The Bulldogs’ sprint relays have been almost invincible this spring.
At the county meet, senior standout Essie Newburn led the way as the fulcrum of three championships.
But this time Newburn, the 100-meter champion in 12.46 seconds and runner-up in the 200 and 400 dashes, let sophomore Izzy Taylor have the spotlight in the latest Batavia run of supremacy in the sprint quartets between 400 and 1,600 meters.
Taylor, a sophomore, was the principal actor on all three championship quartets for the Bulldogs on May 7 in St. Charles.
“People [on the sprint relays] are doing so well. It’s inspiring,” Taylor said after anchoring the Bulldogs’ 4x100, 4x200 and the first leg of the final event of the day, the 4x400 relay, in respective times of 49.32, 1:45.81 and 4:08.43. “It was amazing. I ran like it was my last race.”
The Bulldogs began the day with a cushion after Bridget Kosky energized the six field events for Batavia with a triumph in the long jump at 17 feet, 8 inches.
Moving to the track, the highly expected showdown between two of the finest distance runners in the state lived up to the advanced billing.
Batavia’s Katrina Schlenker, after taking it on the chin against Grace Schager in the 3,200 run, looked like Jesse Owens over the final 100 meters to deny the Glenbard North junior a second title in the open metric mile to win in 5:02.18. Schager finished in 5:03.17.
“Some days feel better than others,” Schlenker said after running slower than her historic Kane County time at 3,200 meters. “[Schager] kind of took off [in the 3,200]. I have been doing a lot of speed work.”
“I had a feeling [Schlenker] was going to come back and nip me for that,” said Schager, like Schlenker a reigning all-state distance runner.
Kempff was the talk of the meet in the early going, underscoring the eight league members’ participation at the Lake Park Sectional by claiming individual titles in the high jump (5-4.25), triple jump 36-1.25 (by one centimeter over Lake Park senior Martina Latoria) and the 100 hurdles in 16 seconds flat.
“I knew what the number was that I had to beat,” Kempff said of her second official win in the triple jump. “I was hoping [returning St. Charles North all-state high jumper Natalie Buratczuk who was out with the flu] was going to be there. I really wanted to race [Lake Park top-seeded Paulina Lucer in the 100 hurdles, who scratched with a back injury]. You always want to run against someone faster than you.”
The Saints’ 4x800 relay repeated their county title in 9:44.65 behind state veterans Amelia Bellizzi, Gia Klasa and Laci Chivari.
The host North Stars received their lone title from thrower Jocelyn Kane in the discus (106-1).
Geneva had the other weight champion as senior Angelina Romano threw the shot put 36-4.75.
Geneva freshman Bridget Heckler put herself in state contention for a medal with a 400 winning time of 58.8.
“I’m pretty sure that’s the fourth-fastest time in school history, regardless of class,” Geneva coach Peter Raak said.
“I can’t believe it,” Hecker said. “I am still processing it right now.”
Schager more than placed her stamp on the extraordinarily deep distance class in the state.
The junior took command in the 3,200 in the fifth lap and extended her lead over Schlenker to win in 10:34.21.
“It was a lot of fun,” Schager said. “It was nice to know where we will be for the sectional. [Schlenker and I] kind of made a pact to stay together for the first mile.”
“I was like, ‘You go girl,’” Schlenker of the metric 2-mile.
Wheaton Warrenville South was competing on the 10-year anniversary of its 4x800-meter relay becoming the first and only quartet in state history to break nine minutes.
Annie Macabobby was the sole track champion for the Tigers. The senior claimed the open 800 in 2:19.43. She also placed fourth – one spot behind freshman teammate Nikki Poglitsch – in the metric mile.
Macabobby anchored the Tigers’ 4x400 relay that was runner-up to Batavia.
“I had to get out there fast,” Macabobby said of the open 800. “I was running by myself a little bit. I ran the race I wanted to run.”
In the pole vault, senior Sam Nepras cleared 11-2.5 to become a conference champion for the Tigers.
“I thought our girls really stepped up and cleared a lot of obstacles today,” WW South Hall of Fame coach Rob Harvey said. “They turned a lot of possible negatives into some season and lifetime bests.”
WW South also welcomed back star sprinter Nora Fieweger.
The junior, hobbled all outdoor season with injuries, is a returning all-state sprint-relay contributor with fellow 4x100 mates Celia Huelskoetter and Macabobby.
Wheaton North’s Riya Chaudhari had a moment never to be forgotten.
The sophomore captured the only conference championship for the Falcons by overcoming Newburn in the closing meters to win the 200 dash in a personal-best time of 25.73.
“It was a one-second PR,” Chaudhari said. “I was not expecting to win the 200. But the 200 is my specialty event. I was trying so hard to stay in front. I was pushing so hard at the end.”