Molly Lalonde of the Central Crossing High School girls track and field team knew she had contributed a bevy of points to the Comets' victory in the Best of the South-West Invitational on April 19 at Franklin Heights.
Lalonde still flashed a wide smile when assistant coach Reggie Cannon told her that by virtue of victories in the 1,600 meters (5 minutes, 48.1 seconds), 800 (2:40.8), 3,200 (12:30.2) and the 3,200 relay (11:31.2), she was fully or partly responsible for 24 of her team's 92 points and its first win in the event since 2010.
"I kind of figured, but still, it's pretty exciting," Lalonde said. "Last year at this meet, I got second place in the (1,600) and the (3,200) and we finished third (as a team), so I've been working. This is my goal, to get first place in every event I ran. But I've never won four races in one day."
Senior Brenda Pereyra Perez also scored 24 points, winning the long jump (15 feet, 4 inches), 100 (12.8), 400 (1:02.6) and 200 (28.3) as Central Crossing eased past Grove City (82), Franklin Heights (63) and Westland (18) to take back a first-place plaque it owned from 2003-10, the first eight years of the meet's existence.
The Comets' celebration was raucous, in large part because older members of the team consistently stressed the event's importance.
"The senior girls here know all about it, but some of the girls are new and they learned how important this was the last two years," coach Doug Boggs said of the third-place finish last year and runner-up performance in 2011. "We didn't know what we could do, but they finally started waking up in practice, working hard and believing in themselves. This is what happens when you start believing you can do things."
The Comets also got second-place finishes from junior Daisha Mann (high jump, 5-8), senior Sami Peterson (pole vault, 8-0) and the 1,600 relay (4:41.5), and two thirds from sophomore thrower Maggie Swallows (shot put, 30-7 and discus, 90-4 1/2).
The Grove City boys were second (69) behind Franklin Heights (85) and ahead of Central Crossing (64) and Westland (32). Junior Matt Geroski won the pole vault (9-6), junior Ethan Jean-Louis won the high jump (5-8) and sophomore Koffi Edah won the 300 hurdles (43.8), helped the winning 800 relay (1:37.6) and was fourth in the 200 (25.1) after falling at the end of the 110 hurdles and finishing third (17.9).
"I knew I had to leave (the fall) behind and get over it," Edah said. "I sprinted fast. I think that helped me get away from it."
Both Greyhounds teams got boosts from their throwers. Senior Luke Eglehoff was second in the discus (121-1), junior Matt Brown was second in the shot put (43-8) and senior Nick Imber was third in the discus (120-6) and shot put (41-1).
The boys 1,600 relay was second (3:54).
For the Grove City girls, senior Gabby Rodriguez won the discus (100-9) and shot put (32-8). Sophomore Hannah Hawkins was second in the discus (97-1) and junior Megan Darst was second in the shot put (32-7).
Junior Danielle Shipley won the pole vault with a school-record 8-10 and was fourth in the high jump (4-4). Senior Annie Winkler was second in the 1,600 (5:59.1) and 3,200 (12:43.6), junior Alexis McCoy was second in the 100 hurdles (18.3), sophomore Hope Stocker was second in the long jump (14-5 3/4), and the 800 (1:56.7) and 400 (54.6) relays also were second.
"The girls were close (to a title). They did really well," Grove City coach Jane Taylor said. "With the guys, Franklin Heights has a lot of good young athletes and their depth killed us. If we got a first, they were able to pick up extra points with multiple guys. We had too much ground to make up."
Junior Isse Roble won the 3,200 (10:57.2), helped the 3,200 relay to a win (9:07) and was second in the 1,600 (4:53.4) to lead the Central Crossing boys. Freshman Colter Bass overcame nagging foot pain to win the 100 (11.6) and long jump (19-1 1/2), helped the 400 relay win (46.7) and was second in the 200 (24.2).
"The long jump, I've been working hard and practicing and I got a (personal record) today," Bass said. "My 100-meter dash, I did pretty well. I didn't know where I'd come in. I felt like I'd look pretty good in that."
Now, the Comets and Greyhounds have the postseason in their sights. Both teams participate in the Elmo Kallner Invitational on Saturday, April 27, at Hamilton Township and are three weeks from the OCC-Central Division and OCC-Ohio meets, respectively.
"With some of our kids, like Molly, we're starting to taper down for the championship season," Boggs said. "That's in mid-May. It's not far away now."