Palatine, Ill --- The Palatine Relays had its 80th edition of the meet on Saturday. While other Saturday meets in the area were cancelling due to inclement weather during the day on Friday, this meet went on as scheduled defying the doom and gloom forecasts that were predicted.
Yes, it was not perfect weather. Temperatures stayed in the low 40’s during the entire meet with a steady east crosswind. That did not stop the athletes that participated from putting down some great performances at Chic Anderson Stadium.
Every year, this meet awards the Gerald McElroy Award to the top athletes in both the boys and girls meet. The award on the girls side went to Brenna Detra (Richwoods, Peoria Ill) who won the 200 & 400 Meter Dashes, the 300 Meter Intermediate Hurdles, and was part of the Long Jump Relay. On the boys side, the award went to Kendric Cornelius (Palatine, Ill) who won the 200 & 400 Meter Dashes, had the second longest performance in the Long Jump, and anchored Palatine’s second place team in the 4 x 4 relay.
Here is a look at the action of both of the meets on Saturday:
~~ Girls Meet ~~
Detra meant business as soon as she stepped on the track Saturday morning. The defending 2A champ in the 300 Meter intermediate hurdles made up the stagger before she came onto the final straightaway and cruised to an easy there second win over Melissa Madden (Barrington, Ill).
The two dashes that the junior won were fast races that warmed up the cool Palatine air. She battled Laura Schweikert (Palatine, Ill) in the 400 pulling away from her in the last 150 meters to win in a time of 56.5, the third fastest time in the state and also the same time that she ran to win this event in 2011.
The sprinters went at it again in the afternoon in the 200. This time, it was a little closer but with the same result. Detra captured her third win of the day winning by a second over Schweikert.
If Detra was not going to win the best athlete award, then the honor would have gone to Tess Wasowicz (Palatine, Ill). With the weather as dismal as it was, there was one instructional that her coach Joe Parks gave her: “We just told her to go out and run.”
She went out and lead through the first 400 in 66.3. Her stride looked effortless as she crossed the line in 2:15.7, nearly five seconds ahead of Caroline Carley (Barrington, Ill).
The 1600 Meter Run was more of a test against the watch for Wasowicz. After the first lap, she already had a two second lead on the competition and she just moved from there. She won by 16 seconds. Her time of 5:04.9 was even impressive since she did all the work by herself.
“I did not have any expectations time wise because my coach told me that times did not matter. It was all about competing which was fine with me,” said Wasowicz. “I did not really notice the wind too much. I was really focused. I was just concentrating on each lap. It was difficult for me last year because I would be thinking ahead too much in the race. Now, because of the focus, the third lap of the 1600 is faster and I am finishing stronger.”
Wasowicz was also part of the victorious 4 x 4 relay team. Laura Schweikert brought the team back in the last leg with a 58.4 anchor for the win. The 4:04.2 they ran was a seasonal best.
Sami Staples (Central, Crystal Lake Ill) was invited to run in the 3200 Meter run at this race. The 2A cross country champ settled into an early pace passing through the 1200 meters in 4:04. In the next 400 meters, she gained an incredible nine seconds over a good field including Ellen Tracy (Barrington, Ill), Kelly Breen (Fremd, Palatine Ill), and Ellen Smith (Palatine, Ill). It was not a matter of her picking up the pace but maintaining.
She went by the 1600 in 5:25.1. Her margin of victory of Tracy was 23 seconds. As she crossed the line, someone shouted out “10:56” (Her actual time was 10:56.8). A look of joy covered her face followed by tears of happiness. This was the first time that this talented freshman had gone under 11 minutes.
“I am so happy. I have been working really hard and it is starting to show. I was excited to run with girls who are so fast and to go up against great competition,” she said. Since Crystal Lake Central is now 3A for track, this gave Staples an idea of what she will be facing in three weeks in Charleston. “I do have some confidence from last fall, but I am coming from 2A for cross to 3A for track. It will be a lot different.”
The field events performances took a hit with the weather being as cold as it was. It did not affect Sarah Bell (Central Catholic, Bloomington, Ill) in the Pole Vault. Her vault of 12-3 is an outdoor season best. She did go 13-0.25 indoors. Still, the height that she cleared on Saturday will give her confidence that she could go much higher.
Barrington won the team championship with 119 points, 19.5 ahead of host Palatine.
~~ Boys Meet ~~
The day started off for Kendric Cornelius in the Long Jump. At this meet, he would be limited to 2 jumps since he took the full six jumps earlier in the week at the divisional meet. “I jumped 20-5 on the first. By the time I took my second jump, they were calling me to the line in the 400.”
In that race, he had another close battle with cross-town rival Christian Vail (Fremd, Palatine Ill), the second within a week. They came out of the turn even along with James Davis (Huntley, Ill). Cornelius made a surge in the final 20 meters to nip Vail by a tenth of a second.
In the afternoon session, Cornelius came out of the blocks slowly in the 200 Meter Dash and found himself in fourth heading into the final straightaway. He put his head down and caught Jacob Price (Bolingbrook, Ill) with ten meters to go. His time of 22.5 is a personal best.
He had only 15 minutes before he would anchor the 4 x 4 relay. “Price had a great start (in the 200). My start was not so good. I came around the curve and I thought I had to catch him,” Cornelius said. “Coach Nalley had me anchor because they wanted me to anchor. I usually lead off. I have not led off since I lived in Louisiana.
Cornelius took the baton in fourth place. With 150 meters to go, he passed Fremd. In the last 5 meters, he passed Huntley to secure second place for the Pirates. His split was 49.2, the fastest out of all of the competitors in the relay. Distance Coach Chris Quick was walking towards the finish line with a smile on his face. He knows that Cornelius will be an important part of their effort to win the 4 x 8 relay at the end of May.
“I felt nothing in my legs,” he said. “I wanted to do what I could do for my team. I wasn’t tired. I did not feel any pain.”
Before the start of the meet, both Conant and Barrington pulled their teams from the meet due to the bad weather. It left somewhat of a hole in the distance races, but there were still some good performances.
Andrew Clingerman (Palatine, Ill) held off conference rival Nick Vucovich (Fremd, Palatine Ill) to win the 800 Meter Run in 1:58.6. “The strategy was just to hang on Vucovich and kick him down, so that’s what I did,” said Clingerman.
In the 3200 Meter Run, Marcus Garcia (Palatine, Ill) made it two wins for the host Pirates. He made a move early in the race and settled down to win by seven seconds over Joe Cowlin (Prairie Ridge, Crystal Lake Ill). “I was just trying to run a steady rhythm. No one wanted to take the lead so I just decided to take it, said Garcia. “This was my first Palatine Relays race. This is pretty great. This meet is a huge tradition especially with the school and the whole community. To help the team score some big points is a big accomplishment.”
In the third individual distance race, the 1600 Meter Run, Tim Johnson (Palatine, Ill) and Mitch Wilkins (Prairie Ridge, Crystal Lake Ill) traded off the lead for the first three laps. At the gun, Wilkins surged to the lead, one that Johnson could not come back on. Wilkins won in 4:22.8. “Last night at the McHenry Relays, I split 4:19 in the 4 x 1600 Meter Relay,” Wilkins said. “I really did not know what to expect. I was not sure how bad the wind would be. He (Johnson) passed me with 600 to go. I have poor foot speed. I just decided to push it the last 400 meters.”
In the 4 x 800 Meter Relay, Jacobs took control of the race during the 3rd leg. William Hennessy ran a 1:59.9 anchor to give his quartet a fourteen second win over Palatine.
Perhaps the best relay of the day was the Distance Medley. At the final exchange, Palatine had a five second lead over Buffalo Grove. There was start power in this relay with Peter Tomkiewicz anchoring for Palatine, and Jereme Atchison anchoring for Buffalo Grove. Meanwhile, St. Ignatius was 21 seconds behind Palatine in fifth place, but had Jack Keelan anchoring for them. The deficit was too big for Keelan. Palatine did win, but the margin of victory was 10 seconds over Buffalo Grove and 12 seconds over St. Ignatius. What was impressive was that Keelan ran a 4:21 anchor in such poor conditions.
On the basis of wins in the Pole Vault Relay and the 4 x 200 Meter Relay at the end of the meet, Fremd was able to get past crosstown rival and win by 4.5 points.