Just in time for the postseason, Melissa Manetsch seems all healed from the shin splints in her right leg.
Consider that the Libertyville junior cruised to victory in the 3,200-meter run Thursday night in the Lake County meet at Deerfield, where it was 45 degrees and with a nasty west wind when the finals started.
"I was expecting to go out at a faster pace," Manetsch said. "My second mile was faster than my first one. ... It's cold, but I enjoy it."
Grant enjoyed its night too. The Bulldogs got first-place efforts from Ariyona Wallace (200 dash) and Morgan Race (long jump) in successfully defending their championship with 82.5 points, comfortably ahead of runner-up Warren (68.5). Lake Forest (64), Libertyville (55.5) and Deerfield (53) rounded out the top five.
Grant was minus four girls who figure to contribute points in the postseason.
"We always try to bill ourselves as a track school and track family and put the team first," Bulldogs coach Greg Wodzien said. "We've got a very talented freshman class and sophomores, and a lot of our underclassmen stepped up today and did a great job."
Wallace ran 26.33 in the 200 to edge Mundelein's Khari Thompkins (26.69) and Warren's Janii Jenkins (26.89. Wallace also took second (12.64) to Waukegan's Naje Harper (12.60) in the 100. Race long-jumped a winning 16-11.5. Among Grant's underclassmen who delivered were freshman Clare Basala, who medaled in both hurdles events, freshman Alya Rangle (1,600 relay, 400), Lauren Sass (discus) and Rebecca Degregorio (shot put).
Sophomore Danielle Osmon finished second (11:2274) to Manetsch in the 3,200 but was pulled from the 1,600 due to leg tightness. Grant also dropped the baton in the 400 relay -- and still won the meet.
"And we had some great times," Wodzien said. "It just shows our depth and the determination a lot of these girls have."
Manetsch, who won the 3,200 in 11:13.46, acknowledged her leg is feeling better.
"Much," she said, smiling.
Manetsch took some time off during the indoor season to prevent a stress fracture. She also ran the 1,600 at Deerfield and finished second (5:15.33) to Highland Park's Stephanie Kriss (5:14.88).
"It's been a bit rough," Manetsch said. "But I'm on the upswing now."
Warren sophomore Jenkins was all smiles after winning the 400 meters in 59.45.
Shades of Brittny Ellis, right? Ellis, a former 400 state champ for Warren, now runs at the University of Miami.
"Not as fast," a smiling Jenkins said. "I look up to her."
Jenkins poured it on the end, outkicking a group that included Mundelein's Thompkins (1:00.13), Lake Forest Academy's Kennedy Smith (1:00.92) and Libertyville's Avryl Johnson (1:01.57).
"I really wanted to get a good start," Jenkins said. "I got that 150 in pretty fast. The last 200 came and I knew I had to pick it up. I was running against some pretty tough girls. The competition was sure there. I tried to keep my composure and have a good mind set to finish it off."
Warren's Abena Atuobi won the shot put and finished second in the discus. Grayslake North got a victory from Sierra Herrington in the pole vault (11 feet).
Vernon Hills' Jordyn Bunning won the 100 hurdles (15.90) and placed second in the 300 hurdles (47.66) to Lake Forest's Haley Click (46.97).
Lake Zurich's Kendall Kearnan cleared 4-11 to win the high jump.