HARVEY | It was a disappointing day in the team standings for local teams at the sixth annual Carol Urich Invitational, but that didn’t stop many individuals from standing out.
Thornwood led area teams with a third-place finish but the focus was on individual performances. Many athletes took advantage of clear skies and moderate temperatures rarely seen this season to make final preparations for the upcoming postseason.
Thornwood junior Janaia Carter posted a personal-best 46.69 seconds en route to a win in the 300-meter hurdles. That mark also eclipsed the qualifying time for the state meet.
“Placing here is really nice, but coming in I was focusing on getting a personal record,” she said. “I got the time in the 300, and I’m close to the mark in the triple jump. Now, I just want to work on my endurance, so I can compete in all three at sectional and state.”
The Thunderbirds' Janeah Stewart won the discus (124 feet, 7 1/2 inches), outdistancing closest competitor and teammate Janez Winston by nearly 8 feet. Stewart also won the shot put (38-3).
“In this sport all the attention is on the track events, but my field athletes had a great day today,” Thornwood coach Roy White said. “We needed this meet, we’ve had so many girls out with hamstrings, ankles, and shins because of the weather it was nice to have a good day today.”
With many of his runners nursing injuries or at home getting ready for Saturday’s prom, White will take the sunny weather and team finish as the focus shifts to the postseason.
“With the cold weather, we’ve had so many kids hurt that we were just trying to keep fit at a time when we should be increasing the conditioning,” White said. “Warm weather does wonderful things mentally for the girls.”
While the Thunderbirds used the meet to start prepping for the state series, Thornton coach Vince McAuliffe used it to rally his team for a final push to the postseason.
“There’s a lot of heart and a lot of talent on this team but at the end of the day they have to want it,” said McAuliffe, whose team was fourth (69). “We suffered some setbacks early this season but these girls never quit and they have to continue that. We have to figure out what we have to do to be ready for the regional.”
That’s because for Thornton it’s not about winning an invitational or regular-season performance. It's all about making noise in the state finals.
“We have a young team and we can be very competitive but we have to get some of these girls state experience,” McAuliffe said. “The standard at Thornton is to get people to state and we have to find all the pieces in the next ten days to do that.”