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Prep Sports

Girls track & field: Minooka captures own invite again

Minooka's Katelyn Gall pole vaults Wednesday, May 3, 2017, during the Southwest Prairie Conference girls track meet. She won the pole vault title on Friday at Minooka's Invite.
Minooka's Katelyn Gall pole vaults Wednesday, May 3, 2017, during the Southwest Prairie Conference girls track meet. She won the pole vault title on Friday at Minooka's Invite.

MINOOKA – While all of the spring sports have been affected this season, girls track and field definitely has been hurt the most. The state finals are May 17 through May 19, the earliest finishing date of any outdoor sport in Illinois, but to get to those state finals, you must qualify at the sectional meet that is only four weeks away. 

On Friday night, Minooka hosted its 20th annual girls invitational, and the night was more about the opportunity to compete against other teams as temperatures dropped to the forties as the meet began. 

The Indians kept their team title streak alive by scoring 182 points as they have won the meet each year since 2009, with the 2011 meet canceled because of weather. 

DeKalb finished second with
121 points, Lincoln-Way Central was third (99½), and Plainfield South finished fourth (79½) in the eight-team field.

“I have never seen a spring like we have had this year,” Minooka coach Kevin Gummerson said. “Every spring you get a day or two here and there of cold or rain, but nothing like the consistent bad weather we have had this spring. It’s a challenge as a coach.

“You must stay positive with your team, you have to preach patience that the weather will get better. We can’t control the weather, but it does change a lot of what you have to do. We usually use the big meets to mimic who and what we may run in certain events at the sectional, but we haven’t been able to do any of that this season.”

Minooka received wins from Katelyn Gall in pole vault (9 feet, 6 inches), Sydney Andreano discus (114-7), Jenna Roberts in the 100-meter hurdles (16.94 seconds), Eryn Renison in the 400 (1:00.39), Kylie Wissel in the 300 hurdles (48.74) along with the 4 x 800 relay of Emily Ellis, Olivia Krolczyk, Amanda Wilson and Emily Shelton (10:14.11) and the 4 x 400 relay of Cierra Bachmann, Gall, Wissel and Renison (4:17.45).

“It’s disappointing from the standpoint that the indoor season went well,” said Renison, a senior. “It does get frustrating at times, especially knowing that sectionals is only a month away. But you continue to work and I’m happy with the way tonight went. It’s a start, and my goal remains the same to get to the state meet.”

Gall, a junior, had a little different perspective coming from the technical side of the sport as a pole vaulter.

“It’s really hard to not only compete, but practice in this weather,” Gall said. “In the vault you use your hand a lot on the pole. With the cold and the rain, you can get the feel and you’re always slipping. But we all have confidence, and we are still a team that has come together in spite of this spring.”

Central had a pair of wins, as Racheal Sweeney finished first in the long jump (15-5¾) and Mackenzie Brownrigg placed first in the 1,600 meters (5:14.4).

“It’s been a real struggle this spring,” Sweeney said. “With the long jump and the pole vault it’s so difficult to get quality practices completed. You worry more about things, but it’s the same for everyone and you have to deal with it.”

“You have to stay positive, but it does get frustrating because in four weeks, if you’re not in the top two at sectionals you have to hit the qualifying standard for state and you need quality races and practices,” Brownrigg said.

Knights coach Matt Smith knows that opportunities are getting fewer and fewer as the weeks go by.

“This is our first big meet as we had a triangular on Tuesday, so our outdoor track season is essentially a monthlong season,” Smith said. “We haven’t been able to really get outside and work. This is a different sport than indoor track with the relay exchanges, the technical events and what you do. But, it’s outside of our control and you have to use it in a positive manner. If we can maintain focus through the bad, then we will be alright when it breaks.”

South’s lone winner was Miranda Cadwell in the shot put (39-0) in what was the Cougars’ first outdoor meet of the season.

“We are a very young team and we must keep them motivated to come back to the sport in the future,” Cougars mentor Janeen Carlberg said. “The coaches of all the spring sports at South have talked and we have never seen anything like this year. We need to see who fits where, in what events, relay positions and that takes times, time this year we don’t have and it is frustrating. I’m sure it will never happen, but I’m in favor of moving our state meet a week later. To have it as early as we do is not fair to the girls, especially when you have a spring like this.”

Shelton, the Minooka distance ace, summed up the wishes of every person in the Chicago area whether they are an athlete or not.

“I just want it warm!”

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