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St. Charles East girls track ties for UEC indoor title

St. Charles East's Allison Chmelik competes in the 400-meter dash at Batavia High 
School during the UEC Girls Track and Field Indoor Meet on Saturday.
St. Charles East's Allison Chmelik competes in the 400-meter dash at Batavia High School during the UEC Girls Track and Field Indoor Meet on Saturday.

BATAVIA – Public address announcer Skip Stolley outlined the scenario that would produce a tie between St. Charles East and Neuqua Valley for the Upstate Eight Conference girls indoor track title late in Saturday's meet.

Moments later, it occurred: the Saints won the 4x400-meter relay to close the day and the Wildcats finished seventh.

While Stolley's skill as a soothsayer may be up for debate, there was no disagreement regarding East's demeanor, dual plaques notwithstanding.

"Still excited," Saints junior Allison Chmelik said. "I think first is still first, so I'm happy with it."

East and Neuqua both totaled 115 team points, a comfortable distance from Metea Valley (83.5) and St. Charles North (74). The Wildcats came frustratingly close to winning outright, as their 4x400 anchor leg stumbled down the stretch.

Neuqua also endured off-track adversity because its entry was in the second-fastest heat based on seed times. East won the fast finals heat in 4:06:08, with third leg Anastasia Honea securing the lead from Batavia before handing off to Notre-Dame bound senior anchor Jordan Shead.

"We knew it was close," second leg runner Corrin Adams said, "so we just wanted to go and have a good race for the team and enjoy ourselves."

East claimed three other event wins, including Torree Scull in the 3,200 (11:16.77). Chmelik took the triple jump with an effort of 37 feet, 6 1/4 inches, while Shead was victorious in the 400 with a time of 58.36.

Overall, Shead edged Chmelik (1:00.17) for the crown, but she cruised by more than eight seconds in her heat. Because she had not registered an individual 400 time earlier in the indoor season, Shead was easily the marquee athlete in the first of four races.

North senior Jessica Grill earned the Chronicle area's only other event title, clearing 10-9 in the pole vault.

Grill also is a top girls golfer in the fall, just one among North's solid core of multi-sport athletes that also includes Northwestern softball recruit Sabrina Rabin in the sprints. The latest to join the club, Quinn Samanic, is just a few weeks removed from helping the North Stars' drill team to the 3A Team Dance Illinois grand championship.

"People have just been telling me I was fast, so I was like, 'I should just give track a try and see how I like it,' " said Samanic, a sprinter and high jumper in only her second meet. "And I really like it."

Batavia and Geneva both were missing athletes due to illness or other commitments, but still delivered some memorable performances.

Bulldogs freshman Hannah Schlaman placed a narrow second in the 55 (7.44) and fifth in the 200.

"I think once everything gets going for outdoor season, we'll see a lot more success from everyone," Bulldogs coach Justin Allison said.

Geneva coach Peter Raak, "pleasantly surprised" by a handful of PRs as well as Shannon Callahan's runner-up effort in the high jump (4-11), echoed that sentiment.

"They competed very well, they're getting lots of experience for outdoors, so we've got a lot to work with, a lot to build off of," Raak said.

Whether due to absence, illness or injury, each of the 12 teams on hand used lineups that likely won't match the ones on display for the outdoor conference meet in May.

The Saints are awaiting the return of Chmelik's twin, Elizabeth, who is battling hip troubles. East's resilience delighted coach Tim Wolf all the more.

"We always go battle with a team concept and I think today [was] just one of those perfect examples of how to pull together as a team," he said.

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