Schaumburg Sectional @ Busse Woods: After a week of great practices, I looked forward to seeing what you could all do on an easier course. Let's be honest, Grant's new course at Camp Henry Horner was anything but fast, and Libertyville's hilly course did not afford great times, either. Unfortunately, Mother Nature did not want to let us run super-fast; starting at the tail-end of our practice on Wednesday, she let the rain fall for several days. While the course was not in terrible shape (2009 was far worse), it did not allow for great times. As we warmed up, I could tell that the team was nervous, but not nearly as tense as last week. Once we were on the line, sporting our brand new, bright pink arms, I could see the stress fade away. For once, you all seemed happy to race...ready to celebrate the challenge. At the gun, you all got away great, despite our box on the far side of the course. Coming down the hill, I was pleased to see Kimmy with the top group. Mary, the rest of our pack was a bit further back than I would have liked, but the good news was that I saw you all putting our plan into action: each of you came wide on the turn and started passing down the hill. Nice work! On the first loop, I had trouble spotting all of Mundelein's girls, but I thought that Maira (#6) and Lindsay (#7) were ahead of their #5. One benefit of our new "pink," coupled with the topography of the course, was that I could pick each of you out as you headed to the lake, behind the start, and into the mini-loop. As you each emerged from the road again, I was pleased that we had moved up; Kimmy was now in the twenties, Mary had moved up significantly, Ally was working up to her, as were Ana and Joseline. Maira and Lindsay looked like track season again, working in tandem. At this point, I saw Lindsay point back, as if to ask if we were beating Mundelein; amid my excitement, I couldn't get out the word, "YES!" I confirmed that our 6-7 punch was indeed in front of their 5th. I kept my fingers crossed as you all headed down the hill and to the two-mile mark. As the final loop began, I yelled to Kimmy that she had to get the Fremd girl in yellow and green, which she worked on immediately. Mary flew down the hill without needing any push, and Ally looked aggressive as well. Joseline and Ana had separated slightly, but were within steps of each other, and Maira and Lindsay were still in striking distance as well. I ran to the final stretch to try to yell over the roar of the crowd. I watched each of you muster better kicks than I have seen all season: Kimmy looked great, working to recapture DelPrato of Libertyville; Mary kicked hard, defending her spot amid a rush of four girls; Ally had that same determined look from Warren; Ana and Joseline looked great from the 300; Maira reached to catch several girls while Lindsay pushed not far behind. Outside of the chute, everyone looked satisfied, which is all I can ask at the final meet of the season. To walk away with WhatIfs is maddening; we completed our team mission...we beat Mundelein handily. The seniors had a great day, and the juniors/freshie now have a taste of the team race...I hope you all come back hungrier for next year. This blog wouldn't be complete without a shout out to Kimmy: not only did she set a lifetime PR of 18:54, but she also nabbed the best finish by a ZB woman at this Sectional, coming in 26th overall. Several coaches came up to me afterwards to compliment her race. Although she missed a berth at State, she left it all on the course.
As I drove home from school, I couldn't help but think of the character of this team. For the last two weeks, we have had great fan support from countless teammates strategically stationed throughout the courses to make our team feel focused at every point in each race. We have grown up tremendously since last year, and I am proud of all the hard work you have each put into the season. A few weeks back, I challenged you to bleed for your teammates...while Maira took me a little too literally, I can see that you now understand what I mean. So I'll end this year's blog with this: beesbeesbeeshah!
Regional Meet @ Adler Park: After a lot of stalking, I concluded that our best bet to get out of the Regional was to beat Waukegan, Stevenson and Mundelein. Even with Stevenson's top girl back in the meet, I knew we could beat them, and Waukegan would not be a problem either. Mundelein, however, was tricky: they beat us head-to-head by one point, but we beat them at Conference (without their #3 runner). So going into the meet, I knew we had work to do, but I was confident after a solid week of training. At the gun, our group got out well. At the 800, I was worried about Mary's placement, however; I later learned that she was pushed into a tree on the first turn. Despite that bad luck, Mary worked back to her teammates by mile two in a great display of poise and courage! Meanwhile, Kimmy was in a great position (around 7th), as was most of our pack. At the mile, however, we had some significant work to do; not only was Mundelein beating us, but I was also worried about Stevenson at this point. Ally and Ana responded to my plea and moved up in the race, while Joseline did work to catch a few as well. In the final stretch, I was confident that we had taken out Stevenson, but I was still worried about Mundelein. Kimmy had moved up to 4th, which helped, but our #2 and #3 runners were being beaten by theirs. After the race was over, I was uncertain of the outcome...I knew the scores would be close. Unfortunately, Mundelein bested us by 10 points, but we were able to beat a injury-ridden Highland Park team in order to secure the 6th qualifying spot for the Schaumburg Sectional. Highlights from the race: Kimmy was All-Regional, earning a medal for her 4th place finish; Ana finally looked aggressive again in a race after battling her stomach ulcer for several weeks; Mary rebounded nicely after a tree incident that could have derailed her race; everyone had solid kicks (the hill workout must have helped!); and we qualified for one more week of team racing! Congratulations, ladies! :)
Click here to see a GREAT slide show, courtesy of Mr. Thompson!
Conference @ Grant--Camp Henry Horner: Thanks to Grant, there were three races for the women today, rather than the usual two at Conference: Varsity, Frosh/Soph and Open. Per our Conference guidelines, the Varsity women ran first. After a flat performance at Sterling, we agreed that our team goal was to race hard and to kick with purpose. Kimmy was our first finisher, running 19:40 and earning All-Conference Honors with a 10th place medal. Way to go! Ana and Ally finished within a second of each other, both displaying strong kicks. Mary, who was trapped by the narrow course in several spots, was our 4th woman for the day, finishing in 21:17. With a strong second half of the race, Joseline was our 5th scorer, finishing twenty seconds behind Mary. Maira and Alexis rounded out our seven on this challenging course. As a team, we finished 8th, beating Mundelein (who was running without their #3), but not competing at the level I know we are capable of. We will need to strengthen our mentality for the challenging Regional at Adler Park next week.
The Frosh/Soph Girls ran second, and looked great doing so. After a late-race surge, Karli finished first for our team and earned a 10th place medal! Madi, who also ran a gutsy race today, was not far behind in 12th, and also earned a medal. Jocelyn was our third finisher for the group; despite a nagging hip injury, she looked strong throughout and had a nice kick to finish. Nala was our fourth runner, running an outstanding race! Not only did she set a Lifetime PR on this challenging course (25:11), but she also showed that she is staring to understand this sport! Way to go! Jacqueline was our fifth woman for the day; she, too, ran a great race, only seconds away from her Lifetime PR. Outstanding! Monica had a great kick as our sixth runner, despite battling a nagging injury for several weeks. Her strength and determination are to be admired. :) Ashley was our 7th finisher; she finally let loose on her kick and looked aggressive down the hill and into the final straight--nice work! Kealy was only seconds behind her, running aggressively throughout her race in order to take home a Lifetime PR of 27:08--great job! Daysha was only steps behind with a great kick; although she did not best her PR, she came very close! Iris was our final bee in this race; although we tried to rest her hip this week, she was not able to race up to her normal standards. Despite her injury, Iris raced with courage the whole way, and still had a great kick. I am very proud of the Frosh/Soph Squad--they have all improved tremendously this season and will have an important role next fall for the team. This group finished in sixth place as a team...only one point away from Stevenson. Nice work, ladies!
The Open Race was the final race of the day, and our runners were ready to prove themselves. Asia ran a gutsy race, finishing in 27th and earning a medal. She looked more like her competitive self today, which was great! Lindsay was our second finisher, closing with a great kick. She finished in 32, only two spots away from a medal. She has continued to improve since Bartlett--nice work! Halie was our third finisher for the day; not only did she look great throughout, but she also finished with a great kick. This was the race I've been waiting to see all season from her--nice work! Jazzman, despite an angry hip flexor, looked great today; she was aggressive throughout and kicked like a sprinter at the finish. I know this great season will translate into an amazing track season this spring--nice work! Tori was rounded out our scoring five with an amazing kick today. I know she would rather have a faster time, but I am proud of how tough she proved to be all season, despite a nagging achilles/calf injury. Way to go, senior! Cora was only seconds behind Tori, also finishing with an amazing kick. Great job! Karolina and Peyton, true to their training over the last few years, finished within one second of each other today. Despite her rude hip, Peyton had one heck of a kick, straightening out her form for that last drive to the chute. Nice work, ladies! Lydia and Olivia also finished within seconds of each other after helping one another throughout the challenging course. They both had strong kicks and looked great today! Tiara was close behind with an outstanding performance for the day. Not only did set her Lifetime PR at this course, but she also looked like a true runner today; great job breaking your PR by over 2 minutes--what a break through! Aurianna showed her dedication today; after arriving only minutes before the race due to a college visit, she ran with tenacity and grace. She looked strong with her kick, and I know this season will help her with basketball and track this year. Nice work! Violette also looked strong today; although her time was not what she hoped for, her kick was certainly great. :) Josefina worked with Tiffany early in the race, then broke away to finish strong at the end. Syra ran a strong race, too, kicking at the 400 and using the hill like a pro--nice work! Tiffany was not far behind, looking great despite this tough course. Sabrina set a season PR by seven seconds, despite the fact that most people struggled with this course--what a great way to end the season! And Sabina rounded out our team today with a strong effort, especially in the last 400 meters. Nice work! Our Open Team took 6th place to beat Stevenson, Grant and Wauconda. Excellent efforts from this group today--I'm proud of you all!