GIRLS TRACK — Loyola Academy head coach Frank Amato described the ending to Saturday’s GCAC conference meet as one of the most thrilling he’s seen, and he’s been coaching track for 58 years.
The Ramblers prevailed in the final race — the 1600-meter relay — to overtake St. Ignatius and win the meet 216-215 at Loyola Academy.
“The girls went out and won it, won the championship,” said Amato, who’s been at Loyola for 45 years. “When you can win by one point after being behind one ... that was quite thrilling. Really, one of the most thrilling of all the track meets I’ve coached.”
The winning relay featured sophomore Jenny Franzen, junior Karlie Slowiak, freshman Jackie McDonald and senior Rachel Price.
The win helped secure the team’s first GCAC outdoor title since 2009, ending St. Ignatius’s two-year run of championships.
Loyola was hoping to carry that momentum into its own IHSA Class 3A Sectional, beginning at 1:30 p.m. today. Participants — which includes student-athletes from the likes of Evanston, New Trier and Niles North — will be looking to book their ticket to the Class 3A state meet in Charleston.
“I think we can put some relays and individuals out there who will qualify Downstate,” Amato said. “Then, we want to go down there, score some points and win some medals. With a little more coaching, our girls can do that.”
Loyola junior Debbie Mokeleba is coming off a strong conference meet in which she won the 200 meters (25.88), placed second in the 100-meter run (12.75) and was part of the winning 400 meter relay team. The 400 relay team also included junior Mary Kate Clifford, and seniors Agnes Aniol and Brittany Nino.
Other winning relays for the Ramblers were the 800 (Clifford, senior Julia Jamieson, Aniol and Nino) in 1:46.58 — and the team of freshman Ellen Kulik, sophomore Michelle McGuire, Slowak and sophomore Mady Fassett in the 3200 (9:51.49).
Three Ramblers scored wins in field events: junior Nana Oware-Asamoah in shot put (31-6.25), junior Casey Stralka in discus (102-2) and senior Katie Simons in pole vault (9-0).
Loyola sophomore Rose McBride was tops in the open 1600 (5:41.88).
Another highlight for the Ramblers was the performance of Slowiak in hurdles, where she filled in for injured senior Megan Bertog. Despite never having competed in the event, Slowiak placed second in the 300 hurdles (48.71).
The Ramblers placed fifth (54 points) in Friday’s Don Davis Titan Invite at Glenbrook South.
Loyola junior Todd Ford won the 3200 (9:35.4), and his brother, Mac, was tops in the 1600 in a career-best 4:20.8.
Senior Jeff Toraason, who has battled injuries all spring, finished second in the 110 hurdles (14.6) and sixth in the 300 hurdles (41.7). Junior Tim Norwood finished second in triple jump (42-10.75).
The Ramblers will host the Catholic League conference meet at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.