MONTICELLO — As the sun fell and the air began to chill, the Monticello girls’ track and field team could tell it was going to be a good night.
A few fast times and broken records later, the Sages were celebrating a second-place finish Friday at the Lady Sages Invite. Monticello earned 68 points, finishing behind Central A&M, which placed first with 96.
St. Teresa placed third with 54 points, and Sullivan was fourth with 52.
The Sages got off on the right foot in their strongest event — the 3,200 relay. Sophomore Maggie Utgaard kicked out of the blocks for Monticello, and Emily Foley, Hannah Houska and Madison Tutich finished off the winning race with a time of 9 minutes, 39.74 seconds, nearly 15 seconds faster than the previous school record.
Utgaard went on to finish second in the 3,200 two events later.
“I was pretty tired. It’s a difficult double with the 4x800 before,” said Utgaard, who came from fourth or fifth place to finish just behind the leader. “I would say mentally the first couple of laps I didn’t have it, but the last mile or so I told myself I had to focus and get in this race.
“Coming down the straightaway I was like, ‘What’s worse? Feeling gross for a couple of seconds or getting second place?’”
The second leg of that relay team, Houska, finished third in the 400 behind LeRoy freshman Courtney Monier (second) and Sullivan sophomore Amanda McClain (first).
Houska’s time of 1:00.64 was just faster than the school record.
“It’s definitely a blessing,” Houska said. “After the 4x800 I was feeling kind of nauseous, but I wanted to try (the) 400.”
Houska, a standout in cross-country, is trying to qualify for state in the 400.
“I really think I have a good shot,” she said. “I’m really excited for it.”
Houska said Monticello is coming together under first-year coach Jennifer Wadja.
“We’re feeling really strong, especially with our 4x800,” she said. “We’re hoping to do some good things.”
Other finishes of note: McClain finished first in the 200, just ahead of teammate Emily Neuhauser and Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley’s Lauren Nagle. Arcola’s Taylor Edwards won the 800, Tutich and Foley went one-two in the 1,600, and Clinton’s relay of Erin West, Morgan Witzke, Jade Thomas and Becca Anderson won the 4x100 and 4x200-meter relays. Argenta-Oreana senior Kandie Bloch-Jones set a meet record in the high jump, clearing 5 feet, 8 inches. Bloch-Jones also won the triple jump ahead of St. Thomas More’s Elizabeth Bristow. Lauren Brooks of St. Joseph-Ogden won the pole vault, clearing 9-9.
At Central. Centennial’s Jonah Peoples (110 hurdles) and Central’s Cashmere Blissit (triple jump) won titles at the Gene Ward Invitational.
At Urbana. Danville’s Alexus Jimson-Miller was victorious in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and triple jump at the Urbana Girls’ Track Invite. She also ran a leg on the victorious 400 relay.