CHARLESTON -- Glenbard West and Wheaton Warrenville South have been the litmus tests for local girls track and field programs in recent years.
After the first day of the Class 3A meet on the campus of Eastern Illinois University Friday afternoon, the schools are in familiar positions.
Contact information ( * required )
The Hilltoppers, along with St. Charles East, have the second-most state finalists, with WW South not far behind with six individual qualifiers.
The programs' Emma Reifel and McKenna Kiple have had their fair share of dustups during cross country and track seasons the last four years.
Kiple, the Tigers' Miami of Ohio-bound senior, won the second heat of the 800-meter run, but Reifel turned in an even faster time in finishing runner-up to Rockton Hononegah senior Courtney Clayton.
"My whole game plan going into the 800 was to make it to finals," said Kiple, who overcame a tactically slow opening lap to win in 2 minutes, 17.11 seconds. "I wasn't worried about times. I'm going to run my race (today)."
Reifel, who also launched the Hilltoppers' 1,600 relay to a finals berth, had her lowest time of the year at 2:14.79.
"I was really happy being in Courtney's heat," the Wisconsin-bound Reifel said. "I knew (Clayton) was going to push me. I wanted to give it all I had."
Willowbrook junior Molly Krawzykowski also made it to the 12-person final at 800 meters.
"Courtney is really good," Glenbard West coach Kelly Hass said. "You know Kiple just coasted, and she looked good doing it. (The opening leg Reifel ran in the 1,600 relay) makes me think she might be in that race (for the title)."
Area athletes have captured the largest-class 800 division eight times since 2001.
Sophomore breakout performer Emma Gambol anchored the Hilltoppers' 1,600 relay and is also in contention in the triple jump.
WW South field athletes Amy Smith (pole vault) and Erin Lappia (high jump) are in prime position to place high as well.
Lake Park also has a strong field contingent: senior Tyshai Freeman is still alive in both the triple and high jumps; pole vaulters Maya Golliday, a returning all-stater, and Danielle Wojciechowski are also featured prominently.
But Savannah Carson had her bid to defend her long-jump state championship unravel due to recurring back issues.
Neuqua Valley teammate Maya Neal, third last year in the long jump, is in the same position after the first day; the sophomore is also in the finals of the 300 hurdles.
"I didn't have a very good day (long jumping)," Neal said of her 18-foot, 4-inch effort.
Metea Valley sophomore Holly Julifs seeks to become the first two-event state medal-winner in program history in the two throwing disciplines.
Naperville Central qualified its two sprint relays.
Simone Carr will make her first finals appearance in the 400 dash for Glenbard North.
Glenbard South junior Katelyn Hill is the glue to the Raiders' six Class 2A finalists.