DOWNERS GROVE – Glenbard West senior Janie Nabholz is used to being surrounded by champions.
As a freshman, she was the No. 5 finisher for the girls cross country team’s first team state championship.
Joining track and field for the first time in 2016, she helped the Hilltoppers qualify three relays for state and capture the sport’s first combined state team championship behind four first-place performances.
“When you look at other teams, it’s kind of crazy to think that the best of the best is on my team, which is insane,” Nabholz said. “Sometimes it’s hard to compare yourself to them, but at the same time, they make you better.”
Nabholz provided another exhausting, championship-like effort at Downers Grove North’s Ritter Invitational on April 13. The Hilltoppers (80 points) finished second to the host Trojans (103.5), but West had several strong finishes.
Nabholz, sophomore Katie Hohe, junior Claire Kenwood and freshman Katelynne Hart won the 4x800-meter relay with a season-best time of 9:24.36.
An individual Class 3A state cross country champion in November, Hart continued her championship-caliber success by winning the 800 run (2:14.64).
Junior Lindsey Payne, the defending state champion in the 3,200, won that race in 10:49.47.
Also back and defending state titles are sophomore Ahalya Lettenberger, who won the Wheelchair 200 and 400, and junior Daniela Polencheck, who won the Wheelchair 100 after 100 and 200 titles in 2015.
“I always say everyone works so hard. I saw that in cross country, and it’s definitely transferred to track,” Hart said. “Everyone wants it and wants to be the best and perform and [achieve personal records]. It’s just a really good environment.”
At DGN, Nabholz also was third in both the 400 (59.26) and the 4x400 relay with senior Sophie Cvengros and juniors Chloe Arduino and Maddie Schrauth (4:07.88).
“I guess I’m used to running three events at this point,” Nabholz said. “It’s kind of easier when I run two 400s and an 800. When I have to run two 800s, it’s pretty tough on me.”
Hart anchored the second-place frosh-soph 4x400 relay with sophomore Huda Hussaini and freshmen Aaliyah Collier and Ashley Samuta (4:11.28).
Senior Melina Thurmond was third in discus (105 feet, 11 inches).
Hart remains undefeated individually in track. During indoor season, she ran all-time school records in the 3,200 (10:11.51) and 1,600 (4:48.60) and an indoor school record in the 800 (2:15.15).
“Definitely winning state [cross country] was a really exhilarating experience,” Hart said. “After every race I’m proud of my teammates, proud of myself, even if I don’t have my best race. I’m just super proud of what has happened and I can’t wait for what’s to come.”