Girls track: Round Lake's Giron feasts at sectional
They call her, affectionately, "Fats."
Which is nearly accurate.
Flip the "t" and the "s."
Round Lake's girls track and field athletes can also call junior teammate Fatima Giron "fast."
The petite Panther showed that to be true again Thursday night during the Class 3A Antioch sectional, as she won the 3,200-meter run (10:51.72) and followed up by also qualifying for next week's state meet in the 1,600 (second place, 5:09.25). It's the first time Giron will be headed to state, not counting her 11th-place finish at the state cross country meet last fall.
She ran state-qualifying time in the 3,200 once last year, but she was worn out by season's end.
"I overworked myself," Giron said. "(Last year), ever since the beginning of track season, I felt fatigued already."
This year, she listened to her coaches, and it paid off.
"I learned the little things really do count -- like a nutritious diet and lots of sleep," the 4-foot-11 Giron said. "Just focusing in practice and believing in myself more has definitely helped a lot."
Machesney Park Harlem won the sectional with 104 points, while Warren was second with 73 points.
While Clark Kent may remove his black-rimmed glasses to become Superman, Grant junior hurdler Drue Polka puts her glasses on and becomes, well, super, man. Polka earned the first two state berths of her career, winning the 100 hurdles in 15.39 and then the 300 hurdles in a personal-record 46.59. She wore her eyeglasses only for the low hurdles.
"I've been running all year without glasses," Polka said. "My coach came up to me and said, 'I don't think you can see (the hurdles),' because my perception is so bad. Two days ago I practiced with glasses, and it was decent. So today he just made me wear them."
Polka said qualifying for state has always been a dream, but she suffered from shin splints in both legs as a freshman and sophomore. Thus, she was never able to reach her potential until this season. The injuries made her only tougher, mentally.
"We went to a chiropractor in Libertyville and it really helped me out," Polka said. "I've actually healed almost entirely from (the shin splints)."
Lakes junior Olivia Schmitt won the 800 by nearly five seconds, finishing in 2:16.62. She then took second in the 400, clocking a 58.07 and just getting edged out Warren senior Janii Jenkins (58.04). While she went to state in the 800 last year, she started running the 400 just this spring.
"I doubled the (800) and (400) like two weeks ago because there's a little bit of a small break in between (races), just to try it," Schmitt said. "It went pretty well so I thought I'd try it at sectionals."
Schmitt also qualified for state on Lakes' 1,600 relay (second, 4:06.27). Brooke Stromsland anchored the relay, which also included Megan Knuettel and Noelle Jones. Stromsland won the 1,600 (5:06.82) and was second in the 3,200 (10:52.96). Jones made it through in the pole vault (10-3), as well.
Grant freshman Aly Negovetich advanced downstate in the 3,200 (third, 10:58.51), while Grayslake North junior Kelli Tosic just missed (11:09.25, state-qualifying 11:09).
Illinois-bound Noor Abdellatif of Antioch returned to action for the first time in four weeks after suffering a hamstring injury and earned a return berth to state in the pole vault (second, 11-3).
"It started getting better and then it happened again so I had stop and shut down until today," Abdellatif said of her hamstring. "I felt really good today. The adrenaline was really kicking in so it didn't really hurt as much."
Antioch's Ayanna Tommy had a great night, winning the 100 (12.22) and 200 (25.76), edging Jenkins (25.80), whose runner-up finish also earned her a state berth.
Jenkins also ran on Warren's winning 400 relay (48.80) with Jada Vaughn, Kayleigh Glickley and Jataia Harris. Harris anchored the victorious 800 relay (1:45.90), which also included Vaughn, Glickley and Jessica Randolph. Warren's Annika Bynum earned a return trip to state in the high jump, clearing a winning 5-5. Grayslake Central's Meghan Fletcher also qualified (tie for second, 5-3). Fletcher's teammate Julia Reglewski captured the shot put (40-2) and finished second in the discus (135-0). She qualified for state in both events last year as well.
The discus qualifiers also included Grayslake North's Abigail Kicklighter (123-5) and Antioch's Joceelyn Cabuyadao (119-5).
Round Lake's Giron advanced in her two distance races after not running them at the Northern Lake County Conference meet last week, as she chose to focus on speed work. She ran the 800 and 1,600 relay.
Now, she's ready to make her mark in downstate Charleston.
"She had a disappointing end to her last season last year," Round Lake coach Kristin Lilla said. "She listened to us and trusted us. She's ready to go. "