DOWNERS GROVE – Lyons Township senior Tara Schwarz gained her interest for track and field while admiring older sister Kayla, who in 2010 contributed to two relay state titles and a Class 3A team championship.
Those achievements were for Hinsdale Central – the Lions’ biggest rival. Tara has since moved to La Grange.
“I would have gone to Hinsdale Central [too], but I love it at LT,” Tara said with a smile. “I just like the team aspect of track. A lot of my closest friends I’ve made through track and I also love running and competing, getting better.”
Schwarz hopes to make some history of her own with the Lions. On Friday, they won the 16-team Bruce Ritter Invitational at a cold and windy Downers Grove North with 95 points.
Schwarz anchored the winning varsity 1,600-meter relay with juniors Renata Wingert and Lizzy Scotty and sophomore Maddie Cranny in 4:09.45 fully automatic time. Also taking first were senior Sunsiree Phipps in shot put (37 feet-3 1/2 inches) and Sonia Slusarczyk in the 100 high hurdles (15.13).
At state, Schwarz and Slusarczyk could become LT’s first three-time all-staters in the 1,600 relay by virtue of top-nine state finishes. The relay was ninth in 2016 (4:03.09) and a program-best second last season (3:55.49) along with Wingert, a 2016 alternate.
Last year’s time is second-best to the 3:54.67 school record that the eighth-place 2009 state team (3:56.46) ran in prelims. “That would be really cool [at state] if this year we can at least place. [Slusarczyk and I] met freshmen year and we’ve been friends ever since,” Schwarz said. “We really want to break the record. That’s probably the overall goal. Hopefully by state, but before would be better.”
The Lions won the invite by 12 points over defending champion Downers North (83) with Glenbard West (82) third.
It added to a great week for Schwarz. On Thursday, she verbally committed to compete for NCAA Division III DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., after last season deciding she had plenty of competitive running left in her.
Kayla competed at Division I DePaul University.
“I really wanted a smaller school. I really liked the [DePauw] track program and the academics are really strong, too,” Schwarz said. “I didn’t want a big school. I wanted a more tight-knit community.”
Freshman Kate Dickman pulled out second in the 3,200 (11:18.36) by .09. Wingert (1:00.89) and Schwarz (1:01.86) finished 3-5 in the 400.
Also taking third were Slusarczyk in the 300 low hurdles (48.14), the 3,200 relay (sophomore Ally Sarussi, senior Allison Fischer, junior Marta Kogucki and sophomore Maggie Abbs in 9:48.40), the 400 relay (sophomores Kyla Miller and Natalie Swinehart, Slusarczyk and Wingert in 50.06) and the frosh-soph 1,600 relay (Miller, Sarussi, sophomores Isabelle Reynolds and freshman Cate Judy in 4:19.74), which is included in the team scoring.
In high jump, senior Emma Fink (5-0) was fourth and senior Maggie Barney shared fifth. Cranny was fifth in the 800 (2:23.66) and senior Julie Cozzi was sixth in pole vault (8-6).
Nora O'Connor went 2-for-3 with an RBI for the Friars (5-7, 1-3) in a 7-4 loss to Providence on April 13. Rachel Martinez scored Fenwick's lone run in a 5-1 loss to Bishop McNamara on April 12. Alyssa Stramaglia and Gianna Amundsen both homered and Cassandra Lee was 4-for-5 with four RBIs in a 12-6 win over Loyola on April 10.