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Panthers defend title at Fulton Relays

Erie-Prophetstown's Kassi Henrekin hands the baton off to Rebecca Arnolts during the 3,200 relay on Monday at the Fulton Relays. The Panthers won the event in 11:05.45, and the meet with 125 points.
Erie-Prophetstown's Kassi Henrekin hands the baton off to Rebecca Arnolts during the 3,200 relay on Monday at the Fulton Relays. The Panthers won the event in 11:05.45, and the meet with 125 points.

FULTON – At picture time, Rachel Cobert had all the answers.

After winning the Fulton Invitational on Monday night, she and her Erie-Prophetstown teammates gathered on the football field for pictures. After the first round of shots, she said, 'Hey, aren't we number one?"

A virtual herd of Panthers dutifully raised their index fingers to indicate that on this night, they were indeed number one.

Erie-Prophetstown finished with 125 points, well ahead of runner-up Amboy, which had 84. Rounding out the top five were Clinton (81), Rockridge (45) and Fulton (35).

The Panthers have won the Fulton Invite 2 years in a row, and 3 of the last 4.

"We're making leaps and strides from where we were at the beginning of the season to where we are now," Rachel Cobert said. "Obviously, we still have some things to work on. Hopefully, we can work on that as a team, and get to where we want to be."

"The meet was a really good gauge," Erie-Prophetstown coach Don Robinson said. "I told the girls now we've got to start focusing on the workouts that can hopefully get us a little better."

Leading the way for the Panthers were the Cobert sisters, Rachel and Courtney, who were part of four wins, and Cassie Reiley, who was part of three victories in a grueling night.

Rachel Cobert set the only meet record with a time of 59.97 in the 400. It was shy of the 59.6 she ran at the indoor state meet earlier this season, but bettered the meet record of 1:00.2 set by Newman's Amanda Trancoso in 2007.

"Looking at the program and seeing the record at 1:00.2, I knew it was within reach and I could do it," Rachel Cobert said. "With it being such a nice night, and a higher level of competition than we see in a lot of meets, I thought could get it."

Rachel also won the triple jump (35-4 1/2) and 200 (27.7). Also winning individual events were Courtney Cobert in the 100 (13.24) and Reiley in the 800 (2:29.96). Shyan Dessing was second in the 300 hurdles (50.94).

Erie-Prophetstown also racked up 40 points by sweeping the four relays. Its times were 52.02 in the 400; 1:50.96 in the 800; 4:19.46 in the 1,600; and 11;05.45 in the 3,200. Courtney Cobert and Heather Strike ran on the 400, 800 and 1,600 relays.

Reiley ran in the two distance relays, and was also fourth in the 1,600 (5:56.1). At the sectional, she will likely forego the 1,600 to run a leg on the 800 relay.

"It was really hard tonight, especially when it's only a girls meet," Reiley said. "When the guys are here, I get a little bit more rest. I'm doing it to get points for the team."

Leading the way for Amboy was freshman distance ace Megan Grady, who won the 1,600 in a school-record time of 5:29.76. The old record of 5:40.2 was set by Courtney Olson in 2007.

Grady stayed behind Fulton's Averi Leitzen and Clinton's Kim Kaster until about 300 meters remained, then made her move.

"They blocked the wind for me, even though there wasn't much wind tonight," Grady said. "They paced me, and then I did what I had to do for that last 300."

Grady was also second in the 3,200 in 12:06. It was the first time she ran the event this spring, and was more than six seconds under the state qualifying time of 12:12.24.

Also for the Clippers, Laura Rieker cleared 5 feet to win the high jump. Taking second place were Danielle Corcoran in the 800 (2:37.99) and Erika Zimmerlein in the 200 (27.32).

The only other area team with an event champion was Milledgeville. Miranda Grisham took the long jump with a leap of 16-0 on her fourth and final attempt. She scratched the first three tries.

"I had to cheat so I could get one in," Grisham said with a smile.

Other top area performers included Morrison's Kassidee Church, who was second in the long jump (14-11 /2) and 100 hurdles (17.46); the Fillies' Brandi Hosford, second in the triple jump (34-7); Fulton's Averi Litzen, second in the 1,600 (5:31.75); and Newman's Mary Jensen, second in the 100 (13.45).

Stars of the meet: Rachel Cobert, Courtney Cobert (E-P), 4 wins apiece

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