DOWNERS GROVE – For Downers Grove North junior Kim Brent, the cold and windy weather was far from her biggest track and field challenges during Friday’s annual home Bruce Ritter Invitational.
Visibly hurting with back spasms after her 400-meter dash, Brent could understandably have opted out of her fourth event, the 200. Brent competed and finished third.
“I don’t want to be seen as weak,” Brent said. “I want to push myself because when I get to state, I have to run at least two, three events and I want to get used to it, not selling myself short. Just seem strong and push through it, no matter how it feels.”
Brent and the Trojans had plenty to feel good about after taking second (83 points) in the 16-team field, one point ahead of Glenbard West. Lyons Township won with 95 points. Seniors Naomi Boyd (107 feet-5 inches in discus) and Isabel Maletich (36-11 in triple jump) took first. Boyd won by 10-11 and Maletich’s final attempt prevailed by one inch.
The 400 relay of sophomore Celeste Bonga, Maletich, senior Kessie Olekanma and Brent (49.58 seconds fully automatic time) was second. Brent was third in the 200 (26.01) and 100 (12.40) and fourth in the 400 (1:01.75) against great competition like West Aurora junior Dajour Miles, the defending Class 3A 400 state champion, and Crete-Monee junior Lyn’Nikka Vance, sixth in the 200 and eighth in the 100.
“After the meet I just told [Brent], ‘I’m really proud of your toughness. You showed a lot of that, and that’s a big deal,’ ” Downers North coach Matt Maletich said. “She’s not proud of her times, but she had some other factors playing into them and she showed toughness getting around them.”
Last year's Ritter Invite was Brent’s breakthrough. She contributed to three winning relays – the 400, 800 and frosh-soph 1,600. Later last spring at state, Brent contributed to the all-state, fourth-place 1,600 relay (school-record 3:56.90) and seventh-place 800 relay (1:42.79), .04 from their school record at sectionals.
“I think [state has] motivated me, seeing all of the higher level sprinters,” Brent said. “It pushed me to go harder, doing summer camps, seeing how the people higher than me learn from those mistakes.”
On Friday, Brent’s 12.1 manual time in the 100 set another school record. Her first was 7.43 FAT in the 55 for third at the indoor conference meet.
“I feel like I’m doing really good compared to last year. I’ve been working harder, trying to get my times down,” Brent said. “I like being seen so I can get recognition from it and get to know more of the girls on the higher level.”
Senior Mickey Santen was third in discus (91-3). Boyd (34-10) and senior Lily Janowicz (34-5) finished 4-5 in shot put and Maletich was fourth in long jump (17-4 1/4). Sophomore Carolyn-Paige Breit (9-0 in pole vault), Olekanma (300 low hurdles in 49.55) and the 800 relay (Maletich, freshmen Mia Bowers and McKenna Cinotte and Bonga in 1:49.98) were fifth. Senior Annie Panico (800 in 2:27.28), junior Brooke Peters (400 in 1:03.09) and Bonga (200 in 27.25) were eighth.