Our last week
Monday @ Grant:
We started the meet strong with the field events. Although I did not get to witness it, Lillian threw huge PRs with both implements--nice work! In the long jump, Mariah also set a new PR. She keeps improving every meet! Finally, our two brave high jumpers looked better than ever. I got the chance to see a GREAT jump by Jenna; she nearly cleared the bar, and her form looked great! Jenna and Maya continue to improve this season, and I'm excited about their prospects next spring.
The track events got started with our F/S 4X800. Aubrianna stepped up to fill Ixa's shoes (poor Ixa was battling a stomach bug), and I am thankful that she wanted to attend the meet to support her team! She was a great opening leg, looking aggressive and connected to the race. She ran a new PR of 3:07, after setting a PR only days earlier at Conference. Amazing work, Aubrianna! Katherine was second, and took a dose of Aubrianna's gutsiness. She got out HARD (88) and finished strong to run a new LPR of 3:08, dropping a shocking 9 seconds! She looked smooth the whole way, and this new PR bodes well for her upcoming summer and XC seasons. (hint :)). She handed off to Bianca, whose achilles were both still bugging her. She still ran close to her LPR, and she ran a very even race to help her team. She handed off to our anchor, Cookie, who made big gains to set a new LPR of 3:17. She dropped a huge 14 seconds, showing off her end of the season fitness and grit. I'm really proud of this foursome; not only did they run hard for each other, but they have ALL grown tremendously this season. I know that they will continue to improve this summer, and I cannot wait to see what they can do in the fall!
We did not have anyone in the 3200, so the next race was the open 800, featuring Jenna and Blanca. Jenna got out hard in 88 and closed in 98, earning her a new LPR of 3:06. She had a great finishing kick, and I'm impressed by her focused goal-setting and improvements this season; they helped her drop 11 seconds today! Awesome work, Jenna! Blanca also ran a sweet PR. She took a risk by getting out harder than usual (98), which paid off. Not only did her new time of 3:34 show off her fitness, but it also showed her mental growth as a runner. I cannot wait to see her continued progress over the summer. This race was fun to watch from start to finish!
Our milers looked great today, too. They were in the right mindset pre-race, and set some great goals. Ilyanna took a risk in her first lap to get out hard, which helped pull Nataly along, too. Ilyanna's gutsy start helped her run a new PR of 8:27--nice work! Although Nataly was not able to pull off a PR, she really ran a strong race. She challenged other people throughout, and she had a nice kick. That kind of effort is commendable!
Our distance 4X400 ended the night. Bianca got out hard for us in a poppin' 97, and handed off to Maya, who looked great, earning a 1:44. Bianca had a great comeback in this race, running a speedy 91 and looking powerful and quick. She handed it off to our anchor, Katherine, who earned a sweet LPR of 83. What a fun race to watch!
Overall, I had so much fun today...I had fun because watching all of you shine is the best payment I could earn as a coach! I love how you all supported one another and celebrated each other's victories. THAT kind of team chemistry is what can help our whole team grow next year. Let's keep that mindset, bees!
Thursday @ Antioch Sectional:
After a positive week of practice, and with relatively decent weather (the wind was not great, but at least we were dry for *most* of the meet), I was optimistic about our chances to do well at the Sectional. Certainly, the mood was better across the entire team than the previous week. Our 4X800 started us off with a strong effort. Unfortunately, our relay was in no-man's land: we were not quite ready to run with the lead pack, but we were definitely stronger than the teams behind us. Our relay of Mary, Kaila, Carmen, and Angie ran strong despite a lack of competitors. The splits were solid, right around where we have been running, but the effort was what mattered most. In particular, Mary had a strong start for us, running smart and using the momentum of the lead pack to help her run a strong split. Kaila ran a very even race, looking stronger in her second half than she has before. Carmen, in her final race of senior year, wore her "Carmen Face" for the entire 800, despite dealing with a pesky cold. During her race, you would have never known she was sick, since she made a nice dent in the gap between her and the Antioch team; there is a reason that Carmen's picture is on the GRIT Wall, and that type of racing will certainly be her legacy. We will miss you, Carmenita! Angie looked sharp with a strong first lap. She came within a second of her LPR. Her experience, along with Kaila's, will help usher in the new era of our relay next spring. Overall, this relay has made progress this year, and I'm proud of their effort.
In the high jump, Jenna and Maya finished the season strong, despite a pretty sizeable obstacle: a 4'7" starting height. Although this is significantly higher than their normal starting height, they took the challenge in stride, using the meet as another chance to gain more experience.
In the 3200, Vic and Karen had a bit more luck in that they had people in their neighborhoods to race. In her last race of her senior year, Vic ran a smart and gutsy race. She was engaged with the racers around her, made several moves over the course of her 8 laps, and finished with a strong kick. When I think about the progress she has made as a racer, I am so proud of her progress. Karen had a great first half, making smart moves against her competition.
The open 800 featured another graduating senior, Steff, as well as one of our next generation, Natalie. Steff ran a beautiful tangent on the back stretch, using Coach Wynn's advice from earlier in the season in order to pick a smart spot in the pack. She ran a strong race that exemplified this season: she was smart and finished with grit and grace. Her leadership will certainly be missed next year! Natalie has already learned quite a bit from her--in her fastest race of the season, Nat dropped a whopping 5 seconds from her previous best. She achieved it by working on her confidence, so that she could get out harder, and by kicking harder than she ever has! Nice effort!
Our final race of the distance day was the mile with Mary and Jayla. Mary ran right around her season PR with a strong first lap and solid racing between. Post-race, she felt proud of her effort, which is what I want from all of you every time! Mary has grown so much this season, working so hard to improve and to push Vic in workouts; we will miss you, Mary! Jayla suffered from the same predicament as our relay: she did not have an immediate competition to work with. That being said, she did a nice job of pushing herself in order to run a solid race.
Although I would rather have another week of racing, I feel good about the conclusion about the season, and I hope you do, too! Let's celebrate the season this Thursday at 3:00 in the Lecture Hall. Please bring your CLEAN uniform and warm-up to turn in at that time. Take a break from running, and be ready to begin again June 1st. I will let you know when we will have our XC 2019 meeting. Until then, finish the school year strong. :)
Thursday @ North Suburban Conference Meet:
Once again, Mother Nature insisted on being a factor at a meet. When we arrived at Lake Zurich, the weather could only be described as dreary. A light drizzle was falling, and the temperatures were not ideal. What impressed me was that I did not hear a single distance runner complain; instead, you all made fast work of setting up the tent--along with your other teammates--and settled in to stay warm for a bit. Thankfully, the rain finally left the area, as the field events began, but a chilly breeze replaced the precipitation. Thankfully, you all are pros at warming up and staying that way pre-race, and I knew that you would not let the weather become a factor for the day. Thank you for keeping that "All weather is ZB weather" mindset!
Our JV 4X800 started the running events for the day. Delilah, battling the 800th round of the flu that has hit our team, battled bravely as our lead leg. She handed off to Angie who ran a solid race...a PR as a relay split! She passed the baton to Elyssa--who is slightly further in the flu-recovery process than Delilah--who looked strong. She ran close to her season PR, and looked aggressive the whole race. Aubrianna was our anchor and looked sharp. Not only did she run a huge LPR, but she also finished strong by running pretty even splits (92/96). This group beat my predicted seed time by a second, and they worked well as a unit. Nice work, women! Our Varsity 4X800 also beat the seed time, setting a season PR of 11:31. Mary ran a strong first leg--ignoring her stuffy nose--finishing a second off of her season PR (2:45). She handed off to Carmen who had that Carmen look the whole way. She pushed hard to keep us in the scoring mix, finishing in 2:59. Kaila had a nice break through today. She did it by focusing on the race and reeling people in aggressively. These tactics helped her set a new season PR of 2:48--nice work! Finally, Angie brought us home with a gutsy race. She battled the Stevenson runner valiantly, finishing in 3:00. Overall, this was a solid race, and I am excited to see what this group can do next week!
The 3200 was next, and Karen ran in the JV heat for us. Pre-race, both Vic and I were concerned because Karen's body language did not portend a strong race. As soon as the gun sounded, she proved us wrong. She darted to the front, doing battle with the front-runners for most of the race. She came through the mile in 6:47 (near her season PR), and looked great for her final kick. Overall, she definitely had the race of the day, looking gutsy for all 8 laps, and finishing with a brand new LPR of 13:59.18 (FAT). I know that if she is feeling healthier at Sectionals (also a flu-victim), she will be able to shave off even more time. Proud of your effort, Karen! Vic was in the Varsity race and ran near her lifetime (13:13), and kept battling to make contact with her pre-race plan. We had a great talk post-race about getting back to basics this upcoming week, and I anticipate that she will have an amazing race at the Sectional, reminiscent of her awesome Regional and Sectional finish during XC.
In the open 800, we had two JV racers: Emily and Jenny. They got out strong at the start, and Emily made some smart moves on the back stretch to push herself out of her comfort zone. She ran a pretty even race (90/98) and looked great in her kick. She was rewarded with a huge LPR of 3:08. I'm really proud of Emily's progress over the course of this season; she has grown so much as a runner! Jenni looked great during her race as well. She was a little uneven (97/1:51), but I love that she got out so aggressively. With another year of experience, she will be able to hold that pace next season! She finished with an open 800 PR, only seconds away from her relay PR. Nice work, Jenni! Our Varsity racers--Kaila and Natalie--also looked strong. Kaila put in a solid day's work, running only 4 seconds off her relay time and finishing with a great kick. Natalie, in her only race of the day, set a new LPR by kicking hard and staying focused throughout the race. This freshie keeps improving, which is what we want!
By the time we got to the mile, the temperatures were definitely chillier, but our racers were ready to go. Di and Aubrianna were in the JV race. Aubrianna made some early moves that helped pull Di along--great team racing! Di beat her season PR, looking strong in 7:09. With a longer kick, she can definitely break 7 (hint--come next Monday for that last chance TT!). Aubrianna--after a PR earlier in the day--had a strong race to match her lifetime PR of 7:15. Overall, these two fed off each other to make for solid racing. In the Varsity heat, Mary and Jayla got out well and looked aggressive in the first half. Mary's illness and Jayla's knee definitely got in the way of PRs, but they both battled well in the latter half of the race. I know that with a little rest, both of them should look sharper at Sectionals.
Finally, we had a strong showing in the all-distance JV 4X400. Jenna started us strong with a zippy 81, looking great for the whole race. Elyssa, taking the place of an ailing Delilah, ran a strong second leg for us. Her turnover was great, and she finished with a split of 82. Ashley was our 3rd leg, looking open and strong the whole way, pushing for a poppin' 84. Angie was our closer with a zesty 83. Overall, I could not be prouder of this group. They had my adrenaline pumping because they were all ready to take on the challenge of the race, and their positive mindsets shined the whole way. All four women set LPRs in their races, which is all a coach can ask for!
Overall, I was pleased with our efforts at the meet, but I am not yet satisfied. Saturday's workout made me hungry for more. I know it was short, but it really showed me that you are ready to run FAST. I loved watching you all fly down the back of the track and whip around the last curve to the finish. You are simply ready to have some great races. Your job this week is to let your mind match your fitness.
A great week of Racing (minus one)
Tuesday @ Mundelein with Warren:
We were lucky to have a beautiful evening of racing on Tuesday. The weather was mild, the competition was great, and our distance crew was ready to race! Due to Lake County falling on a Thursday, I scheduled our Varsity runners to get some speed, so most were racing under their normal events. We had two 4X800s with one PR in each. Delilah continues to perfect her kick, shaving off another second to earn a new LPR of 3:07. Katherine looked smooth and confident for her whole race, earning a new LPR of 3:14. There were a few other bees whose times did not reflect their grit during the relay. Steff and Karen were both fighting off illness and still ran strong for their relay, and Cookie ran through her leg injury for her team. Overall, these relays looked strong.
Our Varsity 4X800 line up ran some speed in the 4X100 and 4X200 and looked impressive getting that turnover! More importantly, I appreciate that Mary, Carmen, Natalie, Angie, and Kaila were so open to giving the sprint relays a try. Nice work, women! Kaila, Carmenita, and Mary shared the same mindset in the open 100 (no blocks required). Again, getting in that speed matters for some sharper 800 races at Lake County, Conference, and Sectionals.
Our open 800 crew looked awesome today because they worked as a pack to improve. Elyssa was our first finisher, looking much stronger than in past weeks. She ran an even race (92/94) to finish in 3:06. She pulled Jayla to a nice time of 3:07, looking the healthiest she has been since indoor. Jenna, Karen, and Emily were only steps behind in 3:09. Jenna's PR is huge; not only did she drop 8 seconds over her previous PR, but she also looked strong in the final stretch. So proud of your continued effort, Jenna! Emily's PR required a 12 second drop--yowza! Clearly we have the few little injuries that were creeping up in check, and Emily seized that opportunity to race hard. Overall, this was just a fun race to watch from start to finish--nice work, bees!
The mile crew did not want to be outdone by the 800 crew, so they ALL ran PRs. Talk about fun to watch! Vic was our first finisher in an "under" race for her. We wanted to work on her racing tactics, and it definitely worked. She battled a girl from Mundelein throughout in order to earn a new LPR of 6:11. Congrats! Aubrianna was our next finisher. She dropped 6 seconds to set a new LPR of 7:16. She had a great kick, and she was a beacon for our other bees. We had a great pack that worked together to earn new PRs. Ashley was the leader, and her new PR of 7:41 was a huge drop! Her previous best in a track race was well over 8. Awesome work, Ash! Jenni, who broke 8 last week, decided to PR again, earning a new LPR of 7:44. Her kick was amazing, and she helped pull Bianca and Ixa to huge PRs, too. Bianca was so close to breaking 8 at Libertyville (8:01), and she overcame her sore Achilles and knee to drop a whopping 15 seconds to earn her new LPR of 7:46. Not only did her form look great, but she also finished with a strong kick. Awesome work, Bianca! Ixa had a HUGE race too, dropping TWENTY-SIX seconds to break 8 and earn a new LPR of 7:47. When we talked about it the day before, she said she knew she would be able to break 8, and her confidence showed for all four laps. Nataly J. went out more aggressively than ever before, pulling off that impressive pack in front of her. She was so close to breaking 8 (8:03), and we all know she will do it soon! Illyana was our final bee in the race. She did drop 10 seconds to earn a new LPR of 8:30. More importantly, she was able to pinpoint what she needs to work on in order to keep dropping time. I am proud of her honesty! Overall, this mile group made my night--not only did they all seize the opportunity that the mild conditions provided, but they worked together to make each other shine. Awesome work, bees!
Finally, we had two 4X400 relays with some speedy times. Mary looked strong with what must be a PR of 72. Natalie continues to improve her speed, running a speedy 77. Kaila rounded out her day of speed by dropping a sweet 75. And Carmenita rounded out the essay with a solid 79, keeping the whole relay sub-80. The good news is that all this speed will help the relay get even speedier in the 4X800. Our other relay looked strong, too! Vic took the line shortly after racing the mile to pop a 79--nice, gritty effort! Delilah looked so strong in the home stretch, earning a zippy 82. Di looked strong despite getting over being sick, earning an 89. And finally, Blanca looked awesome as the anchor, working hard to earn a 93.
Overall, I like how this group is growing together and showing outstanding sportsmanship. Mundelein was the only team with 3200 runners, but our team was out there cheering them on. That spirit is why distance running is such a beautiful sport: you can cheer for others while working on your own goals. That positivity is contagious, and it can only help our performance. Nice work, bees! Quick note: you all know by now, but we lost the Tremper meet. I am working hard to rectify that for next year. In the meantime, we will make the most out of JV Conference (Thursday, 5/2) and Antioch F/S (Monday, 5/6).
Thursday @ Lake County Invite--Lake Zurich:
After a weird start to the day (never have I ever experienced a school year with THIS many unexpected days off) that included a chemical spill that closed school for the day, our bees found a way to step up. Thankfully, the weather held on Thursday to provide our racers with a great opportunity. All four of our 4X800 looked sharp at the same time which helped us run our fastest time of the year: 11:33. It started with a nice breakthrough for Mary, who got out hard in 79 and closed in 84 to earn an SPR of 2:44. Her race looked much more like what she is capable of, and I know that she will be ready to be even more aggressive at Conference. She looked great on Tuesday, she had a fab workout on Saturday; she is ready to drop more time! She handed off to Natalie, who dropped another second for a new LPR of 2:55. Her form looked fab, and she ran evenly: 86/89. I know that she has more speed in her, and look forward to her dropping more time next week! Carmen was our third leg, getting out strong in 81! Her second lap (specifically, the last 150) will be stronger next week (especially after seeing her slay the workout on Saturday). In the meantime, she looked awesome today, returning to her Carm-faced self, and only one tick away from her LPR. Anie was our anchor, getting out equally strong (80) and closing well. Her split of 2:57 was her best in a relay and close to her open best. I know that she will continue to improve in this event, and I'm impressed by her poise in her first outdoor Varsity invite. Overall, our team PR was by 19 seconds; we are out of our "stuck" mode! Nice work, women!
Both Karen and Vic were in the same heat of the 3200. Both women looked focused and loose before the race, and they got out hard at the gun. Unlike last week, there were plenty of racers who were willing to set the pace of the race. Vic got out hard and ran really even splits: 88, 96, 99, 1:41 (6:24) 1:40, 1:43, 1:44, 1:38 (6:45). This smoother race allowed for a new LPR of 13:09. More importantly, Vic's time was created by simply racing. Last year at this time, she was running in the 14s repeatedly and never looked looked responsive to other racers or cheering. This year is a different year! She used her teammates as a guide, and she definitely used the competition to keep her focused. Proud of this great race! Speaking of proud, before the race, I asked Karen how she was feeling. She told me that she did not feel better than Tuesday, but she wanted to give racing a go. That takes guts to commit to a race, knowing that illness would likely interfere with PR goals. She wisely told me that she could still work on other goals like passing and form. She put these ideas to work in her race, working up to another athlete and passing with authority! Although her finish time does not reflect her grittiness, anyone who witnessed her race knows that Karen was awake and working beyond her comfort zone. Proud of your tenacity, Karen!
The open 800 gave Steff a chance to work on form and turnover. Not only did she look strong, but she dropped a season PR of 3:03. I know she wishes it was faster, but I need her to know the calming force she provided Natalie by simply running hard. Proud of you, Steff! Natalie doubled up in a Varsity invite for the first time. Although she was not happy with her time outcome, she was quick to learn from her mistakes, and I know she will continue to improve this season!
Our milers looked impressive tonight--each earning PRs. Mary got out hard, pulling through the open lap in 84. At the half, she was in good shape to break 6. Her third lap is definitely where she needs to continue to improve (97), but I was pleased with her engagement at this point in the race. Her final lap of 93 was better, but I know she has more speed in her. That being said, she earned a nice SPR of 6:07; I know that she has more in the tank, especially after the 400 cut down from Saturday. Jayla, after a prolonged illness, was ready to revise her PR in the mile. She got out very aggressively in 89 and was not far off her 800 PR at the half: 3:08. Like most people, her third lap was her slowest (1:48), and she brought down her last lap slightly (1:46). That all added up to a big LPR of 6:42, a 10 second drop! She looked much smoother than in Tuesday's race, so I am confident that she has finally overcome the virus that kept her down for so long. More importantly, she capitalized upon her Varsity opportunity. Proud of you, Jayla!
Finally, I need to give a shout out to Carmen for stepping up to race the 4X400 after one of the sprinters was unable to get to the meet. Not only did she run a nice leg (78), she gave three other bees the chance to race the relay! Nice leadership, Carmenita!
A quick note about Saturday. You all looked FIERCE in this workout. Not only did you embrace the cut-down, but you all looked SMOOTH! You are fit, and our last few meets should be a celebration of that fitness. Let's smash some more PRs!
And weird weather continues
Monday...Nope! Tuesday @ Home vs. Stevenson and Lake Forest:
After a record seven inches of snow on Sunday, we were forced to postpone our only home meet for a day in order to let the snow finish melting. Unfortunately, Monday's weather was the best of the week, with blue skies, plenty of sun, and absolutely no wind. THe track was completely clear by race time, but the field events were still sloppy and snow-covered. The distance crew stepped up to handle the delay, enjoying a beautiful run on Monday and racing hard with PRs all over on Tuesday. We started strong with some great PRs in the 4X800. Steff earned a season PR of 3:08, while the following bees earned lifetime PRs in their relays: Vic 2:54; Natalie 3:00; Marissa 3:05; Jenni 3:24; Bianca 3:25; Ashley and Ixa 3:27; Dianna 3:31; Blanca 3:44; and Nataly 3:45. The runners who did not PR were awfully close, and everyone looked aggressive and confident getting the baton around the track.
We had three women take on the 3200, and they all earned PRs, too! Kaila was our first finisher, running an even and focused 14:23. Carmen was not far behind, earning a PR of 15:05. Di was our final runner, gritting her way to a 15:54 finish, a 6 second drop from her effort at Carthage. Overall, these three looked strong and earned some valuable strength from running an over-distance workout today.
The open 800 was speedy and just a flurry of PRs. Mary was our first finisher, earning a season PR of 2:52. Angie had a beast of a race, finally breaking the 3:00 barrier by finishing in 2:54. Karen worked on her speed with a PR of 3:00. Elyssa was only a beat behind with a PR of 3:02. Jayla, looking more healthy than she has in quite some time, ran a PR og 3:03. Angy T. ran a huge PR, finishing in 3:15. And Katherine, bouncing back from her performance in the 4X800, earned a new PR of 3:17. It was so exciting to see this group push so hard, helping one another and kicking like mad to earn all these improvements. Congrats on all the growth!
The milers did not want to be left out of the PR-fest. By this point in the evening, the temperature had dropped and the cool wind from the lake was not pleasant. This gritty group ran a cross-country style race with Varsity and JV combined to run a giant race, and that competition helped everyone. Karen was our first finisher, earning a new LPR of 6:40--great work! Jenna earned a season PR of 7:08 with a great kick. Natalie, although nervous about the longer race, looked awesome--earning a speedy 7:15. Delilah looked awesome earning a new PR of 7:20. Jenni reached her goal of breaking 8 by smashing that barrier and finishing in 7:55. It was so awesome to see everyone helping Jenni reach her goal and then celebrating the accomplishment after! Dianna was not far behind, shedding tons of time to earn a new PR of 8:10. Ixa looked incredibly strong only a few steps behind in 8:13. Her new goal is to join Jenni and go sub-8. Nataly, in a true tribute to continued hard work paying off, ran a speedy 8:16 for a new PR. Angy T. continues to improve, earning a new PR of 8:38. Illyana was only steps behind, matching her LPR of 8:40. Overall, it was exciting to watch this race because the teamwork and grit combined to create impressive results despite the cold. This race is a great example of runners controlling what they can and not worrying about the uncontrollable like the weather.
We had some speedy PRs in the 400 and 4X400 as well. Vic ran a strong 77 in the open 400, then came back with a new PR of 76 in the 4X400. Jayla finished a great day, earning a new PR of 80 in her relay, while Angie R. was only a tick behind with a PR of 81. Aubrianna is finding her speed, too, earning a PR of 82. Ashley is looking more like herself again, earning a speedy PR of 84. Bianca's speed has been steadily improving, too. She earned a new 400 PR of 91. Blanca, who was running her Paavo 400s over 2:00, ran a huge lifetime PR of 92. I am so impressed by the Distance Crew's willingness to embrace speed in the 4X400.
This meed made me proud; you all dealt with the weather like champs, and you supported one another in order to improve. You coached one another so that I could effectively manage the meet. Overall--this was a great day despite the cold. Great progress, bees! Let's keep it rolling!
Thursday @ District 117 (Antioch) Invite:
Mother Nature was still not super-cooperative on Thursday night: the evening was overcast with a chilly wind from the north. The good news was that aside from a few moments of spitting rain, we stayed dry all night, and our bees seized the opportunity to step up. Our 4X800 was up first, and this group looked solid, but a bit tentative. Here are the stats: Mullins 2:52; Morales 3:01; Luell 2:56; Rivera 3:00. The times are decent, and I know that they will drop in the coming week. After the quality ladder last Saturday, and some sharpening speed this week, I am confident that these women will be able to get out more aggressively and hold on for the second lap. The 800 is a tough race because it requires speed, strength and courage. I know we have the last two; the speed will kick in this week! The highlight of this race is that each woman kept focused and did make a dent in the gap between us and the next team. That kind of tenacity will pay off in the coming weeks; stay patient and hungry!
The 3200 was next, and I was excited to see what Karen and Vic could do. Prior to the race, we looked at the seed times and saw that there would be great competition for both women. We anticipated that the freshman from McHenry would get out hard, but when the gun sounded, no one stepped forward to lead the pack. Vic sat patiently at the front, knowing that that pace was slow, and Karen capitalized on the situation by working with the lead pack. After a lap, the Waukegan runner took off, and Vic waited patiently until I told her to go. She then worked for several laps to reel in the Waukegan girl, eventually passing her on the 7th lap. The 8th lap was ALL Vic, accelerating each 100 meters, and kicking hard in the final straight. She earned a new lifetime PR of 13:12, running perfectly even mile splits of 6:36. More importantly, she earned her first race win ever, gaining valuable confidence that will serve her well as she chases her big goal this season. She looked tuned in the whole time, and I know she can easily run faster this coming week. Karen had an awesome race, too, earning a HUGE PR of 14:11, by dropping 19 seconds from her previous best last year at the Sectional. Karen stayed focused during the entire race, running a strong 6:53 for the mile, which is not far from her PR in that race. This all shows me that Karen is ready to drop even more time. If she can work to keep every lap sub-1:50 and find two more seconds in her kick, she will easily go sub-14. Goals for this coming week! These two races left me hyped for the rest of the meet!
The open 800 did not disappoint. Kaila improved over her first race by going out with equal speed (83), but holding on to run a stronger second half. She finished with a new season PR of 2:55. More importantly, she was able to articulate her goals for improvement almost immediately after her race. Some shorter speed on Tuesday will help her feel ready for our bigger meets later in the week. I cannot wait to see her drop some more time! Natalie ran her first varsity race with courage. Although she was nervous before hand, her team and her brother were on hand to help her work through the nerves to run a new PR of 2:56, breaking through that 3-minute barrier. She looked calm and kicked hard in the second half to earn this PR. I know that she will continue to improve as the season continues, and I'm proud of her for stepping up to take on this challenge.
Our final distance race of the day was the mile. Mary was our first bee, and she got out well in 87. Her race illustrates our goal in the last few weeks: to work on slowing down LESS. If she can get that second lap in the 90s rather than the 1:40s, she will be sub-3:00 at the half, and well on her way to her mile goals. She has trained better (and longer) than any previous season. In the last few weeks, she has been able to keep up with Vic on recovery days, which shows that her fitness is there; I am confident that she will be able to have some drastic drops in the mile very soon. Last Saturday, she persevered despite a Jack-induced fall in the first 150; that kind of grit is what it will take to go sub-6. I know she can do it! :) Steff was our other racer in the mile. Her come back from a rough hip injury from last year has been much slower than she wanted, but she has displayed an amazing patience, and it is paying off. Her goal was to go sub-7 today, and she did it by 6 seconds. Her race was pretty even, and she never checked out of the race. Although I know she would like to be further along, she looks so much stronger than during XC season. I am so proud of her grit during her comeback, and I am confident that after having reached this goal, she will be hungry to improve even more.
Overall, the Antioch Invite was a great night. I enjoyed watching you all support one another, and celebrate each other's successes. I also revelled in your desire to grow, which is the whole reason we are here. Let's keep that fire for the upcoming week, and keep looking out for one another!
A tale of two seasons
Monday @ Libertyville
The sun was shining, the temps were in the low 70s, and the Distance Crew definitely seized the opportunity. While the performances were strong today, what impressed me most was the community of support you all created for the day: Emily's enthusiasm when she stepped in to fill Aubrianna's 4X800 spot; Jenna's encouragement of Angie's time goal in the 3200; everyone's frenzied cheering for Karen in the open 100; Illyana's willingness to step up to run the 4X400 for Steff. I know that doesn't cover it all, but I want you to know that I am proud of the culture that you are all contributing to. Current psychology research shows that the people you surround yourself with have a tremendous influence on your own success. If we can continue to foster this positive vibe, we will continue to improve individually and collectively. Want to read more about how to elevate your team support? Check out this Forbes article.
As for the actual races, there were several that stood out today. Both our 4X800s were strong, but there were several PRs for the day. In our first relay, Natalie had a nice breakthrough, running an impressive LPR of 3:03 (91/92). She looked even the whole way, and her splits support the anecdote. More importantly, Natalie had a confidence I have not seen before, and I'm proud of her for taking the risk to push herself! She handed off to Carmen who ran an equally strong race. Anyone who saw her was impressed; she had her focused "Carm" face for the whole 800 meters, and her form was on fire. She ran a new PR of 2:55 (I'm pretty sure this is lifetime) with an aggressive first lap of 83 and closing in 92. That first lap is important--it shows Carmen's confidence in her fitness. Based on recent workouts, I know she will be able to bring that second lap into the 80s, which will help our relay become more competitive. In the meantime, great work, Carm! Our second relay had a PRfest, which was fun to watch! It started with Delilah running an aggressive 3:08. She got out hard in 88 and closed in 1:40. I love her first-lap confidence, and I know that she is going to keep bringing that second lap down, so she can dip under 3:00--a great goal for her to work toward. Elyssa could not help but be energized by watching Delilah's race. Her first lap was a solid 92, and her fitness showed with her second lap of 97. She finished with a match to her LPR of 3:09. After Saturday's ladder, I'm confident that Elyssa can cash in on her new speed and couple it with her strength to also bet 3:00. Ixa was our third leg, and her from looked strong throughout her race. Her first lap was a speedy 1:41, and she closed in 1:53, to finish in 3:34, only two seconds off her LPR. She handed off to Jenni, who ran an LPR by one second: 3:30. Her first lap looked incredible in 97. If she keeps working hard (which she always does), she will be able to get that second lap (1:53) closer to the first and drop more overall time. Overall, our two relays left me inspired to watch our two-milers!
Mary and Angie represented us well in the 3200 meter run. Mary asked about a goal time before her race, and I said I thought she was in shape to break 14. She made that hypothesis a reality by running a focused, even race. Every lap, her form looked great, and she smashed my expectations by finishing in 13:47, despite the warmer weather. Her mile splits were 6:44 and 7:03, and she closed in a 98 for her last lap. More impressively, she took on the challenge of an open 200 (32) and came back in the 4X400 with a split of 79. While the 3200 is not her normal race, her hard work today will pay off later; she got a blend of strength and speed today that will help her finish the 800 and mile more effectively in later races. I'm really proud of her effort and mindset today--she has definitely grown over the years as a racer, and it showed today for sure. Angie had the same mindset in her race. She got out aggressively, and came through her first mile in 7:21; she closed in 8:03. Her finish time of 15:24 was close to my pre-race suggestion. More importantly, her race was a tribute to her grit. Despite her knee acting up, Angie kept pushing herself to stay ahead of a Libertyville racer who made several attempts to make up the gap between them. Angie used our feedback to keep pulling ahead. Overall, these two racers really made me proud today!
Due to some changes, our only 800 racer was Jenna, but she took on the challenge without complaint. Our bees circled the track to help Jenna out during her race. She got out in a strong 92 and finished with a new LPR of 3:17. I know that Jenna will continue to improve as we move through the season--have you heard her thoughts of the day? That mindset cannot help but offer up growth all season. :)
Our milers gave us a strong finish to the distance races of the day. What I appreciated was the dynamic of each of our racers: Karen did a great job of leading our pack; Steff and Jayla pushed each other throughout; Bianca led our second pack; Nataly kept moving up throughout the race; Blanca took great risks. Overall, it amounted to a season PR for Steff, and three huge lifetime PRs. First, Bianca dropped some significant time to earn a new LPR of 8:01. Way to go, Bianca! Nataly was next, finishing with a strong kick to earn a huge LPR of 8:29. Blanca made the biggest gains, dropping her LPR to 9:11. All three of these women allowed their fitness to shine and overcame pre-race nerves to do so. Way to go, women--I'm proud of you!
We only had two distance 4X400s today, and the times were solid. Shout out to Kaila for the fastest split of the day--a zesty 74!
Overall, we had a great day. I need you all to build on our success by identifying and celebrating your strengths. What are you good at so far? Are you positive before your race? Do you do a great job of lifting your teammates? Do you have a great first lap? Are you good at passing people mid-race? Do you have a killer kick? Once you have decided on your strength, then be honest and think about your weak spot. Once you have figured it out, let's talk and make a plan to work on it.
A quick shout out to you all for your flexibility this week. The weather (sleet and hail on mid-week, a cancelled meet on Friday, sunny but cold on Saturday) has been very Illinois-y, but you have all been champs about working through it. Let's keep that mindset of seizing great weather opportunities when we can, and being smart when spring looks more like winter.
On that note, there is a VERY good chance that our meet will be moved to Tuesday. Please prepare for practice AND a meet for Monday: bring clothes for both just in case. I look forward to seeing you race, no matter which day it is! :)
Outdoor Racing begins!
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019 @ Waukegan High School with Lake Zurich
I was so excited to see our whole team finally have the chance to show off the fitness we have been working on. While it was a bit chilly, the sun kept peeking out from behind the clouds; the weather was certainly better than most at most meets last year.
We started strong in the 4X800 with two teams competing. Our first crew of Kaila, Mary, Carmen, and Angie all looked tough. Kaila led off with a solid 2:56. She got out in sub 80 (79), which is the direction she needs to move to get her overall split down. I know that she will get her second 400 down when she is finally over this silly virus she has been working through. Mary (if the stats are correct) ran a negative race: 91/81. She looked strong for the whole race and ran the fastest split on the relay--2:52. Carmen looked strong, too. She got out well in 88 and closed in 98. Based on her workout on Saturday, I am confident that she will be able to close that split gap and go sub-3 very soon! She handed off to Angie--who by her teammates' accounts had beautiful form the whole way--looked great as our anchor. Her splits (88/1:45) were solid, but I know she will get that second split back to normal when she bounces back from her spring break trip. Our other relay of Elyssa, Aubrianna, Illyana, and Delilah also looked strong. Elyssa was our lead leg and started us strong with a 3:09 (92/1:43); she looked aggressive and focused as she handed off to Aubrianna. Aubrianna ran a much more even race today, compared to indoor: 92/1:43. She ended with a solid time of 3:15. She handed off to Illyana, in her racing debut. She ran pretty even splits (1:43/1:55) to finish in 3:38, a great starting point! After watching her in the workout on Saturday, I know she will drop some serious time from this effort very soon! Delilah was the anchor, and she ran very evenly (93/98) to run an new LPR of 3:11. Nice work, Delilah! Overall, we looked solid in the relays, but the competition was spread out. I definitely looked forward to seeing us compete in open events that are more closely contested.
In the 3200, it was obvious that LZ's top to girls were doing a tempo workout. Our girls went out with the next pack and competed well. Vic moved up smartly throughout the race, and ran a really even race: 90, 99, 1:41, 1:42, (6:32) 1:42, 1:44, 1:45, 1:38 (6:49). These splits reveal a few things. First, Vic had a real kick, which has been a weak spot for her in the past. Second, it shows her fitness that she was able to keep all of her splits at 1:45 and under. Based on the Paavo work we have done as well as Saturday's workout, I know she will be able to drop that average when she races this distance again. Karen ran within a second of her season PR, and ran pretty even splits as well: 96, 1:48, 1:51, 1:51, (7:06) 1:54, 1:55, 1:57, 1:46 (7:32). Like Vic, she did a nice job picking it up on her last lap. I am confident that she will drop some serious time after seeing her strength on Saturday. She looked healthy and assertive which will help her in future races. Nice work to these two!
The open 800 had a big posse from us, so there ended up being two heats. Shout out to Ashley for stepping up to race in the Varsity heat with Jenna and Di. These three worked so well with each other throughout the race, switching leads and pushing one another through the finish. Although the times were not blazing, their racing tactics were outstanding. Nice work, women! In the JV heat, we got to watch a big pack that also worked well together. Shout out to Natalie Fig for leading this pack, running an impressive 3:11 for her first track race of the season. She looked smooth and focused from gun to finish! Jenni, Katherine, Ixa, Bianca, Dianna, Angie, XC Nataly, and Blanca were all newbees to racing, too. Like in the first heat, this group worked well together to push through the discomfort of a first race. Shout out to Ixa for a particularly impressive kick! I know the hard work of this weekend will help this group continue to improve. In the meantime, I am proud of this group's tenacity!
In order to work on her speed and kicks, I sent Vic to the sprinters for the open 400. She took on the challenge with an open mind, running a speedy 79. She is getting better with turn over, and this race showed it! Nice work, Vic!
The mile also had a big pack like the 800. Mary was the first bee, running a season best of 6:19. She looked sharp and even the entire race. Kaila was not far behind in 6:48, a solid day's work after running the 4X800. The last bee under 7 was Elyssa with a new lifetime PR of 6:59. It was so good to see Elyssa racing so well. After an injury-riddled XC season, her hard work and dedication are paying off finally! Carmen was not far behind her in 7:06, with perfect form on the kick. Angie was only seconds back from Carm, kicking with noteworthy speed! In her mile debut, Aubrianna was close to Angie, making moves in the second half of the race to run a new lifetime PR of 7:22, shaving just under a minute from her previous best. Nice work, Aubrianna! :) Emily made her mile debut, too, running a speedy 7:31 and a season PR by working her kick hard and smiling every time she moved up in the race. Great job, Em! Jenni looked so strong, running in the low 8s and pushing to move up throughout the race. Ixa was not far behind, mirroring her kick from the 800 and finishing strong! Our final bee in the race was Illyana, in her second race of the day. Post-race, she said she felt much better about how to tackle racing from now on, and I anticipate that she will look sharp at Libertyville, especially after her beast workout on Saturday. Overall, this group was much like the 800: everyone was thinking about how to help one another to make us all shine in the race. Nice work, bees!
We finished the meet with a whole bunch of 4X400 relays. The purpose is to work on speed as well as practice hand offs. Props to you all for your flexibility in a crowded race. I'm proud of you for just going with the flow and gaining valuable race experience. A few splits that stood out: Kaila's speedy 74 impressed me, as did Ashley's aggressive 86. Overall, I am really proud of you all--nice work!
As I headed to the bus post-meet, I was so happy. In race after race, you all seized the opportunities before you: decent weather, great competition, and your teammates at your sides. What else could a coach ask for? Well, as we head into our second meet, here's what I want: for you to take an honest look at your race as well as your hard work from this week, then make an aggressive plan for your race. We are going to have some nice weather for racing; let's make the theme of the day RISK. Believe in your fitness and take a risk early in your race. Go out a little faster, pass a girl earlier, hang onto a pack a little longer. I promise you will not be disappointed! In order to make that happen, you need to start NOW. Plan for a good breakfast, pack a smart lunch and snacks, and start drinking water NOW. Make sure that you are sipping water all day during school so that the warmer weather is not a factor. Until we race, please remind yourself about the incredible workout from Saturday. You are fit. You are mentally strong. Let it shine in Libertyville!
In the "student of your sport" headline, check out Katelynne Hart's sub-10 3200 race from Arcadia this weekend. Pretty beast! Click here to watch the race.
Lake Michigan Invite (Carthage)
Friday, March 15, 2019
I love Carthage, and I look forward to it every year. There is something about the atmosphere of this meet that seems to bring out great races in our crew. Is it because it's a college campus? Or the big crowds? Or the sweet 200 meter track? I don't really care if it's a conspiracy among all three--I just enjoy the outcome! Carthage 2019 lived up to the hype, and I'm excited to share how I saw it.
First, Maya B. and Jenna showed courage with their efforts in the high jump. Although neither has had a chance to practice this event at home, they were both game for experimenting at the meet. Coach White told me he was so proud of their coachability; he said that they both learned a lot and will continue to improve as we move outdoors. Mindset-wise, I am so impressed with these two and cannot wait to see them compete outdoors! :)
Our track efforts started with our 4X800 running beyond my expectations. I seeded us 12:03, and we finished in 11:56! Kaila was our lead-leg again, and she continues to grow into that role. Leading off requires confidence and patience as the pace is usually hot, and the close pack requires some negotiating. She got out well and did not let the pace intimidate her; unfortunately, the 37 for the first two hundred definitely made her pay in the second half. I was stoked to see a 78 for her first 400, though. That kind of aggressive pacing is necessary for her to run the kind of times I know she will be running when we get outdoors. As she pointed out to me post-race, her splits are getting closer, and she is improving with every race. Her 2:51 (37, 41, 45, 48) is a big improvement over Highland Park; more importantly, her racing was strong! Mary was our second leg, and she matched Kaila's split time, but she did it a bit more evenly: 39, 42, 45, 45. Kaila's unevenness not surprising because the hype of the start of the race tends to provoke faster openings. Mary's consistency is important as second leg because it allows us to stay in the race! Mary did a nice job of using the people around her to push, and she handed off to Aubrianna in a great spot. Like at Highland Park, Aubrianna got out hard. I love that aggressiveness, but she paid the price in her third lap: 36, 51, 1:02, 52. The good news is that she pushed to kick in the last lap. As she gains more experience, she will learn to spread her energy more evenly across her race. The other good news is that she matched her LPR from last week, finishing in 3:12. She handed off to Carmenita who ran a new season PR of 3:02. Like Mary, she ran a pretty even race: 41, 43, 49, 49. I love that she dropped so much time from last week, and I loved the look on her face during the whole race: that Carmenita beast-mode look. I know she will drop into the 2s as soon as we get outside. Overall, this group looked focused and competitive!
Our next race was the mile, and Vic was up first. Her season PR was last week at Highland Park--a solid 6:31. I seeded her at 6:25 because I figured that just the better track alone would give her some time to drop. Vic seized this opportunity to run near her lifetime PR and drop some considerable time. She ran a pretty even race: 42, 46, 49, 48, 49, 49, 50, 45. More importantly, she really used the people around her to really race. I am excited to see that zesty 45 for the last 200, but that second-to-last lap needs to be the focus when we get outdoors. We will definitely work on kicking from the 300 in the next two weeks. In the meantime, I am really excited by this race because Vic looked sharp to finish in 6:18. Jayla was in the following heat, and she was even sharper than the previous week when she set an LPR of 7:08. From the start, she was engaged in the race, working with the pack and then some individuals in order to keep her lap times pretty consistent: 43, 48, 51, 52, 56, 55, 56, 51. Much like Vic, that second-to-last lap (the start of the last 400) also needs attention, but I cannot complain about a NEW LPR of 6:52! That's a 16 second drop! The time is impressive, but the confidence on Jayla's face makes me momentarily think ahead to her senior XC season. Confidence leads to stronger workouts and better racing. Honestly, I cannot wait to see these two outdoors!
The 800 was next, and all three of our bees were in the same heat. Elyssa, Steff, and Emily seized that ZB opportunity and worked so well together in the early stages of the race. Elyssa broke away late in the second lap (41, 44, 49, 49) to be our first finisher. It is so exciting to watch her confidence grow as a racer, and I was stoked about her new LPR of 3:03. Like Carm, I know she will dip into the 2s as soon as we get outside. What made this time happen was her ability to work with her teammates, but also her confidence to break away when she felt good. Use her as an example for future races; never be afraid to take off and bring your teammates with you! Steff was our second finisher (41, 47, 53, 51) in 3:12. Although I know the time was not quite what she wanted, she reached the goal I was hoping for: that she would be able to set aside her hip pain to race again like the beast I know she can be. She looked sharp in the first lap, and worked with Emily smartly in the second. An 88 for the first 400 is solid, and her arm swing looked strong for this part of the race. Like most people in the 800, her 3rd 200 was her slowest, but she did a great job of driving forward in her last 200 to kick. This race represents a starting point that is ahead of where she was last year. It also shows that she believes in her words that she shared with the team this week during Thought of the Day. I'm so proud of her grit throughout the last year, as well as her leadership. This race was an important milestone in her growth! Nice work, Steff! Emily was our final racer in the 800. Much like Steff, Emily has been on a journey since freshman year, and I was so stoked to see her racing again. her splits were a bit uneven (41, 48, 58, 54). I know that will change as she gets more racing experience--this was her first race on the track as a ZB! On Saturday when we discussed her race, she shared that her plan is to work on her mental game in the next race. She has come so far already, and I cannot wait to see her race outside! Overall, this trio looked great, and I am proud of their hard work; I also thank them for their patience since I sent them to warm up far too early. #mybad
Karen and Di had a LONG wait for their 3200 race, but it was certainly worth it! They were in the same heat, and they started strong with each other in this 16-lap race. Prior to the race, Karen was worried about her seed time, which is a fun throwback to last year when she ran this same race for the first time as a freshie. Back then, she thought she could run around 17, and she was very concerned that I had seeded her at 14:59. Last year, she rose to the occasion, and this year was no different. She smartly rolled with the pack for a while until it dissolved; she then worked with two Grayslake Central girls, creating at least 8 different lead changes within their small pack. That allowed Karen to run a strong middle race: 44, 49, 51, 52, 54, 54, 56, 57, 57, 59, 60, 61, 60, 57, 56, 49). What I loved the most was that she came through the mile in 6:57 (a time close to what she ran for just a mile last week at HP), and used that success to work hard in the second half of the race. Her final kick was great, and the race overall was impressive because she looked engaged and enthusiastic the whole way. It was great to have Karen "back." She finished in 14:36, a 21 second improvement over her time from last year at Carthage. Di has not run the 3200 since her sophomore year, but she came to compete today! She ran a pretty consistent race: 45, 51, 56, 59, 60, 61, 61, 64, 61, 64, 65, 64, 63, 66, 64, 56). Although she was in "no woman's land" for parts of the race, Di did not let that deter her from racing hard. She was very coachable, surging when I asked and using the energy of her teammates to help her stay focused. She also used the pack as it came up on her to rejuvenate her pace (look at at laps 9 and 13). I am really proud of her mindset both within the race and after. When we talked right after her race, she replied that she wanted to try it again to improve; what more could a coach ask for?
Overall, I am extremely proud of our team. Different squads celebrated others' achievements, and everyone was learning from other races. It was really fun to watch! Some other highlights from the day include both Maesa and Becca setting new LPRs in the shot; shout out to Maesa for placing 8th overall in the meet. That's quite an accomplishment! V looked strong and threw much better than the week before. It's exciting to think about how they will do in disc as we head outside. Our jumpers continue to improve as well. Mariah jumped an LPR in the long and is now in the 14s; she also beasted the open 200~, along with Shaunicy and Saudi who set PRs! Mora set an SPR in the triple jump, placing 4th and looked strong in the long jump, as well as in the 4X200. A strong day's work, indeed! Marissa had a strong 400, setting a new LPR of 69. Kaylah ran a 66 in the open, and Maya H. blew away her heat when she dropped a 62. What is most impressive about these two is that they came back to run amazing times in the 4X400. Aja started us strong with a beautiful split of 65. She handed off to Cierra who looked awesome in 65 as well, working up to the competition. Maya dropped an aggressive 64 and gave the baton to Kaylah who also dropped a 64. This group continues to improve, and they are simply EXCITING to watch. Let's keep growing TOGETHER as ONE TEAM. We have two weeks to get in some serious work. Take care of grades, take care of sleep, take care of nutrition, take care of one another. I cannot wait for outdoor!
Giant relays @ Highland Park
Friday Night Relays
Friday's races left me ecstatic. Not only did we have great effort across the board, but we are starting to come together as a team. Not a bad combo for a Friday night.
We started the evening strong with Jenna taking a risk in the high jump. Although she did not clear the opening height, her enthusiasm for trying this event without much prep due to our lack of indoor space continues to amaze me. That selflessness and courage is what makes teams great! I look forward to seeing her jump at Carthage! Jenna was our anchor in the Mid-Distance Medley, running an awkward distance of 640 as the anchor of the relay. The time didn't mean much because of the weird distance, but her performance was strong.
Our 4X800 Looked solid today. Kaila started us with a strong leg, breaking 3:00 for the first time this season. Her first 400 was aggressive (82), and she closed in a 95. More importantly, she looked competitive the whole way, and she finished in 2:57. She handed off to Elyssa who ran 3:09 (89/1:40). Elyssa looked really tuned in for the first 400 and last lap, but she seemed distracted for two laps. Post race, she explained that she was not in the right headspace; interestingly, that says a lot about her fitness that she was on-par with her performance at Wheeling. I know that she learned an important lesson about mindset, and I look forward to seeing her race again soon. Delilah was our third leg in her track racing debut! Unfortunately, I was distracted by a parent and did not get her 400 splits, but she ran a strong 3:19 for her first race ever. I know that she will cut time as the season progresses, and I'm impressed with her performance considering how sick she was on Saturday morning. Ashley was our final leg. Her split of 3:39 was solid for this time of year, and her splits (99/2:00) underscore what she said post race: that like Elyssa, her mind was not in the right spot. That being said, she looked smooth and she had a nice kick at the end. On Saturday morning, she had a great long run, keeping up with Elyssa's pack and feeling strong. That kind of comeback is what I love--not satisfied with her performance the day before, she stepped up to work hard the next day! Overall, this group was honest and hard-working, and I could not ask for more.
Carmen was the senior leg of the Class 4X400. Latavia was our freshie rep, and ran a speedy 79 on the tight turns. Julien was second in 81. Jada was our junior in 78, and Carmenita matched Jada with a 78 as well. More importantly, as the veteran, Carmen was a calming influence for this group. Nice work, Carmen!
The Distance Medley was up next, and all four looked speedy. Angie started us strong, running three laps in 1:38, coming through the 400 in 80. She was aggressive and handed off to Aubrianna in good position. Our little freshie looked focused and aggressive, finishing in a strong 3:12 for the 800. She looked great earlier in the week in our workout, so I was excited to see that translate to a race. Nice work, Aubrianna! She handed off to Di who had to run the other awkward distance...not quite a 1200 (1120). She had a solid 3:44 for the half and finished in 5:17. More importantly, she used the competition around her to pull throughout the race. She handed off to Jayla who got out hard, running a 90 for her first 400. With a 400 to go, I could see that she was ready to hit an LPR. Post-race, she admitted that she had zoned out a bit, but hearing the time helped her snap back into the moment. She finished with a speedy lifetime of 7:08, and I know she will be able to drop into the sixes shortly. Proud of the grit from this whole group!
I stacked our 4X1600 relay, and they did not disappoint. Kelsey, despite battling back pain, decided to get one last race before her surgery. I'm really glad she made that choice because her opening leg was fun to watch. She got out smart, letting the competition go for a lap, then working back to them methodically. She opened with an 89, came through the half in 2:51, the 1200 in 4:19, and finished in 5:42. This time was significantly faster than her only other timed mile of the season, an outdoor mile back when there was not as much snow on the track about a month ago. More important than the speedy time, the race was just fun. She systematically picked off competitors with a quiet confidence and handed off the baton in first place. This patience will serve her well as she works to rehab post-surgery. Vic was our second leg, and she looked sharp in her first race of the season, after having missed Wheeling due to illness. Her splits (90, 3:09, 4:53, 6:31) were solid for this time of year. Her racing was what definitely stood out; she used the other competitors to help her push herself to a season PR. Mary was our third leg, and she ran a strong season PR of 6:36 by running splits very similar to Vic's: 88, 3:08, 4:54. Also like Vic, she worked hard to push as competitors came by, and she looked sharp in her kick. Karen was our final leg for the relay. She ran pretty even (96, 3:21, 5:11, 6:56) and held on to earn our relay a 4th place finish. She was a few seconds off her season PR, and I know she will look stronger as she moves to the 3200 at Carthage. Overall, this group was fun to watch because all four looked focused and competitive for their races. Nice work, women!
The final race of the day was the 4X400. While the times were fun, what I enjoyed more was the line of teammate chanting each woman's name. That kind of camaraderie and positive support is what makes good teams great. Aja, Cierra, Maya and Kaylah's performances are the proof! Aja started us strong with a 68. She handed off to Cierra who ran a beautiful 69. Maya looked amazing in her race debut, finishing in a high 67. She handed off to our anchor, Kaylay, who finished with a high 68. Overall, their efforts landed them in 4th, beating teams in the fast heat. I can't wait to see this group run next week at Carthage!
As I drove home, I could not help but think ahead as I contemplated the meet. We have throwers who are improving weekly. The D-Crew keeps showing growth. The sprinters are stronger than they have been in years. Our long and triple jumpers are showing positive gains. People are stepping up to try the high jump. People not racing are lending their voices and energy to support their sisters on the track. Last year, I was optimistic but concerned about the vibe of the team overall. This year, the energy is positive, so I can't help but be excited about Carthage and outdoor. And if I wasn't sure on Friday, the energy of Saturday's practice really had me excited. I am proud of all of you--your work ethic and selflessness is to be applauded. Let's keep the momentum rolling this week!
Here's the latest installment of Fast Women. Check it out to be a student of your sport! Also, in Illinois High School Track News: Katelynne Hart ran 9:58 INDOORS this past weekend! #sick
First meet of the season
Saturday, February 23, 2019 @ Wheeling Invite
We started our season strong with a 5th place team finish at the competitive Wheeling Invite. The teams that bested us--Wheeling, Lake Zurich, Warren, and Stevenson--all had medalists in the pole vault, 3200, and hurdles. This illustrates just how competitive we are and will continue to be if we lean in and decide that this is OUR season with ONE TEAM EFFORT. Click here to check out the full results.
The distance crew had a strong day. We started with our 4X800 placing 6th in a strong field. Kelsey was our lead runner. Like last year, she started comfortably fast, and made her moves in the middle laps. She ran a strong 2:35 which is impressive considering how little speed we have been able to do. She handed off to Mary who had an aggressive start despite recovering from illness. Her 2:58 split was right where I hoped she would be, and I'm excited to have her conditioning this early in the season; in years past, she was not able to help us until later in the indoor/beginning of outdoor season due to swimming commitments. I know that Mary will continue to sharpen her racing and look forward to seeing her work toward her season goals. She handed off to Carmenita who got out hot and focused. Due to the weird laps, I did not get 400 splits, but Carm definitely ran hard in her first 400. The key to improving her overall time is to get that second half stronger, which I know she will do! She ran a solid 3:09 before handing off to our anchor, Kaila. In her first high school track race, she looked confident and experienced throughout. Unfortunately, I wasn't loud enough when I told Kaila she was on her last lap, so she still had a little saved in the tank. That being said, Kaila still ran a strong 3:04; I know she can break 3 easily in the next race. Overall, we beat my estimated time by seven seconds, and this quad set a positive tone for track events. Proud of this group!
Our next racers were in the open 800. Elyssa and Angie were in the same heat, and they had great energy with each other during the race. They traded leads from each other in order to push the pace. Elyssa pulled ahead in the latter part of the race, revealing the strength she gained during the XC season. Her kick was strong, and she was rewarded with a season best of 3:10. Angie was not far behind, and she exhibited race-awareness and grit as she fended off a surging competitor in the final steps of the race in a thrilling finish. Angie ran a solid 3:17 and will continue to improve with that impressive mindset! Overall, these two represented us and themselves very well in this race!
Our final distance race of the day was the mile; like their teammates, Karen and Di competed well and fed off each other to race well. The started close to each other, but after 500, Karen started pulling ahead. Karen used her competition to stay sharp, and she earned a huge SPR, finishing in 6:47. When Karen came up on Di, Di responded strongly with a surge. She kept fighting the runners around her, and she also finished with a strong SPR of 7:36. She also exhibited great flexibility when I sprang the racing opportunity on her prior to the bus ride; instead of being intimidated, Di seized the chance to race. I love that mindset!
Overall, I am thoroughly excited about this meet, and I cannot wait for Highland Park! In the meantime, let's be intentional about sleep, nutrition, and practice so we can continue growing as athletes.
This week, I challenge you to sit someplace new in Strickland's room and introduce yourself to sprinters and throwers. Let's make our team bond unbreakable!
FYI--There are a lot of great races going on for the pros right now. Check out this newsletter that highlights races you may have missed! Click here to be a student of your sport.