DOWNERS GROVE – Downers Grove South junior Na’Kiyah Robertson and Yorkville freshman Courtney Clabough on Saturday had another intense shot put battle in this girls track and field season.
On her final throw, Robertson unleashed a distance of 38 feet, 3.75 inches (11.67 meters) to win the Downers South Invitational after a best of 36-7 her five previous throws.
“Honestly, I was just thinking it takes one throw to win,” Robertson said. “I didn’t let those [earlier] bad throws affect me. I was a little under the weather. I just said give it my all and that’s what I did. She’s a really good thrower, but I couldn’t let her beat me again.”
West Suburban Conference Silver indoor champion Hinsdale Central (115.50 points) won the eight-team title over Lyons Township (99.33) and Naperville North (91). Glenbard West (61), Yorkville (56.33), the host Mustangs (50), Geneva (46.50) and Glenbard North (37.33) were fourth through eighth.
Clabough’s 37-10 comfortably led Robertson until her final throw Saturday. On March 3 indoors, Robertson took first (lifetime-best 38-11 3/4) over Clabough (38-0) at the North Central College Invite. Clabough prevailed at the Illinois Top Times Indoor Classic on March 26 (personal-best 39-9 1/2) with Robertson fourth (37-8 1/4). Robertson just missed a state berth in 2021, finishing third at sectionals after being the top seed.
“I scratched my good throws [at sectionals]. I got scared and I fumbled it,” Robertson said. “This year I took it more serious. I got into the weight room more. I realized I could be better than I was actually doing. A little more work and I’ll get there [state].”
Grit and determination were the key words Saturday. Cold and often windy conditions played havoc with many competitors’ efforts.
“It’s really important to remember the little things, warming up, cooling down, staying warm, wearing layers,” Glenbard West senior and triple jump champ Tessa Kochert (33-3) said. “It’s also important to encourage each other and stay together as a team. I think all of those things add to how well I did today.”
The Red Devils received first-place finishes from senior Erin Milligan (800 in 2:25.19), juniors Catie McCabe (1,600 in 5:12.59) and Elyssa Chandler (300 low hurdles in 49.88), sophomore Keira Leech (100 high hurdles in 16.98), the 400 relay of senior Trinitee McCoy, freshman Maya Reed and sophomores Ana Hodneland and sophomore Zari Dorris (51.54) and the 1,600 relay of Chandler, senior Isabella Terry, Milligan and McCabe (4:12.2 manual) despite a dropped baton.
“Winning an invitational as a team and everyone contributing to it, it’s a super awesome feeling,” Milligan said. “It’s like everybody’s doing their part to earn first place. We’ve got a lot of young people doing really well, so that’s good for us for the future, too.”
Lyons juniors Emma Kwak (100 in 12.70) and Becky Phillips (400 in 1:01.73) were individual champions.
Kwak won by .06 over Reed.
“It was super close,” Kwak said. “I thought I won because I couldn’t see [Reed] in my side profile. She beat me at [indoor] conference so it was a tough race.”
Naperville North senior Denise Hernandez went 3-for-3, winning the 200 (personal-best 26.90) and long jump (16-10 3/4) and leading off the winning 800 relay with seniors Macy Fleury and Kaylee Hipp and junior Lily Longenbaugh (1:51.68). Last season, Hernandez did not compete in the long jump at sectionals, but now has improved to 18-3 3/4 at Top Times. The Huskies tied for third at 3A state in 2021 with Hernandez on the all-state seventh-place 800 relay with Fleury and seniors Christina Gu and Ashley Kushner, who won pole vault Saturday (9-0).
“I definitely did best in the 200. I’m super excited for that [personal best Saturday],” Hernandez said. “I’m focused more on [long jump] than anything else. Junior year because of COVID I focused more on running. Now we have time for me to practice.”
For the third time including indoors, Glenbard North junior Grace Schager ran the distance double. Schager won the 3,200 (10:50.42) and took third in a highly competitive 1,600 (5:14.68).
Glenbard North senior Taylor Finke was second in long jump (15-6) and triple jump (31-11 1/2).
Schager was challenged in the first half of the 3,200 by Downers South senior Sophia McNerney (11:02.26), second at state last year but in only her second race this season because of a quad injury. In the 1,600, Schager was edged by McCabe, fourth at state in 2021, and the kick from Hinsdale Central junior Sarah Fischer (5:13.75). Lyons junior Catherine Sommerfeld was fourth (5:14.99). Schager’s three competitors ran fresh.
“The 1,600 was definitely a learning experience. We went out a little slower [1:20 opening lap] and I’m not necessarily a kicker, so kicking was something I was not ready for on tired legs,” Schager said. “I’m hoping it can help motivate me for the rest of the season. It was great to be running with such great competition.”
With the wind blowing directly at her, Glenbard West junior Ellie Williamson won the high jump title tiebreaker over Geneva sophomore Kendall Young. Williamson cleared 4-8 for the second time in a jump off after both missed 4-10.
Geneva freshman Bridget Hecker was second in the 400 with a personal-record 1:02.17.
“I had a goal to try my best and maybe get a new PR,” said Hecker, who ran 1:02.72 indoors. “I felt like it was fun to run. [I was] trying to focus on the main parts of how to run it.”
In discus, Clabough’s personal-best 121-1/3 won by 27-2.
Yorkville senior Maggie Hunter won the 3,200 relay with twin sister Anna, sophomore Allegra Triner and junior Katie Melzer (9:59.31). Maggie Hunter also ran a personal-best 5:24.46 for fifth in the 1,600 and competed on the 1,600 relay.
“We usually do all three [events per meet], so I’m pretty used to it,” said Maggie Hunter, a 2021 state 3,200 qualifier. “I didn’t run [the 1,600] much last year to focus on the [3,200]. I decided I wanted to focus on the [3,200 relay] and the [1,600] this year. It’s exciting to have a new PR.”