Girls track and field: Lake Zurich races to first sectional title
With some very hot weather conditions in place, it was going to take a lot of stamina, endurance and perseverance to win the rugged, 15-team Class 3A Buffalo Grove girls track sectional meet Thursday night.
Lake Zurich was able to power its way to its first sectional crown with 104 points to surpass a deep Grayslake Central squad (88 points) in second place. Palatine and Vernon Hills (64 points) tied for third.
It didn't take long for Lake Zurich's squad to find itself at the top of the standings as sophomore Riley Betz stormed to first place in the 100-meter dash in a time of 12.01 while teammate Brooke Johnston easily won the 3,200-meter run in 10:39.86, and the 1,600-meter run in 5:00.05.
Then the Bears proceeded to set a school record time of 1:43.46 in the 4x200-meter relay as Rayna Kauffman, Baelyn Zitzmann, Sydney Lappin and Betz held off runner-up Palatine by a mere .08 seconds.
"She (Betz) was 13th in the state as a freshman, she loves to compete, and she's an elite (club) soccer player," said Lake Zurich coach Jeremy Kauffman. "It was awesome (4x200), those are our four best sprinters, and they beat the school record from 2007 by two seconds."
Grayslake Central got out of the gates quickly as the Rams' 4x800-meter relay team of Sofia Witt, Grace Kokkin, Bryn Sato and Bella Domier ran to victory in 9:49.41 in the first event of the night to earn a trip to the state meet next weekend in Charleston.
The first- and second-place finishers in every event earned a berth downstate next weekend as well as any individual who beat the predetermined state cutoff times or distances.
Wheeling's 4x800-meter relay team of Brenda Torres, Gabriela Roman, Melanie Kehr and Brianna Ruiz placed second in 9:55.99 to punch their ticket downstate.
"Bryn Sato ran a personal PR for the first leg. It really allowed Sofia Witt to push harder," said Grayslake Central coach Shawn Murphy. "But this meet is not about times, it's about being smart and getting your girls downstate healthy."
Vernon Hills also got off to a great start as its 4x100-meter relay team of Jenna Coty, Nicole Spytek, Kylie Spytek and Ava Lukyan took first place in 48.85.
The Cougars also got a second from Erica Bunning in the discus while Bunning also reached state as an at-large qualifier on pole vault. Vernon Hills' Livy Tran reached
state with a second in the long jump (5.15 meters).
"They (4x100 relay) have just been super strong all year long, and we got our season-best time under 49 seconds," said Vernon Hills coach Jared Gustafson. "She (Tran) is a freshman and she's been jumping under 5 (meters) so she came out and surprised everyone today."
Palatine's team of Mia Foy, Alayna Lazicki, Kaci Wimer and Jocie Waddington placed second in 49.22 to reach state in the 4x100 relay.
Grayslake Central's Mia Morello won the 100-meter hurdles and the pole vault while placing second in the 300-meter hurdles. Mundelein's Jordyn Miller won the 400-meter dash in 57.13 to outdistance Domier in second.
Stevenson's Ella O'Neall won discus (37.9 meters) and shot put (13.83 meters) while Wauconda's Amanda Lisi was the high jump champion (1.55 meters). Grayslake North's Christina Hall (5.21 meters) was the long jump winner while Grayslake Central's Alexis Andersen won triple jump (11.00 meters). Domier won the 800-meter run in 2:15.64. Foy (25.62) barely nipped Kylie Spytek (25.63) for first place at 200 meters.
Other second-place finishers were Zitzmann (high jump), Lake Zurich's A.J. Burk (pole vault), Grant's Aly Negovetich (3,200 run), Grayslake Central's Catherine Guckenberger (100-meter dash), Libertyville's Anna Becker (triple jump), Lake Zurich's Avery Cooper (100 hurdles), Warren's Mia Pasha (1,600-meter run), Vernon Hills' Rachel Afulike (shot put) and Miller (800-meter run).
Lake Zurich's Emilia Kubik and Bunning also advanced to state as at-large qualifiers on the pole vault. Palatine closed out the meet by winning the 4x400-meter relay.