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updated: 3/22/2014 9:34 PM

Experience delivers for Pirates in MSL Invite

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By Michael Eaken
Daily Herald Correspondent

Leaning on its experience, Palatine's girls track and field teamed up with a stellar performance at the Mark Saylor Mid-Suburban League Indoor meet on Saturday.

The Pirates won five events and finished second in six others while running away to the title with 132 points at North Central College in Naperville.

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"Almost every girl that was here today was at this meet last year," said Palatine coach Joe Parks of his team's dominant performance. "Obviously there is a lot of experience, and that was on our side."

Two-time defending outdoor MSL champion Prospect took second with 80 points, followed by Hoffman Estates (73.75), Barrington (58.5) and Conant (42.75).

While Palatine was excelling as a team, Prospect's Christina Santiago lit it up individually.

The senior set a pair of school indoor records while winning the 800 (2:16.1) and 1,600 (4:59).

Santiago ran to a comfortable victory in the 800. She was shadowed by Hoffman Estates sophomore Meghan Biddle (5:00.3) in the 1,600 before making a move in the final 400 meters to secure that victory.

"I kind of rely on my kick but she (Biddle) was right up there with me until the end," said Santiago, who finished third in the 1,600 in Class 3A last season. "This is by far the best indoor season I've had and I'm really ready to take it outdoors."

"In the beginning I just went out and tried to see what I could do," said Biddle, who sat on the early lead. "She (Santiago) ran a great race but it definitely gives me confidence."

Senior Cassidy McPherson, senior Liz Cox, junior Kara Burton, and sophomore Kelly O'Brien started the day by leading Palatine to a state-best indoor mark in winning the 3,200 relay.

O'Brien and McPherson gave the Pirates a big surge in the middle to push the attack.

"As a team, we had a lot of people step up," said McPherson, who along with Cox and Burton led the Pirates to a second-place finish in Class 3A last season in the 3,200.

They appear to be primed for another big season.

"We'll see what we can do this year," McPherson added.

Junior Basirat Iginla also came up huge for the Pirates' attack, taking first in the 400 (1:02.3) and then combining with McPherson, Burton and junior Cailtin Riedy to capture the meet-ending 1,600 relay (4:07.55).

"I feel really great," said Iginla, who is feeling much more confident this season. "Last year was a little rough but I'm building confidence."

Also lifting the Pirates were senior Jessica Lincoln (11:32.1) and sophomore Sabina Yosif (11:37.4), who went 1-2 in the 3,200 along with the junior duo Megan Thabuteau (34-07) and Gabbi Heidrich (34-3.75), who were 1-2 in the triple jump.

Junior Ashley Proska added a pair of second-place finishes in the 55 dash (7.4) and long jump (16-07.75). McPherson took second in the 800 (2:20.6) and the Pirates also took second in the 800 relay (1:50.10.).

Prospect sophomore Jes Skudlarek took first in the high jump (5-06). She and Santiago helped spark the Knights to secure second place.

Hoffman Estates senior Banke Oginni is looking for big things this season in the throws. The Hawks senior didn't disappoint on Saturday, as she took first in the shot put (44-10), holding off Conant senior Jennifer Donnell (42-04) and Prospect senior Erin Reese (40-08.5).

Last year, all three earned state medals in the shot put and they most certainly will be in the hunt this season.

"I'm feeling pretty comfortable and looking to have some fun in my last season," said Oginni, who is the current state leader (Class 3A) in the shot put (47-09.5) for the indoor season. "I'm feeling more confident and I know a big throw is going to come."

Shayan Dussard, Edyta Kraweic, Brenda Regalado and Kaylan Williams led the Hawks to a first-place finish in the 800 relay (1:48.9).

Dussard also added a second-place finish in the 400 (1:02.4) and the Hawks added a second-place finish in the 3,200 relay (9:32.8).

Senior McCall Braun gave Barrington a big lift by taking first in the 55 hurdles (8.5) and long jump (16-08.5).

The Fillies also got a first-place finish from junior Nina Hodges in the 200 (25.97).

Sophomore Anna Cosio took second in the high jump (5-04) and was part of the Fillies' second-place finish in the 1,600 relay (4:10.04).

Hersey junior Kelly Hill took first in the pole vault (10-0) while Wheeling junior Alexa Laureano earned top honors in the 55 dash (7.2).

Schaumburg senior Darneisha Span grabbed the top two preliminary marks in the 55 dash and 55 hurdles.

But she pulled up at the finish in the 55 hurdle finals with a left leg injury. She took third (8.7) but retired from further action.

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