Four athletes earn conference wins : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Four athletes earn conference wins|
|Girls' track teams battle Mother Nature in two-day SPC Meet|
|by Kristin Sharp|
It took two days to complete the Southwest Prairie Conference Meet, but for the girls' track and field teams at Oswego and Oswego East, it was worth the wait.
Minooka defended its conference title with 148 points ahead of runner-up Plainfield North's 95, but Oswego East settled into third place with 89 points, improving its sixth-place finish in 2011, while Oswego scored 78 points to place fourth in the eight-team field.
"We came up with several fourth and fifth place finishes in relays, which I think the girls were disappointed with, but the times are just getting faster and we have to figure out how to compete with faster times and give it all they've got out there," Oswego East head coach Lisa Phillips said.
"We just squeezed out every possible point that we could," Oswego head coach Jamie Bechina said. "I thought we did a really nice job. Every year our goal is to meet or exceed our place from the previous year, and we did - and we scored more points this year. What's even more exciting is that we have a great, young group. The JV team took third, and that just makes me so hopeful for the future."
Lightening forced a postponement of last Thursday's meet with three events to go, and the races took place last Friday where Oswego East senior Ariel Michalek set a new SPC meet record with her first-place finish in the 1,600-meter run.
Oswego had a pair of SPC champions in senior Riley Vann, who won three individual events, and junior Ashley Golembeski while Oswego East senior Kyla Price joined Michalek as a two-event winner in the meet.
Both District 308 schools provided highlights in the field events as the meet got underway last Thursday. Vann cleared 11-0 in the pole vault to win the event over Plainfield Central's Alexandra Richer (10-0) and set an SPC Meet record. Oswego junior Rachel Burkhart cleared 9-0 in the event to place third overall.
"Whenever we're putting together our lineup, we're thinking how we can max out every kid. Those are her events," Bechina said of Vann. "That's what she does. To see her continue that and to take the SPC record for the 300 hurdles and for the pole vault, which she set last year too, is really exciting. We're really going to miss her."
Oswego East freshman Morganne Jones set a school record when she cleared 5-3 in the high jump, but placed second overall after Plainfield North's Jaclyn Aremka cleared 5-10.
Price, who already holds the triple jump school record, broke the mark in the long jump with a leap of 18-0 1/2. She repeated her first-place effort in the triple jump, winning the event with a mark of 36-5 3/4.
"From the get-go, our field events got off to a really good start," Phillips said. "Morganne has been changing some things with her approach. She got the ball rolling pretty well by jumping 5-3 and we were real excited about that, especially because that was the best she'd done indoors and now she'd done it outdoors. Kyla started jumping really, really well. Kyla jumped her longest long jump ever."
Oswego freshman Destinee Haugabook also scored in the long jump, reaching 15-11 to place sixth.
With timing and weather delays throughout the meet, Mother Nature won its first battle during the 3,200-meter event. With five laps complete and Michalek in the lead, race officials spotted lightning and stopped the race. After a 30-minute delay, runners returned to the starting line and re-started the eight-lap race.
Michalek completed 13 laps and turned in a winning time in the two-mile event at 11:15.74 - a full 1:17 ahead of the runner-up from Minooka. Oswego East sophomore Mollie Karasch placed eighth in 13:16. Oswego junior Allison Darby was fourth in 12:43 and teammate Teagan Terando placed sixth in 12:56.
"Ariel and Mollie Karasch had to come out and start the race over again and they deserve a ton of credit," Phillips said. "Both said they were up for it and they didn't have to do that. Ariel coasted in at 11:15, and Mollie would have had a PR had that (delay) not happened. She ran a 13:16, which wasn't too far from her PR. Both of them did a fantastic job just willing to re-run their race for the team."
Oswego East senior Aliyah Everson reached the finals in both sprint events, placing second in the 100-meter dash in 12.36 and earned a runner-up finish in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.34 seconds. Oswego East junior Alex Dudley finished fifth in the 400-meter dash in 1:01.73.
Golembeski did not enter the 800-meter run with the fastest seed time, but won the event when she crossed the finish line six-tenths of a second ahead of Minooka's Kiley Saunders, clocking in at 2:22.02.
"She wasn't winning the whole race and as we were getting to that 300 mark, she's just a beast on the track and you could see her thinking about moving up," Bechina said. "She rounded the curve and went down the final stretch and made her move. She wanted that race. She just went after it. She has impeccable running form and a huge, competitive spirit."
Oswego East junior Andrea Holm finished fifth in the event with a time of 2:26.80.
In the 1,600-meter run, which took place last Friday, Michalek won the event by nine seconds over Oswego junior Kelsey Hjorth. Michalek clocked in at 5:03.45 while Hjorth earned a second-place finish with a time of 5:12.59.
"We saw what typically happens where Ariel takes it out and we saw her slip away. When someone like that slips away and you lose contact, there's little chance of getting that back," Bechina said. "That's a little disappointing. You'd like to see (Hjorth) race with Ariel where she belongs. We're still working on some confidence and strategy in that race and hopefully we'll see some of that turn around in the sectional."
Oswego East junior Hayley Zweig also scored for the Wolves, placing sixth in 5:37.10.
"I couldn't ask for more as a coach," Phillips said. "All the things that went awry with the meet had nothing to do with the girls and they came out and competed as hard as they could. That's what you want at a conference meet. They were disappointed with third place, but they have to be proud of what they did over those two days."
In the 100-meter hurdles, Vann clocked in at 15.21 seconds while freshman teammate Princess Shodipo placed second in 16.55. Vann returned to the track to win the 300-meter hurdles in 46.76 seconds, and senior teammate Michaela Ponstein placed fifth in 49.94 seconds as Oswego scored 30 points combined in the hurdle races.
"It's so fun to see the hurdlers just dominating, whether it's at an ABC or an invitational, just to have all my hurdlers scoring and doing well is so fun," Bechina said.
Oswego and Oswego East will now enter the 16-team Class 3A Joliet West Sectional today, Thursday. Field events begin at 4:30 p.m. and running events to follow at 5 p.m.
"I think our strength right now is in our individual events," Phillips said. "In our relays, I'm hoping we get more experience and keep chipping away at those state qualifying standards. They're pretty tough. If we put together a perfect race, there are definitely some opportunities in other events, and we want to get down as many girls as we can."
Both schools will bring All-State athletes into the sectional meet, including Michalek, who is the defending 3,200-meter state champion. Hjorth was also an All-State finisher in the 3,200 last spring, placing seventh, while Vann earned two state medals in 2011 with her runner-up finish in the 100 hurdles and seventh-place finish in the pole vault.
"We have some really nice things happening and we'd like to see us continue to improve our times and distances and certainly those who have already gone downstate, to have them do that again," Bechina said.