Toward the end of her freshman season, Wheaton Warrenville South's Emma Dalan realized she was going to have to work very, very hard to have success at track and field.
"I had no talent to begin with, so that definitely wasn't an option for me," Dalan said, dismissing the idea she might coast during off-seasons. "I had to work hard."
On Friday night in Wheaton, Dalan and her fellow seniors saw how four years of hard work have paid off. The Tigers won their fourth straight Tiger Invitational with 107.5 points.
Naperville North was second with 89.5 points, Oak Park-River Forest took third with 61 and Naperville Central was fourth with 57.5.
"Emma Dalan is one of our typical kids who works her tail off and gets better and better and better and all of a sudden she's a superstar," Tigers coach Rob Harvey said. "I say this about a lot of our kids, and I mean this. They get exactly what they deserve."
WW South deserved the team title despite winning only the discus and 3,200-meter relay, which included Dalan. Dalan also took third in the 300 hurdles and anchored the fourth-place 400 relay.
"It really helps that we have a really well-rounded team," Dalan said. "If you watch the meet going on, you wouldn't really see us winning a lot. You see a lot of girls getting second, third, fourth, placing. And also if you just watch running events and you miss a lot of field events, we have a lot of strong field events. ...
"From year to year there may be some deficits. Last year we lost a lot of great distance girls, but this year we're making up for it in the sprints or in the hurdles."
The field events earned a lot of points for the Tigers. Juniors Naomi Yamane and Hannah Kats went 1-2 for the Tigers in the discus, and Erin Zappia took second behind Naperville North's Stephanie Mueller in the high jump. WW South junior Heidi Nassos was second in the triple jump, and senior Amy Smith took third in the pole vault.
"The girls take it really seriously, and I think because we take it so seriously it turns out well," Dalan said.
"I'm really happy with how far I've come over the course of my high school career as well as this year. I'm always setting new goals. I'm never going to be satisfied with what I have."
One of the top individual performers on the night was Glenbard South's Katelyn Hill, who won both hurdle events. She won the 100 hurdles in 15.03 and caught Oswego's Princess Shodipo from behind at the finish line to win the 300 hurdles in 46.74 to Shodipo's 46.80.
"I was a little bit surprised," Hill said of the 300. "I was trying to catch her. I just didn't know. We were so close, right there. I guess I just got her with the lean."
Hill dropped out of the 1,600 relay because of minor knee pain after the 300, but that was OK. Her night was made in the 100 hurdles.
"That was like the highlight for me," Hill said. "I got out really good. I was snapping my leg down, got my trail leg over, I was clicking between the hurdles and I got my PR. I wanted to break 15 (seconds), I finally did it."
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