BLOOMINGTON – Only someone dedicated to running a perfect race could find a flaw in a 3,200-meter race she won by 23.48 seconds.
That someone is Glenbard West sophomore Lindsey Graham, whose 10:44.98 clocking in the Illinois Top Times meet on Illinois Wesleyan University's 200-meter indoor track Saturday outdistanced the field but not her expectations.
"I went out a little bit too slow," Graham said. "My goal was to go out slower than I did last week, but today was too slow. And I got cut off halfway through, which slowed me down a couple seconds. But I beat my seed time, which is good.
"It was the first quarter that was slow, 79 seconds. I wanted 78, and I know it's only a second, but it can make a difference."
Graham's effort didn't set a record, but it opened eyes, and it set the stage for the outdoor season and a potential Class 3A title in the IHSA's championship meet. She was fifth downstate as a freshman, running 10:42.42 at Eastern Illinois University for Glenbard East last year, and only teammate Madeline Perez returns from those who finished ahead of her.
"We do almost everything together and keep pushing each other," Graham said of her distance mates. "I just want to train consistently and get better as I keep training."
In Graham's wake were a trio of Downers Grove South runners, Amanda Thate, Haley Albers, Abby Kargol.
Marcus Jegede of Lake Park was the other area winner, taking the triple jump with a top leap of 48 feet, 1.5 inches, beating runner-up James Travis of Waubonsie Valley by more than 2 feet, which made up for being disqualified from the 60-meter final. Jegede also finished third in the long jump.
Success was not universal. Neuqua Valley standout Maya Neal was the best example, taking second in the 60-meter hurdles, third in the long jump and fourth in the 200. She lost the hurdle race to West Aurora's Emma Spagnola by six-hundredths of a second.
"This meet exposes your flaws early in the season," Neal said. "In the long jump my steps were on but I didn't finish my jumps correctly, and that put me third. I felt like I did real well in the hurdle final even though my heel hurt, and in the 200, I felt like I got out well, but I got tired."
It was a long day for everyone, even those with one event. Lake Park's Curtwan Evans, seeded third in the shot put, finished third with a best mark of 55-7.25 across a half-dozen throws. He never found the sweet spot.
"I haven't thrown 55 in a while," said Evans, who came in with a 57-7 seed. "It was just an average throw. One of those off days."
Martinus Mitchell of Collinsville won with a 57-8 best put. That only perturbed Evans more.
"I just have to work hard, work on my positions, muscle memory," Evans said.
While there were no team points in the meet, the placings of Jegede, Evans and teammates Joe Pierce (ninth in the long jump) and Eric Gal (seventh in the triple jump) auger well for the Lancers' opportunity to win an unprecedented fifth straight boys Class 3A title in May. That would have been 30 points before running, worth 16 more points, was taken into account.
Glenbard North's Simone Carr finished third in the 400, while Waubonsie Valley's Allison Wilson took third in the 800. Lake Park's Danielle Wojciechowski was third in the pole vault, with Metea Valley's Courtney Morgan and Holly Julifs second and fourth in the shot put, respectively.