Track and field: Lincoln-Way West’s Austin Rowswell edges Joliet West’s Bill Bailey at Top Times

Club teammates go against each other in friendly rivalry

BLOOMINGTON – Call it a friendly rivalry between Lincoln-Way West sophomore Austin Rowswell and Joliet West senior Billy Bailey.

But call it a rivalry.

Rowswell got the upper hand Saturday, winning the Class 3A 60- and 400-meter dashes with Bailey close behind at the Illinois Top Times indoor meet at Illinois Wesleyan’s Shirk Center. But Bailey extracted a measure of revenge in the 200 by finishing second overall and four spots ahead of Rowswell.

They are two years apart, but close in friendship, rivals in the winter and spring, and teammates in the summer on the Prestige Athletic Club in Joliet. That, of course, makes each want to beat the other even more when they are in different colors.

Rowswell opened strongly on the 200-meter track, taking the 60 in 6.96 seconds. He upped his advantage with a winning time of 50.11 in the 400. After that, a letdown in the 200 wasn’t unexpected, but the 22.74 clocking still was solid. Just not as solid as the 22.30 posted by Bailey, only three-hundredths behind winner Daniel Lacy of Champaign Centennial.

”I like how he’s developed and how he pushes me,” Bailey said. “He’s great competition and a great person.”

Rowswell had more than Bailey as a motivator.

”Last week in conference, I got second in the 60 and it made me really mad,” Rowswell said. “This week, I focused a lot on my start, my blocks and a lot of power at the start. And in the 400, my friend Billy had me for the first 350, but the last 50, I came back.”

“In the 200, I decided I wanted to let him win, but it was a tough one. It was the longest 200 I ever ran. My legs were tired, but I gave him all I had.”

Elissa Perkins of Plainfield East won neither the long jump nor the triple jump, but she scored personal bests in each, which should set up her spring season splendidly. Her best long jump was 19 feet, 5 1/4 inches – three-quarters of an inch behind winner Alex Johnson of Huntley. And the triple jump is her specialty.

”A huge PR for me, so I was really excited,” Perkins said. “Triple jump requires a lot of technique, and long jump is speed and power.”

Perkins, a senior, finally hit 40 feet on the triple jump, hitting it on the nose, taking third behind Huntley’s Dominique Johnson and Alex Johnson, who each jumped 40-1 1/2.

”Forty’s been my goal for a real long time,” Perkins said. “This gives me a lot of confidence going into outdoor.”

Joy Dudley of Morris had a simple strategy for the Class 2A 3,200 meter run: follow Sandwich freshman Sundara Weber. Weber was the top seed going into the race.

”We raced against Sandwich in cross-country because they’re in our conference, and I knew she was gonna be amazing,” Dudley said of Weber. “It was nice to have her there even though she’s tough competition.”

The plan worked. Dudley ran the first half of the race in about 5:50, and despite tightening up in the final 800 meters, she took fourth behind Weber in a personal-best 11:06.87, about 23 seconds better than her qualifying time.

”Sometimes it feels like I’m not pacing myself, like I’m just going as hard as I can, trying to hold on,” Dudley said. “I’ve been hoping to get a PR, but I didn’t think it would be that big.”

Providence Catholic’s Natalie Papes placed fifth in the pole vault at 11-6. Kenwood narrowly edged Plainfield North’s girls in the 3A 4x400 relay. Taylor McClain, Alex Eydenberg, Lindsey Wenz and Lauren Dellangelo ran it in 4:00.98 to take second ahead of Prospect.

In Friday’s Class A competition, Seneca’s girls won the 4x400 relay, with senior Anna Bruno leading the way in 4:07.44. Sister Clara Bruno, a sophomore, fellow sophomore Evelyn O’Connor and freshman Lila Coleman followed. Anna Bruno took second in the long jump (17-7) and ran third in the 400 (1:01.07).

Seneca junior Teagan Johnson won the pole vault with a 12-3 leap. She also took seventeen in the triple jump (32-8). Senior Caitlyn O’Boyle took eighth in the 60-meter hurdles (9.93), 14th in the 60-meter dash (8.19) and 11th in the triple jump (29-2). O’Connor ran fifth in the 800 (2:21.10).