Girls track and field: Naperville Central edges Downers Grove North to take sectional title

Naperville Central’s Liz Phillips sweeps distance events, Yorkville’s Courtney Clabough throws

Downers Grove North finishes first in the 4x800-meter relay at Friday's Class 3A Downers Grove North Sectional track and field meet.

DOWNERS GROVE – There’s something about Neuqua Valley and its girls track relays that even when the names change, the results always seem to impress.

At the Class 3A Downers Grove North Sectional on May 10, the Wildcats were back to their old tricks, setting a school record in the 4x200 – an event in which they won state last year – and also advancing to state with strong showings in the 4x100 and the night’s final event, the 4x400.

In the 4x200 relay, returning Neuqua Valley state champs Ava Belle and Zawadi Brown were joined by Olivia Dalson and Gabi Karvelis in recording a 1:39.64 to claim the sectional crown.

“I was pretty confident, but this was the first time running our full 4x200 since we had lost our seniors from the relay we won state with,” Belle said. “I knew this season we were going to do amazing because the whole team worked so hard in the offseason. Me, Olivia and Gabi had shaved a whole second off our 200 time.”

Brown also took first in the 100, Dalson and Brown went 1-2 in the long jump and Karvelis claimed the triple jump title.

Dalson was on last year’s 4x100 relay that placed fourth in the state and she was ready to partake in the school’s 4x200 this season, an event that has been good to the Wildcats over the years. Their May 10 time in the race is the fourth fastest in the state.

“Last year I was on the 4x100 and I wasn’t on the 4x200, but this year I really wanted to do good in the 4x200 and get a No. 1 seed,” said Dalson, who helped the Wildcats finish third in the team standings May 10. “I went in with a positive mindset to run my hardest that I can and to catch girls.”

It was a fast relay, indeed. Seven teams came in under the state time of 1:45.77, including runner-up Plainfield North (1:40.88) and third-place Downers Grove North (1:42.35).

Brown turned in a nifty 11.97-second effort to win the 100-meter dash for Neuqua. Plainfield North’s Taylor McClain (12.22), Plainfield East’s Courtney McDonald (12.23) and Bolingbrook’s Kristyn Johnson (12.35) followed closely to earn state berths.

Naperville Central claimed its second straight sectional crown by edging Downers Grove North 102 to 99.75.

Coach Phil Allen said the win was more impressive because of the loaded competition.

“We won the sectional last year, but it wasn’t a meet like this. This is the toughest sectional in the state. It’s like a mini state meet,” Allen said.

Plainfield North's Taylor McClain finishes second in the 100-meter dash at Friday's Class 3A Downers Grove North Sectional girls track and field meet.

Fresh off impressive distance double titles at last week’s DuPage Valley Conference meet, Naperville Central’s Liz Phillips took first in the 3,200 on May 10 with a time of 10:25.88. Benet’s Delilah Helenhouse was second with a personal record 10:47.61. Nine runners in the race qualified for state including third-place finisher Julie Piot of Naperville North.

Phillips completed the double championship when she ran a 4:58.37 PR to claim the 1,600 title. Waubonsie Valley’s Lily Baibak was second in 4:59.45 as eight runners came in under the state cut.

“Coming into this meet, I was really prepared,” said Phillips, a Wisconsin-bound senior. “I thought we were prepared as a team.”

Phillips, second in the state in cross country last fall and sixth in the state in the 3,200 last spring, is looking to finish her career strong.

“I think I’m more prepared this year,” she said. “I’ve done more mileage and I think I’m going to be a little stronger. The longer the race gets, the better I get at it, so I’d have to say the 3,200 [is my favorite].”

In the 800, Naperville Central’s Lola Satre-Morales ran a personal-best 2:13.26 and barely held off late-charging Ava Gilley of Downers Grove North, who finished second at 2:13.31. Nine runners qualified for state in the event including Naperville North’s Emma Berres, who was third in 2:14.40.

Naperville Central’s Brooke Sawatsky had a big night. The senior turned in a 15.35 in her first event of the night winning the 100-meter hurdles. She was second in the 300 hurdles with a time of 46.07 and took third in the triple jump with a qualifying leap of 38 feet.

In the triple jump, Neuqua Valley’s Karvelis was first at 39-2 1/2, a PR and one of the best distances in the state. Karen Boakye of Downers Grove North was second at 38-7. Naperville Central’s Sawatsky, Yorkville’s Cassia Bonga and Oswego East’s Delia Akyea all advanced to state.

Oswego's Lauren Broome wins the 300-meter hurdles at Friday's Class 3A Downers Grove North Sectional Girls Track and Field meet.

In the 100 hurdles, Oswego East’s Layla Brisbon (15.66) was second and Plainfield Central’s Vanessa Obeng (15.91) took third to qualify for state.

Oswego senior Lauren Broome took first in the 300 hurdles with a career-best time of 44.97.

In the high jump, Downers Gove North’s Jennifer Buehler was first with a PR of 5 feet, 1 3/4 inches. She’ll be joined downstate by teammate and runner-up Maya Nicholson (4-11 3/4).

Yorkville’s three-year state qualifier Courtney Clabough claimed the discus crown pretty easily with a 126-2 distance. Naperville Central’s Allison Roozeboom also heads to state in the event after taking second at 112-8.

Clabough also grabbed a sectional title with a winning throw of 39-1/2 in the shot put. Layla Williams of Downers Grove North was second, Amerie Flowers of Hinsdale South was third and Oswego East’s Alexandra McElyea took fourth, each with PR distances and state-qualifying efforts.

“So my discus was decent for the season,” said Clabough, a junior. “I was hoping to PR but I didn’t. I had a few warmups that were close but I didn’t hit it when it mattered. But I’m still happy to win it. Then shot put, I also didn’t do my greatest, but I have next week. It is exciting. I look forward to it [state].”

In the 400, Benet freshman Payton Mathelier won with a PR of 58.20. Plainfield East sophomore Briyah Beatty was second in 58.59.

In a fast 4x100 relay, nine schools came in under the 49.34 state cutoff. Plainfield North’s Alex Eydenberg, Kaiya Bradshaw, Aniya Poindexter and Taylor McClain won in 47.46 ahead of runner-up Plainfield East (48.15). Bolingbrook, Downers Grove South, Oswego East, Downers Grove North, Naperville Central, Neuqua Valley and Oswego also qualified for state.

In the night’s final event, Plainfield North edged Downers Grove North with an impressive 3:57.82 turned in by Eydenberg, Poindexter, Tessa Russo and Lindsey Wenz.

The track events kicked off with the 4x800 relay that saw six schools qualify for the state finals led by Downers Grove North’s winning time of 9:15.60. Plainfield North was second at 9:20.38 and Naperville North took third at 9:35.22. Naperville Central, Oswego East and Yorkville also made the state cut.

The Trojans’ winning quartet consisted of Sarah Paul, Alayna Todnem, Sydney Hnatiuk and Lily Eddington.

Two Neuqua Valley long jumpers recorded PRs and went 1-2. Dalson was first at 19-2 and Brown was second at 19-3/4. Also qualifying for state in the event were Naperville Central’s Sawatzky (18-2 1/4) and Yorkville’s Bonga and Downers Grove South’s Karen Boakye, who tied for fourth at 17-8 3/4.

Oswego East pole vaulter Hailey Soriaga cleared 11-4 1/2 to finish first. Hinsdale South runner-up Anya Patel also heads to state after recording a vault of 11-2 1/2.