Walking back to Grant's tent to drop off her athletic bag, Rachel Bicknase ran into a teammate, who asked how she did in her field events. After Bicknase reported happily that she won twice, capturing both the discus and shot put, she learned that other Bulldogs were faring well too.
The success stories kept coming for Grant's girls track team at Grayslake North on Friday night.
En route to winning their first Lake County championship since 2007, the Bulldogs piled up 113 points, well ahead of runner-up Vernon Hills (64) in the 17-team field. Warren (62), Grayslake Central (46), which competed without injured star Alexa Schmitt, and Libertyville (41) rounded out the top five.
"Our team is so amazing," Bicknase said. "This is obviously a big meet. There's a lot of talent, overall. Not just in our program, but all the other programs too. So it's really competitive. There are a lot of friendly competitions too."
Grant's Northern Iowa-bound Delaney Basala won the 400-meter dash (58.91), as only she and Libertyville sophomore Avryl Johnson (59.89) were the only runners to break one minute. Grant also finished first in the 400 (50.01) and 3,200 (9:33.64) relays. The Bulldogs received third-place efforts from Ariyona Wallace in the 100 dash, Brooke Drabek in the 800 run, Madison Roming in the 1,600 run, Daniel Osmon in the 3,200 run, Morgan Race in the long jump and Katie McEnry in the shot put.
Bicknase's victories came thanks to tosses of 132-3 in the discus and 41-6½ in the shot put. While neither effort was a season best, it was a far cry from last year's county meet for the Grand Valley State-bound senior, who eventually took eighth in the discus at state in Class 3A.
"Last year at county I didn't even place. I didn't do well at all," Bicknase said. "It was terrible. So I was really nervous today. I was just like, 'I'm going to give it my all.' I'm really glad (the meet) got rescheduled to today (after Thursday's inclement weather postponed the meet) because it's a lot nicer weather."
Stevenson's Isabelle Sparreo overtook Lake Zurich's Caitlin Shepard in the final 200 meters to win the 1,600 run (5:06.30). The Patriots sophomore, who had a seed time of 5:01.49, was hoping to break five minutes.
"That (5:06.3) definitely wasn't the time I was going for," Sparreo said. "But I think I ran a pretty smart race. I didn't go out too fast. I think I need to work on my middle part of the race and make sure I really push myself because I felt I could have gone a lot faster."
Vernon Hills sophomore Jordyn Bunning continued to shine, with the Cougars preparing for their final North Suburban Conference meet on Thursday at Wauconda. Bunning won the 100 hurdles (15.48), edging Grayslake North's Iowa-bound Allison O'Connell (15.80). Bunning also took second in the 300 hurdles (46.44) to Deerfield's Michela Emmerich (46.10).
"It was one of the first meets where the field has been this stacked," Bunning said after her win in the 100 hurdles. "It was really good to have a couple of the girls push me. They're kind of my friends so it's nice to know some of the people and have that friendly competition."
Vernon Hills won the 800 (1:47.80) and 1,600 (4:07.37) relays. Warren's Brynn Santos sprinted to first in the 100 (12.73) and took second in the 200 (26.4) to Lakes' Taylor Tilmon (26.07). In addition to her runner-up finish in the 200, Libertyville's Johnson ran a winning 2:17.36 in the 800 run. Fellow Wildcat Melissa Manetsch won the 3,200 (10:49.36).
Grayslake Central received first-place performances from Katie Schroeder in the pole vault (12-0) and Meghan Fletcher in the high jump (5-3). As for Schmitt, the Cornell-bound senior said results of an MRI on Wednesday revealed she has a torn labrum in her hip.
"It's been hurting all season," said Schmitt, as she rested on crutches. "I'll probably need surgery at the end of the school year or this summer."
Lake Forest Academy's Tessy Onwuka won the long jump (17-2) and triple jump (36-2).