The Clinton Early Bird Invite over exceeded the hype that had been built up for it with a bunch of top performances that rank in the upper echelon of the state.
Monticello kept a stranglehold of the sprint events-
The sprints started off with Emelia Ness of Monticello running a 9.14 (IL#4) in the 60H in a hard-fought win as a surprise challenger gave her a test in Cambria Geyer of Tremont who dropped down a 9.29 (IL#6) performance.
Mattie Lieb of Monticello was the headline attraction as she was a triple event winner. Her day started off running 8.02 in the 60m to win by a quarter of a second in the 60m and followed it up with an easy money win in the 200m going 26.60 after a long day.
The real eye-catching sprint event had to be 4x200m as we saw a new IL#6 time of 1:51.68 from Monticello who had a very sloppy first handoff were Rose Talbert left too early on Lieb. Other wins in the sprints included Lovenya Perry of Rantoul who won the 400m in 1:02.42 and Aurora Rosary who ran 4:23.53 in the 4x400m.
The Distance Events Produced Some Early Season Top Marks-
In total, we saw ten new top ten marks across the four distance events. The 4x800m started off the day and had a surprise winner as Indian Creek won with a stunning early season time which leaves them only two seconds off the 1A state qualifying time running 10:33.61 (IL#5). The Timberwolves didn't win it easy though as Herscher lead through the first two legs and dropped off after which is when Eureka and Indian Creek took over. Eureka ended up taking over with one lap left, but it wasn't enough to defeat the Timberwolves.
The 3200m produced four new top ten performances including a current IL#1 performance from Kaitlin Skeate of Bloomington who ran 11:49.88 and virtually took the race from bell to bell.
Possibly the best performance of them all had to be Payne Turney's special 800m opener that saw her run 2:19.52 (IL#3). She took it out pretty conservatively as she came through at 67 seconds at the quarter-mile mark. Maia Italia of Rosary tried to latch on as she ran 2:23.63 (IL#7) to take second place.
Rachel Koon of Monticello rounded out the distance events running 5:25.19 (IL#10) in a very competitive race that really wasn't decided until the final lap.
The field events were the main event-
The field events were possibly the shining star of the show with the pole vault competition taking center stage. It was a 12-0 jump-off between three of the state's elite pole vaulters in Mara Pletcher of Mahomet-Seymour, Lillianna Ifft of Bloomington, and Sawyer Schoon of Normal University. It ended with Pletcher being the last girl standing and raised the bar to 12-4, which she cleared. This was the first time since her sophomore year that the future gopher eclipsed the 12-0 barrier. Needless to say, she was pleased with her performance.
Carly Tucker of Metamora shined in the high jump as she cleared an IL#2 mark of 5-4.25. The future redbird had some amazing attempts at 5-6 but just fell short. It was clear that Tucker is ready to prove herself this year.
Tucker's teammate Skylar Garey added to the Redbirds point total by winning the long jump with a leap of 16-8. She dominated the field by almost a foot.