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!
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