Girls track: 'One step over the cone' makes the difference at CSL South indoor championship
Maeve Kelly's mental approach to throwing the shot put includes not overthinking how she does it.
The New Trier senior's open mind produced results at the Central Suburban League South girls indoor track and field championship.
"Not thinking," she said. "When I think I get too much in my head and perform poorly."
She's already had ample opportunity for analysis. The defending Class 3A runner-up in both shot put and discus, Kelly was shelved about a month this indoor track season with a medical issue she preferred not to elaborate.
Kelly entered the CSL South indoor meet March 16 at Glenbrook South with a season-best distance of 10.77 meters from the prior weekend at Huntley. Kelly's sole indoor meet before the conference meet, that mark was well behind the second-place distance of 13.35 meters, or around 43 feet, 9 inches, she recorded at the 2022 state finals in Charleston.
In Glenview, Kelly won the competition at 11.56 meters (37-11), nearly 2 feet farther than runner-up Carly McConnell, her New Trier teammate. Each of Kelly's four attempts went at least 11.26 meters.
"It was rough at first," she said of her indoor season. "To be honest, I wasn't doing as best as I thought I could but today gave me hope to keep pushing.
"I know what I'm capable of," she said.
New Trier -- led by event winners Kelly, Katie Sarnoff (400-meter run), Clare Finnigan (800), Sophie Garrou (pole vault), Gabriela Manzano (long jump) and its 4-by-160-meter relay of Jaime Ellis, Marley Meyers, Makenzie Gable and Anna Rivera -- was capable of defending its 2022 title.
But in the final event, a 1600 relay it had seemingly won, the Trevians were disqualified for a slight lane violation.
"Unfortunately one step over the cone was the difference tonight. It's hard. Learn from our mistakes, and regroup," said New Trier coach Andy Butler.
That step gave Maine South its opening. The Hawks won the conference title with 274 points, ahead of New Trier (266.5), Glenbrook South (214.5), Niles West (96) and Glenbrook North (66). Evanston competed only in the junior varsity division, placing well behind New Trier, Maine South and Glenbrook South.
Like Glenbrook South junior Andrea Lutai said, "It's just those little pieces that can make or break a race."
She ran on second-place 4-by-160 and 1600-meter relays and did a nice job holding off Maine South's Jessica Kenyeri in her leg of the 1600 relay.
"Even though it's a relay team it's also personal, how you have to run your (relay leg) as hard as you can and then overall it comes together as a team," she said.
Getting big points for Glenbrook South were Olivia Willits, taking first in the 200; fellow senior champion Natalie Kattan in the 55 hurdles; and freshman Kaitlyn Burns in the 3,200.
In the open 1600, Titans senior Maggie Jortberg was shooting for a new personal record. After expending lots of energy early in her leadoff leg of the 3200 relay more than an hour earlier, she learned to keep something in the tank.
Jortberg tucked in with Glenbrook North's Olivia DeLuca and achieved her PR at 5 minutes, 26.85 seconds.
"I kind of died in that (3200 relay) so I was, like, maybe I shouldn't start with them," Jortberg said.
"Outdoor I want to break 5:25, which is my current outdoor PR. But I also want to get like in the 5:15s, under 5:20 for the mile."
Glenbrook North junior Mackenzie Schmidt led off the Spartans' 800 relay and anchored the 1600 relay. They did not achieve personal records. It was not the end of the world.
"We just want to see everybody be happy with themselves and what they've accomplished. So we tried to keep it light and airy and energetic, but still kind of have our head in the game and be ready to run," said Schmidt, a power lifter when not running around a track.
"I love seeing new freshmen, new sophomores, come to this sport. It's just a happy, supportive environment," she said. "I love indoor ... I think it's just a very happy time to be in the sport."