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Fieldcrest sophomore Tessa Holland competes in the long jump Saturday at the Don Gooden Invitational in Mendota. Holland was second in the long jump, first in the 300 hurdles and first in the high jump. NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
MENDOTA — Fieldcrest sophomore standout Tessa Holland had practiced running the 300 hurdles a grand total of one time and never ran the race competitively coming into Saturday’s Don Gooden Invitational.
It turns out neither the lack of experience nor the 25-plus mile per hour whipping northerly winds that assaulted runners down the final stretch of the track could slow her down.
Holland blew past the field in the slowest heat of the 300 hurdles en route to a first-place overall finish with a time of 49.72 — more than four seconds faster than second-place Brooke Holloway of Byron, who won the fast heat.
It’s safe to say it was Holland’s day as the well-rounded Lady Knight added a first-place finish in the high jump — clearing the bar at 5 feet, 6 inches to win by four inches and set a new personal record — and finished second in the long jump (16-0 1/2).
She also teamed up with Annette Baldwin, Aleksa Ladd and Caitlin Pongracz to help Fieldcrest to victory in the 1,600 relay (4:31.9) with a blistering split of 1:01 to come from behind and take the lead on the anchor leg.
Holland’s efforts, as well as a first-place finish from teammates Annette and Maria Baldwin, Pongracz and Mackenzie White in the 3,200 relay (11:03.7), helped Fieldcrest to a second-place team finish with 87 points.
“It’s awesome. Last year we never would have had a chance at placing as a team,” Holland said. “This year we almost got first. It just shows how much of a team effort we gave and how well rounded we are.”
Byron claimed the team title with 141 tallies.
Locally, Princeton was fourth at 71, Bureau Valley sixth at 52, Mendota eighth at 44.5, Hall ninth at 39, Amboy-LaMoille 11th with 27 and St. Bede 13th with 10 team points.
Holland wasn’t the only athlete with a big showing on the blustery day.
Kaitlyn Horn showed off a home-field advantage with a sweep of the throws for the host Lady Trojans.
The Mendota junior mustered a top heave of 37-6 ¾ to win the shot put — nearly a foot past second-place Freya Block of Kewanee — and won the discuss with a throw of 113-4, which was a little less than six feet past second-place Nicole Holland of Princeton.
Princeton senior standout Phoenix Smallwood swept the jumps.
She launched more than a foot further into the pit past Fieldcrest’s Holland with a distance of 17-2 to take first in the long jump, and had four feet on second-place JoEllyn Parks of Mendota in the triple jump with a top leap of 35-11 ¾.
Also for the Tigresses, Zoe Mead continued her relatively new career in the 200 with a win as she edged out BV’s Lindsey Hoffert in a photo finish at 28.86 and placed second in the 800 with a time of 2:31.6 — just .19 seconds off the winning pace of El-Paso-Gridley’s Julie James, who also won the mile.
“Zoe has been running well and Phoenix has been solid all year so far,” PHS coach Pat Hodge said.
Sophomore Sierra Storm added another victory for PHS as she weathered the wind to win the pole vault with a personal best of 8-6.
Hoffert came from behind with a late surge into the wind to win the 400 (1:05), claimed second in the 200 (28.88) and had a sixth-place showing in the 100 (15.09).
She also teamed up with Lauren Peterson, Haley Devoss and Katelin Johnson to lead BV’s 400 relay to victory in 54.59.
“I’ve been hurt for a while with my ankle, and today was my first time going at the 400. I felt like I needed to push more since I’ve been out for so long. I just wanted to help my team and I felt it inside me. I just pushed until the end — it hurt but it felt good,” Hoffert said of the come-from-behind win in the quarter mile.
Storm sophomore Regan Weidner added a win in the 3,200 with a time of 12:41.
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at email@example.com Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.
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