Neuqua Valley track and field hosts its discus competition in a wide-open space. That's a good thing because two of the state's top female throwers will be winging it there this Friday.
Waubonsie Valley senior Brooklyne Wilson owns the state's second-longest discus throw on the Dyestat board, 148 feet recorded last Thursday at Naperville North. Metea Valley senior Courtney Morgan entered Tuesday No. 10 at 129-3, done April 11 at Neuqua. Wilson won that meet at 141-7.
In shot put Morgan owns the edge. Morgan's ranked fourth in Illinois at 45-3, one spot ahead of Wilson's 44-10¾. Wheaton Warrenville South's Tonjalaya Yarbar looks to challenge them in shot put at Neuqua.
Morgan is the reigning Class 3A shot put champ and also won as a freshman. Through three downstate appearances she hasn't placed lower than fourth in either shot put or discus.
Wilson qualified for both events as a junior and for discus as a sophomore, but has yet to reach the finals.
Whereas throwers of both genders often translate their size into distance, Wilson is slighter and gets her marks through the speed of her spin.
"It's all speed," she said at Naperville North's Gus Scott Invitational. "When you go to state there's all these throwers who are heavyset, big, and there's me."
The left-hander gains torque by twisting to the right at the back end of the ring. Just before twirling back the other way she pauses and glances over up and out over trees and bleachers to focus.
"I don't think about anything," Wilson said. "I just try to tune everything out because there's all the runners, people cheering. I try to block them all out. Then I do my little spin."
Naperville North's Kayla Glowacki left the Gus Scott 3,200 run a winner and with a hobble to show for it.
Waubonsie Valley freshman Ashley Heidenrich led for most of the race, at points by a wide margin. But Glowacki and Naperville North freshman Jana Dawson, the eventual third-place finisher, never let Heidenrich run too far away.
Glowacki took a late lead but Heidenrich showed her own determination by recapturing the lead. Finally, with about 225 meters to go Glowaki took it back and topped Heidenrich by a little over five seconds, at 11 minutes, 40.35 seconds.
Glowacki limped noticeably after the race. Asked where it hurt, she ran her hand down the outside of her left leg.
"In like the third lap it tightened up pretty bad," she said. "Sometimes you've just got to push through it. You can't really pay much attention to it in the middle of a race."
Not what they needed:
Addison Trail boys coach Bruce Kelsay called the Blazers' indoor season "a perfect storm of everything that could go wrong ... ." That sad state continued last Thursday at Elgin's Gary Everett Invitational.
All-state hurdler Jordyn Carr-Jones hurt a hamstring at the West Suburban Gold indoor meet and remains out, but what really ruined Addison Trail's Thursday was sprinter Darrion Conrad also hurting a hamstring.
The senior had to pull up in the 400-meter relay, which the Blazers may have won. Conrad then withdrew from the 200 dash, where he was the favorite.
Kelsay noted the loss of a possible 24 points in a three-level meet his team lost by 14 points. More important are the injuries; it's hoped both Carr-Jones and Conrad return by the Gold outdoor championship.
"What a disappointing turn of events this year," Kelsay said.
Two and done:
Out of eight teams and myriad athletes competing Saturday at the Metea Valley Invitational, two purple-shirted boys were conspicuous by their presence.
Downers Grove North senior Alec Danner and junior Brendan Lockerby were entered in only one race, the 1,600-meter run. The Trojans team was competing at West Aurora's John Bell invite, but these two needed to get reps in.
"The main reason is that our (distance) coach (John Sipple) wanted to have four guys run the mile today, but unfortunately with the way that our original meet was set up we could only have two per heat," Danner said.
Downers North teammates Ryan Birkmeier and Matt Moravec ran the 1,600 at the John Bell where they finished a respective first and fourth. The competition at Metea proved stiffer.
Incredibly brave considering the harsh winds, Danner sprinted to the lead from the start followed closely by Hoffman Estates' Jack Worman. Lockerby ran third in a pack that included Wheaton Warrenville South's Kyle Thompson and Naperville Central's Peter Villanova.
"I knew it was going to be a bit tough taking it out like that. But I didn't want to run super-slow, I wanted to keep it a bit honest. I knew he was on my tail," said Danner, twice all-state in Class 3A cross country and 11th in the Class 3A 3,200 a year ago, 25th as a sophomore.
Danner never flagged, but at the end Worman kicked past to win the race in 4:23.50 seconds to Danner's 4:24.22. Lockerby finished fourth at 4:30.03. Both Trojans' times were ahead of Birkmeier's winning 4:33.16 at the John Bell.
"That's all right, that's the stuff we've been working on the past few weeks, like closing speed," Danner said. "I think in a few weeks' time that should be all ready to go. It's just right now kind of finding that at the end of the race."
More blue oval:
On Tuesday the Illinois High School Association Board of Directors approved a recommendation to extend the contract for the boys and girls track and field state finals at Eastern Illinois University an additional five years, from 2018-22.
Formerly held at the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium, the boys state finals have been held at O'Brien Field in Charleston every year since 1974, the IHSA noted. The girls have run at O'Brien each year since their state series debuted in 1973.
In the announcement, IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson pointed out the "great partnership" between the IHSA, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston and nearby Mattoon.
"They provide amazing support for the event, and we are proud that another generation of IHSA track and field student-athletes will strive to compete at O'Brien Field on the final weekend of the season," Anderson said in the statement.
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