Girls track and field: Glenbard West finishes runner-up at Sue Pariseau Invite

Alexa Novak, Glenbard West track and field

GLEN ELLYN – After a quite successful second indoor girls track and field season, Glenbard West sophomore Alexa Novak decided to go the distance.

Instead of returning to soccer, Novak has remained with track outdoors and the many close friends and teammates she’s had since cross country.

“It was a tough decision because I have close friends on the soccer and track team,” Novak said. “[Track and cross country’s Kelly Hass and Paul Hass] are such wonderful coaches and I’ve gotten close to a lot of people on the track team.”

Novak’s addition makes one of the best 4x800-meter relays in Class 3A even deeper. On April 20, the Hilltoppers won the event and three others and barely missed winning their annual Sue Pariseau Invitational in Glen Ellyn.

New Trier edged Glenbard West 73 to 71 1/2 for the title after the top five were separated by 6 1/2 points entering the 4x400 finale.

Novak, sophomore Mackenzie Gilbert, senior Alayna Boeh and junior Maia Kaslewicz won the 4x800 (9:36.26) by more than 12 seconds. Gilbert (5:21.27) and Novak (5:22.76) finished 1-2 in the 1,600 and senior Maddie Morgan (3,200 in 11:52.41) and junior Kendal Cullen (3.42 meters in pole vault) also won titles.

“We do talk to them about the history and what [longtime head coach Pariseau] did for this school and this team,” head coach Kelly Hass said of her athletes’ motivation. “This is to honor her and I think the kids are really inspired by that. But also we were a little lackluster last week so I think we had a little bit of something else to prove as well, so it was a good combination.”

At last year’s Class 3A state meet, Gilbert (eighth in the 800) and the 4x800 with Gilbert, Kaslewicz and senior Moira Ahern (ninth) were all-state. Ahern was third Saturday in the 800 and on the all-senior 4x400 with Boeh, Madeline Murin and Carina Cudzilo, 3.19 seconds behind second-place New Trier.

“I convinced [Novak] a lot. I tried to remind her about what’s so great about this sport,” Gilbert said. “I think when it comes time for the big meets, [our 4x800] can really pull it together.”

With Distance Night in Palatine the same day, lineups for powers Barrington and Naperville North were altered significantly. In the more wide-open 3,200, Morgan was fifth at the mile and third with one lap left. Morgan still needed to surge in the final 10 meters. Her lifetime best by 5.38 seconds won by 1.37.

“I’m very happy that I was able to win, which does not happen very often because of how hard it is,” Morgan said. “This is really cool for me.”

Cullen was injured for last year’s invite. Instead of trying to tie the 11-6 invite record, Cullen went after her all-time 11-9 school record from April 9.

“I feel so blessed to be able to say that I won this meet because it’s such a special meet,” Cullen said. “Just being able to compete is such a blessing.”

Hinsdale Central seniors Zari Dorris, Christina Tresslar and Ana Hodneland and sophomore Molly Gilmartin won the 4x200 (1:47.91) after being second in the 4x100 (50.75).

With junior Maya Reed injured, Gilmartin is the lone newcomer from last year’s all-state, seventh-place 4x100.

In her outdoor season debut, Hinsdale Central sophomore Lily Hodneland was second in the 800 (2:23.24) by .04 seconds. Ella Satre was third in the 3,200.

Wheaton Academy junior Madi Jenkins, a returning 2A state qualifier in the 100 and 200, was second in the 200 (26.11) and third in the 100 (12.76). Winning the next-to-last 200 heat, Jenkins beat the 26.29 2A state-qualifying standard for the first time since tearing an ankle tendon and being sidelined from July 2023 through February.

“I felt like I was getting a little tired at the end [of my 200], so I need to work on maintaining my speed. Just glad to be back,” Jenkins said.

Wheaton North had third-place finishes from freshman Sophia Dalrymple (5.37) in the long jump and sophomore Ema Eissler in the 1,600. By reaching 17-7, Dalrymple achieved her second state-qualifying standard outdoors. She went 15.60 in the 100 high hurdles April 9.

Naperville North’s highest finishes were fourth from Kayla Marx (1,600) and Sennah Rashidian (3,200). Geneva freshman Alyssa Fiotte won the 300 low hurdles (47.96) after earlier finishing fourth in the 100 hurdles. Fiotte only started hurdling late in eighth grade.

“[This 300 has] been one of my better races,” Fiotte said. “I can tell my form has been a lot better and my trail leg. These coaches have really helped me.”

Lake Zurich senior Baelyn Zitzmann won high jump (1.68) and was third in the 200 (26.53) and part of the second-place 4x200 (1:49.15) with Anya Farb, Sydney Lappin and Abigoal Cocanig (1:49.15). The returning state runner-up in high jump, Zitzmann just missed 5-7.

Zitzmann and Lappin return from the all-state, sixth-place 4x200 with Riley Betz and Kendall Flournoy, who did not compete Saturday.

“Always excited about high jump. Hopefully If I can run just a little bit faster I can get over [5-7],” Zitzmann said. “[Jumping and sprinting] definitely do [complement]. If you don’t have speed at high jump, you won’t go very far. It always helps to be fast for the relays.”

The Bears’ Olivia Verden was second in the 100 hurdles (15.59) and 300 low hurdles (48.29). The 4x100 relay was third.

Barrington senior Sofiabella Amirante won shot put (11.76) and was third in discus (34.67). Cici Stennett was second in the 100 (12.45) and the 4x800 relay was third (9:49.94).

“It’s my first time winning this meet so I’m excited about that,” said Amirante, third and second the previous two years.

An all-state sixth in shot last year, Amirante also is excited about her lifetime-best 127-0 1/2 in discus that won Barrington’s Jody Gitelis Invite April 12. Her two bests are near school records.

“I just hit a pretty big discus. Shot, we’re getting there. It’s a trust the process thing,” Amirante said. “I normally peak when I have to peak.”

Warren freshman Finley Jezuit won the 800 (2:23.20) by .04 seconds behind a strong finish from third in the final straightaway.

“I got stuck in the beginning and I was like, ‘Oh no,’ and I just tried to work my way out. At 150 to go, I just started kicking. That was a nice victory for sure,” Jezuit said.

As usual, Jezuit downed Local Hive Midwest honey from Jewel before and after the victory. The tradition before and after every event began before high school.

“Honey is my favorite thing. It’s a great sugar boost,” Jezuit said. “I always had a little honey in the morning. (Then) I actually started to bring it to races.”