BY CHAD DARE
The perfect execution of the gameplan earned the Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac girls track team a Vermilion County title on Friday night.
Comets coach Lynn Anderson knew it would take a similar performance to win the Vermilion Valley Conference title on Monday.
Midway through the meet, Oakwood/A-P was 20 points behind their pace of Friday, so it was only natural that Anderson figured her team had come up short in the final team standings.
“I was just heading up the press box to pick up my packet,’’ said Anderson, who was still shocked that her Comets had won their second straight VVC title by 12 points over Salt Fork. “I’m just really elated for the kids.’’
And the announcement of the final team standings even surprised the Oakwood/A-P team.
“We didn’t know it until they announced it,’’ said Oakwood/A-P senior Catherine Wright. “We didn’t perform as our best tonight, but we still found a way to win.’’
And how did the Comets do that?
“We just pulled together as a team,’’ said Wright. “We knew where we lost some of our points, and we knew we had to pull together and try to pick up points in other areas.’’
After the five field events, Oakwood/A-P found itself trailing Salt Fork 66-40, and after 10 events the Storm held a 104-81 lead over the Comets.
“We had a big talk before the meet,’’ Anderson said. “We told the girls that Friday night was over, and we knew Schlarman would take more points away from us and not as many from Salt Fork.
“We had to perform even better than Friday to have a chance.’’
One of the big disappointments for Anderson came in the 400-meter relay when a dropped baton likely cost the Comets nine points.
“It was an accident, but it could have been really costly,’’ Anderson said.
But that same group helped start the rally by winning the 800 relay.
Hailey Bennett and MaKayla Gayler, who won the triple jump, kept things rolling by placing second and third in the 300 hurdles.
The Comets finally took the lead in the second-to-last event — 200 — as Abby Stewart and Cheyenne Sadlek finished second and third in that event.
“I’m still in shock,’’ Anderson said. “These girls did a great job of coming back. It’s nice for them to get this honor after winning the County title on Friday.’’
Salt Fork freshman Jenny Kimbro followed up her four victories in the County meet with three firsts and one second.
Additionally, she set a new conference record in the 100 hurdles (15.06), breaking the mark of Danielle Biggerstaff, the daughter of Salt Fork coach Gail Biggerstaff.
“I was just hoping to do well as well as I did on Friday,’’ Kimbro said. “But, I was really hoping that after getting second in County, we could get first in the conference.’’
The Storm won seven of the 18 events and they finished 1-2 in shot put, the discus and the 100 hurdles.
“It’s still a pretty big accomplishment to be second in both the County and conference track meets,’’ Kimbro said.
Senior teammate Toria Plotner won her fourth consecutive VVC title in the 400, and Plotner also anchored the Storm’s winning 400 relay team.
But in the finals of the 200, Plotner could not finish the race with an apparent leg injury, she said on Friday that she was just returning from an hamstring injury.
Gail Biggerstaff was hopeful that Plotner will be ready for the IHSA Class 1A sectional meet this Friday in Catlin.
Rounding out the team standings was Schlarman Academy in third, Bismarck-Henning took fourth, Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman came in fifth, Hoopeston Area was sixth and Westville finished seventh.
In addition to Kimbro and Plotner, also winning multiple events on Monday night was Schlarman’s Jordan Marganski, Bismarck-Henning Mary Bass and Hoopeston Area’s Madie Brown.
Marganski won the high jump and the 800; Bass claimed both the 100 and 200, while Brown doubled, winning the 1,600 and 3,200.