OAK FOREST | At 5-foot-10, Simone Brown is far too tall for the image to be truly apt. But, as she leaned back on her right heel, left foot forward, regal lift of the chin, and her left hand resting lightly on her stomach, Napoleon leaped to mind.
"That just allows me to relax and breathe, and see nothing but the pit," the Crete-Monee senior high-jumper said. "Then I look away, and I refocus."
Next comes an eight-step approach - a hop on the second, each successive footfall arriving quicker - and an almost elegant rise. The landings, however, can be something else altogether.
Friday, when she cleared 4-10 on her third attempt to wrap up first place in the 29th Oak Forest Girls Track Invite, Brown scrambled on her hands and knees backward off the pit, fairly cackling as she watched the bar bounce, but stay on, the standards.
On her next attempt, she easily cleared 5-0, stepping out of the pit without glancing at the bar. On the last of her three efforts to match her season best of 5-2, she momentarily laid on it, grimacing.
Her school record of 5-4, set in March of 2012, remains a goal for another day.
"I want to break my own school record," she said. "I love high jump so much."
Occasionally, love hurts. Between the dicey weather, four Advanced Placement classes, nagging injuries to her left foot and quad, Brown said, "This season has been tough."
Indeed. The South Suburban meet arrives Wednesday, and Crete-Monee, looking to win its third title in a row, isn't the favorite.
"If we do all we're supposed to do, we should give Bloom everything they want," Warriors coach Willie Cole. "But this isn't like past years. Sometimes, we'd win just on the fact that we were Crete."
At Oak Forest, Crete-Monee finished fifth with 49 points, behind Rich South's winning total of 116 in the 15-team meet. The Warriors' big points came from Brown, who added a second in the triple-jump to her high jump win; Tenija Foy, third in the 100 hurdles and 200; and Chasity Powell, third in the 3,200.
T.F. South's Alexis Greenhill and Kierston Park tied for third in the high jump, clearing 4-6, as the Rebels (19 points) finished ninth.
Taylor Walker's fourth-place in the 300 hurdles accounted for Marian Catholic's four points and 14th-place finish.