Whitefish Bay girls track team overcomes injuries and wins NSC outdoor title

Homestead close second

Whitefish Bay's Kylee Kennedy runs the second leg of the 4 X 800-meter relay at the North Shore Conference outdoor track meet held at Homestead on May 20. Bay won the race and its fourth straight league outdoor title.

Whitefish Bay's Kylee Kennedy runs the second leg of the 4 X 800-meter relay at the North Shore Conference outdoor track meet held at Homestead on May 20. Bay won the race and its fourth straight league outdoor title. Photo By Peter Zuzga

May 28, 2014

Senior distance ace Sara Coffey was out nursing a hip injury, fellow distance runner Reilly Koch was limited to one race while state placewinning pole vaulter Lily Hayes wasn't at full steam because of a bone bruise in her foot.

But that didn't matter to the Whitefish Bay girls track team, which proved its depth over and over again on May 20 in the North Shore Conference outdoor, winning seven events en route to edging Homestead, 146-140, for its fourth straight outdoor league championship.

"It shows how strong we are as a team when everybody pulls their own weight," said sprinter Kaitlyn Jackson, who won the 100, 200 and 400-meter dashes. "It's awesome to do something like this."

With the win, the Blue Dukes avenged their loss to Homestead in the NSC relays two weeks ago and book-ended the league indoor title they claimed last month.

Before the final scores were announced, Bay head coach Ben Van Male admitted to being nervous despite just watching Hannah Lyons lead a one-five-eight effort in the 3,200.

He had reason to be. What appeared to be an almost sure thing a few weeks ago was on the verge of unraveling because of injuries. But as he watched his team turn in one strong effort after another this night, he couldn't help but feel better about things.

"That we keep coming back despite our setbacks, that's what was impressive to me," he said. "We just have so much depth right now."

And that was enough to get past the field event-heavy Homestead team, which won three events and gave it everything it had.

"Oh gosh, no," Highlander coach John Krueger said when asked if there were any disappointments. "This was a proud day. We did everything we could and performed as well as we could. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the victors. We had a lot of PRs today."

Nicolet took sixth in the meet.

En route to its win, Bay hit the track running on a lovely, 70-plus degree day out at Homestead. The Blue Dukes won the first event, the 4x800-meter relay, and just kept going. Lyons, Kylee Kennedy, Haleigh Morton and Reilly Koch were on that relay that turned in a time of 9:58.62.

For the next 40 minutes or so, it was then Jackson's show, as she won the 100 in a scorching 12.46, led a one-two effort in the 400 (59.91) with teammate Grace Murray earning the runner-up slot (1:00.46), and then cruised to victory in the 200 (25.52).

"When they (the coaches) put the events together, I thought I'd have a mix of relays and other things," said Jackson. "When I looked at what I was running, I was shocked. It was something new though, and I liked it.

"It felt great, because it was a good day to run fast."

Her freshman phenom teammate Cami Davre probably agreed, cruising to an easy win in the 1,600 (5:09.54) and then coming back to shatter a five-year old league record in the 800 by more than three seconds with a clocking of 2:14.59.

Lyons finished the first-place brigade with an 11:42.9 effort in the 3,200 that had 18 seconds on the rest of the field.

Other top efforts for the Blue Dukes included the following: 4x100 relay — Rachel Schmidt, Katie Delany, Aly Yurkowitz and Anna Bednarczyk, third (52.66); 4x200 relay — Schmidt, Delany, Yurkowitz and Bednarczyk, fourth (1:50.02); 4x400 relay — Murray, Yurkowitz, Madeline Yunker and Bednarczyk, third (4:08.56); Pole vault — Hayes, second (10-0); Long jump — Amelia Maradas, second (16-11).

"Everybody stepped up today," said Van Male. "We had amazing performances throughout. Just an amazing day overall."

Coffey was relieved that things turned out well in the end.

"A lot of people stepped up when others were hurt," she said. "It was an exciting day."

For Homestead, it was also a strong day that came up just a bit short.

Monica Caputa led the way, winning the long jump with an impressive 17 -6 and then going 34-11 3/4 to take the triple jump, with teammate Nia Feaster grabbing second (33-11 3/4). Caputa was also second in the high jump (5-1).

"She's in a good place mentally and physically," said Krueger.

Elyssa Tracy did her part to steal the show, breaking a conference record in the pole vault by six inches with an 11-6 effort. The old mark had been shared by Hayes.

"She's really setting herself up well (for the state series of meets)," said Krueger. Tracy was also second in the 100 high hurdles (16.48).

Elsewhere, depth ruled the day for the Highlanders.

Earning seconds were Katie Wegmann in the 1,600 (5:13.03) and 800 (2:20.42), Allie Levin in the 3,200 (12:01.3) and the 4x100 relay team of Andrea Rossman, Feaster, Ellie Trau and Leigh Berman (52.58), while a third went to Mary Kate Simon in the 400 (1:01.52).

Krueger praised the efforts of senior leaders like Caputa, Tracy, Rossman, and Berman.

"They've been the anchors for all us all season," he said.

Nicolet's Brandilyn Robertson took second (26.87) and Amara Saffold third (26.934) in the 200, and other seconds came from the 4x200 relay team of Rylee Callahan, Robertson, Saffold and Jnana Martin (1:46.65) and the 4x800 relay team of Katie Novak, Elzabeth Mowers, Nora McGuire and Michelle Pigg (10:06.91).

Callahan was third in the pole vault (9-0), and Asante Lanier was fourth in the triple jump (33-2 1/2) and Mowers was third in the 3,200 (12:08.67).

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