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Spagnola’s four wins drives West Aurora to Hononegah Classic title…but it is Clayton that wows home crowd

Published by
Mike Newman   Mar 3rd 2013, 9:51am

By Michael Newman


Rockton, Ill --- No one was going to touch Emma Spagnola on this day. When she entered the blocks for each of the hurdle races, she was a zone of her own.


She set records in both hurdle races. Her 8.59 was convincing and a meet record. It seems fast considering you cannot wear spikes on the Hononegah Dome track. The winning time was nearly a half second ahead of second place Sunshine Simon (Niles West HS, Skokie).


Her 200 Meter Hurdle win was even more convincing. Running in Lane 6, she blew away from her section from the start. She set a new meet and field house record by running 29.52 almost a second and a half seconds ahead of teammate Tykia Neal.

“I wanted to concentrate on all four events that I was in because it was the first time that I had been in all four this year,” said Spagnola. “I came into this meet wanting to break the record and I did.”


Spagnola also won two field events. She won the High Jump clearing 5-4. She went over to the Long Jump and won that event as well jumping 17-5 ½, her third meet record of the day. With those performances, she was awarded the track athlete of the meet.


The day, however, belonged to hometown hero Courtney Clayton. Last week at the Brooks Invitational in Seattle, she ran 2:11.45 to set an indoor PR and the #1 time in the state. On this day, her Coach Danny Savage had other plans for her. It was not one race she would concentrate on, but four. “We decided we would use this meet as a workout for her,” said her coach. “When we started practice, she slightly tweaked her quad and she missed a week of training. She needs a little strength work.”


She got it on this Saturday afternoon. In her first race (The 4 x800 Meter Relay), Clayton received the baton nearly twelve seconds behind a strong Downers Grove North team. Their anchor was Stephanie Urbancik who had run 2:21 two days prior at York. Three laps later, Clayton had whittled the lead down to less than five seconds.


“The plan was to have Stephanie take it easy on the last leg to hold on for the win,” said Downers North Coach Tim McDonald. “But when, Courtney started to gain, I told Stephanie that she needed to go.” Urbancik did. Clayton realizing she had second secured jogged in. Her 2:21 anchor split jogging was VERY impressive.


Clayton 4 x 8 splits:          30.1-65.6-1:41.3-2:21.1

Thirty-eight minutes later, Clayton was back on the track on the line for the 800 Meter Run. She did not effort to take the lead. Instead, she was content to stay in the middle of the pack waiting for the moment to go. With the bell lap, Danielle Griesbaum (Lakes HS, Lake Villa) broke out trying to run away from Clayton. That was not going to happen on Clayton’s watch. She matched the move and passed her with 150 Meters to go. Her 2:19 .63 800 win was almost three seconds ahead of Griesbaum. It was off of the track for Clayton. She was half way done with her day.


Clayton’s 800 splits:         35.2-71.9-1:45.9-2:19.6

Her task in the 400 would be more difficult 50 minutes later. The 400 Meter Dash was awaiting her and so was West Aurora’s Anita Saffa, who was the top seed in this event. When the runners broke from their lanes at 150 Meters, Saffa had a clear lead over Brittani Griesbaum and Clayton. The Hononegah senior had some work to do in the last 200 Meters. Saffa started to press the pace, but Clayton was moving in on her. On the last straight away, Clayton passed Saffa and went on for the win by three tenths of a second over a disbelieving Saffa, who was disqualified after the race for cutting in too early. Saffa did have a great day other than her disqualification. She won both the 55 Meter Dash (7.36) and the 200 Meter Dash (26.82).


Clayton did have over an hour to recover and get ready for her last race of the day, the Distance Medley where she would run the 1600 anchor race. It would be her first 1600 in over a year. Clayton did run a 5:30 anchor split to capture the win for Hononegah in this race, but most of the credit has to go to her teammates. They were ten seconds behind the lead after the first exchange, but through the efforts of Breanna Pierson and Tracy Van,  they gave Clayton the baton five seconds within Downers Grove North’s Maggie Smith.


Clayton’s 1600 splits:      76.7-2:44.5-4:13.8-5:30.9

She was tired, sore, and tight. But she had a smile on her face knowing that she had accomplished something special on this day. “The 800 was good. I was just trying to go out to win it. The same with 400 but today I was just a little tired,” said Clayton. “Saffa definitely gave me a heck of a race. I let her lead it early and I tried to kick it in.”

There were also two other distance races that had all-state runners in it. In the 1600, Kaylee Flanagan (Lake Park HS, Roselle) took the pace out early and went on for a time of 5:04.59, nearly sixteen seconds ahead of Katie Adams (Marengo HS, Marengo).


“I really wanted to break 5 today or at least get close to that mark,” said Flanagan. “I just need to work on the last quarter, but I think the race went well.”


Flanagan’s splits:              34.5-70.7-2:26.9-3:45.3-5:04.4

Adams was in her second race of the day and was content to let Flanagan go early. “I knew she was going to run that 5:05 and I knew I was not going to be able to do that,” she said. “ I haven’t had any speed this year. I’ve only been working on my strength so I was impressed I was able to pull off a time like that with no speed work.”


Her first race was the 3200 where she bided her time in a pack of four with Abby Kargol (Downers Grove South HS, Downers Grove), Brianne Murphy (Lake Park HS, Roselle), and Kaitlyn Bonfield (Downers Grove North HS, Downers Grove) for the first twelve laps of the race. With a little more than 800 meters to go, she shifted into another gear that none of her competitors had in this meet. Her winning time of 11:23.59 was thirteen seconds ahead of Kargol. The one thing that she appreciated was that she had athletes to run with. In her first meet of the year, she was running the 3200 solo.


“I knew there were a couple of girls that had run 11:30. Today I just wanted to stay with them because it was easier to pick a pace off of them,” Adams continued. “The first mile was pretty slow and I just wanted to get the jitters out. The last half mile I decided to go and did not look back.


Adams splits:     249.8-5:44.8-8:42.1-11:23

The meet award for the top field event athlete went to Lindsey Herra (Boylan Catholic HS, Rockford) who won the Shot Put. Her winning put of 42-5 set a meet record and established a new PR for her.


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