Relay races require teamwork and strong performances from each of the four members of the team, and that's exactly what quartets from United Township and Geneseo put on display Friday at the Rock Island ABC Invite as each team earned a narrow win.
The Panthers 400 relay team edged out Geneseo by one one-hundredth of a second with a time of 50.96 to take the number one spot in the A flight.
The win helped the Panthers claim second place in the team standings behind the Leafs. Geneseo tallied 272 points to United Township's 249. Moline was third with 187.
UT freshman Tyagia Wiggins said she didn't feel any extra pressure anchoring the relay for her team and thought the other relay members — RayJonna Williams, Amaria Mayfield and Zainab Maiyaki — put her in a good position to win.
"I told myself before the race that this was a team event and if my teammates got behind at all, I'd have to do my best to tough it out and catch the girl in front of me," Wiggins said. "We had a chat before the race and said that we needed to do it together to get the win."
In the 3200 relay, Geneseo anchor Esther Brown was trailing by about 10 meters headed into the final 200 meters but emptied the tank on the final stretch to come away with a win for Geneseo with a total team time of 10:21.91, just five tenths of a second faster than Moline.
The Maple Leafs senior also credited her teammates for getting her in a good position to pull ahead at the last second.
"I treat the girl in front of me like it's one of my teammates in practice," Brown said. "We do a lot of work on situations like that one where you have to catch the girl in front of you."
It was a bit windy during the 3200 relay, but Brown didn't let it affect the way she ran her own race.
"I was having some arm issues in the race where I wasn't keeping a good position," Brown said. "I was reminded of my form in the last 300 meters and I just tried to do everything I could to forget the wind."
Brown had additional work in the off-season, having done cross-country for the first time in the fall and would have run at the state meet had one taken place.
"I think that cross-country definitely helped me," Brown said. "I was in better shape, but it was also the bonds that I formed with my whole team, it makes it easier to run for other people."
Geneseo's Annie Wirth also had a remarkable day in the high jump, setting the school record with a jump of 5 feet, 8 1/4 inches and becoming the number one jumper in the state of Illinois with the mark.
On the other side, Moline's Audrey Lamphier has more work to put in with a much shorter time frame as the senior just finished her last volleyball campaign and didn't have much time to train for track.
"It's been two years since I've run competitively," Lamphier said. "I'm proud of how I've worked and I think I've been doing well so far but I need to work on some things in these last four meets and try my best to make the state meet."
Lamphier won the 100 hurdles with a time of 16.35 and is hoping to improve throughout the rest of the season in an attempt to qualify for state again.
"I'm trying, but it's going to take a lot more this year," Lamphier said. "With so much time off everything is different, but I'm hoping for one last chance down there. I won't be heartbroken if I don't make it, since I already had that experience."
Perhaps the biggest show of the night was Alleman pole vaulter Tori Thomas who had three attempts at 13 feet, seven inches, which would have broken her own Illinois state record of 13 feet, six inches.
Thomas didn't clear the record height, but the attempts were all solid and she has some things to build on going forward.
"I know that I'm close, that I'm almost there," Thomas said. "Next meet I'll just try to get that extra inch or half inch to get the job done."