After a week of cancellations, I am happy to report that we raced twice this week! Mother Nature was not terribly cooperative. Although it was dry (thankfully), it was chilly and windy as we hosted the Wildcats on Monday. We put together a competitive lineup, and if pole vault didn't exist, we would have won the meet.
Here are some highlights from the meet:
In the field:
We lost to Libertyville, 76-70. Although it might feel like a loss, anyone who has been around this team for a bit knows that we normally would not score that many points against Libertyville, a traditionally strong team. You all should be proud that we gave them a run for their money! We are starting to build a PROGRAM, and you are ALL a part of it. So proud of you all! :)
This meet only features individual distance events (800, 1600, and 3200) and has time cut-offs. This is the first year that we had a runner who was eligible--Audrey earned a spot with her speedy 5:15 mile time from Carthage.
The temperature was nearly perfect as the sun set, but the wind gusts were still significant. Audrey made it into the "main event" portion of the meet (there were 3 heats before her in the "undercard." She was in a perfect heat to push her toward a PR, and her mindset was in the right place! Our plan was that she would sit tucked into the pack for the first 2-3 laps, letting the other girls do the work of taking the wind and setting the pace, and then she would make a move if she felt good. When the gun sounded, Audrey placed herself in an almost perfect spot: she was tucked into the pack nicely, but her long stride meant that the girls behind her kept stepping on her feet. She kept her composure for the first three laps, looking smooth as can be! I was so impressed by her splits: 73, 78 (2:32), 79 (3:51), 80 (5:11.77--9th place in her heat). I am SO proud of Audrey's performance. She could have let the day overwhelm her--she has not had anyone really challenge her in the mile all season. She used to running in the front, for sure! This race featured people all around her ability, so she had to endure a tight pack throughout the race, and she handled it like a pro! She also just got out of her own way and let herself show off her fitness. Her mindset and her hard work all season paid off with a spectacular race! The side effect of all of this positivity is that she broke the school record by nearly a second. The previous record of 5:12.6 was held by Kerri Norris for 40 years (1982). After Audrey's amazing race at Carthage, I sent her a screenshot of the record. Her reply? "could've beat that if I didn't stop at the waterfall :'(" While I asked her to appreciate the huge PR and keep the target in mind for future races, I do appreciate that Audrey is always looking to improve.
Congrats on such a FUN race to watch, Audrey! It never gets old watching you take risks and challenge yourself! And congrats on being the school record holder for XC and now the 1600.
To all of you reading: I would love to bring more racers to this meet next year, and I would CERTAINLY love to see more of our records fall. Check out the list here! We have a RICH tradition of impressive performers. Let's honor the athletes that came before us by working to reach their level of excellence!
Home meets are tough to comment upon because the coaches have to work the meet, but there were many things to be excited about.
First, we enjoyed the NICEST weather I can remember for a home meet. Usually the fog rolls in after 6:30, and we freeze in the damp chill for the second half of the meet. While the meet lasted far longer than I would have preferred, our bees stayed locked in and competed hard until the end. We are not quite ready to beat Stevenson or Lake Forest because of their depth across all events, but the scores were much closer than they usually are--we are definitely on the right path!
Here are a few performances that stood out:
Our shotput crew showed up and showed off: Ne'Zyah, Trynity, Naiomi, and Trinity all threw PRs today! Awesome work! The discus went really well, too: Our seniors Trynity and Jamison as well as Audreynah threw season PRs, while Ne'Zyah, Naiomi both threw LPRs. Our throwers earned us a ton of points to start the meet. Great work!
Our jumpers had great days in the field, too. Destiny, Katelin, Jada, and Jayla all earned new LPRs in the long jump. 4 for 4! Way to go, bees! :) Katelin doubled back to set a new LPR in the triple jump, too. Awesome double, Kate!
In the 4X800, we had a bunch of big performances. Lauren ran a huge PR of 2:31, while the remainder of her relay ran strong legs.
Our F/S 4X100 of Aniya C., Cheyanne, Jada, and Jayla ran a really impressive time of 56.2. Proud of you, bees!
Audrey did a great job winning the 3200 in her debut in the event this season. She looked powerful as she ran her new LPR of 11:38. Proud of you, girl!
In the 800, we had two newbees compete: Sheila and Sierra-Rayne. Nice work, you two! Ximena ran a HUGE LPR of 4:43, dropping 15 seconds from the week before!
We swept the 400, going 1-2-3 with Riley, Marisa, and Brionne (LPR) running so strong! We also have an emerging frosh/soph crew in this event: Destiny, Anesa, Sheila, and Heaven all are improving so much!
Treazure ran such a gutsy race in the 300. I watched her fight to catch Lake Forest's #1 in the final stretch. Although Treazure fell over the final hurdle, the fact that she got back up and still finished in 2nd says so much about her gritty mindset. Aysia, Tati, and Baakir all ran PRs, too! What a great event! :)
In the 1600, Lauren ran a HUGE LPR, breaking 5:40 for the first time! She dropped 3 seconds from her previous best, a big drop! Natalie ran big race, too, overcoming some mental blocks about the distance and coming home with an LPR of 6:17. Aubri ran an incredible race with a huge kick at the end, running a BIG LPR of 7:02. I KNOW that she can break that 7 barrier in the next race. SO proud of your fight, Aubri! Liz ran a huge race, too, setting a new LPR of 7:42. This is such a big improvement over her time trials that were in the 10s at the start of the season! What a testament to hard work--proud of you, Liz! Cheyenne was right behind her, running a great race! Finally, Aniya B. ran a HUGE race, dropping nearly a minute from indoors. Wow, Aniya! Great work!
We were having some trouble with the timing system, but that doesn't change the fact that Latavia GOT AFTER IT in the 200. So proud of your 2nd place finish, senior!
I think the most memorable moment of the meet was watching the boys pour onto the infield to cheer on our 200 and 4X400 runners. Our 4X400 ran a huge PR, feeding off the energy of the crowd. Audrey led off with a season best of 63, followed by Riley's speedy 63. Brionne came through with a 67 despite her angry shin, and Marisa closed with the boys cheering, "MAH-RIS-AH! MAH-RIS-AH!" for a new time of 4:20. Our other relays stepped up, too, with Sofia standing out with a 71 split, Destiny in 73, Aniya C. in a PR of 78, and Madison looking strong in 87. And our 3rd relay was speedy too: Sheila led with a 78, followed by Lauren's 68, Illy's LPR of 77, and Aniya B's 87! Awesome work, everyone!
You can always check out more details from the meet right here on athletic.net.
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, our Varsity crew assembled at school in order to make the trip to Springfield. The bus was early, and the drive was long, but it was all worth it! We enjoyed warmer temperatures (sunburns on Cuttill, Strickland, and I are proof that the sun was OUT) than at home and some fine competition.
We earned our first team points of the day in the shotput thanks to Ne'Zyah's 4th place performance. Bri earned a season PR and a 5th place finish to help boost our points in the disc. Not a bad way to start the meet! The competition in the jumps was the best we have seen so far, but our jumpers did a great job supporting one another and learning a lot!
On the track, our 4X800 of Sofia, Nat, Aubri, and Illy did a great job of kicking off team points by finishing in 5th place. Sofia, (2:46), Nat (2:45), and Illy (3:06) all earned lifetime PRs, and Aubri earned a season PR! Great job, pushing for each other! While all four looked great, the best moment for me was watching Illy fight back back with a girl from Homewood-Flossmoor. So cool to watch her show off her hard work in a race!
Our 4X100 was up next, and Raven, Taylor, Chaiya, and Latavia looked fantastic--great handoffs and great speed! These four earned 4th place in a very competitive field, piling on more points for our team.
In the 100 hurdles, Treazure learned a valuable lesson about false starts (not her own, thankfully!). She also looked stronger over all 10 hurdles, which is great!
In the 100, Taylor earned us more points in a very competitive field, placing 7th and tying her season PR for the event. She keeps looking better and better out of the blocks; I know she is going to make waves by the end of the season!
The 800 was thrilling to watch. Not only did Riley win the event with a huge new PR of 2:27, but she also did it with her Riley kick, hunting down a runner from SHG in the final 200. Nat also had a huge race. In the past, she was definitely a one-race kind of person at big meets. That ended today. She ran a really strong second race of the day, beating her previous PR for the second time in the same day and earning us another team point! Whenever we can stack TWO runners earning points in an event, that makes a big difference at invites. Awesome work, you two! :)
Our 4X200 of Raven, Taylor, Chaiya, and Latavia looked awesome with smooth handoffs (just like the 4X100). They broke 2:00 for the first time this season, running a speedy time of 1:57.96! This race was one of the most competitive of the meet, so the fact that our bees were right in the mix is impressive. Proud of you four!
Thankfully for Riley, the meet moved slowly, giving her valuable time to recover before the 400. Although she was still feeling the effects of her PR from the 800, she dealt with those heavy legs in order to place 4th in the open 400 and running a solid time of 64. Destiny also ran a great race, setting a new PR of 73 second! Way to go, bees!
The 300 hurdles were SO much fun to watch. This is definitely Treazure's event. In only her second time in the event, she ran a HUGE PR of 53.98, earning us a team point in 8th place. More importantly, it's easy to see that she is gaining confidence in this event. Proud of you, Treaz!
Our milers teamed up to earn us 16 points through their efforts today. Audrey led the race from start to finish. Her time of 5:27 was impressive considering that she is still coming back from a mean stomach bug and that she had no competition after the first lap. Lauren ran a great race, competing with a runner from Springfield and pulling on Audrey's lead. To take 3rd as a freshie is a big deal. Proud of both of you--way to represent for the distance crew!
Despite the wind and a busy day, our 200 runners looked amazing! Latavia matched her lifetime PR, and Raven ran an outdoor PR. Nice work you two!
Finally, our 4X400 looked impressive in a challenging field, running a season PR despite missing Marisa while they were on their college visit. Riley, now recovered from her earlier work) started us strong with a split of 63.7; her buddy Brionne ran an incredibly brave and strong leg and earned a new lifetime PR of 67.3; Audrey was rolling so strong, finishing in 65.3, and Lauren brought us home with her speediest split to date of 68.6. Our relay came in 2nd behind a jaw-dropping Chicago Kenwood team (whew they were SMOOOOOOTH). I'm so proud of the work this group put in for each other!
After a nice dinner and two weird stops for gas, we headed home with the joy of some medals as well as a 5th place finish out of 17 teams. I am really happy with the way this crew performed despite the long bus ride. There is something so intense and easy about this team. I love watching everyone compete!
In a weird twist, the weather gods smiled upon us for our first outdoor meet! Early April is usually marked by snow, wind, and cold, but we enjoyed sunshine and great competition conditions! This meet was the first time that every single bee had the chance to compete this season, and it was awesome!
Overall, the energy of our team was outstanding. During every event, our team was cheering on our competitors.This positivity coupled with competitiveness helped us beat Mundelein and Waukegan. Awesome work, bees! While I was really happy to see everyone compete, there were several performances that stood out:
In the field, we had some nice successes. Katelin won the triple jump in her debut, and Jayla and Clara made big strides in this complicated event! In the long jump, Danyel made her debut, earning a PR. Nice work! In the throws, our bees finally got the chance to throw the discus in competition. Trynity led the way in 2nd place, and we stacked all our bees in a row behind her, earning valuable team points. Nice work, women! In the shotput, Ne'Zyah showed what the coaches had anticipated for a while--that her strength and pop would make her a great thrower! She won the event while Audreynah earned a PR. Proud of our throwers!
On the track, we rolled deep, earning wins in the 4X100, 4X200, and 4X400 relays! We also earned top points in several events: 3200 (nice work, Lauren!), 100 (we see you, Taylor!), 300 hurdles (ok, Treazure!), 1600 (great race, Audge!). We also had many PRs in this meet, which is awesome! That is the goal--to keep growing in our events each week. Check out the results for each event on athletic.net here.
Overall, I was really excited to see our team compete with class and positive energy. Let's keep this momentum going! :)
We arrived early--early-early--due to bus driver shortages. And while I knew getting there early would be better for all the field event peeps as well as the 4X800, I still worried that it would be annoying to arrive before anyone else. Thankfully, Thornton was already there when we arrived. lol. As we sat at our camp, Coach Cuttill and I talked, but we also listened. We heard you look up your heats and discuss the competition. We heard you talk about spikes and tape and the smell of chlorine--NOT BLEACH. We heard you laugh and tease and chill. That kind of easiness and downtime among teammates is important. The in-between times are what help build strong teams, and I was glad that we were able to have that moment together; it was a good start to a great day.
Our field event crew looked strong today. Trinity H. looked fantastic in her competition debut. I am confident that she is going to be an important staple among our throwers. Her smile after her throws, and her intense studying of the competition tells me that she found the right spring sport! Trynity D. matched her lifetime PR, and immediately knew what to fix to make that PR even better for the next meet. Proud of you, Tryn! Naomi also threw a lifetime PR and was only a half inch behind Tryn. What I love about this group is the positive energy they provide one another. Watching them celebrate each other at practice and at meets is GIVING! These three are only a few adjustments away from scoring at bigger meets like this. I know Coach Strickland will help them get there. Way to go, bees! Check out the men's shot put at the World Indoor Championships. (I could not find video of the women...that's a blog post for another day...)
In the jumps, we were missing a few people due to vacations, but our core is improving. I watched Destiny ATTACK the runway in the long jump; she has come SO far compared to her timid run at Wheeling only a few weeks back. Once she gets that speed and the technique working together, I know she is going to make big improvements. Proud of you for taking risks, Destiny! After a sore week, Jayla looked GREAT in the long jump. She was proud that she made it in the sand AND got marks for all three jumps! She jumped a PR, too--she is now into the double digits with a mark of 10 feet, 9 inches. Way to go, Jayla! She was all smiles after her jumps, so she just needs to keep that positive momentum coming! Tatianna was our sole triple jumper today. Although she did not get a mark, she did start to learn the technique. This kid is such a courageous athlete. Last week, she braved the high hurdles, and this week, she tried the triple for the first time. I love her courage to learn new events and potentially help our team. Proud of your courage, Tati! Check out the women's long jump at the World Indoor Championships. And the triple jump! World Record by Rojas!
While these field events were rolling, the track events were underway as well. Our 4X800 relay started off strong, beating my prediction time by 2 seconds. Nice work, squad! Marisa was our lead leg on purpose. We are working on getting her to be more aggressive at the start of her 800, and leading off is a great way to make that happen. Marisa rose to the occasion, splitting a 2:45-- a season PR! They looked much more confident this week with this event, and I know that they will continue to make big gains! Marisa handed off to Natalie, who ran a strong leg for us, matching her 2:54 from last week. Unfortunately, our heat did not have a lot of competition to push Nat in the second leg. I am confident that when we head outdoors, Nat will have the breakthrough she has been looking for. In the meantime, she ran a great leg for us in the relay, and she handed off to Sofia in a great spot! Sofia took off hard and looked so strong today! She ran a pretty even race, and that paid off in a new PR of 2:51! Sofia is the PR queen, slashing time every time she races. Dropping 4 seconds in an 800 is quite an accomplishment--way to go, Fia! She handed off the baton to Adri in good position, and Adri took that energy and fueled her own PR. Last week at Maine East, she ran a great 800 leg in the relay, but she struggled with a pretty severe track cough after. It took her some time to recover, but she looked fantastic this week, dropping SEVEN seconds from her previous PR. Whew! As she gets more race fit, I look forward to watching her peel off more time. Way to go, Adri! Overall, this group did everything I hoped for--they worked hard for each other, they took risks, and they raced hard. Nice work! Check out the World Championships 800 race here! Ajee Wilson played no games--she made one assertive move and never looked back!
Our brave hurdlers looked great again this week. Both Treazure and Baakir cleared all the barriers without incident, and they did it speedier than last week. Both women earned new lifetime PRs! Treazure ran a quick 11.24, placing her 21st out of 34 racers. She just keeps improving, and I cannot wait to see what she can do when we shift to outdoors. Baakir also ran a PR of 12.1, only a few places behind her senior. Hurdles are no joke, and I'm proud of these two for working on their craft and bravely attacking the races each week. They now have the luxury of two weeks to work on technique before our first outdoor race. Check out Gabby Cunningham showing her grit by pulling off a bronze medal this past weekend at the World Championships. While you are at it, you have to see the best at indoor hurdles: Grant Holloway.
Our 55 dash speedsters looked great today, too. Taylor keeps getting better each week, looking great out of the blocks. She ran a new PR of 8.04, placing 21st out of over 50 racers. Way to go, Tay! Raven was only a few clicks behind Taylor, running a PR of 8.16! That's what we are looking for: continued growth from race to race. These two are embodying the motto for the season: Start Strong; Finish Stronger! Way to go, bees! Check out the 60 meter dash at the World Championships. And here is the men! Watch how Jacobs keeps his upper body (including his face) relaxed.
Yes, the mile was next. The line-up for Wisconsin meets puts the mile as the early distance event and the 2-mile toward the end. They also put the fastest heat first, so Audrey was our first racer. Prior to her race, we talked about possible strategies: either sit on the first place seed from Libertyville and see how the race unfolded (Audge was seeded 2nd), or take the lead from the start and push the pace. Then we saw that Bree from Libertyville was running the 4X800, and that told us what we needed to know--that she would not be fresh for the mile. When the gun sounded, Audrey took off aggressively, running a 34 for her first 200 meters. Whew! When she came through the 400 at 73, I knew she was going to run a PR, but I didn't know by how much. After running a 2:34 and holding on for her 3rd 400 with an 80, I was losing my mind! She closed strong and ran a new lifetime PR of 5:15.6--a HUGE accomplishment. This is definitely an indoor record for ZB women, and she is only 3 seconds away from stealing the outdoor record. She dropped a crazy 7 seconds over her impressive race last week at Maine East, and she did it by herself. To run this fast this early in the season says a lot about how Audrey spent her winter as well as the confidence she has hung onto since XC. I'm really proud of your growth, Audrey! Her effort earned us 10 team points, too! Cheyenne also ran the mile, and she was not to be left behind PR-wise. At Wheeling, Cheyenne ran her first ever indoor mile on that tiny track; she ran a big PR (compared to XC time trials) of 8:02. In practice, I have seen how much she has grown over the last several weeks, so entered her with a time of 7:45, assuming that she could run that time. She outdid that aggressive prediction by 3 seconds, running a new lifetime PR of 7:42! I loved that she went out aggressively; if she keeps doing that, eventually she will be able to hang on. In the meantime, I need to give her a shout out for such growth since XC. She really seems to get running now, and I cannot wait to see how much stronger she gets this season! Contrats to both of these women for their PRs!
Our next racers were the women of the 4X200. This group keeps improving; this week they dropped over 2 seconds compared to Rockford! Raven led us off with a speedy 28+ split, looking great! She handed off to Taylor who had a strong leg, helping us move up a place. Riley took the handoff and helped ensure that we would win our heat, giving Latavia the baton after a speedy leg of 28+. Latavia brought us home strong, and the relay took first in our heat. This collective effort helped us to sneak into scoring position, even though we were in the 4th heat. I'm really proud of this foursome; they placed 7th from the 4th of 5 heats (remember--the fastest heat was first!). 7th place earned us 2 team points. Way to fight hard for each other, bees!
We had the chance to use one of our wildcards in the 400, so we had 3 competitors: Sofia, Destiny, and Aniya C. Destiny and Sofia were in the same heat. Even though they both had already competed in other events earlier in the meet, they both brought the heat in their races. Having each other to pull on this freshie duo worked hard in the race: Destiny got out hard, running her first 200 in 34 seconds; Sofia was just behind her in 35. Three weeks ago, there is no way that these two would have the fitness to go out so hard! They came back strong, finishing with great form and looking confident. Sofia finished in a PR of 74, while Destiny was only a step behind in 75. Both of these bees earned PRs since they previously had matching PRs of 77. Way to go, freshies! Aniya was in a separate heat, and she improved greatly, too! She overcame some pre-race anxiety and ran a 4 second PR, to finish in a speedy 82. This freshman group is making big strides already--they are the future of our team! Keep it up, bees! Check out Miller-Uibo absolutely destroy in the 400.
The 800 was next, and Riley was seeded second in the hot heat. Based on recent workouts, I knew she was ready to drop some time in this race, but I had no idea how much. She go out well, using the other girls to help her through the first two laps. She ran great splits: 35/38 for the first 400. She started to move up in the 3rd lap, and then she made a decisive move in the last lap, pulling ahead of her competitors. She finished with that Riley kick we know and love, looking tall and strong through the line. Her previous best was 2:37 (in her 800 debut), and she dropped a crazy 7 seconds. More importantly than the time, it looks like she is figuring out what it takes to make waves in this race. Right after the race, she looked at me and said, "I think I blacked out!" When I replied that the 800 is real woman's race, she nodded her head in agreement. Like Audrey, Riley earned us 10 points with that performance, and she earned a t-shirt, too! So proud of your grit in that race, Ri-bread! Natalie was in a separate heat, and she had big expectations for herself. Her heat was particularly dense, in that it never spread out. She was jostled around quite a bit despite her best efforts, but she kept fighting to get back into the mix. Her time was a second faster than her relay split. Although she was hoping to go sub 2:50, this is the first time Nat has run two races this solid in the same meet. She also earned a season PR! It shows her strength she has gained this year. I know she will hit her goal outdoors! In the meantime, great job to both of our 800 runners.
We used our other wildcard in the 200, so we had 3 entries: Latavia, Taylor, and Jada. Our freshie earned a new PR today, shaving off 1/3 of a second compared to last week. Nice work, Jada! Taylor earned a fresh PR, too. She dipped under the 30 second mark for the first time this season--awesome work, Tay! And finally, Latavia was the leader of the trio, taking 19th place out of 59 finishers. It was close to her season PR, but more importantly, she had the new trademark look of focus on her face. What a story of growth from freshman year! I can't wait to see her race outdoors! These three looked sharp in the 200--great work, bees.
I haven't had anyone run the 3200 yet because running two miles indoors is tough, especially on small tracks. Illyana and Aubrianna have been looking REALLY good in practice, though, so I felt like they were ready. Illy was definitely battling some anxious nerves before the race, but Aubri helped her manage that like a pro. On the line, these two got out well, with Aubrianna establishing the lead for the first four laps. She helped Illy have the confidence to make a move after the first half mile. I loved the gutsiness of this move. The second half of the 3200 is a gut check, and both of our bees fought hard despite being in tough spots in the race. I'm proud of the grit of these two--this race is no joke indoors, and they represented us well. Great work, seniors! Check out the 3000 at the World Indoor Championships!
The last race of the day was the 4X400. Our line up order was a bit different this week: Audrey to Riley to Marisa to Sofia. These four raced hard for each other. Audrey got out hard with a 62+ split. A great day's work! Riley had busy day, and she showed her strength by splitting a 63+ after a 4X200 and winning the 800! She handed off to Marisa who is finding her rhythm with this race, splitting a 67. Sofia was our anchor, and after running two other races with PRs in each, she went for the trifecta, earning a new new PR of 74! Overall, our time put us in 5th place in a very competitive race, earning 4 points for our team. I'm really impressed with the way these four attacked the race--great teamwork! Check out the 4X400 from the Indoor Championships!
Overall, we placed 9th out of 18 teams. Some of these teams are really well-rounded for this early in the season. I am confident that we are going to grow into that status as the season continues. In the meantime, I am proud of the energy of this team. It's so much fun to hang out with supportive, positive people! Let's use the next two weeks to get in that work so that we are ready for outdoor. Study your events--see how the pros and other high schoolers handle their business.
And let's work on the mental game, too. I heard so many of you talk about anxiety at this meet. That is TOTALLY NORMAL. It means that you care about your performance! It also means that you are having a tough time dealing with competition/the last 2 years of uncertainty and stress. The great news is that you have chosen to be an athlete. Exercise is a great way to help manage anxiety. The problem is when the anxiety takes over your brain, and you get stuck while trying to perform. I am no doctor, but I know that The Anxiety Disorder Association of American offers some great suggestions to manage anxiety. You can also check out the infographic below to help consider the myths vs. the realities of anxiety.
Back in the day, I used to coach the distance boys, too. Our first indoor meet of the season was at Maine East. What I remembered most about the invite was that the facility was dark and dingy, and that the runners ran under overhangs on the straights. Well, the overhang was still there, but the yellowy light bulbs were replaced by bright LED lights, and the dusty ceiling was painted bright white. The brightness I felt when I walked in was not just from the renovations--I could feel a bright energy coming from our team, too.
Field Events: We started the meet off right with some strong performances in the throws. Naiomi is making huge progress as a thrower, and Trynity's mark of 8.21 earned her a medal and us our first team point of the day! Proud of you, Tryn! In the long jump, Destiny beat her previous best by half a foot--way to go! She also helped out our newest long jumper, Jayla. So proud of you for your courage in facing a new event, Jayla! You are going to continue to improve! Clara mirrored that bravery, giving the triple jump a try for the first time! She got into the sand, and she is starting to learn the rhythm of the event. Way to go, Clara! Finally, Sierra-Rayne competed in the high jump for the second time. I missed her jumps, but she excitedly showed me the video, proving that she is making progress in this event. More importantly, she was smiling and more confident today. That positive mindset is what is going to get her over the bar! The jumpers should get some valuable opportunities this week as the weather cooperates with us!
Track events: We started events on the track with the hurdles. I'm so proud of our hurdle crew! Tatiana took on the high hurdles. During her warm ups, she looked timid going over the first hurdle. When I talked with her, I reminded her that Coach Cuttill sees something special in her, and she needs to attack the hurdle like a BA! She smiled and nodded--I love this bee's mindset! She had a great run, clearing all of the hurdles! She found out some bad news post-race, though: The FAT (fully automatic timing) system did not record her race. Rather than panic, she used the second race as an opportunity to learn more. Proud of you, Tati!
Our 50 meter dash runners were next, and they looked fantastic! This was a great opportunity to work on block starts and attack a shorter event. Taylor looked fantastic, getting out well and earning a 4th place medal and earning our team 3 points. Taylor is emerging as our speedster, helping fill the void left by Aja's graduation from last year. Jada looked strong in this race, too. I know that as her knee heals up, she is going to make an impact in the shorter events for us, too!
Our 4X800 marked the start of the "regular" event line up. Natalie started us off strong, running a season PR by 2 seconds. She looked fantastic, fighting off other girls and really running like a senior. Honestly, I think Nat is ready for a lifetime PR in the next race. She recovered very fast, and she wanted to race again! Adri made her 2022 track debut as our second leg. She got out hard, showing off her wrestling fitness. Her form has improved tremendously, and it showed in her time: 3:16 (A HUGE LIFETIME PR). Proud of you, Adri! Liz was our third leg. She looked solid, but I know that she is ready to go faster, based on the workout she did this past week. She just needs to trust her growing fitness! Illy was our anchor. Sometimes the times matter, and sometimes it's the performance. Her time was actually an LPR by 2 seconds, but the fact that she was out there racing with her girls was what was most important. SO proud of your grit, Illy. :)
We had two bees in the 800. Aubri got out hard, keeping her aggressive racing streak going strong. She ran a smart race, challenging other girls and finishing with an awesome kick! Her race tactics earned her a nice season PR, only 3 seconds away from a lifetime! Proud of you, Aubri! Aniya has been getting stronger each week, running a strong race today, nearly matching her PR. Great work!
The 4X 1-lap relay (160 meters each) was next, and what fun it was to watch this crew! Raven started us out strong, moving us into a great position. Taylor looked just as speedy as her 50 dash, establishing us in the lead. Riley played no games on her leg, hugging the curves and looking impressive! Latavia was our anchor, bringing us home strong and helping us win our heat. Our time stood up to the fast heat, and this crew earned us 10 team points and themselves first place medals! Our team could not help but yell and smile after how bright our bees were shining in that race!
Our 400 runners took that energy from the relay and translated it into their own races. Destiny was up first. After a strong 400 debut last week, Destiny bested her performance by three seconds, earning a new LPR of 77 seconds. Way to go, Des! Before school today, Marisa came by my room and we talked about her 400. They said they had to get out harder, and get out harder, they did! Marisa's time was much improved--an SPR by nearly 3 seconds. Their performance earned them a 2nd place medal and 8 points for our team. Awesome work, Marisa! :)
The mile was up next, and I could not wait to see what Audrey and Lauren could do after then tore up a strength workout earlier in the week. Audrey got out strong with a Vernon Hills runner on her heels for two laps. After that, it was all Audrey. She looked so focused, hunting down people to lap and finishing strong. She earned a new lifetime PR by a few tenths. More importantly, she is WAY ahead of where she was at this point last year fitness-wise. I can't wait to see what she can do in this race with some competition! Lauren's race was equally impressive. She was seeded 7th based on her previous best time, but she did not settle. After sitting in 4th place for a lap or two, she made a decisive move to 3rd and never looked back. I was really happy to see how even her splits were--it shows her fitness for sure. She ended in 3rd with a new lifetime PR of 5:42. Way to be gritty, Lauren! This 1-3 punch earned us 16 team points. Way to go, bees!
Latavia and Jada were our representatives in the awkward open 200. Since the track is only 160, a 200 required a start on the straight and two curves. Latavia and Jada handled these obstacles like pros, though. Latavia looked awesome, earning a 2nd place medal and 8 points for our team. Jada is learning so much about indoor track--she looked great in her heat and was only 3 places away from a medal and points. More importantly, she is hungry to contribute. As she was waiting for her ride after the meet, we talked about how much she wants to keep growing. THAT is the mindset we want all season! Nice work, bees!
After the 200, it was time for the final race of the day: the 4X400. Our team was lined up to support, and Our runners did not disappoint. Marisa got us out strong with a 68 split--looking much like they did in the open 400: aggressive and confident. Riley took the baton in second place, but she was uninterested in maintaining that spot. She ATE the track, taking over first and never looking back. her 64 split was impressive! Lauren, without much rest after the mile, ran an awesome leg, keeping us in first! Audrey, in the same recovery boat as Lauren, ran a great leg, sealing the 1st place medals for this squad. Our team was so loud for each bee--screaming and encouraging them on! Our relay earned 10 points for the team total.
Overall, today's outcome was bright: We took 4th as a team by stepping up, performing hard for one another, and cheering hard for one another. The courage of people in our developing events makes me hopeful that we can start earning points in every event as we head to outdoor next month. Before I get ahead of myself, let's enjoy one last indoor competition at Carthage on Friday. This meet is the "biggest" we will attend indoors. Back in 2019--the last time we attended this meet--there were 44 teams. Whew! That kind of competition is exciting. It gives us a chance to challenge ourselves and see how our hard work and mindsets stack up. It also gives us a springboard to the outdoor season.
Goals for this week:
1. Let's enjoy the chance to work hard in some improved weather. We don't always get sunshine and temps like is predicted this week, so please seize the day! Please make sure you keep bringing layers, hats, and gloves. Even though the forecast might say 50, if the wind shifts, we can lose warmth quickly. Always bee prepared!
2. Let's support our teammates who have not yet had the thrill of competition. They are being very focused, and their time to shine outdoors is coming soon.
3. Let's take care of academics so that you can have a true break over spring break. Please talk with your event coach for details about spring break practices.
Other items you should know:
1. When we get to outdoor, the meets on Monday/Tuesday are open to everyone who has been practicing hard. The invites on Thursday/Friday/Saturday continue to be for the top two in each event.
2. The Team Gear Store closes on Sunday, March 13th. Don't forget to place your order before midnight! :)
There was a lot to be excited about this Saturday. It started with everyone coming on time for such an early bus, it continued with our team lap, it was underscored by impressive performances, and it featured unconditional support all day long. The energy this team shares is awesome to say the least! Let's get into some specifics:
Courage in new events:
First shout out goes to our jumps crew. Weather has prevented them from being able to get into the pits yet, so they have been trusting Coach White and more importantly, themselves. Sierra-Rayne did an awesome job in her debut at the high jump. All her ZB fans said she is already SO close to getting the technique right. We can't wait to see what another week of training will help her accomplish! Our two long jumpers did outstanding today; both Destiny and Katelin got in the pit. Katelin made progress with each jump, finishing with a great mark of 12'8"! Impressive work after not having jumped since sixth grade. More importantly, the way Kate's face lit up after feeling that success was priceless!
Our 4X800 featured Riley & Lauren making their high school relay debut, both helping the relay shine with their speedy legs of 2:37 and 2:43 respectively. The 800 is no joke, and these two took the responsibility of the baton seriously. Proud of you both!
Shout out to Treazure, Tatianna, and Aysia for their courage in the hurdles. It was so cool to watch each of these women clear all the hurdles and look good doing so. Our cheering crew erupted as they watched our bees shine! We will keep cheering as they keep trusting the process this season!
Naiomi made her debut in the shot put today, and she really seized the opportunity. According to Coach Strickland, she is learning quickly, and she proved it at the meet. She threw a new PR of 8.27 meters. Awesome work, Naiomi!
Destiny made her first appearance as a 400 runner today. She ran a courageous race, looking gritty the whole way. With a few more weeks of conditioning, she is going to be able to close that race the way she started it. That being said, an 80 is still a strong first effort. We are proud of you, Destiny!
Marissa W. is a newcomer to the high school 200, and she had a great first race today. Her form looked great, and she is going to continue to grow into this race as she gains more training.
Finally, Aniya B. made her mile debut today, earning a big PR of 9:20. She has been running time trials since during XC, but today she ran her fastest mile ever. She did a great job of running a pretty even race and kicking hard for the last 200. Great work, Aniya!
Moments that Stood Out:
I know I already talked about the 4X800 briefly, but it deserves some more discussion. Audrey started us out ON FIRE. She took the lead decisively (running a 68 for her first 400), and she never looked back, running an impressive 2:26 by herself. She handed off to Marisa who is a veteran of the 800. Although they were nervous pre-race, their performance proves that they set those doubts aside once they grabbed the baton. Marisa fought hard with the lead pack, showcasing their knowledge of this race. To say Marisa's race was scrappy is an understatement! They handed off to Lauren who also ran a gutsy race, and even took a second to smile as I snapped pictures. Jenna would be proud! Lauren got out hard, shrinking the gap between us and 3rd place. Finally, Riley closed our relay with guts. I like that she went out hard (first 200 was 35!), seemingly fearless of the race. She managed a strong kick, too, finishing in 2:37. Overall, our relay ran an impressive time of 10:33 and finished in 4th place out of 21 teams. Way to go, bees!
Taylor and Raven's 60 meter dash races really impressive. Taylor stayed poised after a false start in her heat and ran a great time, ranking her 30th out of 80 racers. What a great way to start off her career as a ZB! Raven also looked fantastic in her heat, and I am pleased to report that her knee was feeling good, too. Awesome work, bees!
Shout out to two XC runners in the open 800--Natalie and Sofia. They were in the same heat, and they both ran strong races. After a week of being sick, Natalie got out like a senior, establishing herself in the crowded pack, and creating some space for her race. She battled hard, really impressing me with her gutsiness! I knew that her evolution during XC would pay off this spring, but I was pleasantly surprised to see it happening so soon! It was cool to watch her embrace her strength. Sofia also battled sickness this week, but you'd never know by her race. She ran a very even race, and she had a strong finishing lap. Her smart race earned her a 4 second PR from her debut last week. So proud of your growth, Sofia! She is definitely one to watch at this distance!
Our 4X200 showed promise today, running faster than our relay ever did all last season! Raven, Hunter, Aniya, and Latavia worked well together, running 2:00! Raven started us off with a speedy split of 28, followed by Taylor's strong 30. Aniya C. pushed hard to earn a 32 second split, and Latavia brought it home with a strong 30. It was exciting to see this relay perform so well! Proud of you, bees!
Speaking of Latavia, let's talk about her performance in the open 200. I cannot help but think back to her freshman year, specifically at Highland Park's indoor meet. She was terrified to compete because she lacked track confidence. What a difference in watching her today! As she came around the second turn, our camp went wild, feeding off Latavia's intensity and focus. We watched her fight through the tape, not willing to cede the heat win to anyone. I love that fight, and I look forward to watching her continue to improve in this event. Keep it up, senior!
Finally, I HAVE to talk about our 4X400--what a thrill to watch these four embrace the challenge I posed them: to race the clock and scare some people! From the 2nd heat of 4, our bees placed 4th place, beating our entire heat, the entire 3rd heat, and half the hot heat. Whew! They were only one place away from a medal, but more importantly, they embraced this thrilling race from gun to tape! Audrey started us off like she was shot out of a cannon, establishing an early lead with her speedy split of 64. She handed off to Riley who matched Audrey's intensity and speed, looking great on the curves! Lauren took off hard, helping maintain our incredible lead. And Marisa's experience finished us strong, running hard from the handoff to the tape. Our time of 4:27 is fantastic for this time of year. I'm proud of this group for going after a difficult goal since we did not have any competition in our heat. I am equally impressed by the energy of our team on that final curve--you helped these four push when they were tired. The giving culture I have witnessed so far is how we will be able to continue to grow this season. Let's keep empowering each other through positivity.
We ended up 12 out of 25 teams today. How do we score as a team? The scoring depends on the size of the meet. Since there were so many teams at Rockford Auburn, the top 8 finishers in each event earned team points: 1st earns 10, 2nd earns 8, 3rd earns 6, 4th earns 5, 5th earned 4, 6th earned 3, 7th earned 2, and 8th earned 1. All the event points get added up to create team scores. When we get outdoors and have dual meets on Mondays, only the top 3 score points. Your job is to try to earn personal improvements in order to help contribute to team points! Want to learn more about scoring and ranking? You can check out all the results from this meet (and all the meets this season) on athletic.net. This website is a cool resource! While our team place is impressive, I am more pleased with the risks people are taking in order to grow. In the words of our seniors, Start STRONG, Finish STRONGER!
Things you should know for the upcoming week:
Last season, I was honestly just happy that track & field wasn't cancelled. After a difficult Covid winter and spring, it felt great to be together with our small team and competing. Now that we have started a more "real" season, complete with indoor, I am starting to get greedy. As the coaches and I started to build our line up for this meet, a common theme kept emerging: The team has been working hard, and we have so many diamonds in the rough!
When we showed up at Wheeling, I knew that we were asking a lot of newbees to step into uncomfortable territory. Trying a new event at a meet is a big ask, and our newcomers stepped up to the challenge. First, big shout out to Aniya C., Destiny, and Asiah for their courage in the jumps. After one practice with Coach Lee on Friday, these three were like sponges over by the sand pit--they were soaking up knowledge from the Wheeling coach as well as other jumpers. Destiny and Aniya both got into the sand with measured marks--12' 1" and 11' 9" respectively. Way to go, bees! And while we kept Asiah out of the triple until she can get more practice, she was the perfect teammate for the long jumpers--supporting them and learning the whole time.
Kudos are in order for Baakir and Aysia, too. After limited hurdle training, these two bravely stepped into the blocks for the 55 hurdles and looked FANTASTIC. With some more technique work and time, they are going to represent us well!
Other newbees who looked great and learned a lot today: Sofia, Aniya B., and Liz in the 4X800, all with huge PRs; Treazure and Baakir in the 4X100; Aniya C. in the 400; Kennilyn in the 200; Lauren and Cheyenne in the 1600, also both with huge PRs and gritty races; and Sofia in the 4X400. That is A LOT of newness in a lot of events. Despite the nerves, what I loved was that every single one of these athletes stepped up with the support of their teammates. It was great to see!
Shout out to Trynity and Bri with great starts to the season in the shot. Throwing on the South Deck without a ring is very different than stepping into the ring with crowds all around. These two threw right where they have been in practice, showing that the pressure of competition didn't phase them at all! Great work you two! Even more impressively, once they were done, they were on the curve of the track cheering on their running teammates (even though Tryn kept questioning why people run ;0). Love that energy! I'm sure Charlotte from Schaumburg would like to thank you for your cheers during the 3200 run, too.
Shout out to our veteran runners, too. Audrey had people whispering and turning heads during her lightning fast opening leg of the 4X800, smoothly running a speedy 2:27 split, and then coming back to run our fastest split (65) in the 4X400. Riley and Raven were a powerful duo in the 4X1 lap relay, looking composed during hectic handoffs on a small track. Riley came back and ran lights out in the anchor of the 4X400, destroying any hope that other teams may have had of catching us. Aubrianna looked strong in her season 800 debut, and she was a great leader for our new distance bees! Marisa blew out the cobwebs in her debut 400 of the season, looking SO smooth in the last lap! They came back for a great open leg in the 4X400, looking more aggressive and confident, which helped our freshie Sofia in the second leg. Latavia was so hyped for her 200 season debut, looking smooth despite those tight turns. Seeing her high-fiving people post-race is just the energy we need, and it shows just how much she has grown as an athlete since her freshman year.
On the bus, I said that I wanted us to have fun and learn a lot at this first meet. Mission accomplished! This week, we will continue to work on building fitness and speed while getting to know each other better! Your job this week is to work on SLEEP. Getting 8 hours of sleep consistently helps your immune system. It also allows your body to properly recover from hard workouts, so it helps prevent injuries! Make a consistent bedtime a non-negotiable! Want more information? Check out "Sleep, Athletic Performance, and Recovery" from the Sleep Foundation, or check out the video below (He makes one awkward sunglasses joke, but the rest of the information is legit!). Let's have a great week, bees!
Special thanks to Illyana and Blanca for getting splits and pictures today. Once I get my phone fixed, I will get more pics. Photo credit to Mrs. Johnson for the team pic on the main page. Go to our IG to check out more pics: zionbentonxc.
FYI, on Thursday, we have concussion baseline testing for any freshmen or juniors who have not yet done it this year, plus all newbees. You will need your chromebook for the testing. I'll let you know about location on Wednesday.