Warriors place 5th, Duchesses 7th at NIB-12 meet

DEKALB – With a week to prep for the sectional meet, Sterling girls track coach Tyler Gaumer likes where his team has positioned itself.

The Golden Warriors finished fifth among 11 teams at the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference meet on Friday in DeKalb. They had 58 points, behind Geneseo (110), Kaneland (104), Yorkville (90) and DeKalb (69).

"We scored way above what we were seeded to," Gaumer said, "and we had season PRs all over the place. The kids ran hard. We talked about this being Golden Warrior weather, and they showed up and did what they were supposed to do."

The lone champ for the Golden Warriors was Lauren Zuidema, who cleared 10-6 in the pole vault. 

Also shining for Sterling was Ashleigh Tira, a freshman who made quite a splash in her first conference meet. She finished third in both hurdles race, with times of 17.13 in the 100 highs and 49.4 in the 300 lows.

A trio of Geneseo hurdlers, led by double-winner Hannah Waller, finished ahead of Tira, who embraced the competition.

"It pushes me forward, chasing them," Tira said. "I feel like I have my form down, instead of being in the lead and not having somebody push me as much as they did."

Sterling was also able to piece together some competitive relays, paced by the 800 foursome of Peyton Cater, Krista Loos, Zuidema and Brynna Johnson that took second in 1:51.54.

The 400 team of Cater, Loos, Tira and Alexis Strong finished third in 51.83, while the 1,600 team of Emily Crossley, Rylee Kunde, Charli Wike and Mercedes Sanchez took fourth in 4:19.84.

Crossley was also fourth in the 400 (1:02.39).

Dixon finished seventh as a team with 21 points, and Lexy Duncan accounted for 16 of them. She was second in the 400 (1:00.99), third in the long jump (16-8 3/4) and fifth in the 200 (27.04).

The long jump was held in the fieldhouse, due to inclement weather early in the meet. Duncan competed in sneakers and had trouble with scratches, wiping out a couple of jumps she thought could have been more than 17 feet.

"I'm pretty confident I'll be good for sectionals," Duncan said, "so I'm just hoping I'll peak then."

The Duchesses competed without one of their athletes, Brittany Schwarz, who has a foot injury. She is expected to return to action next week.

Geneseo won its third consecutive NIB-12 meet. The Maple Leafs will compete in the Princeton Sectional next week, while Dixon and Sterling each go to Burlington Central.