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updated: 3/21/2014 12:03 AM

West Aurora edges Naperville C. in DVC indoor meet

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  • Mark Black/mblack@dailyherald.comSaMya Hunt of West Aurora competes in the Shot Put during DuPage Valley Conference girls indoor track meet at North Central College.

    Mark Black/mblack@dailyherald.comSaMya Hunt of West Aurora competes in the Shot Put during DuPage Valley Conference girls indoor track meet at North Central College.

By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent

Kyla Walton was not about to overanalyze her situation.

"I wasn't thinking," the West Aurora senior said as the anchor leg of the 1,600-meter relay approached. "I do better when I don't think."

The Central Michigan recruit, who won the triple jump earlier, was never headed in holding the Blackhawks' cushion in the final event of the DuPage Valley Conference girls indoor track and field championship Thursday night at North Central College in Naperville.

West Aurora trailed Naperville Central by 4 points entering the last of the 15 events but seized its fifth indoor championship since 2009 when the Redhawks' quartet was forced to settle for fourth.

After dropping the outdoor championship to Wheaton Warrenville South last year by 2 points, West Aurora reversed the verdict against Naperville Central with its pulsating 110-108 victory.

Naperville North, behind its nationally ranked stable of cross country runners, was third; WW South was fourth.

Glenbard North, Lake Park, host Wheaton North and Glenbard East rounded out the field.

"I told the girls (before the meet), 'This is your last DVC indoor championship," West Aurora coach Teresa Towles said. "'You need to take ownership of it. Win, lose or draw -- do your best.'"

It helps when you have one of the best athletes in the state.

Emma Spagnola, the defending Class 3A long jump champion and three-time runner-up in hurdles, was on a different planet in her two specialty events.

Spagnola took only one jump to soar 19 feet even in breaking her own conference record and was across the finish line before her nearest competitor even cleared the final obstacle to win the 55 hurdles in 8.02 seconds.

Spagnola broke the conference record of former Blackhawks state champion Shanice Andrews by more than three-tenths in the process.

"I was so happy," the Minnesota-bound star said. "I haven't jumped (previous best of 18-11) since the summer before my sophomore year. I hope I can do that for state. I wanted to go 7.9 (seconds) or 8-flat (in the hurdles)."

Spagnola and Walton swept the long jump, and the former was also runner-up in the 400 run and third in the high jump.

Marquette-bound thrower Maya Marion captured another shot put title for West Aurora with a throw of 41-3, but it was Elisa Zinn who was arguably the difference.

The senior sprinter overcame a 12-meter deficit against the Redhawks' reigning all-state 800-meter relay crew and later came back to deny Naperville Central senior standout Mary Beth Blank in the open 200.

"I was determined to win," Zinn said. "I really wanted to do this for my team. Competition is what I love."

Naperville Central needed a fourth Hoffman sister.

Then again, the junior triplets put on a show in their hometown.

Rachel Hoffman completed one of the rarest doubles in the sport with wins at 800 and 1,600 meters, and Katie Hoffman broke 11 minutes for the first time in claiming the title at 3,200 meters.

Katie Hoffman was also runner-up in the 1,600 to her sister, and third sibling Nikki Hoffman enabled the family to sweep a second event with her second-place finish in the 800.

"I was really excited in the 800," said Rachel Hoffman, who won in 2:18.23. "I wanted to have energy left for my next race (the 1,600). In the (1,600) I just tried to go all out."

"We came in with the mindset that we were going to do everything we could to win," said Katie Hoffman, who turned back Naperville North star junior Elly DeTurris to win the 3,200 in less than 10:56.

D'Jenne Egharevba denied Glenbard North all-state 400 runner Simone Carr to win the 55 dash for another Naperville Central title.

"We had a lot of great performances," Naperville Central coach Mike Stine said. "It's hard to be upset. Individually, we ran a lot of great efforts."

Carr holds the distinction of becoming the first athlete in the last four years to defeat Spagnola in an individual conference running race.

In breaking her own league record in 57.79, the DePaul-bound Carr defeated Spagnola by less than 2 meters.

Carr later ran an extraordinary anchor leg in the 1,600 relay to cost Naperville Central a shared conference championship.

"I could definitely feel (Spagnola) on my back the whole way," Carr said. "I wasn't expecting (to finish second at the 55 dash). I'm really excited about my time (in the 400)."

In a scintillating high jump, WW South senior Erin Zappia and Naperville North senior Stephanie Mueller were engaged in a titanic struggle.

The two cleared 5-7 to break the conference record, but Zappia one-upped her at 5-8 to claim the title.

"I was able to make a lot of (jumps) on my third attempt," Zappia said.

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