Four-time champ Ellis pace Warren's win
It's never easy for Brittny Ellis, even if it looks it for the Warren sprinter, and even if a sweep of the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes for a fourth straight year was inevitable.
After all, Ellis was running on her home track Thursday, as the Blue Devils hosted the North Suburban Conference meet at their Almond Road Campus. Tucked west of the varsity softball and baseball diamonds and just south of the school, the track is less than four years old.
"I've had the hardest time running at this track because of the lack of anything (to the east)," Ellis said. "The backstretch, when I'm running the 400, feels like forever. I knew it would be an added challenge. I just feel so alone. It makes it feel so much longer than it actually is."
She uses it to her advantage.
"I heard all the rest of the competition freaking out -- 'Oh, my gosh! This track is huge!' " Ellis said with a laugh.
In the final home meet of her great high school career, the Miami-bound Ellis had a huge day, naturally. She won all three sprints -- something she also did as a freshman, sophomore and junior -- and Warren won its second NSC championship in three years. The Blue Devils rang up 104 points, comfortably ahead of defending champ Grant (78). Stevenson (67), Lakes (65) and Lake Forest (61) rounded out the top five.
"Sweeping the sprints all four years," Ellis said, "that was really great."
Warren's effort was equally thrilling for the Blue Devils.
Autumn Santos, Brynn Santos, Becky Haight and Kiara Mabien won the 400 relay (49.46). The Blue Devils then captured the 800 relay (1:48.15) with Brynn Santos, Shannon D'Souza, Jasmine Ward and Carlynn Scott. Autumn Santos was second to Ellis in the 100 and 200 dashes. Keely Knobbe placed second in the discus.
"We got a big group (of seniors)," said Warren coach Ryan Dunn, whose seniors, besides Ellis, include Autumn Santos, Haight, D'Souza, D'Meya Griffin and Knobbe. "This was a nice little exclamation point from the standpoint of what they wanted to do here tonight."
Ellis' winning times were 12.42 (100), 25.27 (200) and 55.89 (400). She did not get to race against Lakes senior Brittani Griesbaum, who remained sidelined with an injury to her left hamstring.
"I texted Brittani Griesbaum and she told me about her 're-injury,' " Ellis said. "I was a little disappointed because it adds to the competition. It's rough."
Griesbaum hoped to run in Monday's dual meet. She's been out about six weeks.
"We're just taking it day by day," Lakes coach Caroline Gelden said. "It was a real bad tear that has taken a long time to heal. We're going to do what we can do -- rehab, ice, physical therapy. We hope to have her back (for the Fremd sectional), but we don't know."
Lakes' Danielle Griesbaum cruised to victory in the 800 run (2:17.07) and also won the high jump (5-4). The Eagles also received first-place efforts from Maeve Tuley in the pole vault (10-6) and Kortney Schardt in the 3,200 (11:20.28).
Grant wrapped up the meet by winning the 1,600 relay (4:06.78) with Brooke Drabek, Delaney Basala, Roxanne Temple and Lauren Troemel. The Bulldogs also received a championship effort from Rachel Bicknase, who heaved the discus 129-02. Basala was second to Ellis in the 400 and also placed fourth in the 100. Temple was third in the 300 hurdles. Grant's 400 and 3,200 relays both produced runner-up finishes.
Mundelein senior Hannah Gustafson was all smiles after winning the 300 hurdles. A sprinter her first three years for the Mustangs, she switched to hurdles this season. Thursday marked just the sixth time she's run the 300 hurdles.
Her time was the third-fastest in school history.
"It's all been happening pretty fast," Gustafson said. "We got a new (hurdles) coach (Ethan Karolczak) this year, and he saw potential in me. He's really been working with me on form and getting up there. This has been an intense week."
Now, she'll try to follow up next Friday at Fremd by earning a state berth.
"That would be the cherry on top," Gustafson said.
Stevenson freshman Isabelle Sparreo won the 1,600 run (5:10.46), edging Lake Forest's Emma Milburn (5:10.96). Entering the final lap, four girls were in a pack.
"That wasn't a PR for me -- it was like one second off -- but it was still a really good race," Sparreo said. "I was a little tired from my 800 (third place, 2:19.46) because it was really hot out today."
Sparreo, who ran varsity cross country last fall, was coming off a pair of second-place efforts in the 1,600 and 800 runs at the county meet.
"Last track season (eighth grade), I didn't run that well," Sparreo said. "This season, my coaches are really helping me out and giving me good training. It's amazing."
Stevenson's Charlotte Langbo won both the long jump (17-02) and triple jump (35-02). Vernon Hills freshman Jordyn Bunning captured the 100 hurdles (15.82), edging Stevenson's Janine Fajardo (15.86), and placed second in the 300 hurdles.
Lake Zurich received second-place performances from Alyssa Morello in the pole vault and Bella Murin in the long jump. Freshmen Avryl Johnson (800 run) and Melissa Manetsch (3,200 run) provided Libertyville its top finishes.