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Girls track: Panthers repeat as TRAC champs

EDGINGTON – Some flaws in her second phase meant Erie-Prophetstown sophomore Rachel Cobert absorbed "below average" distances in her first two triple jump attempts on Friday night.

The third try altered her outlook.

Fixing the mechanical issues and soaring with confidence, Cobert had a career-best jump at the right time. Her final attempt netted a distance of 36 feet, 1 inches, breaking the 13-year-old Three Rivers Meet record by more than 6 inches.

"This is a great meet to do it," Cobert said. "I know that [distance is] what it takes to get to state and get first, second or third place. That's a goal I've been having all year."

With Cobert breaking 36 feet for the first time, the Panthers used the momentum to repeat as conference champions. Erie-Prophetstown tallied 137.5 points, 43 more than runner-up Bureau Valley in the 14-team meet.

The Panthers won seven conference titles and scored in every event.

"This was goal for us," Erie-Prophetstown senior sprinter Courtney Cobert said.

The highlight was Rachel Cobert's triple jump, which should place it among the best distances in Class 1A this season. After two sub-par performances, she proved the third was a charm.

"I have the mentality that I know I can do it," Cobert said. "So, it really was more technical things."

The mechanics were corrected, allowing Cobert to reach a season-long goal. From a mental standpoint, the result is huge.

"It really shows me that is a distance I can get. Now that's my standard, so I'll be striving for it," Cobert said. "If I don't get it, I'll be disappointed. But getting that is great."

Capping Cobert's night was a win in the 200-meter dash (27.02 seconds) and running the anchor leg on the title-winning 400 relay that completed the race in 51.54.

For the second consecutive year, the Panthers swept the relays, as they scored 100 points on the track. The 400, 800 and 1,600 each took first place by running under the state-qualifying standard. All three earned top-three finishes at state last spring.

"We've been running pretty consistent times," said Courtney Cobert, who ran a leg on each sprint relay and also won the 100. "Everybody always steps up."

Six days from competing in the Class 1A Bureau Valley Sectional, the Panthers proved they are in postseason form with solid performances on the track and in the field events.

"We're working harder than ever," Rachel Cobert said. "We're doing all the right things now. I hope it continues."

Leitzen gets win: Fulton sophomore Averi Leitzen won the 1,600, completing the race in 5:44.49. A late push in the last 300 meters allowed her to outlast Amboy's Megan Grady for the title.

"I just had a lot of energy left," Leitzen said. "I knew when I had to kick it in to get the win."

Bureau Valley's second-place team finish featured one individual champion. Lindsey Hoffert scored the long jump title after soaring 16-2 1/4. Amboy, which placed third with 86 points, received wins from Grady (3,200, 12:01.55) and Laura Rieker (high jump, 5-2).

Morrison (38.5 points) was seventh, Fulton (29) took ninth and Newman (18) placed 12th.

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