Girls track and field: Downers North wins West Suburban Silver
Senior Elle Kowalski was an important part of Downers Grove North's greatest girls track and field team ever last season.
Despite graduating several all-staters and key contributors, the Trojans soon realized this year's team could be pretty good, too.
"We did lose a few amazing athletes, of course, but our team persevered through," said Kowalski, a returning state qualifier. "There were a few losses. There was no perfect season, but overall our positivity and attitude toward this season is what keeps us going."
The continuously improving Trojans rose to the occasion at their home track Friday to win the very competitive West Suburban Conference Silver title again.
Downers North (125 points) won over York and Oak Park-River Forest (91 each), Lyons Township (83), Glenbard West (66), Hinsdale Central (60) and Proviso West (41).
"It's been an exponential growth in amazingness," Kowalski said. "We just started doing better and better as the season went on. Hard work is definitely paying off," Kowalski said.
Kowalski was part of the Trojans' strong start that set the tone. She won long jump (5.28 meters) as part of the team's 1-2 finish in that with Cherylin Parrilli (5.05m) and triple jump which was won by Amelia Hansen (10.30m) with Allie Steiner second (10.19m).
Kowalski later teamed with to win the 4x200 relay with Allison Leach, Emily Wittmer and Dakota Washington in 1:47.54. Grace Edwards was second in shot put (33-6 1/2) and discus (100-5). Kathleen Crilly (300 low hurdles) and the 4x800 relay (9:39.01) also were second.
"Coming in and not being seeded in almost every event is definitely nerve wracking but it just makes it feel like more of a competition," Kowalski said. "You really accomplished something. Obviously, last season was amazing but honestly it was easy. Now we're working for the title and proving that we deserve it."
Cold and windy conditions once again could not deter the conference's numerous premier middle and distance runners.
In the 3,200, York senior Katelyn Winton (outdoor-best 10:51.20) and junior Bria Bennis (10:56.48) finished 1-2 in Bennis' outdoor 3,200 debut. Ava Glabus won high jump (1.50 meters).
Hinsdale Central junior Catie McCabe won great races in the 800 (2:14.76) by .19 over York's Brooke Bennis and 1,600 (5:06.29) by .25 over LT's Catherine Sommerfeld. McCabe then anchored the winning 4x400 relay in 4:04.96 with Ana Hodneland, 300 hurdles champ Elyssa Chandler (48.24) and Isabella Terry.
"We always talk about on our team how we feel worse after the race if we didn't do well than the pain you feel during the race," McCabe said about her close individual victories. "I think I always have that in the back of my mind."
Glenbard West senior Nina Wintermute won pole vault on fewer misses at 10-6. She's the Hilltoppers' first Silver champ in the event since 2003, the third season that girls pole vault was an IHSA event.
"That feels amazing. That's crazy. That's before I was born," Wintermute said. "It feels amazing (to win), especially because this is kind of crappy weather for a meet."
The Hilltoppers' Ella Maas (100 high hurdles) was second. Glenbard West's Audrey Allman (2:16.43) and York's Katherine Klimek (5:08.68) had impressive third-place 800 and 1,600 times.