Girls track and field: Batavia, West Aurora win UEC crowns
Officials twice changed the date of the Upstate Eight Conference Girls Track and Field Meet in hopes of landing good weather after a miserable spring.
The athletes didn't mind the delay. Most said they appreciated the opportunity to race, leap and throw under a sunny sky in 74-degree weather.
"I'm so glad the meet got changed," said Batavia senior Breanna DeWall, the leadoff runner for the River Division winning 800-meter relay team that included juniors Allison Bleakley and Julia Huber and freshman Lexi Orjuela. "It is the best weather we've had by far."
Optimal conditions brought out the best in two of the conference's top teams. West Aurora won the Valley Division for the second straight season with 198 points. Glenbard East was second with 131 and Bartlett and South Elgin tied for third (57).
Batavia, competing in the UEC meet for the last time before departing the conference, scored 188 team points to win the River Division for the third time in four years. Geneva (140) was second, followed by St. Charles North (119) and St. Charles East (87).
West Aurora junior star DaJour "Cinnamon" Miles surprised no one by sweeping the 100, 200 and 400-meter dashes for the second straight season. The reigning Class 3A state champion in the 400 clocked a winning time of 55.15 seconds in her signature event. Her winning time at last year's state meet was 54.75.
"I was very confident in myself," Miles said. "I was a little scared because my hamstring has been bothering me, but once I got done with the 100 I was like 'OK, I'm feeling good.'" Miles sprinted to wins in the 100 in 11.99 seconds and the 200 in 24.47. West Aurora's 400-meter relay (49.85) and 800-meter relay (1:46.69) were the fastest on the track in either division.
Batavia's River Division championship required consistency. The Bulldogs didn't win any event outright against the entire UEC field, but they won 9 of 16 events and placed second in three more when scored against River Division teams only. The 800-meter relay team clocked in at 1:48.24.
"We've been running this relay pretty consistent and I feel this was our best one yet," Dewall said.
Glenbard East's second-place showing in the Valley Division included a pair of winning relay teams. Seniors Cailyn Biegalski and Brenna Peters, sophomore Emily Anderson and freshman Lauren Huber won the 1,600 relay in 4:01.36. Biegalski and Huber teamed with senior Lexi Wilten and sophomore Allyson Griffith to win the 3,200-meter relay in 9:47.19.
Glenbard East senior Briana Raysby won the high jump (5 feet, 2 inches), and the Rams added more points when Kionnah Weaver won the 300-meter intermediate hurdles in 45.02 to repeat as UEC Valley champ. It was redemption considering she lost the 100-meter hurdles to rival Kelly McLoughan, a freshman from Geneva who finished in 16.03 seconds.
"She got me," Weaver said of the 100 hurdles. "I had a bad race. I smacked all the hurdles from hurdle five to hurdle 10 and messed up my knee. I knew I had to come back in the 300 and get a win. Just got in the blocks and had to finish up what I started."
St. Charles East freshman Alice Abbott raced to a surprise victory in the 1,600. She passed all-state St. Charles North senior Audrey Ernst with 300 meters remaining and held on for victory in 5:09.71.
"They told me to go out in 2:30 in 800 and try to stick with Audrey Ernst and I was like 'Whoa, she's fast,'" Abbott said. "The last lap I felt really good and I thought I could take her. I started sprinting and I did."
Geneva junior Sophia McDonnell bounced back from an injury that forced her to miss the indoor season to repeat as UEC champion in the 3,200-meter run. She wasn't thrilled with a time of 11:27.34 but was happy to defend her title.
"It's not where I want to be compared to last year, but it's a work in progress and trying to get better every meet. McDonnell said."
Geneva senior Susan D'Onofrio won the triple jump (36 feet, 5½ inches), Batavia senior Symone Houston-Davis won the long jump (17-9) St. Charles North senior Autumn Horlbreck and West Aurora sophomore Abbey Kuhn each cleared 10 feet in the pole vault, St. Charles North sophomore Kayla Mitottis took first in discus (124-9) and East Aurora sophomore Kimberly Barry finished first in the shot put competition (35-5).