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Apollos, Crusaders face off early in the regular season, look ahead to districts, state

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset seniors Kelly Makin and Bridgette Skiba celebrate Skibas win in the 400 meters against Jesuit.

Great rivalries bring out the best in each other.

Even when the weather isn't conducive to personal bests and the schedule makers don't do the feuders any favors by pitting the adversaries against each other early in the season, contention between two long-time top tier teams can spark up standout performances.

The Sunset-Jesuit strife for Metro League girls track and field bragging rights split 17 first place finishes with the Crusaders claiming nine golds and the Apollos grabbing eight. Neither team was at full tilt after spring break. Some stars didn't compete at all and others didn't handle their normal workloads. But the competition was heated nonetheless with the Crusaders coming out on top 88-57 on April 4 at Cronin Field.

Jesuit senior sprinter Lena Colson took top honors in the 100 and 200 and ran legs on both the winning 4x100 and 4x400 relays. Libby Rinck won the 3,000, Jordyn Turner took the shot put, Kate Thompson won the high jump and Grace White set a personal record in the pole vault. The defending state champions are again stockpiled with stars, starting with Colson in the sprints and a loaded distance program that won a cross country state championship in the fall.

"I feel like we have a lot of strengths," Colson said. "I think we're doing a good job of setting that championship bar. We have a few invitationals and then Metro (district meet) to prepare us for state and I think we have a pretty good chance (to repeat)."

"Our whole team is motivated by racing Jesuit," Sunset senior Kelly Makin said. "It's hard to have the meet this early and not feeling super fit yet, but it produced some really great performances today. I was super impressed with everyone."

The Apollos ended the meet enthused about their long-term prospects both as individuals and as a program looking ahead to the postseason meets. Senior Bridgette Skiba broke the minute mark in the 400 (59.59) pushing past Jesuit freshman Molly Grant and teammate Greta Anderson across the tape. Sophomore Lucy Huelskamp won the 1,500 by more than 17 seconds.

"Bridgette is a beast," Makin said with a smile. "Lucy was out here killing it and she got a big PR today. And then you have people who bring it and you don't really expect it. It's just so cool to see because that's what track is all about."

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset senior Bridgette Skiba won the 400 meters against Jesuit at Cronin Field last week.

Senior Kate Wilson set a personal record in the discus (106-00) and a seasonal best in the javelin (119-06) while sophomore Camden Masanga won the triple jump with a personal best of 33-06. Junior Izabela Aranda-Dooley swept the 100 and 300 hurdles, breaking personal records in each event.

"I love coming here against our best competition and watching people you might not know as well because it's such a big team and they do something incredible on the track," Makin said. "It's just so inspiring to me, especially my teammates who I'm close to on the distance squad. We're doing great things already. My teammates are killing it and I know I can do that, too, if I just keep training with them and stay healthy."

Makin, the defending Class 6A state champion in the 800 and 1,500, won the 800 against Jesuit and ran a leg of Sunset's 4x400 team that took second. Makin moors an Apollo distance crew that includes Huelskamp, Ember Stratton, Cali Corkran and Jolien Deboutte that could spur Sunset into one of the state's favorites come mid-May. Makin is arguably the best middle distance runner in the state, a University of Washington signee who, despite her past success, has turned her attention forward.

"Coming into each season you kind of have to forget (what you've done before) and start at the bottom again and work your way up," Makin said. "That's how I mentally approach it. It helps not get too caught up in what I've done and keeps me focused on what I need to do still. I want to see what I can do."

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