Girls track and field: Lakes soars to 1st NLCC crown
As Lakes girls track and field coach Christine Zucker described the theme of her Eagles' approach to Wednesday night's Northern Lake County Conference meet at Round Lake, she lifted her arms and spread them out.
"Fly," she said with a smile while standing on the infield of the Panthers' stadium. "We wanted to move together. We wanted to fly, arms together."
Her flock soared to the first NLCC championship in program history, winning nine of the 18 events and amassing 169 points to runner-up and defending champion Grayslake Lake Central's 157.
Central's Rams claimed five event titles.
Antioch finished first in three events and took third as a team (109), followed by Grant (55), Grayslake North (49), Wauconda (14) and Round Lake (2).
"We ran well, jumped well, threw well," Zucker said. "Our girls kept thinking all night, 'I want to get first, I want to be right there.' "
Lakes quartets won two of the four relays in chilly conditions. Shelby Stall, Inclarity Turney, Makayla Williams and Diksha Guganathan combined for a first-place time of 51.26 in the 400 meter relay. Williams, Turney and Guganathan then joined Joycelyn Crum to clock a meet-best 1:46. in the 800 relay.
Crum topped the pole vault field with an 11-0 effort and bested all in the 100 hurdles (15.83). Eagles junior Jillian Ellenwood emerged as a two-time winner, reigning in the triple jump (34-05.75) and long jump (16-07).
Lakes' other champs were juniors Ava Bullock (high jump, 5-0), Madison Twarling (1600, 5:28.27) and Paige-Elicia Caruth (3200, 11:59.03).
As soon as it was official that Zucker's squad had made school history, the Eagles erupted joyously together on the infield. Picture a baseball or softball team huddling around home plate and bouncing in unison after greeting the teammate who had just connected for a walk-off homer.
Some Eagles tumbled to the turf, prompting Zucker to deliver a firm but friendly reminder.
"Hey, we still have to compete at sectionals!" she yelled. "Be careful out there."
Grayslake Central senior Catherine Guckenberger stood out for the meet's runner-up, taking first in the 100 (13.01) and 200 (25.85) dashes and helping the 1600 relay capture gold with a 4:10.41 (Ava Pietruszynski, Sofia Witt and Bella Domier served as the group's other legs).
Domier and Witt went 1-2 in a tight 800. Domier crossed in 2:28.30, edging Witt (2:28.33) and third-place finisher Madison Perez (2:28.34) of Lakes. Domier sped to a 59.35 to take first in the 400.
GC led Lakes 86-83 after 10 events, but Lakes went up 109-106 after 12 and continued to flap to impressive results from there.
"Grayslake Central is such a great team and rival of ours," said Zucker, who also guided Lakes to the NLCC indoor championship this past winter.
Antioch junior Charlee Kempf won the discus (119-04) and the shot put (35-9.5). Sequoits Addison Lane, Piper Ipsen, Angela Ortiz and Annalise Lowrance collaborated for a 10:5.24 to triumph in the 3200 relay.
Grant senior Melissa Ketter finished first in the 300 hurdles (48.27).