GRANITE CITY — Slowly rounding into midseason form, the Belleville West Maroons won most of the individual battles Friday at the Granite City Girls Track and Field Invitational.
But it was the Naperville Central Hawks who won the war.
Tina Norris won the shot put and discus titles for the Hawks, whose depth proved too much for even the Maroons' array of top individuals to overcome, as Naperville Central scored a 20-point win at Granite City High School.
Junior Claudette Day led the way for West with wins in the long jump (17 feet) and 100 meter hurdles (14.53 seconds). Abrea Hopson (100), Jasmine Berry (300 hurdles) and Ni'Jia McNamee (400) also posted wins for the Maroons.
But in a meet where only six teams competed and they were allowed to enter three athletes in the individual events, it was the Hawks who came out on top.
"This is usually one of my favorite meets for us to come and compete at, but some of the teams dropped out this year for various reasons and it wasn't quite the same. You measure yourselves compared on how you do against other teams and we couldn't do that as well here this year,'' Maroons coach Paul James said. "I had heard there weren't going to be as many teams here this year, so we pushed them a little bit more this week in practice.
"Overall, we did fine. We had some personal-bests today and we were able to run some kids in some open events that normally don't get a chance to compete In that respect, it was a good day.''
Naperville Central finished with 202 points and was followed by West with 182. Springfield was third with 136, while Granite City (69), Alton (67) and St. Louis Metro (24) rounded out the competing teams.
West, which placed second behind defending Class 3A state champion Edwardsville at its own West Invitational last week, also won the 400, 800 and 1,600 relays.
Day, one of the best in the state in the both the 100 hurdles and long jump, was the only Maroon to win two titles, but she had to share the spotlight with Hopson, Jasmine Berry and especially McNamee, who continues to impress after transferring from East Louis before the start of the school year.
McNamee won the 400 with a time of 58 seconds, then turned in another 58 second-split as a member of a winning 1,600 relay.
"Ni'Jia has just been outstanding. She comes to practice every day with a smile on her face. She's always upbeat and positive with just a great attitude,'' James said. "She's got a world of potential and has come in and fit right in with the rest of the team. She's fun to be around.''
Granite City's lone win came in the high jump, where Natalie O'Keefe edged West junior Kelsey Shannon.
O'Keefe won the event by clearing 5-6.