Glenbard South knows if it can hand the baton to anchor runner Katelyn Hill near the front of the pack, the Raiders senior will give her team a great chance to win most relays.
At Friday night's Class 2A girls track sectional, the host Raiders had a small lead when Hill took over in the night's final event, the 1,600 relay, and when Hill was done doing her thing, Glenbard South had easily held off runner-up Montini with a winning time of 4:04.06.
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The race capped off another big night for Hill as well as for her team, which has now claimed five straight sectional crowns. With Hill winning the 100 hurdles, taking second in the 300 hurdles and then running in the sectional titlist 1,600 and 400 relays, Glenbard South totaled 138 points while Montini was second at 86 and Fenwick third at 70.5.
Hill expects big things from herself and her team downstate next weekend. But first she can celebrate Friday's big results and also be thankful the meet was not postponed due to poor weather.
"Earlier the coaches were playing a mean prank on me. They were saying the meet might have to be canceled and tomorrow is prom," a smiling Hill said. "But it was all good. The handoffs were good, we all got out with good speed. We're hoping to finally get to the finals this year in some relays."
Hill also expects to shine again in the relays at state, but so do several other Raiders who had big nights on Friday. Ivana Markovic ran on three winning relays, including the 400 where she joined Taylor Ray, Hill and Taylor Blohm-Bivins to record a 50.05 on the cold night, and she also ran on the winning 1,600 and 800 relays.
"Three-for-three today and it feels good," said Markovic, who teamed with Ray, Blohm Bivins and Becca Everhart to win the 800 relay over St. Francis, which took second and also heads downstate. "The weather was not on our side, but we did really well. Now we're looking forward to next week and we've got to practice hard."
All told, Glenbard South qualified for state in nine events, including a first-place finish from Kate Rumel in the pole vault and thrower Mercedes Whitaker, who won the shot put and also advanced after taking second to Montini's Jasmine Woodley in the discus.
Montini had a number of big efforts, and none were better than Gianna Salzbrunn, who qualified for state in four events. She joined Madeline Jamrozek, Emma Makowski and Brittany Fischer to help the Broncos take first in the 3,200 relay in 9:45.36, then also punched her ticket to state in the long jump, the 300 hurdles and the 1,600 relay.
"I'm still kind of mind-boggled by it. Oh my gosh I couldn't believe it," said Salzbrunn, who PRed in both the long jump and her 1,600 relay time. "I got so much support from my teammates and it was just great. I'm so pumped up for next week."
A young St. Francis squad turned in a number of PRs on the night, and freshman Amanda Peterson is off to state in the both the 100 and the 800 relay for the Spartans.
"It was incredible. I didn't really expect to go to state," she said. "I mean I wanted to but this is incredible.
"I'm so excited for the next three years, but this is great. I am so surprised."
Peterson was second in the 100 and teamed with Ana Bormann, Brianna French and Caty Lozniak to take second on the 800 relay and advance to state.
Other sectional champs included Montini's Fisher in the 800 and Jamrozek in the 400, while St. Francis high jumper Molly McCarthy moves on after taking second in the high jump, and Timothy Christian's Olivia Hoekstra advanced with a second in the 200 dash.