Girls track and field: Lake Zurich captures 5th straight NSC crown

The 2023 North Suburban Conference girls track and field championships made their way to the Almond Road campus of Warren Township High School Thursday for the first time since 2014.

It, however, had some interesting challenges built into the meet prior to the first event taking place.

• The field at Almond had a sizable standing-room attendance due to very limited seating.

• In addition, unlike the field on Warren's O'Plaine Road campus on the other end of Gurnee, the field did not have lights. It had temporary track lighting bestowing the field as the tail end of the meet ran into darkness.

• The pole vault competition was postponed to Friday afternoon at Lake Zurich due to the set-up at Thursday deemed unsafe for the athletes.

Despite those obstacles, Warren coach Tom Malkowski felt good about getting a good deal of the event completed by the time sunset arrived at 7:55 p.m.

"I live about 10 minutes from here and we didn't reach dusk until about 8:45 last night (Wednesday)," Malkowski said. "We'll still be able to have a good view of the track before the lights go on."

That view which Malkowski spoke of was of Lake Zurich's proverbial lights having gone on well before the first light towers turned on. The Bears turned away the competition to earn their fifth straight conference championship as it paced the field with 163 points, 72 ahead of runner-up Zion-Benton (91). Malkowski's unit (74) took third while Lake Forest (62) and Stevenson (58) completed the top five.

"They are one of the more humble teams I've ever been around," Lake Zurich coach Jeremy Kauffman said. "They are hardworking, they are together, they are very talented, they are just one of the best teams I've ever coached in my career (25 years)."

In winning top team honors, junior Olivia Verden led the way for the Bears with individual titles in both the 100 meter (16.38) and 300 meter (49.85) hurdles.

Lake Zurich also added individual titles from seniors Allie DiCanio (discus, 121'11) and Brooke Johnston (1600, 5:09.55) and juniors Baelyn Zitzmann (5'06, high jump) and Riley Betz (200 meter dash, 25.81).

LZ also captured both the 400 (49.69) and 800 relays.

In earning the silver, Zion-Benton earned victories from a trio of seniors in Jade Arrington (12.49) in the 100, Audrey Luell (11:16.71) in the 3200 and Riley Franz (57.63) in the 400.

Johnston echoed her coach as the Bears head for next Thursday's Palatine sectional.

"I think our team is coming together well. We have so many different individuals who are doing great this year and I think they've proven themselves to have whatever it takes (to compete) at sectionals and state."

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.