Evanston head coach Fenton Gunter spent several intense moments discussing the immediate future lineup for his girls track team at the conclusion of the Central Suburban League South division meet Thursday night.
That discussion with the rest of the ETHS coaching staff — as the shadows crept over Phelps Field at New Trier’s east campus — included the options for possible changes in the Wildkit relay lineup, even though it was those races that provided the highlights on a warm and windy day for the Kits.
And while Gunter isn’t likely to change personnel on those units after Evanston captured league titles in the 400-meter, 800-meter and 1600-meter relays, it’s possible that he’ll tinker with the running order before next Thursday’s Class 3A sectional meet at Loyola Academy.
Those relay wins, along with three individual titles for ETHS, lifted the Wildkits to a second place finish in the team standings with 106.33 points to 193 for champion New Trier. Glenbrook South (85.83), Niles West (78), Maine South (74.83) and Waukegan (16) followed in order.
Southerly breezes that approached 20 miles-per-hour all afternoon denied Evanston a chance to record the kind of times Gunter was seeking in the final tuneup for the sectional. But for the most part, a young squad that featured most of its competitors participating in a championship meet for the first time on the varsity level took a step in the right direction.
The ETHS foursome of Remy Amarteifio, Alexia Harvey, Summer Mitchell and Tauja Foreman took top honors in the 400 relay in 49.55 seconds. Foreman, Harvey, Amarteifio and freshman Aisa Lasley combined for a winning time of 1:46.11 in the 800 relay, and ETHS finished off a sweep of the sprint relays when Lasley, Amarteifio, Harvey and Noni Shelton blew away top-seeded New Trier in the 1600 by a margin of 4:03.62 to 4:08.10 in the final race of the day.
“We’ll definitely change some of the (running) order for next week,” Gunter declared. “We just couldn’t turn in the times we wanted today because of the wind, though. Everyone who ran with the wind in their faces — not just our girls — struggled today.
“I think we would have been in the 48s in the 4 x 100 if it wasn’t for the wind, so we did alright there. They still need a lot of work and we’ve been making do there because we just don’t have enough sprinters this year.
“ The 4 x 200 ran better today than they have been. Foreman was outstanding coming out of the hole (leadoff leg) and Aisa was outstanding at the end. We had freshmen (Lasley and Shelton) at both ends of that 4 x 400. Aisa has been more comfortable there and we’ve had her at leadoff ever since the indoor season ended. Noni is finally starting to catch up (after missing two weeks of training with a spring break trip to England) and now she’s getting her stuff together, too.”
Lasley turned in the best split in the 1600, in 59.98, but all four Kit runners were within one second of each other en route to the easy victory.
Individually, the Wildkits crowned three more champions. Amarteifio claimed the 100-meter hurdles in 14.90; Genora Garcia had the best shot put toss at 40 feet, 8 inches; and Gabrielle Watson beat the high jump field in a jump-off with New Trier’s Natalie Karabas.
Amarteifio’s win helped the senior wipe out the memory of last year’s race, as she fell during preliminary qualifying at Maine South and failed to advance to the finals.
Thursday, she beat out a field that included the defending champion, teammate Harvey. She was off her seed time of 14.9, but the race was run into a stiff breeze and she passed the field at the midway point of the race to win going away. Harvey settled for 3rd place behind Niles West’s Jazmine Rafanan, 16.42 to 17.05.
Garcia already had first place clinched when she eclipsed 40 feet on her final throw of the day. In the high jump, neither Watson nor Karabas could clear 5-1, so the bar was lowered one inch and Watson prevailed by clearing 5-0 after Karabas missed her only attempt.
Foreman, a sophomore, contributed a 2nd place in the 100 in 13.34 and placed 3rd in the 200 in 26.40. Also earning thirds were Crea Taylor in the 300 hurdles (51.25) and the 3200 relay team of Taylor, Hannah Hayat, Kristin Tangvik and Enyaeva Michelin, timed in 10:25.85.