Girls Track: Libertyville gets message; results show at Lake County Invite
Libertyville's Julie Smagacz leaps to a fourth-place finish in the long jump in last Thursday's Lake County Invite. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 3, 2012 10:43AM
The night before the Lake County Invitational on April 26, Libertyville girls track coach Tom Bizosky had a message to deliver to his team.
As the Wildcats gathered on the home track after their workout, Bizosky wanted to be sure they understood what truly mattered the next day.
“I laid it out, whatever happens, we walk in as a team and we walk out as a team,” he said.
Consider the message received, as the Wildcats finished third (61 points), one spot ahead of Waukegan and two in front of two-time defending champ Lake Zurich. The Wildcats were strong in field events, which helped them nab third.
Libertyville had the third- and fourth-best finishes in pole vault. Nicole Jaffke’s leap of 10-3 secured third place, and teammate Jackie Hansen jumped 9-0 to finish just behind Jaffke.
“It’s unique (with Jaffke and Hansen) in that, if they are doing the same thing, you would think they’d be doing the same thing off the vault,” Bizosky said.
But they don’t. Jaffke is a sprinter, and was part of the Wildcats’ eighth-place finish in the 800 (1:52.67) on April 26. She runs the second-fastest 200 leg on the team, consistently in the 26-second range — including a personal record of 26.4) — behind all-conference sprinter Jen Angster.
Leg injuries slowed the 5-foot-10 Hansen in 2011, but she’s been a powerful force in the 100 (12.3 PR) and in the 1600 relay this season.
“We’re lucky to use her in sprints,” Bizosky said. “She has a broader type body, so she has to use her strength even more.”
That is in contrast with Jaffke. When she’s not vaulting heights of 11 feet, she competes in distance events, such as he 3200. Being a bit shorter than Hansen (5-6), it’s no surprise that Bizosky can vault higher.
“She doesn’t need as much power to get up. She’s lighter over the bar,” Bizosky said. “The lighter the weight, the easier it is. You have to balance that out with strength.”
Recap: The Wildcats have always been a successful dual-meet team, as their sheer roster numbers allow them to outlast opponents. The Lake County meet proved this year’s squad has a special makeup.
“We’ve used surgical strikes,” Bizosky said. “We are able to manipulate our top girls in each event.”
One of those events is the 3200 relay. A third-place finish (9:49.25) was sparked by a 2:21 split from Carly Stewart, the school record holder in the 800. Maggie Fiorito, Stephanie Hanagan and Meghan Polk ran the other legs.
Stewart also ran a 1:04 split in the 1600 relay, which helped secure another third-place finish (4:15.60) for the Wildcats.
Other top performers were Hayley Becker, who was first in high jump (5-2), and Katie Sackett, whose time of 47.64 in the 300 hurdles was almost a second better than that of Lake Zurich’s Amanda Papke, the runner-up. Angster finished second in the 200 (26.38) and fourth in the 100 (12.9).
Libertyville’s strong showing built momentum for the conference meet, which is set for tonight at Round Lake (4 p.m.)
“You can’t go in expecting to see what you’ve seen all season,” Bizosky said. “It’s up for grabs — anybody’s game.”s