Girls track and field: La Salle-Peru outlasts Kaneland, Sycamore for I-8 Conference title

Cavaliers and Spartans each claim championships in five events, while Knights post four victories

L-P's Elli Sines wins the 100 meter hurdles as teammate Aubrey Duttlinger jumps behind during the Interstate 8 conference track meet on Friday, May 3, 2024 at the L-P Athletic Complex in La Salle.

LA SALLE – Over the course of the Interstate 8 Conference girls track and field meet May 3, La Salle-Peru, Kaneland and Sycamore took turns holding the overall lead at the L-P Sports Complex.

In the end, the host Cavaliers won the championship with 126 points, one point ahead of the runner-up Knights (125) and five ahead of the third-place Spartans (121). Morris (86) placed fourth, Ottawa (62) was fifth and Rochelle (30) took sixth.

La Salle-Peru junior Elli Sines helped lead the way by winning the 100 meters (12.83 seconds) and 100 hurdles (15.76).

“My mindset for both events is relatively the same,” Sines said. “In the hurdles, I’m more worried about keeping a good form and rhythm, while the 100, I don’t know, I just run. I just feel like I have to be sharper mentally in the hurdles. Those two events are always back-to-back, but I’ve been doing them since freshman year, so I’m used to it. I just always hope for a little time to recover in between.

“I don’t think I ran a PR in either today, but I was happy with how I ran in both races. I think I’m pretty set going into [this] week’s sectional, but I still feel my form in the hurdles can be better.”

L-P freshman Aubrey Duttlinger also had a strong showing, placing first in the long jump (5.28 meters) and triple jump (10.81).

The Cavaliers squad of Anya De La Luz, Kiely Domyancich, Delani Duggan and Ashlee Lord crossed the finish line in a winning time of 10:44.46 in the 4x800 relay.

Kaneland's Brooke Pfeiffer and Elizabeth Eberhardt run in the 4x200 relay during the Interstate 8 conference track meet on Friday, May 3, 2024 at the L-P Athletic Complex in La Salle.

Kaneland sophomore Danielle Bower ran to victory in the 3,200 (12:47.45) and finished second in the 1,600 (5:57.20).

“I go into every race just trying to run every lap the same and really take it lap by lap,” Bower said. “I have my coach call out my times each lap so that helps me know if I’m staying consistent. I feel like in both the 1,600 and 3,200 the key for me is consistency. I was where I wanted to be time-wise every lap in the 1,600 and felt like I ran a pretty good race.

“These were good races for me heading into sectionals.”

Also for the Knights, senior Olivia Pastovich (50.50) won the 300 hurdles and was part of the winning 4x400 relay team (4:26.08) along with Lilia Fleshman, Zoe Kraus and Abbie Mederich.

Kaneland senior Cora Heller placed first in the pole vault with a height of 3.05 meters.

Sycamore's Layla Janisch competes in the 800 meter run during the Interstate 8 conference track meet on Friday, May 3, 2024 at the L-P Athletic Complex in La Salle.

Sycamore sophomore Layla Janisch earned wins in the 800 (2:26.09) and 1,600 (5:38.61).

“[The 800] was a new PR for me and under the state qualifying time so if I can repeat that next week, I’ll qualify for state, which would be so exciting,” Janisch said. “I feel like the weather was a huge factor. We haven’t had too many meets this year that weren’t either cold, damp, windy or all three, so to be able to come out here today with good temperatures and very little wind helped me a lot.

“My game plan [in the 800] was to pace myself at the start with one of the other runners that I know runs a solid 400. But I kind of abandoned that after the first 100 meters when her pace was just too slow. From there, I just ran my pace and tried to stay strong all the way to the finish. I was really happy with my last 200 meters or so. I work on that a lot and I felt like I was super strong down the stretch.”

The Spartans also had victories from Alyssa Stacy in the 200 (27.58), Kennah Butler in the shot put (10.05) and Krista Cobb in the discus (30.86).

Ottawa's Shaylen Quinn and L-P's Ashlee Lord run in the 800-meter race during the Interstate 8 Conference Meet on Friday, May 3, 2024, at the L-P Athletic Complex in La Salle.

Ottawa junior Shaylen Quinn described the final seconds of her win in the 400 (1:02.35) in one word. Panic.

“I thought I had a little more distance on [Ava Conley of Morris] than I did and with a few strides left to go I saw her out of the corner of my eye,” said Quinn, who won the event last season. “I was in straight fear, straight panic and said to myself, ‘Oh, I’ve got to go.’ I was really caught off-guard. I was a little tired after running the 800 and let up a little. I’ve learned my lesson and it won’t happen again.

“To be honest, I really didn’t know I had that higher gear in me, so I guess moving forward I know I have it. I’m just excited that I was able to win the race I came here to win.”

The Pirates’ 4x200 relay team of Ava Weatherford, Ashlynn Gainere, Payton Nodland and Ella Schmitz took first in 1:53.83.

Morris's Hannah Linn reaches for the baton as teammate Makenzie Enger hands her it in the 4x100 relay during the Interstate 8 conference track meet on Friday, May 3, 2024 at the L-P Athletic Complex in La Salle.

Morris’ Conley was part of the winning 4x100 relay (52.53) with Gisselle Reyes, Mackenzie and Hannah Linn. Conley placed second in the 200 and 400 and third in the 100.

“I feel like my day as a whole was pretty good,” Conley said. “I was ready physically and mentally to run today. I just wanted to give it my all in all my events and hopefully get a PR in one of them. I’m thrilled that I PRd by almost a half second in the 100, by a full second in the 400 and felt like I ran a pretty strong 200, but I’m even more excited that we won the 4x100.

“Gisselle had a very strong start for us and I just wanted to get that baton from her and keep things going. We haven’t had the best handoffs this season, but today we clicked. Then Mackenzie did her thing and Hannah finished strong. Hannah was filling in for Ella McDonnell, who also plays soccer, so for her to step in and be part of our winning team is awesome.”

Rochelle junior Dempsey Atkinson captured the high jump with a leap of 1.5.

(From left) Kaneland's Chloe Parker and teammate Ellie Olp, Sycamore's Alyssa Stacy, L-P's Elli Sines, Morris's Gisselle Reyes and teammate Ava Conley, and Ottawa's Ashlynn Gainere all compete in the 100 meter run during the Interstate 8 conference track meet on Friday, May 3, 2024 at the L-P Athletic Complex in La Salle.
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