Tri-City Classic @ ZB:
All week, the predicted weather was garbage for this meet, but when I woke up, I felt optimistic. As I drove to school, the sun was shining, and I thought perhaps the weather gods would smile upon the Zee-Bees for a second time this season. As the coaches and I set up the meet, it felt decent--cold, but sunny and manageable. But as teams started to arrive, the clouds rolled in and the temperatures felt more menacing. We pushed forward, honoring our awesome seniors (Audrey, Riley, Estrella, Katelin, Jade, Taylor, and Bri)! As that ceremony unfolded, rain started spitting upon us, rudely. That passed, and then some mini-hail started to fall, covering our hair and track with tiny snowballs. The head coaches met and agreed to try to get through a few events to see if it was manageable. And it was for a bit...
We had fun watching co-ed races as well as the "old heads" competing in the medley relay. And we cheered on Tati and Jose, the lone hurdlers for the day, before we got to the 800 where Estrella, Aniya, and Emily all earned PRs. Nice work, women!
And then the snow came. Not some flurries or small flakes. This was a big-flaked bombardment, chilling the runners and quieting the fans. The coaches decided to run the 4X200, the 4X400 and call it a (cold) day. The relays did great, with seniors Eric, Jared, Riley, and Audrey getting the chance to shine together!
A few takeaways from this meet:
Shout out to Katelin, Lauren, Alex and a few others (forgive me--it was a blur!) who helped clean up the field, take down the tent, and disassemble the bull pen.That kind of leadership means the world to me--I appreciate you all!
Just plain shouting at people who left all their stuff. We need to work on being more mindful as a group. Your uniform, warm ups, big coats, and the track itself exist thanks to the taxpayers of Zion. We cannot take that support lightly by treating these items without care. Period.
Finally, the point of this meet is to celebrate our three communities which USED to be the powerhouses of track & field in Lake County. We want to encourage a comeback! Honestly, our program is on its way back to that level of greatness. Let's keep that history in mind as we practice and compete. We collected donations at the door to give to Abiding Love Food Pantry. Stay tuned for our donation total soon!
Later that evening, Riley and Audrey had the special opportunity to compete at Distance Night in Palatine. Riley qualified in the 800, while Audrey chose to compete in the 1600 (she was eligible for all three distance races). This meet has grown over the years, ad races are super competitive! Riley's heat of the 800 only had 2 seconds separating the first and last seed times. Whew! This was a great experience for Riley, as she is used to moving to the front and staying clear of the pack's messiness. She got out well and quickly figured out how to get out of the box she found herself in (that means that she was stuck on the line with people on all sides of her, making a move difficult). The 800 is undoubtedly the toughest race on the track, and figuring out racing tactics now is valuable as we head into championship season! I was really proud of the way Riley managed the nerves of a big meet like this as well as how she managed the actual race. Her time was within tenths of her PR which is simply crazy considering the week she has had. Running a huge PR in the 400 the day before takes some pop out of her legs, and it's tough to get back up emotionally the next day! Racing Friday and Saturday is great practice for the prelims and finals of State! Audrey had a great race, too. She had the luxury of experiencing the meet the year before, so she was more ready for the tight pack. She also did a great job of managing that, putting herself in the front of the pack and pushing the pace with a few other girls. Like Riley, she was within tenths of her lifetime best and ran a very smart race. I know she was disappointed that night, but I could not be prouder. After going to Europe and fighting back from a rude respiratory illness, this was her first race where she looked really sharp. I'm proud of her for her tenacity!
Great work, seniors! Way to represent us at this meet with ZB PRIDE! We are proud of you!
Friday @ District 117 Invite--Antioch:
I refreshed my weather app all week, hoping one day at a time that we would get to enjoy some decent weather. In recent years, we have had tremendous luck at Antioch, and this meet was no different. Not only did the weather hold, but the meet was well-run so that we finished before the sun set. It was a tough day for many of our field athletes due to the wind, but there were a few highlights!
Mary has been showing consistency in high jump, earning a 4'6" mark again at this meet. Awesome work, Mary! In the long jump, Kate earned us some points, placing 4th and taking home a medal! Nice work, senior! Ne'Zyah also earned a medal and some team points in the shot put--proud of you, Ne'Zyah!
On the track, we started things right with a second place finish from the 4X800. Awesome work, Audrey, Riley, Brionne, and Sofia! Medals and points for this squad! Our 4X100 nearly matched that effort, placing 3rd and earning the bees some more team points. Great work Auriel, Jade, Kennilyn, and Taylor! Lauren (2nd) and Rachel (6th) earned us double points in the 3200, with Rachel dropping some serious time to earn a new PR of 13:07! Awesome work, freshie! Both of these women ran gutsy races--proud of your both! Despite having a sore hamstring, Jade placed 3rd in the 100. Nice work, senior! In the 800, Audrey ran a solid race in order to win the event! Proud of you, Audge! Our 4X200 matched the points of the 4X100, placing 3rd and helping our team!
The star of the night was Riley in the 400. After a nice performance in the 4X800, she looked loose and ready before the 400. I stood by the 200 in order to get her split. She got out hard, and as she approached the halfway point, I felt my eyes pop out of my head. I yelled, "26...27!" as she darted by. I turned and sprinted across the field, hoping she would be able to hold the hot pace and finish strong. There were two other strong 400 runners in the heat, and I watched with awe as Riley pulled away from them in the final 50 meters. There was no fading...there was just Riley's signature finish! When I saw my watch, I couldn't catch my breath--I had to confirm with the FAT that she was in the 57s. Sure enough, when I looked over his shoulder, I could see that Riley had set a new school record! The previous record, held by State finalist and medalist LaMisha Hines, was 58.1. At last year's Sectional, Riley matched LaMisha's time, but did not beat it. Today, there was no doubt: 57.63! As Riley fought to catch her breath and fight the booty-lock, she seemed almost shocked by the time. She said almost incredulously, "I pulled that one out of my butt!" To say that I am proud of her effort is an understatement. This kind of performance is part of the reason that St. Louis University wanted her as a student-athlete: she is not afraid of challenges. That kind of time doesn't just happen; it is the result of years of hard work, learning, sometimes failing, and getting back up. Don't let Riley's chill demeanor fool you, either. She gets nervous, too, but she has also learned how to manage those nerves into great performances! SO PROUD OF YOU, RICAT! Way to represent ZBTHS with PRIDE!
In the 300 hurdles, Tati earned a new season PR. She has been instrumental in helping our new hurdlers with drills and other questions, so it was so satisfying to see Tati have a breakthrough today! Proud of you!
In the 200, Kennilyn had a strong race, finishing in 4th. What impressed me most was her finish--she has really done a nice job of perfecting this part of her race! Nice work, Ken!
We did not run our 4X400 in order to give Riley more time to recover from her record-setting performance and to give Brionne more recovery after being sick. Despite the omission of these points, we still placed 5th out of 9 teams. We definitely are showing some fatigue due to our schedule, and I recognize that. We need to stay focused on championship season and make smart choices in practice, at meets, and at home. Let's go!
Wednesday Mega-Dual @ Stevenson:
We were SUPPOSED to compete on Monday, but Mother Nature took a weird turn. Not only did the temperatures drop 40 degrees, but on Monday, we were still TIRED from Saturday. Everyone put in a great effort at Kankakee, but getting home that late, being dehydrated, and giving all that energy is just draining. I know I was still toast several days later, and I didn't even compete! So moving our meet to Wednesday was a better solution, but I was crabby about the timing. I like having some rest between efforts, and having a meet on Wednesday didn't give us much time to recover before Antioch and our home meet. We were not alone, though. Everyone but Lake Zurich would be making up our Conference duals on Wednesday. This made for a complicated day. We were asked to limit entries to 3 in lanes, runways, or rings in order to keep the meet moving. This meant that we were not able to bring everyone that we wanted to bring. That being said, there were some good highlights:
100: Taylor, Kennilyn, and Aby all ran PRs! Awesome work!
100 HH: Baakir ran a sweet PR, breaking out of the 21s to run in the 20s. Nice work, B!
200: Jade ran a sweet PR, inching closer to 26!
300 LH: Baakir broke 60, running a sweet PR of 58!
400: Anesa shaved off a few more tenths for a new PR!
800: In an "easy" effort, Riley won the 800!
1600: Liz had a big breakthrough, running a new LPR of 7:07, 14 seconds faster than her previous best! Cheyenne wasn't far behind with a big PR by 13 seconds. Aniya also broke 8:00, running a sweet PR of 7:52. Nice job, bees!
3200: Audey took the win with an "easy" workout effort.
Field: Grace had a really nice triple jump effort, earning a big PR: 25'10.75". She also earned a new PR in the long jump. What a great day for this junior!
Nice work, everyone!
In November, I started stalking other teams' schedules to find us a meet for this weekend. It had long been a hole in our schedule, so I was stoked when I saw a meet in Kankakee. It's south of I-80, a line that usually means warmer weather (well, let's be honest...most places are warmer than Zion in April). Then I looked at the schools who competed last year, and I was sold. Some of the top programs in the state were there! I convinced Coach Lee to bring the boys so this could be a true track family event. Fast forward to this Wednesday when we saw the seed times and distances, and my faith in my choice to travel far for the second weekend in a row felt super smart. This meet was going to be HOT! Little did I know that this meet would rival the State Meet of 2021 in terms of weather, time, and weirdness.
When we arrived at the stadium, there was a buzz in the air: the weather was warm, the stadium was filled, and the atmosphere screamed LET'S GO. We could hear the fantastic voice of the State Meet over the speakers, and there were athletes EVERYWHERE. At the head coaches' meeting, the Kankakee coach informed us that over 1600 athletes were registered for the meet! Whew, that's a lot! We were all convinced it was going to be a great day.
We started the meet right in the field. Mary jumped a new lifetime best of 4' 6" in the high jump, thrilling her teammates and coaches alike! She and Niyanna are going to keep growing into this event; I am so proud of them both for taking feedback so well and competing with ZB PRIDE. I walked over to the shot put in time to see Ximena launch a NEW LPR (for the fans out there, YES...ANOTHER!). She is now in the 30 foot club with a throw of 31'10" This kid just keeps soaking up the wisdom of Coach Strickland and the good vibes of Ne'Zyah. So proud of your effort, Ximena! She ended up 11th in a super-competitive field, improving from her seed of 13th. Ne'Zyah had a huge throw today, too. She matched her LPR of 34'7.25" from Conference last year. She is WAY ahead of schedule! More importantly, I love watching her confidence grow in this event. Proud of you, junior! Speaking of proud, Nyana looked out for her triple jumper fam of Brooke and Marshyir who made their debuts today. I know these two will grow into the event, especially under her leadership.
The track portion of our day seemed to start just fine. Our JV 4X800 featured an impressive PR by Estrella (3:12), a brave first effort in the event by Janalise (3:22) a strong leg by Aniya (3:29), and a speedy anchor by Liz (3:14). They set the stage for our Varsity crew, who had a great day, too! Audrey and Riley started us strong with matching splits of 2:25, followed by a PR by Brionne (2:44) and a strong finish by Fia (2:49) to help us secure second place behind a VERY strong Normal Community relay. Nice work, relays!
Our JV 4X100 suffered a DQ for going out of the zone, but that's ok! Remember that we are working on progress, not perfection. 4X100 handoffs are tricky, and it takes time to learn! Making a mistake is one of the best ways to learn, and I'm confident that this squad will progress because of this moment. Our Varsity 4X100 placed 7th in preview of the State Meet. This event was SMOKIN' FAST, with Kankakee narrowly besting Homewood-Flossmoor. Our bees did a nice job of holding their own in this fast field. Nice work, Auriel, Jade, Taylor, and Kennilyn!
Lauren and Rachel racked up double points in the 3200 despite the heat. In longer events like the 2-mile, managing the heat is tricky when it has been cold leading up to the meet. Although Lauren's time was not a PR, she ran a smart race, earning us 8 points. Rachel shaved 2 seconds off her previous best, and impressive feat in the heat, and earned us 5 team points. Nice work, bees! During the men's 3200, I had to pull Jarek off the track due to lightning. This is when things got weird. Our team piled on the bus to wait for the weather to clear up, which it did rather quickly. The only problem was that the brief storm wreaked havoc on the timing system. The company had to re-set up the cameras and the computers, but there were glitches with the starter pistol. Kankakee's coach tried stalling by honoring seniors and asking for our patience, but the delay was hours long, with the hurdle races and 100 meter dash seemingly taking forever. Baakir and Tati still ran well in the hurdles, with Tati earning a season's best! Nice work, Tati! The results in the 100 are not accurate (it shows Auriel, Kennilyn, and Taylor as DNS, but they did race well!) The fast heat that did get its times recorded, shows the depth of this meet--the top five finishers are ranked in the top 20 in the state!
In the 800, Riley and Estrella were up against one of the toughest racers in the state--Allison Ince. At the 200, I could see that Ince was running conservatively in order to save some juice for the 400 (only one event away). The lovely thing about Riley is that when I told her that the race was slow, she wasn't afraid to make a move: she surged off the curve and took the lead, forcing Ince to run an honest race. I love that gutsiness! Normally, the 800 is not run as a negative race, but that's exactly what Riley did: 73/68. On the second lap, Ince passed Riley, but Riley did not let her go--she kept pulling to a nice time of 2:19. This race shows how much Ricat has grown in this event--she uses her strength from XC and her race savviness in order to keep improving! Well done, Riley! Estrella also had a great day! After running a great PR in the relay, she matched in this race, running pretty even splits of 93/99. I like that she got out harder than usual, and that courage is going to pay off at the end of the season. Nice work, Estrella!
Our Varsity 4X200 had a big race, improving their season best time as a unit, despite a ridiculous issue. In an effort to speed up the meet, Kankakee had combined some heats. Unfortunately, they did not tell us at the exchange zone. So we helped the one team get set up for heat one, but when the gun sounded, there was a full track of athletes, including Jade. We had to stop the race, let the next heat go, and then re-run our heat. Wisely, Jade and Taylor switched spots in order to give Jade some more time to recover. Despite all that mess, Auriel, Jade, Kennilyn, and Taylor sprinted their way into scoring. They beat out several teams in the hot heat in order to earn us 5 points. Awesome work, bees!
In the open 400, Brionne, Aby, and Anesa all earned lifetime bests! Aby was first, dropping 3 seconds to finish in 71! She has not shied away from the most challenging sprint event on the track, and her tenacity showed today. Awesome work, freshie! Anesa was next; she has had such a great season so far, really stepping up to lead. She let the competitive field push her to a 3 second drop in time--awesome new PR of 72! She also looked the strongest she has looked in the final stretch. Proud of you, Anesa! Brionne used that positive energy to help her earn a PR, too. After running a 65 at Springfield and then dropping to a high 64 at home, she shed a few more tenths to earn a new PR today. Gutsy racing, Bri! Overall, this race was superfast, with six women posting some of the best marks in the state! It was awesome to watch!
After waiting around for what felt like days, Audrey ran a strong "comeback" race after her Europe trip. She won easily, switching gears to pull away from the competition. I know she wasn't pleased with the time, but I hope she was proud of the actual racing. That race was a testament to her consistency over the years. She was able to fall back on years of base to pull off the win--proud of you, Audrey!
In the open 200, Kennilyn had a great day! She has been steadily improving, showing her focus and strength in this event. She whipped off the turn and earned herself a new PR of 28.01! She is only a blink away from the 27s, and I know she is going to get there. Nice race, Kennilyn! Niyanna also had a strong race, pulling on the speed of the meet and nearly matching her LPR. Awesome work, freshie!
By the time we got to the 4X400, most of us felt like we were in a state of unreality. We were tired and thirsty and hot. There was relief in the sun setting and the day nearly being over. What impressed me was that our two relays did not let the length of the meet deter them from greatness. Our JV relay was up first, running so strong! Aby, Janalise, Anesa, and Sofia ran so strong! They placed 4th and inspired our Varsity squad. Nice work, young pups! Our Varsity group matched their season PR and raced hard, placing 4th. Great work, bees!
Overall, we placed 4th behind some of the best teams in the state. I am really proud of the way we competed and held it together despite the weather, delays, and other craziness. Nice work, bees!
@Home vs. Mundelein & Waukegan
The weather gods smiled upon us as we hosted our FIRST EVER meet on our beautiful new track! We were also lucky to have Mr. Niemi--our athletic director--invest in our meet so that we could have FAT at the finish. For those of you new to track, FAT=Fully Automated Timing. We hired PFV Performance to time all of the track events so that the meet would run efficiently and the times would be official! The timing system records the starter's pistol and then records the finish, accurately filming each finish and matching up times with athletes. In a word, FAT is AWESOME. With all our new lanes, we finished the whole meet in under 2 hours, which is also AWESOME! Although we don't want to rush, we certainly do want to be efficient so athletes can take care of homework. And on most days in April, we also want to get out of crummy weather, but not on this glorious day! Let's check out some fantastic performances from the day.
Although I didn't get to watch the field events due to working at the finish line, I did hear some great news from our field coaches:
Shot put: Arianna threw a LIFETIME best in the shot, making her way into the 22-foot club!
Discus: Bri led this crew with a HUGE throw of nearly 90 feet. It was a season best, and it earned our team 3 points against Mundelein. It's great to hear that Bri is back to her usual form this season and only a few feet from a lifetime best. Awesome leadership, senior! Audreynah had a season best, too, improving by over 2 feet from her performance at Lake Forest. So glad to hear that she is finding her groove, too! Arianna had ANOTHER LPR in this event, throwing 5 feet further than at Lake Forest. Awesome work, Arianna! Ximena was with her, really figuring out the event. She threw over 22 longer than at Lake Forest! Holy smokes! Proud of your effort, Ximena!
Long Jump: Our senior leader and teacher in the jumps had a great day, too. Kate jumped 14'8.5", nearly 2 inches further than her awesome performance at Conference last year. Awesome work, Katelin! Grace had a great day, making it into the double digits and improving by over 2 feet from Lake Forest. Sweet effort, Grace! And Marshyir made her jumping debut, showing her grit by trying a new event. Awesome work, freshie!
Triple Jump: Grace made her triple debut today, jumping over 25 feet! Impressive for your first time at this tricky event--great job, Grace!
Short Sprints: Our newbees and veterans alike took advantage of the lovely weather to bust out some great times. In the 100, Cici, LaKiyrah, Marshyir, Mary, Tyesha, Abygail, Anesa, Nala, Auriel, and Kennilyn all earned LIFETIME PRs while Makayla and Jada both earned season PRs. That's a total of 12 PRs--that's huge! Awesome work, crew! I know that as everyone gets more reps in the blocks and keeps working hard in practice, that those times will continue to improve. In the 200, we witnessed the same effort and improvement. Niyanna, Baakir, Nala, Jada, Lanay, Nyana, Makayla, Tyesha, Mary, Marshyir, Christa, LaKiyrah, and Cici all earned new LIFETIME PRs while Tikia earned a new season PR. Do you see that list of greatness? Awesome to see!
Hurdles: Our crew has been so patient with me as we work through drills and workouts. In the 100, Baakir ran a new LIFETIME best without much practice in this event! In the 300 hurdles, Tati ran a significant season PR, dropping 4 seconds over last week. I'm confident this crew will continue to improve!
Long Sprints/Mid-Distance: Our 400 crew enjoyed considerable success, too! Brionne ran a new LIFETIME best in the 400 after having a great weekend in Springfield. Janalise, Carmella, Aubri, and Sheila all ran big LIFETIME PRs, too, in one of the toughest events on the track. Keep up the hard work, bees! In the 800, we had two big PRs. Riley led the race from gun to tape, earning a HUGE LPR of sub-2:20. For those of you doing the math at home, yes: that means she ran faster than 1:10 for each lap. Whew! Awesome job, Ri! Melanie also ran a sweet race today. She has gotten SO much better at running with an open stride, and that strength showed today with a new LPR by over 4 seconds. Nice job, Mel!
Distance: Lauren had a huge day in the mile, earning a new lifetime best of 5:33, taking the lead early and not looking back! It was so cool to watch her wind up that kick at the end of a great effort. Proud of you, Lauren! Liz had a huge day, too. She ran a sweet 7:21, improving 21 seconds from her previous best! Whew, that's fun! And Sofia did a great job of taking a risk early in the race to earn her a new season PR; awesome work, Fia!
Relays: Race day allows us to see how to handle handoffs in pressure situations. These Monday meets allow us to practice! We are a work in progress in this area, but that's ok! Our 4X100 took care of business, taking first place. For Monday meets, relays are all or nothing: we either win and take all 5 points or miss out. By the end of the season, I am confident that all of our relays will help us earn points at the Conference Meet. Until then, let's really soak up Coach Cuttill's advice on handoffs so that we can perfect these fun team races that are so thrilling to watch!
Overall, we were able to beat Waukegan's up and coming team while Mundelein was able to pull off the win against us. It was a great night filled with fun and growth, which is all your coaches want for you! Great job, bees!
The sun was not even THINKING about getting up yet when we departed ZB on Saturday morning. As the bus rolled out, I was pleased that the only person who was late was the bus driver. When we arrived at the meet, we saw nothing but blue, sunny skies! Although it was windier than I had hoped, it was nothing like our meet on Wednesday. I knew we were ready for great performances!
Field Events: Ne'Zyah and Ximena both earned us points in the shot. Ne'Zyah threw a season PR for outdoor while Ximena threw ANOTHER PR in the event. More importantly, she passed the 30 foot mark, which is a big deal! According to Strickland, she launched it on her first throw. He also noted that later in the meet, she was doing drills to improve her technique. Love her dedication! In the discus, Strickland was particularly impressed that his squad was noting technique issues with other throwers. That ability shows their knowledge of their craft! Ne'Zyah popped a lifetime best in the discus, improving by more than 10 feet! Her impressive performance earned her a 3rd place medal and six points for her team. Awesome work, Ne'Zyah! Audreynah earned a new season PR in the discus, throwing SO MUCH MORE impressively than at Lake Forest. She really stepped up in the moment and earned three points for her team. Nice work, Audreynah!
In the jumps, we had some impressive performances. Mary is really getting the hang of the high jump. She jumped a new lifetime PR of 4'3.5". More importantly, she tied for 8th, earning her first point as a Varsity athlete on our team! Niyanna is improving, too. She is getting the height that she needs; once she perfects the technique, she will be right with Mary. In the horizontal jumps, Coach White reported that our jumpers are making gains in technique, which is so important! He knows that they will be making big jumps soon as they put it all together!
On the track, our 4X800 had a big day. Audrey and Riley started us off so strong, running impressive splits despite fighting off an upper-respiratory illness. When they handed off to Sofia, she had a nice lead to defend. Sofia ran a season PR of 2:50--awesome work, sophomore! Estrella stepped up big for us today. Despite not having a lot of Varsity experience in this event, she anchored our relay with a HUGE PR of 10 seconds. I was so impressed by her posture and poise in this race--she helped our relay earn medals and six points for the team! Awesome work! Speaking of relays...our 4X100 also earned us points, placing 7th. The handoffs are starting to come together, and the time was the fastest of the season so far! Awesome work, Auriel, Taylor, Kennilyn, and Jade!
In the 3200, Lauren and Rachel had great days. Lauren ran a smart race in the wind, earning a medal and six points. She also achieved her race goals of running even and dialing in on her kick. Love that! Rachel did a great job of being competitive with people around her, running a two second PR and earning three points for the team. Awesome work you two!
We did not have anyone in the 100 hurdles today. I pose this as a challenge to the team: in order for us to be competitive in team points, we have to have competitors in every event who are striving to help the team! We automatically give up 10 points in the pole vault, and I am ok with that; it's the only event on the track where you need an implement to HELP you do the event. This week, we are going to have hurdle practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. Come and show me that you deserve a spot at our next invite!
In the 100, despite nursing a mad hamstring, Jade placed 3rd out of the second heat. She not only earned a medal, but she also scored us six points! Taylor had a great race in a ridiculously fast field, running a season PR and coming close to her Sectional performance from last year. She did this while managing a tight hip; she is SO far ahead of last year. Awesome job, Taylor!
In the 800, Aniya broke out of her comfort zone to earn a new lifetime PR of3:16, SIX seconds faster than her previous best. It was so cool to watch! Shout out to Estrella for doubling back in this race with a strong performance and helping lead Aniya in the final meters of the race. Proud of you, senior!
Our 4X200 looked so strong today, sneaking into 8th place for a point from the second heat. I did not get splits, but Kennilyn had a particularly strong leg, and freshie Niyanna looked SO STRONG on her curve. These two stepped up to help our seniors who were running on angry legs. They helped our relay run over a second faster than Wednesday. This relay is SO FAR AHEAD of last year. Once everyone is feeling good, it's going to be cool to watch them rock!
As I mentioned before, there are some heavy-hitting teams at this meet. I know that Riley saw that as she looked at the competition in her heat of the 400. Pre-race, she was nervous, but she didn't let that interfere with her performance. She got out HARD and then finished so strong (like she always does), earning a first place medal and her first sub-60 in an open 400 this year. It was a ridiculously beautiful race, and I could not be more proud of her for being so gutsy! There's no doubt that watching Brionne in the heat before inspired her. Brionne has been battling a bad back for two weeks, but she showed up HUGE today. From the second heat, she tied for 8th place (what are the chances of that down to the hundreths?). More importantly, she ran a big lifetime PR! Watching her strong posture and assertive finish was so much fun. Awesome work, Bri-Bri!
Rachel looked strong in the 200 hurdles, getting out well from the blocks (the best I have seen so far), and finishing strong. She is working on technique, and I have no doubt that she is going to keep improving in this event!
In the mile, I made the decision to sit Audrey, who is not enjoying the early stages of this respiratory infection. With her in the race, we would have undoubtedly picked up a few more points, but that is not worth it to me if it prolongs her illness. Sofia and I made a deal before her race--if she made competitive moods instead of focusing on time, we would consider her race a success. She did exactly that! Not only did she inject several pick-ups in the race, she also got out hard! Awesome job, Sofia!
In the 200, Kennilyn capitalized on an opportunity to shine. Her energy has been amazing at meets this season, and today was the peak of it! She ran a HUGE PR, dropping nearly 2 seconds in the event. Her growth in this event is so important for us being competitive in relays and sprints--proud of you, Ken!
Finally, the 4X400 was so much fun. It started before the event when freshie Niyanna said, "We should do the chants like the guys did at Lake Forest this week." She organized our crew on the curve, cheering for each of our women as they dashed by. Audrey started us so strong with a 63 low and establishing dominance. Riley did what Riley does, extending the lead and rounding out an impressive day of work with ANOTHER sub 60 performance. Lauren looked so impressive against the top talent in the state, competing hard in the final stretch to give Bri the baton even. Bri handled the stress of the anchor position with grit and grace. She pressed SO hard in this race, making the top competitors have to work to find her. In the final stretch, she finished so incredibly hard, looking so good in the final meters. She ran a new PR in the relay, running a 64! This group finished so strong in 4th and earning the team 5 points. More importantly, they ran a time that our relay didn't touch until May 4th last year. We are so far ahead of schedule!
Overall, I enjoyed the energy of this group. From the cheers of the 4X400 to the sunglasses photo shoot, to springint to the bathrooms, it was a really good day overall. I cannot wait to watch everyone race on Monday at home!
Everyone reading: We have the chance to bring THREE people in the 100, 200, and 400 on Saturday, as well as TWO RELAYS in each relay event. On Monday, show off your desire to make it to that invite! Coach Cuttill and I are looking for competitors who want to help our team shine--show up and show out!
Don't forget: We have pictures on Monday before the meet. At the meet, we need your help setting up hurdles as well as taking care of your event prep without prompting. Make sure you are looking out for one another and giving yourself the best chance to shine!
After a crazy day of weather on Tuesday, we finally got the chance to race outdoors on Wednesday. Since the meet was rescheduled and we could only get one official, we ran the meet co-ed. It was great to have the energy of the guy's team!
Although the wind was blowing hard and the temperatures were cold (especially when the sun hid), the Bees stepped up BIG! There were a TON of athletes who had their first meet ever! There were also a lot of improved performances. Here's who stood out:
In the throws, Ximena had a great day! She threw a three-foot PR in the shot and OWNED her greatness afterward! Part of becoming a great athlete is to take care of all aspects of your performance. Owning your improvements and celebrating breakthroughs really matters! After her performance, she asked for a shout out on the blog; I cannot love that enough! Keep up the positivity, Ximena. Speaking of positivity, Strickland told me that Arianna had such a positive mindset, too, throwing much further than she did in practice this week! So glad to have Arianna as part of our throws crew because she shares that positive mindset that Ximena displays.
In the jumps, we had some great news. Nyanna B. returned to the sand, jumping well in the long jump! Glad to see you shining, Nyanna! Brooke and Grace made their long jump debuts, doing an awesome job for their first time in competition. Nice job, newbees! Katelin struggled in the long jump, but she reset and had an awesome effort in the triple jump! She put together a lifetime PR of 29'7.5". Sweet performance, Kate! Mary scored a point for us in the high jump, despite the wind. Nice work, Mary!
On the track, we had SO many strong performances. Here are the ones that really stood out to me:
FYI, Audrey's mom and Jalen's (from the boys' team) dad both got some awesome pictures at the meet. They posted the pictures on our Facebook page. You should check them out! Search up Zion Benton Cross Country and Distance Crew. And if you see them, thank them for documenting our meet!
A week ago, the coaches and I discussed loading up our line-up in order to see what we could do point-wise. For the previous three meets, we had given a lot of people opportunities while limiting events for our top competitors. Looking at the results from last year at Carthage, we built what we thought was a competitive line-up. Wisconsin runs a slightly different order of events than Illinois, flipping the 3200 to the end and the 1600 to the start. This schedule difference allowed us to maximize the points we could earn from our Distance Crew, and the ability to use three "wild cards" allowed us to stack some sprinters and throwers, too. We were excited to see what our team could do on a great track and against strong competition. Then on Friday night, Coach Anderson kept sending me updates about the boys' performances at Carthage. It was so exciting to hear about the guys stepping up! Through their collective efforts, they placed 3rd out of 21 teams. All evening, I kept thinking that we could do the same--come in the top three teams.
On the bus the next day, I was excited that we had teammates like Anesa, Aniya, Melanie, and Ashley who wanted to be there to support their teammates. I was equally excited to see what our bees could do! The coaches and I challenged the women to out-do the guys: "Let's get better than 3rd place!" Everyone seemed on board with that goal, and I could feel the unity as our group took the team lap. For the first time, we were together for the whole lap, looking powerful! I anxiously awaited the start of the meet, and our first performers set the stage for the day.
Huge Performances of the Day:
This week, our focus is going to be some hard work and some team building! With the warmer weather, please pack BOTH outdoor and indoor gear for each day this week. BEE PREPARED! Also, don't forget that the deadline to order gear is THURSDAY, 3/23. Don't wait until it's too late! Click here to order!
Friday @ Highland Park:
Snow and e-Learning cannot stop track & field! This was our first relay meet and our first Friday night event, and the Zee-Bees came out fighting hard!
Our shot put relay of Ne'Zyah, Ximena, and Audreynah set the standard for the night by winning the event with their combined effort. They were all right around their PRs, which is awesome news! They overcame the Pit of Despair (if you saw where they threw, you understand what I mean), which makes their win all the more impressive. Managing distractions--whether they are physical or mental--is the name of our game! Our other field events had obstacles to overcome, too: our high jumpers had to run around a post to get to the pit, and our triple/long jumpers had a tight runway with distractions on either side. Our jumpers are making good progress despite these obstacles, and I am proud of all of them!
On the track, our 4X800 answered the call of the shot put crew, with Audrey taking the lead from the start, and Brionne, Lauren, and Riley not looking back at the competition. Notably, Brionne set a new PR of 2:49, dropping 3 seconds from last week, despite being on a shorter, and well...goofier track #iykyk. Nice job, Bri! Congrats to the whole relay for a commanding effort! Our 4X160 relay won the heat, but they got nabbed by Deerfield (who gets to practice on that track) from the other heat. I was impressed by how Taylor, Jade, Jada, and Kennilyn managed the tight turns in such a speedy race! Finally, our 4X400 dominated the field from start to finish, and I'm digging this new line-up with Audrey and Riley setting the tone and Lauren and Bri finishing strong. To run 4:35 on this track is impressive! Nice work, bees!
There were a few gutsy performances that stood out to me tonight. First, I was really impressed by the way Tyesha attacked her half lap in the Sprint Medley, and the way Kia managed her nerves in her first race as a Zee-Bee! I was really happy with the way our hurdlers attacked a new format of racing. The shuttle can make people nervous, but Sierra-Rayne, Mary, Rachel, and Tati handled this format with grace and grit. Their form is getting better every week, too. Nice work, quad! I was also really happy with how gutsy Carmella raced in the Distance Medley in her racing debut. Nice work, Carmella! Freshie Abygail also had a great day today, leading the class relay. Not only was her split strong (75 on this track!), but she also competed hard (which is what matters most). Great job in your debut, Abygail! I was really impressed by the moves by our 4X1600 relay, too. I asked them all to make competitive moves in their races. Fia started it out by passing the Highland Park racer when the pack started to split. Rachel did a great job of surging and finishing strong. Liz was outstanding at accelerating on the home stretch, as was Chey. Impressive work from everyone!
Overall, I am really happy to see our progress as a team, and I am looking forward to Carthage. The coaches and I are loading that line up with Varsity athletes only. To those of you who have not had a chance to race yet, you will have your chance when we get to outdoor in April; stay patient and hungry!
This week, we have Spring Sports Parent Night on Thursday. If you are new to ZB Athletics, please come to the PAC with a parent or guardian by 6:30. If you are a returning athlete, please arrive by 6:45. We will try to get you home quickly! Thank you for planning ahead to bee there.
Finally, keep focused on the student part of your identity. Please remember that you represent ALL of us when you move around the building. Bee on time, be a leader in the classroom, and bee curious as you study. Let's have a great week!
Yes, it was an early morning for the bus, but that facility was worth it! Our bees took advantage of the 200 meter track and really stepped up. Here's what impressed me most:
Seniors stepping up. Katelin helped our horizontal jumpers get their marks, but she went beyond just the technical stuff. She reassured newbee Sofia that she was making progress, and she reassured Nyana after a rough jump in the triple. She also deployed senior Audrey to help our brand new high jumpers get their marks and learn the ropes of this new event. Riley made everyone's head turn with her assertive performance in the opening leg of the 4X800. Jade set the standard of competing with her crazy-fast 60 and 200 performances. And Estrella showed us what track is all about--beating your previous best. What a great way for our newbees to learn about this sport!
Growth. All three of our throwers threw PRs today. Both Ne'Zyah and Audreynah's are indoor PRs, and Ximena's is a lifetime PR. Congrats to all three of our throwers for their strong efforts today! In triple jump, Katelin set a huge indoor PR of 29' 1.25"--nearly besting her outdoor PR! She is WAY ahead of schedule, which is awesome to see. Nyana set her first PR in this event, and I know that she will continue to grow into it. She shows so much promise already with her willingness to try new events. Katelin set a huge LPR in the long jump--15'0.25"! So impressive, Kate! Way to step up! And in the high jump? Freshies Mary and Niyanna both cleared 4 feet for the first time despite not having jumped into a pit yet in practice (we will get our brand new pit in a couple of weeks!). These two, along with Baakir, bravely attacked this new event in order to grow!
On the track, we had several other signs of growth. Brionne ran her first 800 to help our relay place 4th and run a 10:20--only 3 seconds off our recent best outdoors from 2018. So proud of the way this group (Riley, Lauren, Bri, and Audrey) attacked this race! Rachel ran her first 3200 and looked awesome doing so. She ran a pretty even race (6:38/6:58), and she did so by competing hard. When the very experienced runners from Maine South and Palatine came up on her, she made them work, which helped her to really attack the second mile. Her time of 13:36 is impressive for her first go, and I anticipate that she will grow in this event! Our 60 meter hurdlers also slayed today. Baakir and Tati both ran lifetime PRs. Baakir handled hitting a hurdle by being gritty and switching legs, and Tati had such an aggressive start, not to mention a clean run. Proud of both of you! Jade, Hunter, and Jada ALL ran PRs in the 60 meter dash. Impressive work by this speedy crew! As they continue to work on block starts, I know they will continue to grow. I already mentioned Estrella's LPR in the 800, but I'd like to give her another shout out here. Not only did she set a new lifetime, she did it by running negative splits (last lap was the fastest). That tells me that she is ready to start out even harder, and that her new LPR will fall quickly! Our 200 hurdlers all earned LPRs because this is a brand new event. I'm so proud of how well Baakir, Rachel, and Tati ran. Not only did they each attack the race, but they also embraced a new distance. Baakir really turned on the power coming off the final curve so that she could finish in 13th place out of 36 racers! These three are fearless and fun to watch. Our 4X200 of Jade, Kennilyn, Jada, and Taylor looked awesome today. Despite some difficulties with a handoff that was not of their own making, they fought hard and looked great, running a speedy 1:57.29. Nice work, Bees! In the mile, newbee Juliana ran a new PR, beating her previous best from practice by nearly 45 seconds and reaching her goal of touching 7, finishing in 7:46. Nice work, freshie! She did so by pulling on Cheyenne and working hard in the last laps. Speaking of Chey--she broke her indoor PR, and nearly bested her outdoor PR, missing it by only one second. So proud of your growth, Cheyenne! Jade improved her 200 time, zooming to a new LPR of 27.01 and dropping over 2 seconds. She also managed to earn a medal despite not being in the fastest or even the second fastest heat. Great work, Jade! Niyanna and Auriel both set LPRs in this event, too. I know they are only going to grow as they get used to the race and improve their block starts. Proud of you, freshies!
Pride. Mr. Niemi wants to bring back the idea of ZB Pride, and I saw a lot of it on display today. Our team made me smile before our 4X400 even stepped on the track. During the second heat (we were in the fourth), our team lined up on a curve in order to support our squad. By the time Audrey stepped on the track, our bees had spread out across the whole track in order to yell like crazy. And our actual relay? Well Audrey took off like a shot, pushing to make it to the break line first and handing off in first. Lauren pushed hard on her leg, nearly matching her outdoor best from last year. Brionne zoomed to a new indoor PR of 68! And Riley got the baton with a gritty look and attacked the first lap in 29, hunting down other teams. Our relay finished SIX seconds faster than last week and looked outstanding. Proud of you all for such a ZB Pride moment to finish off the meet. So proud of our team for uniting to cheer them on, too!
The name of this meet is the Rockford Auburn Showcase, and showcase we did! Without stacking our line up, we placed 10 out of 22 teams in this very competitive field. You can check out all the stats for the meet here. Overall, us coaches saw A LOT of great performances that have left us excited for the upcoming meets! Let's use this week to keep growing as athletes and teammates. I have a good feeling that we can do something special as a team this year. Let's start laying the groundwork for that to happen: get to know your teammates; appreciate their efforts; encourage each other to push through the difficult moments; and let's have a great week!
Nutrition Tip of the Week: Did you know that vitamin D is made in our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight? In our part of the country, it is REALLY hard to get enough vitamin D in the winter. Improve your chances by getting in the sun whenever possible, even if it's a short walk around your block on the weekends. You can also get vitamin D from foods such as salmon, tuna, egg yolks, and foods fortified with vitamin D such as orange juice, millk, and cereals. You can read more about it in this article from Harvard.
Sleep Tip of the Week: Did you know that having a similar bedtime routine EVERY NIGHT (including weekends) helps you have better sleep? Our bodies love routines, so making a sleep routine is important. I know that you are all working hard in practice, but your body does a lot of repair work while you sleep. Miss out on a few hours of sleep? Then you miss out on the hormones that are released while you sleep that help make that workout stick. You can read more about the importance of sleep in this article.