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Article updated: 5/10/2013 11:42 PM

Palatine puts it in gear — keeps it there

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By Michael Eaken

Palatine was strong from start to finish.

The Pirates made a statement with a victory in the opening 3,200 relay (9:22.65) and closed the meet with a bang, taking first in the 1,600 relay (4:04.26).

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In between, host Palatine made the most of its opportunities in cruising to the sectional title with 116.5 points.

Barrington took second with 74 points, followed by Warren (66 points), Wheeling (46 points), and Lake Forest (42 points).

"I think the 3,200 relay set the tone," said Palatine coach Joe Parks whose team qualified in 10 events, including two relays. "I think everything started clicking right away, and everybody we thought would get in, got in."

Warren sophomore Brittny Ellis was in fine form, leading the Blue Devils to victories in the 200 (24.80), 400 (56.99), and anchoring the 400 relay (49.08) to first place.

Ellis, the defending Class 3A 400 champion, now is setting her sights on the state meet.

"That's my main goal," said Ellis of capturing her second straight 400 title. "I know there is going to be some good competition, but I don't feel any pressure. I can't wait for it."

Kara Burton, senior Taylor Tenca, junior Liz Cox, and senior Tess Wasowicz set the tone for Palatine in taking first in the 3,200 relay. Cox and Wasowicz helped bring the Pirates from behind.

"We just wanted to go out and set the tone," said Cox. "We wanted to get excited and get some confidence for the rest of the night."

And the Pirates did that, with sophomore Caitlin Reidy taking first in the 300 low hurdles (47.08), senior Meg O'Brien adding victories in shot put (36-11) and discus (117-11), and senior Meg Jump adding a first-place finish in the triple jump (35-07.25).

Palatine closed the meet with authority as Tenca combined with junior Cassidy McPherson, sophomore Basirat Iginla and Reidy for a win in the 1,600 relay.

"We knew if we focused on the team, good things would happen," said McPherson who finished second in the 800 (2:18.17). "Definitely from start to finish everyone stepped up."

Barrington also did a nice job of hitting on its events. The Fillies qualified in 8 events, including a trio of second-place relay finishes: the 3,200 (9:31.54), 1,600 (4:05.69) and 800 relays (1:47.01).

The Fillies had their share of close finishes, including junior McCall Braun tying Warren sophomore Jessica Gromala for second place in the 100 high hurdles (15.61), and senior Samantha Babiuk (1:00.63) nipping Grayslake North senior Sarah Schmitke (1:00.67) for second place in the 400.

"We definitely covered a lot of ground," said Babiuk. "We went out there and gave it our all, and we did awesome."

Senior Rachel Simon (3,200), junior Cary Reynolds (1,600) and freshman Anna Cossio (high jump) also qualified for the Fillies.

Ellis powered Warren's attack, combining with Marquesa Daniels, Brynn Santos, and Autumn Santos in setting the tone in the 400 relay.

"We're starting to hit on the 400 relay," said Ellis. "I still think we can get faster."

Senior Rachel Shoemaker (11:01.82) and senior Meg Tully (11:09.13) did it for the Blue Devils in the 3,200, going 2-5, both qualifying. Sophomore Jessica Gromala tied for second in the 100 high hurdles, and sophomore Keely Knobble advanced by taking second in the discus (117-01).

Wheeling's Sydney Keith has been waiting for a night like this for a long time, and the Wildcat senior delivered on Friday.

Keith won the 100 (12.23), took second in the 200 (25.57) and helped power the Wildcats to a second-place finish in the 400 relay in a school record 49.64.

"It's an incredible feeling," said Keith who missed qualifying for state last season. "There is a real bond on the 400 relay, and I am real anxious to see what we can do next weekend."

Mundelein senior Elena Palacios continued to surge on Friday. A week after winning the 3,200 at the North Suburban meet, Palacios took another dip in time by taking first at the sectionals (10:59.12).

"I just wanted to get a faster time than I did last week," said Palacios who cut 7 seconds off her conference victory time. "I wanted to see how the pace was going early and then take it from there."

Mundelein also qualified in the 3,200 relay (9:34.7).

Grayslake North freshman Allie O'Connell has been on a roll, and she continued it on Friday by taking first in the 100 high hurdles (15.41).

O'Connell had won the 100 low hurdles at the Lake County Invite and also at the Fox Valley Conference meet. "I just wanted to come out and do my best," said O'Connell. "My confidence has been growing all year, and this race definitely helps."

Libertyville senior Carly Stewart (2:17.62) battled Palatine junior Cassidy McPherson (2:18.17) neck-and-neck in the final lap of the 800, but the Wildcat senior was able to pull away in the final 50 meters to secure the victory.

"That was the race plan," said Stewart of closing. "A lot of my philosophy is you win by wanting to. I just believed I could do it."

Senior Haley Becker (5-3) took first in the high jump, and senior Nicole Jaffke added a second-place finish in the pole vault (11-3) for the Wildcats.

Lake Zurich seniors Lindsey Moritz, Teagan Hough, and Madeline Jordan came through with a huge victory in the 800 relay (1:46.35). The three seniors along with sophomore Gabrielle Bendfeldt gave the Bears their lone victory.

"We were nervous, we thought it could be our last race," said Moritz of the seniors' urgency. "Last year we didn't qualify a relay, so it's special to get this one down."

Also advancing for the Bears are senior Angela Ufheil (3,200) and junior Amanda Papke (300 low hurdles).

Hersey senior Erica Hill took first in the long jump (16-10.5), and her sophomore sister Kelly advanced by taking fourth in the pole vault (10-9).

Freshman Kaitlyn Ko advanced for Buffalo Grove in the 3,200 (11:15.86), with Stevenson senior Shannon Legge advancing in the shot put (36-02).

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