By Tom Schultz For the Herald
The Clinton Herald
---- — MORRISON, Ill. — On one of the first beautiful days of the spring season, Morrison High School played host to the Three Rivers Conference Girls Track and Field Conference Meet on Monday night.
These same conference teams met up at Fulton just three weeks earlier, and at that meet, Erie/Prophetstown ran away with first place while setting five meet records.
E/P’s domination continued at Morrison as it took first place out of the gate and never relinquished. In all, the team totaled 188 points on the day.
With first place all but secured by the Panthers, second place became a battle between Riverdale and Kewanee before Riverdale pulled ahead over the last three events of the night, finishing with 86 points to Kewanee’s 82.
Relying heavily on the Rus sisters, Paige and Peyton, Erie/Prophetstown placed in nearly every event, taking first place in a majority of them. One or both of the Rus sisters were a part of the five records that fell at Fulton. This time, the Panthers broke three records in relay events, and one or both sisters were part of all three. The Cobert sisters, Courtney and Rachel, bookended all three record relays.
The sister duos combined to break the record of 1:49.3 in the 800-meter relay, winning in 1:47.41. Courtney Cobert led off, followed by Peyton Rus, Paige Rus and Rachel Cobert. Courtney Cobert led off and Rachel Cobert anchored the other two record performances. They teamed with Peyton Rus and Heather Strike to win the 400 relay in 49.66, breaking a 28-year-old record (51.30) set by Prophetstown in 1985.
The final record came in the final event. Paige Rus ran the second leg and Corrie Reiley the third as they won the 1,600 relay in 4:07.50, besting the mark of 4:08.1 set by Bureau Valley in 2006.
Fulton/Fulton Unity Christian lagged behind in the standings for the first half of the night as senior standout Erin Wessels was limited in competition by the flu. In the second half, Fulton/Fulton Unity got itself back into the meet and battled Bureau Valley for fourth place up until the last race of the night.
“Because of the sickness, I’m not getting any oxygen to my muscles, so I get tired and fatigued quickly,” Wessels said. “Tonight’s meet didn’t go nearly as well as I wanted it to. I still did well in my given condition, but I would have loved to have done better.”
In Wessels’ preferred event, the triple jump, she was able to take third place despite being ill.
“My best event by far, has been the triple jump,” she said. “I just started learning it last year, so I’ve been doing really well in that. I’ve been actually enjoying it, so that’s always good to actually enjoy what you’re doing. Triple jump, I’ve had a lot of success in.”
Fulton’s second-half charge was helped by its younger members: Averi Leitzen, Betsy Leonard and Chelsea Lesniewski. Lesniewski grabbed third place in the shot put, while Leitzen and Leonard placed high in several events to push them out of the cellar and into the fight for fourth.
“I was feeling pretty good. I got my personal record. I was going pretty good. It’s been better than the rest of my 800s this season,” Leitzen, a freshman, said.
Because she was ailing, Wessels was forced out of competing in the 1,600 relay in her normal anchor position. Leitzen slid into that slot for the last event of the night.
”I ran it before,” Leitzen said of anchoring. “I ran it in my middle school career, and I like it a lot.”
Wessels showed her support for her teammates in the final meet before Thursday’s sectional meet in Erie, Ill.
“I’m always really impressed with Averi Leitzen and how well she does in the distance running, and Betsy Leonard in the hurdles and the high jump,” Wessels said. “She does really well. Those two really stand out to me. They’ve been doing really well this season, and they’re both young.”
Rounding out the team standings, Bureau Valley finished fourth with 72 points, Fulton fifth with 55, Amboy sixth with 40, Morrison seventh with 20 and Newman eighth with 4.