High-SchoolTrack-and-XC: Syndni Meunier

Moweaqua Central A&M Wins Exciting Class A Girls Title

May, 24, 2012
It was perhaps one of the most diverse state championships in Class A history between the top three trophy winners.

Moweaqua (Central A&M) muscled their way to a first championship with power and strength. The Raiders picked up big points in the throws and hurdles to score 59 points.

The runner-up spot went to Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley on the strength of two young ladies: seniors Sydni Meunier and Angel Gaesser. They helped churn out 48 points in the middle-distance and relay arena.

St. Joseph-Ogden took the third and final team plaque with 46 points with long distance star senior Chelsea Blaase and standout sprinter/jumper senior Rachel Ballard leading the way.

Meunier and Gaesser form strong running pact-
It’s not a secret that Meunier and Gaesser are close teammates. But what is perhaps hidden is that the dynamic duo are very good friends who have competed together in a variety of sports since the sixth grade. GCMS has no cross country program so the pair uses the fall season to compete in volleyball to stay fit. Gaesser also played basketball during the winter session.

The spring season seems to bring out the best in the two runners.

After Gaesser assisted her teammates in earning one point the 4x100 relay it was time to go to work. The next event would be crucial for the Falcons. They needed to strike it big in their best event. Meunier got out well after the cut in bolting fast to the pole- Gaesser chased hard. The first 400 was clocked in 61.8 by Meunier. They were seemingly light years ahead of the chase pack entering the backstretch. Meunier continued to press the pace through the 600 mark. Gasser tired a bit over the last 200 but was able to hold off the surprisingly feisty Kristen Paris (Sr., Fisher) for second place. Meunier won going away in a personal best 2:11.30.

Meunier returned a bit later to breeze in the 1600 over 3200 champion Chelsea Blaase in 5:07.88.

The final event of the Spartan’s pair legacy was cemented in winning the 4x400 in a solid 3:59.22. It was very appropriate for Meunier and Gaesser to finish things off before heading into the sunset.

Field events enjoy a super day-
Often times the field events will get attention on the front page story because of a super human performance of one athlete.

It would be different this time.

Central A&M throwing ace senior Janie Howse would lead a strong contingent in the discus; she won with a healthy 140-7. Two other throwers eclipsed the 135-foot mark including teammate junior Genny Rose Stringer who placed third (137-9). In all it 11 of the 12 finalists exceeded the state standard of 112-3.

Megan Lauzon (Jr., Rushville-Industry) kept the pressure on the heavily favored Whitney Walker (Sr., Illini Bluffs) after leading in Thursday’s preliminary round. Lauzon was able to improve from her 42-9.25 to 43-9.5 on Saturday. Walker moved up well the 43-6 output fell short. Anisa Razo (Sr., Ottawa Marquette) also threw over 40-feet with a solid 40-1.75.

Katie Bloch (Jr., Argenta-Oreana) seized her shining moment with she tied a US#2/IL#1 high jump of 5-10. Upon being declared the winner at 5-8, Bloch asked event officials to place the bar up to 6-0 instead of the IHSA record of 5-11. The three attempts fell quietly short, but perhaps 2013 will be the year that Melinda Morris’ 1980 long standing record will fall.

The sprint action did not disappoint-
South Holland Seton Academy’s 4x100 upperclassmen quartet of Jasmine Gardner, Mykel Adams, Nancy Jeanty, and DeJanae Terry finally achieved a feat that many supporters thought they could, an IHSA record. The four young ladies got the stick around the track nicely in setting a meet record 48.51. Eureka ran well but had to settle for second with a very fine time of 48.63.

Sullivan Co-op took a bit of a chunk off of the 4x200 record (1:43.35) set last year by then 1A champion Aurora Christian with an impressive 1:42.82. Starlet Paige Neuhauser took the baton on the anchor leg and blazed the final curve with whippet appeal- so much that Seton Academy’s Terry had no answer and settled for a distant second in 1:44.87.

Moweaqua’s Madison Renfro and Taylor Adcock took care of the hurdle titles. The senior Renfro won in a speedy 14.55. Last year she ran 14.99. Adcock completed the sweep in 44.46.
by Tony Jones- anthony.jones@espn.com

What was supposed to be an individual highlight show turned out to be a boys and girls team slugfest. Sort of...

Bloom Township (Chicago Heights) won their second consecutive Gene Armer Boys Invitational title with 77 points. The Trojans scrapped and clawed for points in various events throughout the early portion of the meet before finally pulling away from Triad- winning by 25 pts.

Bloom only won three events (400, 1600, and 4x4r) but still showed tremendous depth; the Trojans scored in 12 of 15 events.

Springfield Southeast showed they are closer to reloading than rebuilding after losing a fleet of talent girls through graduation. Despite a strong charge by Whitney Young (Chicago) over the final four events, the Spartans held on for a 47-43 victory. Team leaders Charday Crawford and Elizabeth Canaday pooled their resources with some emerging talent to secure the victory. Crawford won the 55 dash and Canaday placed 4th in the 400. They also won the 4x200r in 1:46.16 and finished things off well in the 4x400r with a solid mark of 4:10.11- good for 3rd.

Boys’ highlights-

The open sprints featured three winners: Julian Hylton (Frankfort Lincoln-Way North), Brandon Penrod (Triad), and Kaleb Williams (Bloom Twp) won the 55, 200, and 400 dashes respectively.

Hylton is a relative unknown to the IHSA track and field scene but not to track itself. The three-sport star had previously excelled in summer track under the guidance of coach Damani Shakoor and his Stealth Bombers Track Club. He went a long way on Saturday in cementing his way into the minds of his 3A foes when the state tournament arrives in May. Hylton blazed 6.48 in the 55 final and upset the favored Penrod very easily 6.48-6.58.

Penrod has enjoyed a very good indoor campaign in that he has scorched the competition on numerous occasions. The 200 final was close because of a talented field but Penrod was in control the entire way. He burst hard out of the blocks and held form through the back stretch and off of the final turn. Williams and company were stuck in chase mold for the entire way.

Williams may have surprised a few non-believers after his seed time of 49.82 popped out in the meet program. However, self-assurance that he could actually achieve the mark right now was never in doubt according to his coach Andy Schmitt. Williams ran 49.20 during last outdoor season which led to some pretty solid indoor marks prior to Gene Armer. The end result was an IL#1 49.78 performance that knocked the socks off of the competition and establish him the early favorite in next week’s IPTT Championship.

The 3200 had its own share of drama in the distance arena. Fans watched a tight pack of 5 runners slug through the first eight laps in 4:54 with Chicago Lane Tech’s Marcelo Burbano, Normal Community’s Ryan O’Leary, and Zach Kingsbury of Palos Heights Shepard leading. O’Leary and Burbano sneakily tried to pull away at the 2k mark but it was O’Leary who would suffer the consequences of the expedited pace and fall back.

Kingsbury stepped up and ran shoulder to shoulder with Burbano for the next three laps. Finally, on the bell lap Burbano turned on the jets and finished things off with a 62-second final 400. Perhaps, he could have run much faster if it were not for being so conservative in the early portion of the meet.
Seniors Rashad Hulbert of Crete-Monee and Josh Robinson from Danville were expecting a tight tilt in the 55HH, but instead the affair turned into a rout for Hulbert. Hulbert, who was the state’s top barrier specialist prior to the meet, remained in that position after a 7.64-7.90 romp. Robinson fought well but Hulbert’s technique and hurdle gliding was too much to overcome.

The boys’ pole vault was very thrilling. The solidly matched field saw four vaulters cleared 14-0 to the crowd’s delight. The next course of action for Joel Swanberg (New Lenox Lincoln-Way Central), Cirron Clark (Danville), Tyler Ginger (Stanford-Olympia), and Mark Panno (Pontiac) was to go to 14-6. Clark was the first to go and he clipped the bar on the way down to his demise. Ginger's fate was similar to Clark’s in that he had the clearance but the body touch prevented him from moving on. Swanberg didn’t fare any better than his three close competitors; he won the competition on less misses.

Girls’ highlights-

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley shouldn’t be faulted for being a two superstar team. Angel Gaesser and Sydni Meunier are two athletes that you don’t want to face solo. The Gene Armer meet usually means the season welcoming party for Gaesser and Meunier. Gasser was the first to compete in an open event. She took charge of the 800 championship just after two laps despite Whitney Young’s Shianne Baggett dogging her. Gaesser pulled away in the final 100 to win in 2:19.21.

Meunier took a more tactical approach to her victory in the 1600. The Notre Dame signee played follow the leader for the first four laps in 2:33- before turning up the heat in the second half of the race. Meunier took charge entering the 3rd 400 and opened up a sizable gap on Bloomington Central Catholic’s Alex Van Hoof, who previously led. Meunier passed through the 1200 in 3:48.5 and appeared to be shooting for sub- 5:00. She was able to reach the bell lap around 4:25 and clearly within reach of a goal that few girls in Illinois have ever achieved indoors. The final result was a stunning 4:59.73- a mark that is #2 all-time for meet purposes and IL#3/US#22 listings.

Brittany Hull (Normal Community) and Sarah Bell (Bloomington Central Catholic) are more than great friends. They are great competitors and that was very evident at the Armory in the pole vault. Hull is the US#1 ranked vaulter and Bell has the US#9 tag to her name. So, it was fitting that the winning effort would come down to the very end. Hull and Bell both cleared 12-0 to tie the meet record from 2005. The height was moved up to 12-6. Hull made the height on her second attempt but Bell missed on all three of her attempts. Hull asked for the height to be moved up to 13-3.25. It was unsure why that height since she already has the nation’s best mark and presumably the state’s all-time record indoors. Perhaps Hull was going for the overall all-time best (not sure what it is for Illinois since the event is still relatively new). Hull had the most of her three attempts despite having a sore quad. She hit the pole flush on the first effort. The second attempt featured a run up delay that took nearly two minutes to finally complete. That attempt was probably the best one as Hull got skyward over most of the bar but hit it solidly coming down. The final effort was slightly off from #2 but still worth the watch. Afterwards, Hull didn’t appear overjoyed: “I wanted to try this height… despite having a sore quad.” She indicated that she will shut down most of her training for the week leading up to IPTT. “Hopefully, I will be alright next weekend,” she said.