Prospect Girls Outlasts A Great Cast For 1st 3A Title

Prospect head coach Pete Wintermute talks about the dedication that his team had in obtaining the program's first state title



Charleston IL-

Prospect head coach Pete Wintermute has seen tremendous success as an athlete and coach at the highest level in IHSA annals. He was an integral part of the Lyons Township 4x800m relay dynasty, which won three straight titles in the mid-1990s. As a coach, Wintermute oversaw quartets win 4x800 titles--four in a row (we will visit shortly). The Lady Knights are powerful on the cross country front and won a team title in 2022.

Wintermute joins cross country coach colleagues Kelly Hass (Glenbard West) and Dan Iverson (Naperville North), who won titles in 2017 and 2018. All three won crowns with various weapons, from field events to relays, sprints, and distance events. On this day, The Knights outlast defending champion Huntley 53-50. Chicago Whitney Young took third with 49 points.

The 4x800 relay never disappoints at the state championship-

Coming into the state series, we had yet to see a dominating output by any team in what is billed as the state's top event. By the time it was over, the top seven finished among the nation's top 100!

Prospect survived a fierce challenge against Downers Grove North during the indoor season at the DGS Mustang Relays. The Lady Knights held off DGN 9:05.01 to 9:10.14.

Flash to the sectional round, the Trojans of Downers Grove North possessed the top mark of 9:15.60. 

In the prelims, Barrington dropped the top mark of 9:14.09. Prospect 9:14.49, and DGN clocked 9:23.20.

Lastly, the elephant in the room needed to be addressed. That would be the all-time record by Wheaton-Warrenville South, who ran 8:59.03.

The final opened with a tight pack for the first circuit, which the stadium announcer acknowledged.   

Barrington and Glenbard West checked in at 2:18 for the first exchange. Prospect was third, and Downers Grove North was at 2:19 and 2:20.

Barrington moved on the second exchange, opening a significant gap between Prospect and the Trojans. It appeared as though the record would be safe entering the final exchange. Prospect senior Lily Ginsberg brought her team into first place on the strength of a 2:13.00 carry. She was in line for an unprecedented fourth title in a row.

It was now a three-team race between Prospect, Barrington, and Downers Grove North. Meg Peterson (So.) was Prospect's anchor, Lily Eddington (So.) was DGN's leg, and Scout Storms (Jr.) represented the Fillies.

Peterson pressed the pace and put her foes to the max test. Peterson would need a 2:10 or 2:11 low to break the record. It didn't occur, but history was made. Prospect's IL#/US#10 9:00.83 was the third fastest time in state history. Ginsberg was the first girl to win four relays in the state. Downers Grove North finished in 9:02.66, and Barrington clocked 9:03.33. Overall, this was the second-fastest race in history. All scoring teams were under 9:25, faster than the state standard of 9:26.

Event by Event log-

Freshman Mia Sirois of Barrington has been a pleasant surprise since coming onto the scene at the end of the cross country season. Sirois gauged the weather temperature; it was a bit hotter than the previous two class sections. The pace was also more conservative than the other class races. Naperville Central senior Liv Phillips led through the first half in 5:36. Sirois assumed the lead on lap five, passed Phillips, and pulled away with 79, 76, 75, and 74 circuits. 

4x100: No meet or all-time record, but this was the deepest field in IHSA history. Huntley edged Whitney Young 46.60-46.67 at the line. But all nine teams finished under 48.00- the first time on IL soil.

100HH: There was a legitimate concern for Daisha Brunson (Sr., Hoffman Estates Conant) because of injury. She had an abrupt indoor season, and the outdoor season presented some challenges. At the state meet, she had a heavily bandaged left quad. After running 14.12 in the prelims, Brunson returned for the final and crushed the field in 13.81w.

100: Katelyn Lehnen (Jr., Chatham-Glenwood) is all the way back and proved many pundits wrong this season. She won her first-century title in a wind-legal 11.69. Four speedsters were at 12.00 or better.

800: The moment everyone awaited was Normal Community senior "Ali"  Allison Ince finally challenging the IHSA meet record fresh. Ince immediately blew away from her competitors with an opening quarter-mile in 1:00.14. She was more than five seconds ahead of the next runner. With the crowd on its collective feet, Ince trucked home in 2:05.33. She finally got the record she had always coveted.

4x200: The all-time record was missed, but how about the deepest event in state history? Huntley wins another relay title while establishing a school record and a top-25 mark in the country at 1:38.16. Two other teams dipped under 1:39, with Belleville East and Prospect right there. Seven of the nine finalists broke 1:40, and last place was a solid 1:41.22.

400: Lehnen returned for the ensuing battle against Mariyah Robinson (So., Chicago Simeon). It was one for the ages! Both stallions dueled for approximately 300 meters. Lehnen's strength took over, and she pulled with a new PB and state-leading mark of 54.81.

300H: Aisha Kazeem (Jr., Palatine) upgraded from second to first with an IL#2 42.91 time. She finished the season with just one loss and one of only two girls under 43.00 this season.

1600: Ince and Annika Swan (So., Chicago St. Ignatius) would battle for the first three laps, with Ince in full control. With 300m to go, Ince pushed the nitro button, and it was curtains for Swan. Ince ran her second-fastest time at the state meet and busted a state-leading time of 4:44.86. Swan earned another runner-up finish but a great PB of 4:50.76.

200: Zawadi Brown (Sr., Naperville Neuqua Valley) ended her storybook career by defending her crown in 23.71. She established herself as one of the best half-lappers in state history.

4x400: Again, there is no threat of a record breaker, but it is one of the deepest fields in a long time. New Trier produced the fastest qualifying time from the prelims, but the Trevians would place fifth in the final 3:55.68. Lincoln-Way East surprised the head honchos with a strong second leg, and the Griffins refused to relinquish their lead. A serious threat emerged on the anchor when Ali Ince pulled up on LWE's Alaina Steele (Fr.). The poised youngster did not crack, holding on against Ince's onslaught leg (54.40). The young Griffins run a state leading 3:50.73.

Pole Vault: Reese Wolfe (Jr., Chatham-Glenwood) got her squad some big points in the morning and upset the favorite Chelsea Wetzel (Sr., Dunlap). Both competitors cleared 12'5.50", but Wolfe earned the gold medal on fewer misses.

High Jump: Zariah Burnett (So., Rockford Guilford) will be someone to watch for in 2025 on the national scene. She won her first title with a solid 5'7.75."

Long Jump: There were nearly half a dozen 19-foot performers in the field, but none of them could match the watershed mark or defeat the unlikely champion Brooke Sawatzky (Sr., Naperville Central). Sawatzky won it with an 18'8" effort.

Shot Put: Jaloni Wiley (So., Homewood-Flossmoor) did not qualify in the discus throw, so winning the shot put state title with a three-foot PB more than made up for the sadness. Wiley tossed 43-1.75 on her first throw in the Friday round and held up. She is part of a great group of underclassmen that will challenge for a team title in 2025. 

Triple Jump: Dominique Johnson (Jr., Huntley) wins another state title and etches her name among the greats. She easily outdistanced Brooke Sawatzky with a 40-2.25.

Discus Throw: Joi Story (So., Edwardsville) loves the sport of track and field so much that she is already thinking of the impossible. She won the title with a 139-1 but wants Emmonnie Henderson's school record 167-8, which rates #2 all time in the state.