Glenbard West girls track dialed in to go the distance

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It’s like a game of one-upmanship in the Hass household these days.

Kelly Hass coached Glenbard West’s girls track team to its best state showing ever last spring, a third-place finish in Class 3A. Then in the fall, her husband Paul Hass guided the Hilltoppers to their first state cross country title.

Does that up the ante for Glenbard West this spring?

“No pressure,” Kelly Hass said with a laugh.

There are plenty of reasons for her to be in a good mood this season.

Start with perhaps the state’s most talented group of distance runners, led by defending 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter state champ Madeline Perez.

Two more state qualifiers in the metric mile also are back: Lisa Luczak and Glenbard East transfer Lindsay Graham. All three were integral to the Hilltoppers’ cross country title and Hass will take some time to determine her postseason lineup, which allows only two athletes per event.

“We’re going to let that sort itself out,” Hass said. “But honestly, what a good problem to have.”

Perez, who missed most of the cross country season with a nagging injury before returning to finish third at state, had the state’s best indoor 3,200 time this year. But she missed the Top Times indoor state meet and will be limited to doing some cross-training for now because of an ailment not believed to be serious.

“She’s chomping at the bit,” Hass said.

In the meantime, her teammates are keeping up their end of the bargain as Graham was an easy winner in the Class 3A 3,200 at the indoor state meet.

The Hilltoppers’ other area of strength is the quarter mile. Both Emma Gambol and Mary Nevins return from the Hilltoppers’ eighth-place 1,600 relay team at state.

Emma Gambol also is a returning placer in the triple jump who could make some noise in the long jump too, and her sister Anna shows promise in the shot put.

Elsewhere, there are numbers — lots of them. Hass has 107 athletes out, an increase of 30 from last season. That depth could pay off come May.

“If I can have someone running two events instead of four, so much the better,” Hass said.

And what’s also better is the Hilltoppers’ brand new track, which could produce some better times this spring.

“It should,” Hass said. “It seemed we were running in concrete the last five years. It just feels better.”

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