Joanna Wilson had to admit she was caught off guard Thursday upon learning from the public address announcer that her Naperville North team was leading the Plainfield North Class 3A Sectional late in the meet.
“The main thing at meets like this is trying to advance as many people to state as you can,” the Huskies coach said. “You may think about it if you know you have a strong team but you usually don’t focus on it. This is a nice surprise, I don’t know when the last time was that we won one of these. It’s the first in my time here. The girls really stepped up and did well.”
North won only one event — senior Hope Turner in the pole vault — but prevailed in a tight team race that featured four teams within
six points of the lead.
The Huskies, who qualified individuals in eight events and one relay for next week’s state meet in Charleston, finished with 75 points to edge Minooka (72) for the sectional crown. Oswego and Neuqua Valley tied for third with 69 each while Naperville Central was fifth at 50 and Oswego East and Plainfield Central tied for sixth at 43.
Maybe even more surprising to everyone but her was the win by Neuqua Valley’s Maya Neal in the 300 hurdles. The sophomore standout also won the 100 hurdles and took second in the long jump — top two finishers in each event plus any other competitors matching state qualifying marks or times advance to state.
Neal finished in 46.26 seconds and her time stood up for the win, beating Lucia Rossi of Minooka by a mere .01 of a second.
“It as a little scary, to tell you the truth,” said Parejko, “but she handled it with grace.”
Running it on her own in practice, Neal said she could better the qualifying time.
“It’s mentally tough to do it that way but you just have to push yourself,” she said.
The Wildcats had six qualifying individual performances and finished with four firsts, also getting wins from senior Savannah Carson in the long jump and freshman Kenna Lonergan in the high jump.
Naperville Central got a win from senior Tina Norris in the shot put and its 400-meter relay team of D’Jenne Egharevba, Rachel Skinner, Lauren Erickson and Mary Beth Blank in 49.19 seconds. That same quartet took second to also qualify in the 800 relay. Central’s 3,200-relay team and pole vaulter Brittany Mitchell also qualified.
Ajah Hughes won the discus for Waubonsie Valley, which also qualified its 1,600-relay team, pole vaulter Anna Klaus and Ashley Bruner in the 1,600.
Stephanie Mueller (3rd high jump, 2nd pole vault) and Morganne Freeman (2nd discus, 2nd shot put) were two-time qualifiers for Naperville North. The two will be joined downstate by teammates Marian McDaniel (1,600), Elly DeTurris (3,200), Kimber Meyer (3,200) and the 3,200-relay team.