Girls track and field: Race sets winning Grant pace
Trust the fast runner from Grant, even if track officials might raise a skeptical eyebrow when she checks into a race.
"They actually don't often believe it's Race," Bulldogs junior Morgan Race said. "They think it's 'Rice' or something."
Fortunately for Grant, Race races well. And Thursday night at Wauconda, the aptly named speedster and her teammates kept dominating races. Really, it's true.
Grant captured its second North Suburban Conference championship in three years, totaling 122.333 points to easily outdistance runner-up Libertyville (61.3333). Lake Forest and Vernon Hills tied for third with 61 points apiece, and defending champ Warren (60.3333) took fifth.
Grant capped its terrific night, which saw five meet records fall, by winning the 1,600-meter relay. Northern Iowa-bound Delaney Basala, who earlier won the 400 run (58.52), overcame a final-lap deficit to rally Grant, which clocked a season-best and meet-record 4:02.13.
"It was just a team effort," an emotional Basala said. "We all put faith in each other, we prayed, and we just flew."
Grant started the finals by winning the 3,200 relay in a meet-record 9:24.15. Madison Romig anchored the foursome, which also featured Brooke Drabek, Roxanne Temple and Lauren Troemel. Then it was Basala, Race, Mariah Soeder and anchor Ariyona Wallace winning the 400 relay (49-76). Those wins came after Race captured the long jump with a school-record leap of 17 feet, 7 inches. She had long-jumped 17-5 indoors.
"Lately, I've been thinking too much about my jumps," Race said. "At the last meet (county), my coach (assistant Nick Nenni) told me to just focus on driving out and focus on my speed. That helped a lot. That helped me hit the mark today."
Libertyville sophomore Melissa Manetsch had a great meet as well, winning the 3,200 run in a meet- and school-record 10:42.83 and taking second to Stevenson sophomore Isabelle Sparreo (meet-record 5:02.73) in the 1,600 run. Manetsch's time in the 1,600 (5:03.41) also was a personal record.
"Lots of oatmeal (for breakfast)," Manetsch joked. "Last season, I was running 40 seconds slower (in the 3,200). All season, I've been 'PR-ing.' I've gotten a new coach (Wildcats assistant Alison Reifenberg), and I've also gotten a lot more confidence. We've been doing different training."
Round Lake got a pair of first-place efforts from senior Noemi Powell, who clocked a 25.61 in the 200 dash and 12.51 in the 100 dash.
"I love to run," Powell said. "I always try to have a strategy with what I do. (In the 200), when I'm running around the curb, I try to stride the first 50 meters, and then at the 150 mark I just try to kick it in and give it all I got."
Host Wauconda got a title from freshman Grace Daun, who cleared 5-3 in the high jump. It was not a season-best mark for Daun, who had ice packs on both of legs due to shin splints after she was done competing.
"I got (the shin splints) in the middle of the season," said Daun, whose parents were both state-qualifying athletes at Wauconda. "I've been out of practice lately. My coaches took me out of all my running events (open 200, 800 and 1,600 relays) tonight. High jump was really the main priority."
Vernon Hills sophomore Jordyn Bunning also won a pair of individual events, clocking 15.32 in the 100 hurdles and 46.06 in the 300 hurdles. The Cougars' victorious 800 relay (1:45.85) included Bunning, freshman Raeden Mays, freshman Kennedy Smith and senior Molly Wasserberg.
Libertyville sophomore Avryl Johnson won the 800 run in a meet-record 2:15.71.
Other conference champs included Libertyville's Lily Moore in the pole vault (10-3), North Chicago's Lalonda McMath in the triple jump (34-3.75), Grant's Rachel Bicknase in the shot put (40-4) and Zion-Benton's Jalah Moore in the discus (131-5).