Girls track and field notes: Prospect peaking heading into stretch run

They say it's lonely at the top, but the Prospect girls track team is starting to like the view as the Knights recently moved up to No. 1 in the state in the Mile Split rankings following an impressive performance at the Ritter Invite hosted by Downers Grove North.

Prospect completely rolled to the championship of that powerful 15-team meet by a very comfortable 116 to 65.5 margin over runner-up Naperville Central while York was a distant third with 54.5 points.

The Knights' busy schedule even featured a trip out west for 13 girls who competed at the prestigious Oregon Relays last weekend in Eugene.

After barely getting beat out 44-43 by Homewood-Flossmoor last year at the state meet for the second-place trophy, the Knights have come back stronger than ever this season as they are showing the potential for a serious run at the Class 3A title if all of the pieces fall into place May 18-20 in Charleston.

Junior Charlotte Deines is one of many athletes who continue to shine for Prospect this spring. Deines is a top-caliber competitor in the 100-meter dash and long jump. The Knights' middle distance running has also been fantastic with the duo of Lily Ginsberg and Cameron Kalaway going 1-2 in the 800 at the Ritter Invite.

Prospect's Meg Peterson (freshman 2-mile champ in Oregon) has exploded onto the varsity scene in the 1,600 in her freshman campaign while senior teammate Hailey Erickson continues to be a mainstay for the Knights at 3,200 meters.

Prospect's outstanding depth also features Katherine Lytle (100 hurdles), Charlotte Rossi (100 hurdles) and Emma Letzig, who placed second to Palatine sophomore sensation Aisha Kazeem at the Ritter meet. Ashley Medina (discus), Giselle Salom Hamwi (pole vault) and Meghan Smith (pole vault) have also been impressive for the Knights.

All four of the Knights' relay teams have been great as the 4x800 squad posted an Illinois best time of 9:24.78 for second place at the University of Oregon. They also set an all-time Illinois No. 1 time (11:57.25) and school record in the DMR relay at the Oregon meet.

"We got invited out (to Oregon) last year, and we got invited again this year so we decided to bring five sprinters out there as well this year," said Prospect coach Peter Wintermute, whose team hosts the MSL meet on May 5. "For many of the kids it's a once in a lifetime experience, and they earned that for all of the hard work they have put in the last two to three years."

Palatine's Kazeem is looking like a runner to beat in the 300 hurdles in the Mid-Suburban League and beyond after reaching state in the 300 as a freshman.

"She (Kazeem) is looking really good in the 300's and the 100's right now. She's PR'd in those, she's pretty close to breaking our fresh-soph records in those as well, and she's already broke it in the long jump," said Palatine coach Kevin Conway. "She concentrating more on hurdles because she's seeded so high in those."

Don't look now, but Lake Zurich has now gone undefeated in North Suburban Conference dual meets with a 32-0 record the last five years as the Bears continue to zero in on their fifth straight NSC crown this season.

After placing second in the state high jump as a sophomore, Lake Zurich's Baelyn Zitzmann is expected to challenge defending champ Rylee Lydon of Prairie Ridge for the title this year. Zitzmann has already jumped 5-feet, 7-inches twice this season which was the winning mark for Lydon at state last year. Zitzmann is closing in on a team-leading 200 points this season.

"It's one of the best teams in school history by far. We have a lot of huge-time performers," said Lake Zurich coach Jeremy Kauffman. "And we could have 12 to 14 girls going to state this year."

UCLA-bound Brooke Johnston (third in 3,200, fourth in 1,600, 14 points at 2022 state meet) is back from a foot injury. Olivia Verden (hurdles), sophomore Kendall Flournoy (sprints, long jump) and Riley Betz (school record in 100, relays) are some of the many key contributors for the Bears in 2023.

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