Girls track: Wauconda's Daun, Lake Zurich soar at county
She doesn't necessarily have to creep even closer to 6 feet than she has in the last week to be crowned a state champion again.
Wauconda high jumper Grace Daun calls it a matter of "peaking and maintaining."
A week after clearing a personal-best 5-9 in the high jump in a home dual meet, Daun soared even higher Thursday night in the Lake County girls track and field meet at Lake Zurich. The senior cleared a winning 5-10.
"I definitely want to peak at state," said Daun, who won the Class 3A state championship in the high jump last year, clearing 5-8. "You want to do the best at the end of your season, but if I can maintain this, and still peak, that would be awesome."
Lake Zurich is feeling confident too after winning the county meet with 86 points to edge runners-up Warren and Grant (81 points each). Grayslake Central (76) and Lakes (51) rounded out the top five.
Lake Zurich will see the likes of Warren, Stevenson (tie for sixth, 38) and Libertyville (ninth, 34.5) next Thursday night again when it hosts the North Suburban Conference meet.
"Our league is deep and it's very, very talented," Bears coach Jeremy Kauffman said. "Warren looked phenomenal tonight, and they look like they're coming on like crazy. Stevenson is deep. Mundelein's got great talent. Every one of these programs in the NSC has talent in all of these places. Our league is going to have a lot of state qualifiers."
Lake Zurich opened the finals by winning the 3,200 relay in a school-record 9:32.05, eights seconds faster than last year's record time. Haley Burk, Jillian Baffa, Kristin Loftus and anchor Emily Burns collaborated on the relay. The freshman Loftus had a big night, running 2:26 in the 3,200 relay and a 61-second clocking as part of the runner-up 1,600 relay.
Bears junior Kelsey Rothas, two days after tying Illinois freshman Alyssa Morello's school record in the pole vault at 12 feet, cleared a winning 11-10.
Lake Zurich had contributions up and down its lineup.
"Field, sprints, relays, distance -- it's just a nice mixture," Kauffman said.
Warren got individual wins from Janii Jenkins in the 400 (57.85) and Clara Macheras in the shot put (41-10). Jataia Harris anchored the Blue Devils' winning 800 relay (1:47.92), which also included freshmen Jada Vaughn and Jessica Randolph and sophomore Kayleigh Glickley. Harris also ran on the Blue Devils' runner-up 400 relay with Vaughn, Glickley and Jenkins.
"I spent a lot of energy for that (400 relay) but I had to keep with it," Harris said.
Round Lake's Fatima Giron captured the 3,200 (10:35.74) and 1,600 (5:03.57). Other winners included Grant's Drue Polka in the 100 hurdles (15.78), Lakes' Olivia Schmitt in the 800 (2:15.24), Vernon Hills' Emily Kim in the long jump (18.0¾) and Grayslake Central's Julia Reglewski in the discus (122-10). Highland Park's Taylor Gilling captured the 100 (12.15) and 200 (24.65).
Grant ended the meet by winning the 1,600 relay in 4:08.83 with Bailey Moran, Alya Rangel, Tylee Lewis and Polka.
As for three-time state qualifier Daun, who's suffered through shin splints and a stress fracture during her high school career, she credited her health and success this spring to Wauconda starting conditioning sooner.
"We started in January, and we usually start in late February," said Daun, who will compete for Illinois State next year. "I think that has helped a lot, and I've been staying off the hard running, pounding on my feet all the time because my shins have a history of being a little bad. I think we're doing everything correctly this season, and it's definitely paying off."