Time is running out for the Evanston girls track and field coaching staff when it comes to making decisions for the postseason lineup.
And Enyaeva Michelin’s making it as difficult as she can for head coach Fenton Gunter and assistant Jesse Sibert when it comes to narrowing down to two individual events for the senior standout to compete in at Thursday’s Class 3A Illinois High School Association sectional meet at Niles West High School.
Given a last opportunity for a postseason tuneup at the New Balance Invitational held Saturday in Farmington, Mich., Michelin shattered her own school record — not to mention the meet record — with a winning time of 10 minutes, 16.58 seconds in the 3200-meter race.
That’s one of the 10 fastest times recorded in the entire country this outdoor season. She broke her own ETHS mark by just over 8 seconds, and as a basis for comparison, the IHSA state record in Class 3A is the 10:17.28 effort by Maria Cicero of York at the 2001 finals.
And it’s a race that Michelin might not run any more, as the ETHS coaches weigh whether or not to enter her in the 800 or 1600, or a combination of the three. She’s also ranked in the top 10 nationally in the 1600, with a best performance of 4:50.03, and turned in both times in races where she wasn’t challenged at all.
Gunter wasn’t just playing mind games with the sectional competition when he indicated last week that the Kits plan to list Michelin in all 3 individual events on the heat sheet, then scratch her from one on the day of the races. The decision will literally be made at the last minute on Thursday.
“We spent the entire 6 hour bus ride coming home talking about it,” Gunter admitted, “and we’ll talk about it a lot more to try to figure out the best way for Enyaeva to have some success. What she did in Michigan has really opened up a Pandora’s Box, just like Coach Sibert said it would.
“Every time we come up with a reason for two of the races we think she could run, she comes up with a good reason to pick the third one. At this point I really don’t know which ones we’ll choose.”
The Wildkits did move closer Saturday to making some relay decisions after earning top 3 finishes in all 3 relays they entered at the Michigan meet. Evanston claimed the title in the 800-meter relay in 1:45.42, faster than the IHSA state qualifying standard, behind the all-underclass unit of Gabriella Calixte, Chassa Pratt, Asa Eddy and Maia Hadaway.
The team of Eddy, Alliyah Jones, Pratt and Calixte earned runnerup honors in the 1600, in 4:08.05, and the Kits added a third in the 400 relay when Ariel Logan, Hadaway, Pratt and Calixte were clocked in 49.94.
Besides Michelin, Jones took 11th in the open 400 in 1:03.30 and Hannah Lipman ran 13th in the open 800 in 2:27.34 as individual entries for ETHS.
Gunter has used more combinations and different running orders on the relays this spring than anyone could count and has been able to develop the depth that could lead to postseason success, even though there’s not a single senior in the mix to compete on the big stages that await whichever foursomes he finally picks.
“We’ve tried to give everyone an opportunity,” he said. “We wanted to develop enough depth so that we won’t have many girls doing double duty, especially the ones that are having shin problems at this point.
“We had a nice drop in that 4 x 200 on Saturday, especially considering that they only had about 40 minutes to warm up (the race was first on the meet schedule) after a 6-hour bus ride. We blew the last exchange on the 4 x 100 but our first two legs were outstanding. We still have some work to do.”