GENESEO — How the next three weeks unfold for the Geneseo girls' track team is unknown.
Judging by Monday night, it could be deja vu.
Dominant on the track and strong in the field events, the Maple Leafs started their late-season push with an impressive first step. Geneseo tallied 186 points to win the Geneseo Invitational at Bob Reade Field by 93.5 points over runner-up Moline, proving once again it can peak at the right time.
Twelve months ago, the Maple Leafs used a team title in this same meet as a springboard for a memorable finish that had them earn a top-10 state finish for the first time in program history. With 11 victories in 18 events on Monday, there's reason to believe it can happen again.
"This year, we're getting better as a team," Geneseo runner Paige Gatter said. "Times are getting faster, and we're working together. ... It's amazing to see what we can actually do as a team. It would be awesome if we can get ninth in (the Class 2A state meet) again."
Before discussing the future, Geneseo has to take care of the present. The first step is defending its Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference title on Friday night in Streator. After that, the Maple Leafs eye their first-ever sectional title. The state meet is 17 days away.
In order to achieve those goals at taking the program to new heights, the Maple Leafs know they need to improve some performances to reach the state-qualifying standards.
"Everyone has been improving each time more and more," said Geneseo sprinter Rayne Bodeen, who won the 100- and 200-meter races. "It keeps getting better and better. We're all going to keep improving."
Signs of encouragement were found in the relays, where the Maple Leafs' 4x100, 4x200, 4x400 and 4x800 each won their respective races. All four ran a time that was within five seconds of state qualifying, with the 4x100 being one-tenth of a second from reaching that mark.
Senior Kaci Storm ran a 15.15 and 47.49 to win the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles, respectively. Other winners included Emily Ford (800, 2:28.21), Darrian Hartman (pole vault, 9-feet) and Jamie DeFauw (high jump, 5-0).
With one more meet to shave time and distance before sectionals, the Maple Leafs will work toward improving their marks with the goal of peaking the last two weeks of the season. As of now, Geneseo is exceeding those expectations.
"We didn't really expect ourselves to finish as strong as we're doing right now," Gatter said. "I believe we can do better as a team."
- Verbeke gets personal best in 1600: Junior Haley Verbeke was one of two Moline individual winners as she captured the 1600 in a personal-best time of 5:19.86. Verbeke used a late kick in the last 75 meters to outlast Gatter by a half-second.
"That was uplifting," Verbeke said of her time. "I saw the clock and I saw how it was getting there, so I was like, 'OK, I'm going to use my kick I've gained this year to my advantage and see if I can get first as well.' I had that mentality and went out there and did it."
United Township, which finished third with 63 points, received a win from senior thrower Danielle Gates in the shot put. Gates had a toss of 35-10, a little less than two feet from the state-qualifying standard.
"There's a lot of technical stuff I need to work on," Gates said. "That's what I'm going to be focusing on."
Moline's other win came from Jennifer Dawkins (12:35:15) in the 3200.