SENECA — Once again, the Seneca High School girls track and field team said to the field at their invitational: "Not in our house."
The Lady Irish got a challenge from former Interstate Eight rival Sandwich for a while, but ended up dominating the field by placing first, second or both in 15 of 18 events to capture their eighth consecutive Seneca Irish Invitational championship.
The hostesses got two first places each from Mara Bruno and Audrey Jenkins to total 198 points to 137 for the Lady Indians and 75 for third-place Genoa-Kingston.
Seneca, behind two decisive victories for Christopher Collet in the 3200 and 1600 runs, and Sandwich both turned in solid efforts in the boys portion of the meet, but in the end the Plano Reapers were too strong, finishing with 127 points to 112 and 104, respectively, for the two local teams.
"It's almost like an ownership thing. This is our invite, our time to have a nice measuring stick for how we're doing this season, and our girls just come out and compete like crazy for this," said Seneca coach Terry Maxwell. "These young teams are improving. The juniors and seniors were saying the other day that they're feeling the pressure to perform from the younger kids, and that's a good problem to have.
"They love the competition."
Jenkins was a solid winner in the 3200 to start her day, posting a time of 12 minutes, 33.73 seconds for a 50-second margin. A short time later, she and teammate Amber Vroman kept a pact to run together throughout the 800-meter event, with Jenkins' 2:31.93 edging out her friend and rival's 2:31.95 by a mere 2/100ths of a second.
"We had a plan to run together, and it worked out pretty well for both of us," Jenkins said with a laugh. "I told her I would take the wind the first half, then we'd see whatever happens. We were going for sub-2:30, but we were close. The wind was definitely a factor for us."
"It's nice to get this, but it would be even nicer if we win as a team," said Vroman, who also placed a close second to Sandwich's Emalie Mosher (1:04.79) in the 400 in 1:05.68 seconds. "I think we're doing well so far, so we'll see."
Bruno was absolutely flying in the sprints, first winning the 100 meter by nearly half a second with a time of :13.46, and later the 200 dash with a :27.15 clocking, nearly two full seconds better than runner-up Grace Krafft of Sandwich (:28.92). Bruno was also part of the first-place 800 relay, with Grace Alley, Taylor Draves and Brooklyn Giertz turning a six-second winner in 1:50.23, and placed second in the long jump with an effort of 16-8.
"Kayah (Martin) from Plano beat me last year, so I kept an eye on her," said Bruno, "but she's a friend, so I wanted her to do well too. I just felt on that last stretch that I had to work harder, push harder and push all the way through. I got off to a decent start, and it felt good."
The other first place for the Lady Irish was from Erica Techmanski, with a PR toss of 35-7 1/2 in the shot put, best in the field by exactly two feet.
Also posting second places for the winners were Alley with a 34-11 leap in the triple jump and a :50.58 in the 300 hurdles, Giertz with a 9-6 in the pole vault, Rebekah Chapman with a 104-6 in the discus, the 3200 relay in a time of 11:00.61 and the 1600 relay in 4:25.66.
The Lady Indians captured three of the relays, starting with the 10:56.29 turned in by Cheyann Mitchell, Molly Roberts, Bailey Sherman and Claire Roberts. Emalie Mosher was the anchor for Sarah Ness, Alijah Campbell and Grace Krafft in the 400 relay's time of :53.17, and finished off the 1600 relay's winning time of 4:24.44 by making up a 70-meter deficit on the final lap and passing Seneca's Alley with just 30 meters left.
"I just stayed at my pace so I knew I'd be able to kick. I knew I had a lot to make up, but it was all good," said Mosher, who also won the 400 run with a 1:04.79. "This has been a great day for all of us."
Ness also placed second in the 100 dash in :17.20, as was Krafft in the 200, Audrey Rome in the high jump at 4-10 and the foursome of Ness, Krafft, Jillian Fuchs and Ali Todd with a 1:56.49 in the 800 relay.
Serena, which notched two points, got those from the 800 relay of Madison Aurenz, Laurel Kerkman, Macy Rodrick and Jackie Connolly with their 2:12.98.
The runner-up Irish boys were led by Collet, who cruised through the 3200 run in 10:12.28, then later added a sizzling 4:24.19 in the 1600, just missing the meet record of 4:22.14 marked by Beecher's Grant Nykaza in 2012.
"I came into the two-mile race wanting to top off my teammates and score points," said Collet, the 1A state cross country champion. "Because we're going against teams that have beaten us before in the indoor season, we want to score as many as possible. That's our priority for this meet, to win it. ... I'm running good times so far this season, but I want to go faster. I have some rather lofty goals."
Seneca's 3200 relay of Ali Entrevoog, Spencer DeGraaf, Billy Glasscock and Ben Krause ran a 9:03.93 to take second.
Sandwich was third largely behind a pair of wins by Jayden McCulskie-Green, who won both the high jump at 6-0 even, and the triple jump with a leap of 44-1 1/2. It also scored big points behind Sead Sejdiu in the weights, taking first in the discus with a peg of 134-0 to beat out teammate Jacob Mosher's 126-10, and second in the shot put with a heave of 43-10.
"The long jumps didn't go so well for me. I scratched on all of them, but that was OK," said McCulskie-Green. "The triple was OK too, because every day can't be a PR day, and the (windy, cold) conditions weren't good. In the high jump, I consistently jump 6-0, but to do that on a bad day, that's pretty nice."
Also claiming second place for the Indians was Dylan Baumbach with a :51.76 in the 400 meters and Michael Marrs, whose rally was clipped by just 1/100th of a second, :23.68 to :23.69 by Coal City's Connor Skubic.