GENOA – One inadvertent hand slip paved the way for Rock Falls' Shasta Day to prove once again she's the fastest runner in the Big Northern Conference.
Day repeated as champion in the 100 and 200 at the conference meet that concluded Monday in Genoa. Inclement weather last Thursday caused a 4-day delay in the competition.
Day won the 100 in a time of 12.72 seconds, just ahead of teammate Dominique Sails, who took second in 12.85.
The tougher race for Day was expected to be the 200. She ran a time of 27.13 in the semifinals, fifth-best among eight finalists. The speediest semifinalist was Oregon's Cydney Long, who blazed to a time of 26.63 seconds.
In the finals, however, the starting gun was immediately followed by another gun blast, meaning someone had false-started. That someone was Long.
"Right when he said, 'Ready,' my hand kind of went forward, and I was like, 'Shoot,'" Long said. "I knew it right away."
Day was a bit bummed she didn't get to compete against a full field.
"Right when they stopped the race, everybody was like, 'OK, who was it?" Day said. "We all looked around, and it was like, 'Oh, it was the girl who ran a 26.' That happens."
Day is now hopeful she doesn't have a repeat of a year ago. She won the 100 and 200 in conference, but failed to advance to state in either event. She'll get a chance to redeem herself at the 2A Burlington Central Sectional on Friday.
"I think I got kind of a big head," Day said, "and then I was so nervous at the sectional that I could barely run. Hopefully I'll learn from that this year."
The Rockets finished third as a team with 68 points, behind Burlington Central and Byron, which tied with 84 apiece. The biggest downer for the Rockets was a dropped baton in the 800 relay, an event they are usually strong in.
"Overall, we were OK," Rock Falls coach Chris Lacy said. "There were spots we could have been better, but possibly could have been worse. Ironically, it was the kids who didn't end up scoring that were a lot better sometimes in some cases. We had a lot of PRs from kids you won't see in the scoresheet."
Third-place finishers for the Rockets were Michaela Bush in the long jump (15 feet, 2 1/2 inches); Mireya Arellano in the discus (34-0); and Dallas Clevenger in the 400 (1:00.15).
Rock Falls was also third in the 400 (51.27) and 3,200 (10:17.94) relays.
Oregon finished fifth as a team with 56 points. Leading the way for the Hawks was Shannon Cullen, who took the shot put with a throw of 38-3, 6 3/4 inches more than runner-up Kaitlyn Horn of Mendota.
"I'm just really excited about the competition tonight," Cullen said. "It was really good seeing some of the girls. Kaitlyn Horn is a really good competitor. It was good to win, and throw 38 like I usually do."
Long did take second in the 100 hurdles in 15.6, just behind champ Audrey Hooks of Rockford Christian, who won in 15.35.
Third-place finishers included Alexi Shaw in the discus (103-4) and the 800 relay team of Emylyn Wright, Whitney Long, Devyn Absher and Cydney Long (1:51.48).
The Hawks were also instrumental in determining a first-place tie between Burlington Central and Byron.
Entering the meet-ending 1,600 relay, Central held a 78-74 lead over Byron, meaning the Tigers had to finish two places ahead of the Rockets to grab a piece of the title.
Byron won the race in 4:13.32 to earn 10 points, while Oregon's Samantha Judge out-kicked a Central runner down the homestretch to take second place (and eight team points) in 4:29.04. Central took third (and six team points) with a time of 4:29.8.
By grabbing a piece of the team title, Central extended its streak to five consecutive Big Northern Conference titles, and nine of the last 10. The lone exception is by Byron, which won in 2008.
The lone meet record was in the high jump. Genoa-Kingston's Danielle Neisendorf and Central's Katie Trupp each cleared 5-4, equalling the mark set by Byron's Chloe Wild in 2009.