The sight of a wobbly, dizzy Morgan Schulz could have made Cary-Grove's girls track team ... well, wobbly, dizzy.
Instead, despite the absence of their junior star, the Trojans turned in a sick performance in the Fox Valley Conference meet at Grayslake North on Thursday night. Cary-Grove ran away with the championship, totaling 134 points to easily outdistance runner-up Huntley (97). Crystal Lake South (78), Jacobs (65.5) and Crystal Lake Central (63) rounded out the top five.
Schulz ran the semifinals of the 200-meter dash, then was sent home due to what Cary-Grove coach Mark Anderson called dehydration.
"We figured rest and hydrating was going to be a better option than even jogging the finals of the 200 for a point," Anderson said. "We figured if we didn't have enough points at that point, then we didn't care of business on the track or the field."
The Trojans, indeed, took care of what was needed. Cary-Grove got first-place efforts from Erika Sternard in the high jump (5-5) and Nikki Freeman in the discus (125-03).
"It says a lot (about the team)," Anderson said of the Trojans' performance. "This has got to be the most monster of a performance that I've seen out of girls in our program in my 15 years as coach. They proved to themselves tonight that they are a complete, well-balanced team.
"I think this is good for Morgan, too," Anderson added, "because Morgan needs to realize that she doesn't need to carry the team on her shoulders."
Schulz's teammates responded immediately after she was pulled. Anderson called sophomore Sarah Riley the Trojans' MVP of the meet. Riley led off C-G's 3,200 relay, finished third in the 800 -- her highest finish in any open invitational, Anderson said -- then, given the option of running the 1,600 run, decided to run it.
"Ultimate team player," Anderson said of Riley. "She picked up a point. It was a personal best for her. She knew the team needed points. Sarah Riley was absolutely the spark that got this team going tonight when we needed her on the track."
Huntley's Macy Tramblay was equally inspirational. She broke a 15-year meet record by winning the 100 hurdles in a sizzling 14.86, ran on the Red Raiders' victorious 1,600 relay and then, immediately after finishing the last race on the track, hustled over to the triple jump. She won that, sailing 35-5.25, capping a typical busy night for the junior.
"I'm usually running back and forth," Tramblay said. "I honestly think it helps me. It keeps me busy. I don't get cooled down too much. I still have the adrenaline rush from each race."
She typically doesn't have to triple-jump after sprinting 400 meters with a baton in her hand. On this night, however, she relished it.
"It was a great feeling because everyone was over here, and nobody really pays attention to triple jump," Tramblay said. "Especially with my team coming here (to watch), it gave me extra motivational strength to keep going."
Joining Tramblay on 1,600 relay (4:05.79) were Tess Miller, Kate Mitchell and anchor Tina Driscoll, who held off Hampshire (4:06.63) and anchor Elizabeth Pagan.
"My biggest thing was to keep calm," Driscoll said. "I knew she was coming for me. I could hear everyone screaming. I beat her earlier in the 100 (taking third ahead of the fourth-place Pagan) so I was like, 'If this turns into a sprint race, I got this. Just stay calm. You can do this.' It was just everything I had, everything I had left."
The most thrilling finish of the night came compliments of Grayslake Central's 800 relay, which won in a season-best 1:46.75, edging Cary-Grove (1:46.82). Anchor Leah Kloss didn't take the lead until just before reaching the finish line.
"I was smiling before I even hit the finish," Kloss said, still smiling.
"Going into the third leg, we were behind a good 30 meters," Grayslake Central coach Shawn Murphy said. "When (Kloss) got (the baton), we were behind, I'd say, a good 20 meters."
Sara O'Malley, Jazyman Foster and Maddie Jacobs ran the first three legs for the Rams. Jacobs handed off to Kloss, and the former softball player brought it home.
"I thought it was going to be really tough coming into the wind," Kloss said. "But it looked like the wind slowed down a little bit and I was like, 'Yes.' I just pulled all the way through."
Kloss' night also included second-place finishes in the 100 (13.10) behind Crystal Lake Central's Celeste Madda (12.72) and 200 (26.46) behind Madda (25.65).
Jacobs senior Kayla Giuliano won the 400 in 59.61, just ahead of runner-up Driscoll (1:00.72). An emotional Giuliano broke down in tears afterward. Last year, she spent two months on crutches after suffering a stress fracture in her hip during the cross country season. That basically spoiled her track season.
"I hate crutches. They're not for me," Giuliano said with a laugh.
She prefers running fast. So no wonder she was so overjoyed Thursday night.
"I just love the atmosphere of a track meet and just trying my best," Giuliano said. "Actually seeing the results from the hard work that you put in, that's what really matters. ... Conference champ, I'm thrilled. I've never experienced anything like this."
Jacobs' Lauren Van Vlierbergen won the 1,600 (4:59.34) and 800 (2:17.81). Crystal Lake South's Taylor Shau anchored the winning 400 relay (50.37), edging Cary-Grove (50.94), and later won the 300 hurdles (45.99). The Gators' 400 relay also included Gaby DeJesus, Kianna Clark and Kathleen Pencak. On a gorgeous night, the evening was just getting started for Schau.
"I'm excited," Schau said. "This (weather) pumps me up for my next races. I love this. I was really happy going into (the 400 relay)."
Hampshire's Pagan won the long jump (17-3.25), while Crystal Lake South's Kianna Clark captured the shot put (36-5).