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posted: 5/19/2013 12:01 AM

Perez goes the distance

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  • Glenbard West's Madeline Perez wins the 3,200 meter run at the Class 3A girls state track and field finals at O'Brien Stadium at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

      Glenbard West's Madeline Perez wins the 3,200 meter run at the Class 3A girls state track and field finals at O'Brien Stadium at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent

CHARLESTON -- Courtney Ackerman made every conceivable effort, but the New Trier senior could never solve Madeline Perez.

After earlier winning her first state track and field championship in the 3,200-meter run, Perez and Ackerman ran shoulder to shoulder for at least 600 meters Saturday at Eastern Illinois University at the girls state meet in the 1,600.

Perez had one final burst, however, and the Glenbard West junior completed the prep version of the triple crown of distance racing: combining the 1,600-3,2000 Class 3A double after setting a state record in winning the cross country championship last fall.

The Hilltoppers' star won the 1,600 run in 4 minutes, 52.24 seconds after earlier denying Lake Park defending champion Kaylee Flanagan at the longer distance in 10:22.99.

"All the pieces fell into place today," Perez said. "I wanted to do this so badly for my school. Having this great competition pushed me. I knew that Courtney has this great kick. I had something left. It's indescribable."

In becoming the first DuPage County two-event champion since Casey Short (Naperville Central) and Egle Staisiunaite (Downers Grove South) in 2007, Perez helped Glenbard West to its first girls track team trophy.

The Hilltoppers' seventh-place result in the 1,600 relay enabled the squad to pass West Aurora and Homewood-Flossmoor for third place.

"Madeline Perez was just not going to be denied," Glenbard West coach Kelly Hass said. "Those were two commanding times."

Emma Reifel earned a third-place result in the open 800 and her leadoff leg in the 1,600 relay.

The Wisconsin-bound Reifel and Emma Gambol, who placed in the triple jump, were the Hilltoppers' mainstays on the final relay.

"I was looking for a little bit of a better time (in the 800)," Reifel said. "I couldn't have been happier to make it to finals."

Wheaton Warrenville South senior McKenna Kiple also ran her final race after three years on the Tigers' varsity. Rockton Hononegah senior Courtney Clayton set a state record in not only denying Kiple at 800 meters but also defending her state title.

"My emotions are going all over the place," said Kiple, who passed Reifel in the final 100 meters to finish second in a personal-low of 2:11.74. "My last race as a Tiger. I'm happy with what I did today. Courtney is an amazing runner."

Purdue-bound WW South stalwart Hope Schmelzle overcame illness to place in the 1,600 in her final event.

Lake Park was in the top 15 behind its three returning all-staters: Flanagan, Maya Golliday in the pole vault and Tyshai Freeman in the high jump.

Neuqua Valley sophomore Maya Neal was fourth in the long jump and also earned all-state distinction in the 300 hurdles.

With Perez dominating the attention in the distance races, Stanford recruit Emma Fisher ended her York senior season with a third at 3,200 meters and another medal at 1,600.

Promising Glenbard East freshman Lindsay Graham was fifth in the 3,200.

Glenbard South was top 10 in Class 2A behind Katelyn Hill and freshman Diane Lipa.

Theresa Connelly had her Montini season come to a close with another runner-up performance in the 3,200 relay.

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