As iron sharpens iron, so one woman sharpens another.
The biblical proverb rang true as Jesuit and Sunset, the Metro League's pair of persisting titan programs, tussled for the district championship over a two-day span at Cronin Field last week.
The Apollos gave the defending champion Crusaders all sorts of hellfire, winning four events to go along with two second place finishes. Sunset junior Kelly Makin made sure Jesuit felt the heat with wins in the 800 and 1,500 and a stellar leg of the 4x400 relay that took second overall.
But, to this point in Jesuit's tight-fisted, long-running reign, it'll take an otherworldly, team-wide ordeal to down the consecrated Crusaders.
Vaunting its wide range of established sprinters, cross country-based long distance runners and versatile two-way athletes, the defending Class 6A state champions won yet another Metro crown with 180.5 points compared to Sunset's 122.
"It gives the district meet that undercurrent of competitiveness," Jesuit senior Chloe Jensen said. "We're the two biggest teams, the two highest scorers and really coming head-to-head there's an energy that isn't present anywhere else. Not only do we want to be on top of Metro, but we want to beat Sunset, too. It gives you that extra edge and we're pretty friendly, so it's fun to see everyone try their hardest."
The battle, while hostile and combative from event-to-event, was still civil in competitive nature. The Crusaders and Apollos are annually the last two teams standing in the district, not just in track and field, but in cross country as well. Makin and sophomore star Ember Stratton have faced off against Jensen and Jesuit sophomore sensation Makenna Schumacher multiple times in each athletic event. Schumacher, for example, beat Stratton in the 3,000 after the Apollo sophomore stormed to a state championship in cross country. And Makin overtook Jensen in the 800 with less than 100 meters to go. They're familiar with each other on a personal level and exhaustively acquainted with one another when it comes to running nip and tuck from fall to spring. That forged affinity between powerhouse programs spans across all track and field fronts, too.
"We're the two biggest teams, the two highest scorers and really coming head-to-head there's an energy that isn't present anywhere else. It gives the district meet that undercurrent of competitiveness. Not only do we want to be on top of Metro, but we want to beat Sunset, too. It gives you that extra edge and we're pretty friendly, so it's fun to see everyone try their hardest."
Where Jesuit has gained the upper hand on Sunset the past two seasons ever since Taylor Coon graduated is in the sprint arena, particularly in the relays where the most points are usually earned. Headed by junior Lena Colson, who won the 200 meters and took second in the 100, the Crusaders swept both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays. Jesuit senior Claire Corbitt ran a leg on the short relay, won the long jump and took second place in both the 100 and 300 hurdles. Alisha Lowe and Isabelle Ford rounded out the 4x100 team while Jensen, Hallie DeVore and Greta Anderson ran the 4x400. Sunset junior Kate Wilson won the javelin with a 132-00 throw and Apollo senior Olivia Neal won the pole vault by clearing 11-09.
The defending state champs might not have the multi-purposeful Hadley Wilhoite anymore, but Jesuit is just as weaponized as ever to go win another Class 6A state championship trophy Friday and Saturday at the running haven that is Hayward Field — a place Jensen and her teammates hold near and dear to their hearts.
"We're ready to go at it," Jensen said. "Just being at Hayward and being on that track makes you want to give it your all and throw everything out there. Running at Hayward is like going to church — it's hollowed ground. You're running on the same paths as professionals. There's such a rich sense of history. It took me a couple of years to appreciate it...but it's just such a blessing to be able to run there."?