DGN story at Hononegah Invite

Thursday, March 7 2013

Although Saturday’s Rockton Hononegah Invitational was a quick turnaround for the Downers Grove North indoor girls track team, senior Rebecca Ridderhoff relished the opportunity.

Ridderhoff had been disappointed with how she performed at the York Invitational just two days earlier.

“I was angry at myself so I was like, ‘I’m not going to let this happen again,’ ” Ridderhoff said. “I didn’t have to sit and think about it for a long time. I just had one day and I could try again and redeem myself.”

Ridderhoff responded by reaching the finals of both of her hurdles races and anchoring the victorious 1,600-meter relay to help the Trojans finish fourth in the 20-plus team field.

Junior Stephanie Urbancik, senior Barbara Armstrong, sophomore Zayna Jan and Ridderhoff (4:15.29 fully automatic time) won the 1,600 relay by 3.3 seconds and missed the invite record by about .4. Ridderhoff and Urbancik each had team-best 1:02.8 splits.

However, Ridderhoff was more excited about her hurdles races. She set the tone for a good meet by reaching the 55 hurdles final and taking fifth (9.37). She later was fifth in her first time running the 200 hurdles (32.42), an event rarely offered indoors.

“At least the highlight for me was the 200 hurdles. I completely wiped out on the ground and fell and I still placed, medaled,” Ridderhoff said.

“I can always run a good race but mentally sometimes I get myself out of it. I’ve had some not so good meets so I think having a good meet, having some good races, helped me to try and think about what I need to do differently in terms of how I think about races and not let myself get intimidated.”

Downers North (56 points) was a strong fourth behind West Aurora (122.5), Hononegah (75) and Lake Park (68). Cary-Grove and Lakes (41) tied for fifth.

Urbancik also had a big meet. Besides leading off the 1,600 relay, she anchored the Trojans’ other victory, the 3,200 relay with freshman Grace Maletich, junior Michaela Nicholson (10:02.49), and was sixth in the 400 (1:02.65).

“It’s hard to come back (after competing Thursday night). They came back,” Downers North coach Tim McDonald said.

“(At York) Rebecca didn’t have a great night and she would admit that, but I’m not sure that except for that, there weren’t a lot of kids that didn’t run about as well as they can right now. For them to kind of keep focused and go with it (Saturday), it was nice. It’s traveling out there, an hour and 45-minute trek, and you’re there all day. They did some good things.”

Besides the time schedule, the track wasn’t conducive to great times. It’s an older shiny, rubbery surface in which spikes are not allowed. The scenic dome facility is spacious with the team situated outside of an elevated competition area.

“It was easier to breath in there because it was higher up,” said freshman Kaitlyn Bonfield, who ran the 3,200. “My throat usually hurts at the end of races, but it didn’t hurt that time. I liked the dome.”

Like the 1,600 relay, a major challenge to the Trojans never materialized in the 3,200 relay. Urbancik had a team-best 2:24.7 split as Downers North won by 9.83 seconds over Hononegah (10:12.32) anchored by senior Courtney Clayton, who came back to win the 400 (59.82) and 800 (2:19.63). Clayton was second in the 800 and eighth in the 400 at the 2012 Class 3A state meet.

“(Clayton) was the fourth leg so I was kind of nervous. I think we got so far ahead that she kind of just was going to accept second place because she had a lot of other races,” Urbancik said. “I wasn’t really worried about my other events at the time because I was just worried about holding the lead. I think I (split) pretty well considering I wasn’t really competing against anyone.”

Behind personal best times, Maletich was third in the 1,600 (5:23.74) and Kaitlyn Bonfield was fourth in the 3,200 (11:39.21), and junior Meghan Bonfield was fifth in the 800 (2:25.80).

The Trojans also were third in the distance medley relay (13:43.95), another event rarely competed, with 4,000 meters covered by Meghan Bonfield (1,200 meters), freshman Maci Schaub (400), Nicholson (800) and senior Maggie Smith (1,600). The 800 relay of sophomores Rachel Schuetz and Sophie Temple-Wood, Armstrong and junior Mary Rounce was fifth (1:56.77).

“It was interesting because I’ve never run a distance medley before,” Meghan Bonfield said. “I liked the (1,200) distance because it’s not a mile and a little bit more than an 800. I thought it was a good distance for me.”

Maletich improved upon her previous season best of 5:27.90 by more than four seconds to finish third in the 1,600 behind Lake Park senior Kaylee Flanagan (5:04.59) and Marengo senior Katie Adams (5:20.47). Maletich had a 2:28.4 split in the 3,200 relay.

At last year’s state finals, Flanagan won the 3A 3,200 and Adams won the 2A 1,600 (5:05.10) and was second in the 3,200. Maletich held off DeKalb junior Kelsey Schrader (5:24.51), who was 10th at the 3A state cross country meet in November.

Maletich competed for the Trojans in the final three cross country races after being hurt following the season opener with a torn oblique muscle. Meghan Bonfield made it through the entire season but battled leg pain during regionals and sectionals.  

“(The 1,600) was a really hard race but a fun race,” Maletich said. “I was injured for the whole cross country season. It’s just nice to be able to run again now.”

In the 3,200, Adams dominated that race (11:23.59) while Bonfield dropped nearly 30 seconds exactly from her previous best time to finish just seconds behind Downers Grove South sophomore Abby Kargol (11:36.76) and Lake Park senior Brianne Murphy (11:38.70).

“That was my goal, to run under 12:00,” Bonfield said. “The races are so much longer in cross country (than track). The longest is two miles. It’s easier for you since you’ve done 3-mile races (in cross country).”

Jessica Ridderhoff had the team’s highest place in field events by taking ninth in long jump (14-10 3/4). Rachel Krusenoski also had a top-10 finish in the 1,600 (10th, 5:44.70). Krusenoski, coming back from a foot injury, improved upon her 3,200 relay/1,600 double at the York Invite.

“To come back with an even better time (Saturday), I was really happy, and she ran really well in the relay,” said McDonald, who oversees the distance runners. “I was really happy with the longer distance races. I thought we had some really good performances in terms of kids stepping up and kind of getting better.”

Among other top-20 finishers, Rounce (28.53) and Schuetz (29.28) were 12th and 16th in the 200, Micah Pfotenhauer (3,200 in 12:38.11) and Jan (800 in 2:34.83) were 13th, Evangeline Tuohy (30-5 1/2), Jessica Ridderhoff (30-3 1/2) and Megan Sybeldon (30-1 3/4) were 14th, 16th and 17th in triple jump, Lauren Dawson was 15th in the 55 hurdles (10.23), Hannah Henry was 16th in the 800 (1:08.50), Grace Marek tied for 16th (4-6) and Peyton Winters tied for 18th (4-4) in high jump, Temple-Wood was 17th in long jump (14-2) and Alize Chester was 19th in shot put (31-1 1/2).

“I think that right now we are a lot further along than I thought we’d be right now. Not that I wasn’t expecting us not to be competitive, but I just am really pleased with the progress of the girls and how they’ve kind of handled it,” McDonald said.

                                                                                                                                                                                 -- by Bill Stone