Judy Pendergast demolished the state's best field in the 3200m... and later 1600m (Mark Capapas photo)
It was a been a long wait but a good one for Judy Pendergast and the fans of Illinois high school track and field. The Harvard bound senior from Naperville North finally got in her first outdoor 3200m of the season. It took several weather related issues plus the right set up to get it done. Originally Pendergast was scheduled to compete in the set up race at Palatine's Distance Night Race, but her friend and rival Maryjeanne Gilbert (Sr., Peoria Notre Dame) had a prom to attend. So the Sue Pariseau Invite at Glenbard West would serve as the alternate choice. As it turned out the field was as a great one with Lindsey Payne (Sr., Glenbard West), McKenzie Altmayer (Sr., Geneva), Jocelyn Long (So., Barrington), Maggie Scholle (Jr., Chicago Lane Tech), and Sarah Schmitt (So., Naperville North).
Naperville North Coach Dan Iverson is a masterful coach and one of the best ever in Illinois regardless of gender. Aside from the multiple cross country titles that he has guided his school, the strategic coach is a molder of talent. Not many high school coaches know how to guide to ready made talent and coach them up. Iverson does. "I am not a fan of the constant racing from September to June that some of the national elites seem to be doing," Iverson once said during the preparation phase of training Pendergast. "Some of those kids are racing more than the collegians, and I'm not sure it's a good thing," he added.
The goal for Pendergast is to race in June in the high powered national meets. Iverson and Pendergast will be start and responsible in picking out the right races. They will surely have a headache or two in selecting the big ones that will present themselves.
As for the race itself it was pretty academic as to the outcome from the very onset. Pendergast put the choke hold on the competition with an initial 70 second quarter. No one backed off and trailed by two seconds. The 800m was 2:26.4 for Pendergast; Payne 2:29 and pack 2:33. Pendergast continued the assault through 1200 in 3:43 and then the mile at 5:00. Payne was between Pendergast and the chase pack who came through in a fast 5:17. It would be a matter of time of the outcome for Pendergast who click off checkpoint splits of 7:34 (1.5 miles) and 8:51 (2800m). The 10:07.18 result was the fastest ever in season effort by an Illinois girl and the #2 athlete performance but #4 all time list performance (Beattie has the top three) indoors or outside. Only Kayla Beattie (Woodstock) and her 9:56.96 from the magical 2011 state championship stands in the way.