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!