The Burlington Central girls' track team is the midst of an important part of its schedule.
The Rockets recently won their own Rocket Relays event and will compete in the annual Kane County meet Friday at Kaneland.
Central coach Vince Neil said host Kaneland and West Aurora are the favorites going in.
"Rosary should do very well and of course Geneva, St. Charles North and St. Charles East all will have girls running pretty strong," he said. "We think we can be in the mix with those teams."
Neil noted Central's sprint relay contingent of Liz Spencer, Emily Westergaard, Bryce Weinrich and Jasmine Castillo are performing at a high level, while pole vaulters Aly Detamble and Allie Mueller also are improving, as is thrower Brenna Williams.
The improvement doesn't stop there, however. Katie Bush, Hannah Zipoy and Liz Brake excel in the distance events, while Karli Chmelik and Megan Goehrke are making strides in the jumps, and Weinrich and Castillo in the hurdles.
"Bryce and Jasmine are looking to be threats in the Class 2A hurdles," said Neil.
Neil has been happy with the overall progression of the squad.
"All areas of the team are improving," he said. "Our focus has been on becoming a complete team. We are looking for all girls in all events to be point-scorers and put together a nice run into the conference, sectional and state-meet portion of our season.
"This is a hardworking group of girls. They are receptive to the training and coaching philosophy. They are dedicated to improving and, best of all, they are a pleasure to be around. We are lucky to have a great group of hardworking, team-driven young ladies."
Harvest Christian Academy update: The Lions recently placed second at the Timothy Christian invite and the Elgin city meet. Harvest also was third at the Rockford Christian invite.
"We take pride in those results when you consider we only have about 60 girls in our high school," coach Steve Bland stated.
Valerie Richter continues to star for the Lions. She ran 2:27 in the 800 at the state indoor meet and has gone as low as 1:04 in the 400.
"She's been consistently in the 1:04 range, which puts her close to state-qualifying time," said Bland.
The 1,600 relay team of Richter, Kylee Knox, Camryn Boldog and Abby Hibionada has gone 4:31.39 and recently won the Rockford Christian meet.
Sydney Doby is consistently throwing the discus more than 100-0, while Anneliese Herman has been setting plenty of personal bests, running 12:55 in the 3,200 and 5:55 in the 1,600 in recent times.
Gabi Rodriguez is progressing in the 200 and the 400, in particular. "She is one of the pieces that may get the 1,600 relay to state," said Bland.
Boldog also is a key component to the team's relays.
"She has recently made breakthroughs in the 400 and 800, allowing the 1,600 and 3,200 teams to become more competitive," said Bland. "These are teams we think have a shot at state qualification."
Bland, who lauded the team's strong work ethic, likes how the sprint-relay component of the team has blossomed. "In the past, we have been very thin in this area, but as the girls are developing, they are scoring points, which allows the team to post some impressive results," he said.
Harvest competes in the NAC meet on May 10 and also has its eye on qualifying multiple girls for the state meet.
"We hope to win our conference title and then send 5-8 girls to state," said Bland. "We believe we might have a chance for a medal spot at state this year."
Jacobs update: The Golden Eagles recently placed third at the McHenry County meet. The 1,600 relay team of Kayla Giuliano, Lauren Van Vlierbergen, Molly Barnes and Della Willerth won the county title with a time of 4:08.1. Other county superlatives for the Golden Eagles included Megan Jameson's 34-5 ½ in the triple jump and Rachel Holstein's 16-5 in the long jump and 5-0 in the high jump.
Van Vlierbergen established a new personal record in the 3,200 at the Grayslake Central tri-meet with a time of 10:44.
Coach Ryan Lemanski is seeing widespread advancements throughout the lineup.
"Our horizontal jumpers are finding their marks in the long and triple jump and are setting impressive distances," he said. "All of the relay teams are finally coming together and executing good handoffs, shaving as much as 5 seconds off our best times. Our hurdlers are more confident when they get into their locks and are running impressive times."
The 1,600 and 400 relay teams also are excelling.
"Everyone is healthy, running strong and executing their handoffs," said Lemanski. "Holly Alessio starts off our 400 relay and has had a lot of practice taking off out of the blocks with a baton and shows more confidence and a lot of improvement every race."
Lemanski also likes the progress Jameson, Van Vlierbergen and Giuliano are making as the season reaches its most important stages.
"Megan in the triple jump is starting to peak at the perfect time," he said. "Her approach in the triple is much faster and she has the ability to accelerate through each of her phases and she has not yet jumped to her full potential.
"Lauren continues to impress every time she is on the track. She anchored the 1,600 at county. We were trailing Huntley by a few seconds and she was able to run a 59-second split and win the rest in the last 50 meters. She is determined to be the top runner in the state and wants to prove it at every meet. Kayla in the 400 has incredible leg speed and is able to kick it into a different gear this time of year."
Lemanski feels the best is yet to come for his group. "I like the team's ability to perform under pressure and exceed expectations," he said. "Our team has not reached its full potential and is hungry for the conference and sectional competition as the true test of their ability."
Cary-Grove update: The Trojans recently won the McHenry County invite.
Nikki Freeman and Olivia Roehri went first and second in the discus at county, while Erika Sternard and Nicole Robins did the same in the high jump as did Morgan Schulz and Nicole Robins in the high jump.
Eva Burk has run as low as 15.11 in the 100 hurdles, while Schulz has proved her versatility going 2:14.42 in the 800, 44.66 in the 300 hurdles, 26.06 in the 200 and being part of the 800 relay team that has clocked in at 1:45.64.
"We are competing strongly and have several kids that have stepped up their efforts," said Cary-Grove coach Mark Anderson. "At the county, we showed great balance and depth, scoring in all the relays and twice in 10 of the 14 individual events."
Anderson added the 3,200 and 1,600 relay teams have exceeded expectations. "We have a lot of depth, but the athletes on those relays have stepped up in terms of competitiveness and have posted impressive times and places in recent meets," the coach said.
Robins had a busy county meet, taking second in the high jump and 300 hurdles, third in the 100 hurdles and was part of the winning 800 relay. Anderson also cited strong recent efforts from Iris Melcher and Allie Renner, both part of the 3,200 and 1,600 relays. "Both have been making tremendous gains in terms of performance," said Anderson, who also lauded Delaney Perrone's results in the triple jump and 400 relay.
Crystal Lake South update: South's 400 relay of Gaby De Jesus, Kianna Clark, Kathleen Pencak and Taylor Schau set a McHenry County meet record with a time of 50.70.
"Times keep dropping and distance keeps getting further," said South coach Matt Dunker. "Our sprints group has really picked it up of late. We're seeing improved times across the board."
Clark also won the shot put county title with a throw of 35-10. Dunker noted Kathleen Pencak also has shown good progress in the relays.
"These are hardworking girls that keep on improving and wanting to improve," he said. "They seem to never be satisfied. We are progressing really well as the season continues."
Dundee-Crown update: Emily Michalski won the high jump title at the Lake Park invite with a leap of 5-3. Kayla Lawrence was third in the 100 hurdles at 15.74. Michalski placed fifth in the triple jump at 33-9 and fourth in the long jump at 16-2 ¾.
"Our sprinters and field events have been doing an excellent job getting their personal bests every meet," said D-C coach Christine Hopkins-Muehl. "We have improved a lot in the field events due to the large quantity of girls we have out for the team this year (96)."
Michalski already has jumped a state-qualifying height in the high jump and earned a personal best in the triple jump (33-9). Lawrence, only a sophomore, is close to state time in the 100 hurdles. Senior Kyra Flynn set the school-record in the pole vault at the Geneva coed meet (8-0), while junior Anette Woolf notched a personal best in the shot put (31-5) at Lake Park.
"We are hoping to continue to improve each and every meet," said Hopkins-Muehl. "We are looking for some girls to step up and perform at conference and sectionals and are hoping to sneak in some points/places in several events."
Elgin update: The Maroons had three medalists at the recent Fenton Bison invitational. Jessica Ramirez took second in the discus, Lauren Alexander was third in the 200 and Nikki Zimmer was second in the 300 hurdles.
"We have a nice team," said Elgin coach Dave Borg. "We are peaking at the right time."
The 800 relay team of Alexander, Quanita Johnson, Amelia Westberg and Maggie Powers have gone a season-best 1:53.9 in the 800 relay. Powers, Westberg and Alexander are all seniors.
"Maggie, Amelia and Lauren are all seniors and all great student-athletes. I hate to see them go," said Borg.
As far as the future goes, Borg noted sophomores Chloe Burkhart and Anali Cisneros each have run sub-6:00 1,600 races this season.
Huntley update: The Red Raiders recently won the Kaneland invitational and took second at the McHenry County meet.
Macy Tremblay won county titles in the 100 hurdles (14.97) and triple jump (36-7). Delaney Lyman won the long jump county title with a school-record 17-4½ leap. Courtney Kampert placed second in the county in the pole vault (10-0), while Tina Driscoll won the county 400 title (59.89) and was third in the county in the 100 (12.87).
Huntley's 1,600 relay team was second in the county (4:08.96) and the 400 team was third. Keely Meehlieb took third in the 3,200 at county (11:52.17).
"We are doing well with the limited field-event time we have due to the conditions faced this spring," said Huntley coach Shawn Nordeen. "Our field events, sprinters, relays and distance runners have been improving as the season has progressed due to the work ethic our captains have brought to practice and competitions. They have held the team to our program's high standards that we expect."
Nordeen is excited to see what Tramblay can do in the upcoming weeks.
"Macy usually starts to lower her times and marking further jumps about this time of year," he said. "If the trend stays the same, it will be exciting to see what she has coming her way in the next few weeks."
Driscoll has lowered her times in the 400 open and her portion of the 400 relay.
"Her 400 time and the relay time have really come down each meet," said Nordeen. "Tina is a hard worker and her season has shown all the hard work she has put in this year."
Meehlieb also has impressed in the 3,200. "Keely had a great showing at the McHenry County meet," said Nordeen. "She has come back from where she was after taking a year off from track. She is having some fun and has been going into each race with her race plan and has followed it very well as her times have shown."
South Elgin update: The Storm took third at the Rolling Meadows Relays and also placed second in a home triangular with Bartlett and Geneva.
"We're doing a good job of preparing for the postseason," said Storm coach Jorie Bartholomew. "We are working hard on getting the right practice for our varsity and junior-varsity team to get the best performance. We are starting to improve our relay times. We've been working on handoffs and that has really helped. We're working on getting the right combination for our relays."
Janese Bibbs is progressing in the 400 for the Storm, while Bartholomew also likes the way Emalee Smith has moved forward in the triple and long jumps. She's also been pleased with the team culture.
"With track, the girls are off doing different events all the time and this year they have really come together and become one," she said. "They are a cohesive team."