Girls track and field: Lakes' Stromsland, Grant's Negovetich renew friendly competition at sectional
Sometimes friends are found in the most curious of places.
Like in an opposing lane on the track.
Lakes senior Brooke Stromsland and Grant junior Aly Negovetich, two of the best distance runners in Lake County, have been racing against each other for the last three years.
But that hasn't stopped them from becoming the best of friends.
"I met her in my very first high school race," Negovetich said of Stromsland. "And we've become really good friends.
"It's just so fun when your competitors are your friends," Stromsland said.
Negovetich and Stromsland had a friendly rivalry going in the 3,200 meters on Thursday in the Class 3A Antioch girls track sectional and they wound up finishing first and second respectively. It was Negovetich who then helped up Stromsland from the track when she collapsed in a heap after crossing the finish line with a big final kick.
Both Negovetich (10:50.54) and Stromsland (11:00.43) qualified for the 3,200 meters at the upcoming IHSA state meet with their finishes. They helped their teams finish in the top four in the field. Lakes finished second with 67 points, just behind sectional champion Rockton Hononegah (70 points). Prairie Ridge finished third with 64 points and Grant finished fourth with 60 points.
"It has been a joy running with Brooke," Negovetich said. "We've been back and forth in cross country and track. She came up to me today and said, 'Let's do this together today. I really need you.' "
Negovetich and Stromsland say that it is common for runners from the same team and even opposing teams to play off each other for pace and timing and motivation. But Negovetich and Stromsland purposely seek each other out in races because they are such good competition for each other. They make each other better.
"It's been awesome because it's like we're in it together," Stromsland said of her competitive relationship with Negovetich. "Two weeks ago, I had a two-mile race and Aly wasn't there and it was really difficult just having to push myself.
"Having her today, especially with the heat and how mentally tough the two-mile can be, it was just nice to have her there to push me."
Negovetich, who will be back next year for her senior year, and Stromsland, who will be competing at Belmont University in Nashville next year, pushed each other in the 1,600, too.
Negovetich again came away with a first place (5:02.97) while Stromsland took third (5:11.01).
Rachel Soukup of Prairie Ridge placed second with a 5:04.02 to qualify for state.
Prairie Ridge's big qualifier of the day was sophomore Rylee Lydon, who won the high jump (5-foot, 5 inches), the 200 meters (25.42) and the 400 meters (57.41).
Lydon had big hopes and big goals coming into high school but had to put her debut on hold since the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 track season last spring.
"I'm really excited we finally got a season, and not just a season but now a state series. I'm thankful about that," Lydon said. "I'm using this as, I guess, my debut in the high school track and field world
"I definitely had high hopes last year as a freshman, but not as much as I do now. I've grown a lot. When I heard we weren't having a season last year, I started doing a ton of speed work and a lot of time in the weight room and I think there was a lot of growth there for me between my freshman and sophomore year."
Two other sophomores qualified for state in the 100 meter hurdles: Jocelyn Crum of Lakes who got first (16.52) and Julia Kraus of Antioch who got second (17.07).
Kraus also qualified in the 300 meter hurdles. She placed second in that as well with a 50.40.
"I'm really excited," Crum said. "All of the support from my family and friends and coaches and my coaches pushing me has really helped. They've trained me well.
"I think I've gotten stronger in the last year and mentally I've gotten better about really being positive about things."
In shot put, Gabrielle King of Lakes took first with 12.13 meters and Linda Bottalico of Grant got second with a 10.5 meters.
Jocelyn Cabuyadao of Antioch won the discus with a 34.51 and Theresa Flor of Grant took second with 33.08 meters.
In pole vault, Prairie Ridge's Haylee Yelle qualified for state, finishing in second place with 10 feet, 3 inches.
And in triple jump, Ashley Ciezadlo of Crystal Lake South qualified for state with a second-place finish (10.93 meters).