MINOOKA – It was windy and cold on Friday night for the 21st annual Minooka Girls Track and Field Invitational, but the meet had much more of a significance to it, especially for Indians’ coach Kevin Gummerson.
This was the last competitive meet on the track that will be replaced, along with the football field, over the summer. The track configuration also will be different, as the start-finish line will be changed along with many other amenities at the stadium.
“The upgrade is needed and will be great when it’s finished, but tonight has sort of a sentimental value,” Gummerson said. “It’s like when you get your first car. You get it, take care of it, but it eventually wears out and you know you need a new one, but you have a hard time letting that first one go because of the memories. We have had so many great athletes perform and practice on this track over the years. We’ve had team victories, hosted conference and sectionals meets and I can remember them all.”
Minooka Athletic Director Bob Tyrell said the track originally was laid in 1997 or 1998, and over the years has been patched to keep it functional.
“You always want to host your big meet at home and we have been able to do that,” said Gummerson, who started at Minooka during the 1999-2000 school year. “The new facility will be a great addition to our school district, but this is the only one I have known.
In the best way for a team to finish its home meet schedule, the Indians won the title for the 10th consecutive year, scoring 151.5 points to beat runner-up Rolling Meadows (108.5). DeKalb (104.5) took third place, Lincoln-Way Central (93.5) finished fourth, Metea Valley (74.0) was fifth and Plainfield South (69.5) took sixth.
The Indians garnered five event titles, with Kendal Franklin winning the high jump (4-10) and Brooke McNally taking first place in the triple jump (33-4.5) in the individual events. Their other two wins came in the relays with those victors being the 4x100 team (51.71) of Alexis Mata, Lauren Larsen, Cierra Bachmann and Mikayla Roberts and the 4x 800 relay (10:27.98) of Kathryn Cichon, Brooke Wlodek, Mary Rushing and Audrey Boles.
The final victory of the evening for Minooka came from another in a long line of distance stars over the years for the Indians, as senior Vivian Van Eck won the 800 in 2:25.23.
“I was a little nervous before the race with all the wind, but coach gave me a plan and it worked,” Van Eck said. “It was special to win and I had never won a varsity race in this meet before. We have had such great distance people here and I’ve learned from all of them and I’m starting to really believe in myself.”
Van Eck then ran the final leg of the 4x400 relay and brought the team from sixth place to finish third.
“It’s pretty crazy to think that I won the last individual race and ran the final leg of the night on this track for Minooka,” Van Eck said. “Next year, someone will get to say they were the first to run and win on the new track.”
Plainfield South’s Trinity Allen won the 300 hurdles (48.22) in one of its two victories of the night. Allen, who qualified for the state meet last season in the event, has her sights set on getting back to Charleston.
“Obviously, my goal this year is to get back to state and place,” Allen said. “Tonight, the wind was crazy and I feel like I just ran the 400 hurdles instead of the 300 hurdles. My training is going well, and I have recovered from having the flu earlier in the season, but I’m getting there and we just need some warm weather, which will help everyone.”
The Cougars’ other win came from Miranda Cadwell, who threw the shot put 43-7.5. She also placed second in the discus and will be in contention at the state meet in both events. Lincoln-Way Central’s lone winner was Nora Ansburg, who was first in the discus (115-10).