The Highland High girls track and field team was severely shorthanded and suffered in the team standings, finishing in seventh place out of eight teams at the sixth annual Mascoutah Invitational on Wednesday of last week at Mascoutah High School.
Mount Vernon won the meet with a final team score of 151.5 points, which edged out runner-up Freeburg (139) by 12.5 points for the team title.
Completing the team scores were: host Mascoutah (73), Breese Central (67), Mater Dei (59), Nashville (57), Highland (45.5) and Civic Memorial (15).
The Lady Bulldogs were without several runners, including key distance runners Allison Zobrist, a junior, and Jayden Shelton, a senior. Both runners and a slew of others missed the meet because they were attending the National Honor Society Spring Celebration. Zobrist was inducted as the NHS president.
“It would have made a difference, but we have a lot of freshmen and sophomores getting a chance today,” said Highland coach Erin Cotto. “We’ve also been in a lot of freshman-sophomore meets, so we have to limit some of them to stay away from injury.”
With the voids in the lineup, the Lady Bulldogs undoubtedly finished further down in the team standings than they would have. However, there were still some impressive individual results.
Senior Megan Hundsdorfer accomplished Highland’s best overall finish with a second-place showing in the 100-meter high hurdles.
“I was very nervous for this meet, because it was the most important meet we’ve had so far this season,” Hundsdorfer admitted. “So my hurdle buddy, Brenna Maas, and I just kept reassuring each other that we would both do great, and she ended up getting a personal record while I got second in my heat.”
Highland senior Bailey Leitschuh, who nabbed the ninth-place medal at the Class 2A State Girls Track and Field Meet last year, earned the third-place medal at Mascoutah invite with a season-best mark of 34 feet, 3 inches.
“I feel like I’m back,” Leitschuh said. “I lost my mojo for awhile. It was nothing physical, just mental. This meet really gave me my confidence back which i desperately needed and I hope that carries over in the big meets to come.”
Mascoutah has always seemed to be a place where Leitschuh has been able to perform at her optimal level in the triple jump. She first hit her personal-record distance there while competing at Highland Middle School. Then last year at the Mascoutah invite. Leitschuh achieved her career PR in the event with a best ever mark of 35-9.
Although she can’t quite put her finger on the reason for her success at Mascoutah, Leitschuh said, “It just must have some good vibes for me.”
Freshman Rece Portell also had a noteworthy performance as she secured a tie for fourth place in the high jump after she got her entire body to clear the bar at a PR height of 4-6.
Mater Dei had three champions.
Junior Taylor Padak, a Highland native, won the high jump after clearing the bar at a meet-high 5-0.
Also for the Knights, senior Morgan Dermody, also a Highland native, was the discus champion with a fling of 99-5, while sophomore Megan Deimeke took the shot put title with a toss of 36-6.50.
Breese Central’s Madeline Weiter ran 17.38 for the 100-meter hurdles title.
The overall star of the day was Mount Vernon junior Charde Golliday, who won three events, the long jump (17-0.25), 400 (1:01.67) and 200 (26.30).
In addition, Rams freshman Tredaja Harris won the 100 with a 12.70.
Freeburg was also very impressive, winning a meet-best six different events.
Capturing first-place finishes for the Midgets were Stephanie Jacobs with a meet-record height of 9-9 in the pole vault, Emily Vahlkamp in the triple jump (34-8), Emily Marler in the 800 (2:31.97), Kayla Whitworth in the 1,600 (5:44.67), Emily Hartmann in the 300 low hurdles (50.42) and the 4 x 400 relay team of Hartmann, Taylor Haskenhoff, Alison Hoffman and Marler won with a team time of 4:23.56.
The host Mascoutah Indians earned their third-place finish on the strength of their stout relay finishes.
In the 4 x 800 relay, freshmen Melanie Cozzi, Baylee Maxey and Mackenzie Dixon teamed up with senior Kaitlyn Stowe to win with a team time of 10:11.64. The 4 x 100 relay team of sophomores Kaydria Coleman, Neomi Elbaz, Victoria Dukart-Anderson and freshman Makaila Tibbs won with an overall time of 53.95. The 4 x 200 team was the same group as the winning 4 x 100 team. In the 4 x 200, the Indians ran a victorious team time of 1:53.8.