15.94) for the 100 high hurdle title. Braun also had a first-place finish in the 800 relay (1:48.23).
Senior Sydney Keith powered Wheeling by sweeping both the 100 (12.47) and 200 (25.4). She also combined with freshman Katherine Kowalski, sophomore Alexa Laureano, and senior Angela Reinhart for the 400 relay (49.96) title.
"That relay set the tone for the night," said Keith. "I am just so excited, especially it being my senior year."
Rolling Meadow senior Morgan Keller pulled off a double victory in the discus (141-3) and shot put (44-02). Keller hit her winning mark in shot put on her final throw to edge Hoffman Estates junior Banke Oginni (43-06).
"There is always going to be competition in this conference," said Keller who hit a career best in the shot put. "But it's really exciting to win both."
Buffalo Grove freshman Kaitlyn Ko also had an impressive night, controlling the 3,200 (11:04.10) from start to finish and coming back to take second in the 1,600 (5:14.22).
"I felt pretty good in both races," said Ko. "I knew I had to set the tone early in the 3,200 because Brooke (Wolfe) likes to kick it in at the end."
Hersey sophomore Kelly Hill gave the Huskies the title in the pole vault (10-3).