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Prep Track Insider: Throwing gains

Batavia's Paulina Szakiel competes in the high jump Saturday during the Mike VanDeveer Invitational at Geneva High School.
Batavia's Paulina Szakiel competes in the high jump Saturday during the Mike VanDeveer Invitational at Geneva High School.

Geneva senior throwers Kyle McNeil and Nathan Balettie cultivated their rapport as linemen during football season.

That bond has helped the pair make the most of a friendly competition in their final track seasons.

McNeil gained the most recent bragging rights by winning the shot put and discus at Saturday's Mike VanDeveer Invite at Geneva, topping a field that included Balettie in both events.

"They've been very close all year. Kyle's been ahead of him in the discus, but they've been within a foot or two of each other in the shot put," Vikings coach Gale Gross said. "I'm hoping Nathan will now catch up to Kyle once we get outside more."

Wolf knocks on door
One VanDeveer girls record fell by a narrow margin when Burlington Central senior Katie Trupp cleared 5 feet, 5.5 inches, establing a new standard by one-half inch.

Classmate Kayla Wolf eyed a record in the 800 meters – and thought she made have had one before the official time was revealed – but her 2:18.59 finish ultimately was shy of the 2:17.1 effort Geneva's Rebecca Mitchell posted in 2000.

"I was aware of what [the record] was, and I was trying to go for it. I came out too slow in my first lap, so that was kind of the kicker there, unfortunately," Wolf said.

Still, she didn't kick herself over an event title and a time that was nearly five seconds faster than the Class 2A state qualifying standard.

"That's what I was looking to run today, so I did that," Wolf said. "A little bit faster would have been nice, but it snowed [Saturday] morning."

Preparing for Penn
One way to beat this inclement weather: Get out of town.

That's exactly what a contingent of boys athletes from St. Charles North will be looking to do next week, as North's 4x100 and 4x400 relays have been invited to compete at the prestigious Penn Relays from April 26-27.

North boasts a stable of talented sprinters this season, including Zach Kirby, Jack Feeney, Grant Loess, Connor Larson and Josh Phelan.

"It's nice for our program, nice for our school, nice for our community," North Stars coach Don Spencer said. "I think the kids are going to be wonderful reps for all those groups."


Nathaniel Kucera
Kaneland, Jr.
What he did:
Kucera won the 800 meters in 1:58.35 while teaming with the Knights' victorious 4x400 relay as Kaneland was a narrow runner-up to Metamora at Saturday's Ottawa Invite.

Lauren Zick
Kaneland, Jr.
What she did:
Captured titles in the top flights of 100 meters (12.30), 200 (25.65) and long jump (17-6) to help host Kaneland to a runner-up finish at the Jenni's ABC Meet on Saturday.

Double-scoring sometimes works just as well as winning an event. Despite claiming just three event titles at its Mike VanDeveer Invite on Saturday, Geneva still edged McHenry for the team title. "Absolutely. That's what we live on. That's what we preach," Vikings coach Gale Gross said. "It's not about first-places. Those take care of themselves, I always tell the kids. You work hard for seconds, thirds and fourths."

Which team takes regional bragging rights at the girls Kane County Meet. St. Charles East enters the April 26 competition at Geneva eager to supplant defending champion West Aurora. Saints senior Britney Williams starred last spring, winning the 400 meters while anchoring East's champion 4x100 and 4x400 relays.

Sly's mostly been slingin' mud instead of dishin' dirt thanks to all these storms, but all these days of rainouts make me cross my fingers for the Kane County Meets.

Hard to believe those events for the girls and boys are right around the corner, as it feels like athletes were just convening at Batavia's fieldhouse for the UEC indoor meets.

Hmm. Maybe that could be backup venue if this weather doesn't turn.

Athletes will adjust either way, but here's hoping for some legit May flowers for the county and state series meets. Mud knows we're due.

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