Girls track and field: Naperville Central's McHale soars to DVC pole vault record as Redhawks repeat title

For someone relatively new to the sport, Naperville Central senior Kait McHale is making quite a name for herself.

In her first year of track last spring, she finished eighth in the state in the pole vault, and now is having a solid senior season before heading to the University of Michigan to continue her vaulting career.

On Thursday night she cleared a personal best 13 ΒΌ inches to win the DuPage Valley Conference title and set the meet record. McHale's effort was just one of many solid showings by a Redhawks team that repeated as conference champs by piling up 163 points. Neuqua Valley was second at 133 points and Naperville North third at 85.

"I don't really think about a place or a height when I'm vaulting," said McHale, who also helped by her team by placing fourth in the long jump. "We've just been working a lot on visualizing and being confident in our vaults. Taking it one step at a time. Today I just went into it a little more confident with my run, I knew exactly what I had to think about, and exactly what I had to do. We've been working a lot on the mental aspect of it ... not so much on the training piece."

Naperville Central, which also won the indoor DVC title this year, picked up wins and several high places in many events on Thursday, including Sophie Kusserow in the 400 and Brooke Sawatzky in the jumps.

"Our kids competed hard and they have been all year," Redhawks coach Phil Allen said. "I'm really proud of them. It was a complete team effort. All the way through in the field events and on the track. That's what makes this team special, they want to work for each other from the start of the meet to the end."

Metea Valley all-stater Anna Murphy won the high jump with a 5-6 height and now looks to carry that success on to sectionals and state. Last year as a sophomore she was sixth in the state.

"I was so close to jumping 5-8," said Murphy, who won the indoor DVC crown with a PR of 5-7. "Last year I jumped 5-1 here and won. Yesterday at practice I feel like something clicked. The weather was nice and I was fixing something with my approach and it clicked.

"Now I'm hoping to do a little better this year and to PR at sectionals and see what happens from there."

DeKalb senior Jayme Redmond defended her conference crown in the shot put and now has five DVC titles in the event counting both indoors and outdoors.

"I was a little scared because I wasn't throwing like what I wanted but I ended up getting better," said Redmond, who earlier this season broke the Barbs' school record of 36 feet. "The old record was 36 feet and I went a few inches over. I didn't get there today, but did enough to win."

Redmond, who is also a cheerleader at DeKalb, does not plan to throw in track in college. But she's not yet done having fun with the sport.

"To be honest, what I'd like to do is PR again and throw 37 and get back to state," said Redmond.

Naperville North's Julie Piot, an all-stater in cross country, turned in her best time this spring while winning the mile race on Thursday (5:03.90).

"I was hoping to break 5, but 5:03 is my PR so I'm happy with that," she said. "I feel like the race was really good and I it was my first individual title. I'm really happy about that."

Neuqua Valley, the runner-up in the team standings, closed out the night with a 4:11.66 time to take first in the 4x400, holding off second-place Naperville North and third-place Metea Valley.

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