While a very happy Glenbard East coach Joe Latala was clinging to the Ram Invitational championship plaque Friday night, he was already thinking about how to show it off.
The Rams girls track coach was all smiles after his team totaled 82 points to hold off runners-up Glenbard South and Plainfield South, who tied for second at 73, to top the eight-team field.
"We had a lot of PRs, and a number of girls who were seeded third came out and took first," Latala said. "I'm ecstatic. I can't wait to put this (plaque) up."
One of the many pleasant surprises for the hosts came from junior Hunter Easterday, who cleared a personal-best 9-3 to finish first in the pole vault.
"I've been at 8-6 since indoor season so that was a pretty big jump. I've been really pushing for 9," said Easterday, who won a jumpoff with Plainfield South's Amanda Wyatt after the two had tied at 9 feet. "It wasn't like I was barely scraping over. There were some nice vaults."
Also coming up big for Glenbard East was Angela Kerndl, who was second in the triple jump at 32-8, second in the high jump at 5 feet and added a third in the 100 hurdles.
"Everybody did awesome, which is great since we have sectionals so soon," said Kerndl, a state qualifier last spring in the 100 hurdles.
Glenbard South may have come up just short in the team standings, but the Raiders' Katelyn Hill was at her best, winning both hurdles and helping her team take first in both the 400 and 1,600 relays.
Hill capped her big night with a blazing anchor in the 1,600 relay, turning in a personal-best 57 as she joined Taylor Blohm-Bivins, Becca Everhart and Elizabeth Niedert to help the Raiders turn in a solid 4:07.72 that beat second-place Glenbard East by more than six seconds.
"Everything was just so great," said Hill, who took third in the state in the 300 hurdles last year. "I'm just happy for the team, proud of everybody. It was a really good night tonight."
Glenbard South's 1,600 relay win was even more impressive considering regular Ivana Markovic was a late injury scratch and Niedert, a distance runner, stepped in and ran a solid leg. Hill, who expects to continue shining in the hurdles, also has high hopes for the Raiders relays.
"With our 4x4 I think we can do some pretty good damage at state. Not sure about first, but some pretty good damage," she said.
A West Chicago squad short-handed because some runners were attending prom didn't have a lot of varsity highlights, but sophomore Cindy Mendez did win a thrilling race in the 400 when she posted a 1:03.21 and just edged Plainfield South's Stephanie Cruz for the title.
"I was pretty nervous, especially coming in through the last straightaway. It was definitely a fight at the end," she said. "I was nervous and didn't even know I was seeded second, but I was pretty happy with the win, that's for sure."