Prep Track and Field

Jill Bennett embraces leadership role for Linn-Mar girls' track and field

Senior contributed to winning sprint medley, tied for 200 title

Linn-Mar’s Jill Bennett looks to the timing board after sprinting for the finish during the anchor leg of the class 4A 4 x 100-meter relay at the 2018 Iowa High School Track & Field Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, May 19, 2018.. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Linn-Mar’s Jill Bennett looks to the timing board after sprinting for the finish during the anchor leg of the class 4A 4 x 100-meter relay at the 2018 Iowa High School Track & Field Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, May 19, 2018.. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The process started last season.

Linn-Mar Coach Nathan Hopp encouraged Jill Bennett to be more of a leader, despite talented seniors like Payton Wensel at the forefront for the Lions. The leadership baton has been handed off to the senior sprinter, who contributed to two state championship relays a year ago.

“Just being the most visible senior on our team she is kind of our de facto leader,” Hopp said. “She’s done really well with that.”

Bennett ran on the winning sprint medley and tied for first in the 200, helping Linn-Mar capture the girls’ team title at the Cedar Rapids Washington Invitational on Tuesday night at Kingston Stadium.

Bennett is one of the top returners for a team that finished fourth at the 2018 state meet.

“We have a great team this year,” Bennett said. “I lost some of my best friends, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t do really well. We have good freshmen coming in and we’ve been working really hard.”

Bennett has moved out of her comfort zone, preferring to lead by example and admitting it is difficult telling people what to do. She is more vocal this season.

“It’s different being older,” Bennett said. “I had people that basically pushed me or be the leader and gave me pep talks. Now, I kind of fill in there.”

Hopp said he has watched Bennett compete for a long time, including club track and in middle school. Her success is a mix of natural ability and strong work ethic.

“She’s just been phenomenal and is one of the most humble kids,” Hopp said. “She’s quick to congratulate a teammate, whether it is a varsity or JV kid, for having a great race. She’s always there willing to help and be a great teammate.”

Bennett teamed with Chana Northrup, Anna Huggins and Lily Haars to win the sprint medley in 1:53.36. She was part of one of the more exciting finishes, tying Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Cheyenne Mitchell for first in the 200 with a time of 26.65 seconds.

“The sprint medley was awesome and it was a lot of fun,” Bennett said. “Cheyenne and I go back and forth all the time, so it was fun to tie with her.”

Bennett has expanded her racing repertoire to the 400. She said she has had a slow start, but is looking forward to 1,600 relay and breaking the 25-second mark in the 200 by the end of the season.

“I’ve had stronger beginnings to my seasons,” Bennett said. “My 400s have been decent, so I hope that will help with it, too. Once it gets warmer outside, hopefully it will be better.”

WARRIOR INVITATIONAL

At Kingston Stadium

Teams — 1. Linn-Mar 173, 2. C.R. Prairie 153, 3. C.R. Kennedy 94, 4. Waterloo West 64, 5. Muscatine 44, 6. C.R. Xavier 41, 7. C.R. Washington 20.

High jump — 1. Taylor Peterson (CRP), 5-0, 2. Skyler Presler (LM), 4-10, 3. Allison Harris (CRK), 4-10; Long jump — 1. Dimia Burrell (LM), 17-6, 2. Sarah Schmitt (CRP), 15-7 3/4, 3. Ava Andrews (CRP), 15-5 1/2; Shot put — 1. Jeany Toingar (LM), 35-7, 2. NaTracia Ceaser (WW), 34-4 1/4, 3. Brooklyn Smith (WW), 33-6 1/4; Discus — 1. Kaitlyn Gammon (CRP), 103-1, 2. Toingar (LM), 100-8, 3. Emma Joens (CRP), 91-8.

Sprint medley — 1. Linn-Mar (Chana Northrup, Anna Huggins, Jill Bennett, Lily Haars), 1:53.36; 2. C.R. Kennedy 1:56.79; 3. C.R. Prairie 1:58.88; 3,000 — 1. Micah Poellet (LM), 10:42.76, 2. Ella Popenhagen (CRK), 10:57.09, 3. Kendall White (CRP), 11:16.12; 3,200 relay — 1. C.R. Prairie (Carli Reittinger, Alexis Moses, Rachael Kilpatrick, Gabby Cortez), 10:09, 2. Muscatine 10:54, 3. C.R. Xavier 11:00; Shuttle hurdle relay — 1. C.R. Prairie (Maci Harder, Schmitt, Jessa Day, Anna Millard), 1:11.55, 2. C.R. Xavier 1:15.70, 3. Muscatine 1:18.60; 100 — 1. Hannah Stuelke (CRW), 12.85, 2. Maddy Solomon (WW), 13.21, 3. Maddie Andorf (CRP), 13.39; Distance medley — 1. Linn-Mar (Lauren Gorsich, Leah Gorsich, Emily Schmidt, Lilly Geelan), 4:28.91, 2. C.R. Prairie 4:37.57, 3. C.R. Kennedy 4:48.75; 400 — 1. Burrell (LM), 1:01.21, 2. Reittinger (CRP), 1:01.43, 3. Haars (LM), 1:01.47; 800 relay — 1. Linn-Mar (Mary Gustason, Meliah Hanna, Kasey Shanahan, Alexa Hubler), 1:54.52, 2. C.R. Kennedy 1:55.24, 3. C.R. Prairie 1:55.33; 100 hurdles — 1. Kajsa Gerkens (CRK), 15.51, 2. Chana Northrup (LM), 16.15, 3. Briana Yanga (CRX), 16.63; 800 — 1. Cortez (CRP), 2:25.42, 2. Olivia Hamblin (CRK), 2:26.64, 3. Chloe Skidmore (LM), 2:28.26; 200 — 1. (tie) Bennett (LM) and Cheyenne Mitchell (CRK), 26.65, 3. Stuelke (CRW), 27.41; 400 hurdles — 1. Lauren Dirth (Mus), 1:13.28, 2. Libby Arnold (CRX), 1:14.55, 3. Sadie Staker (LM), 1:14.55; 1,500 — 1. Skidmore (LM), 5:05.16, 2. Laurdyn Meyer (CRP), 5:20.01, 3. White (CRP), 5:21.76; 400 relay — 1. Waterloo West (Solomon, Madeline Grimm, Destiny Claus-Davis, Keeajah Scott), 52.51, 2. Linn-Mar 53.43, 3. C.R. Kennedy 54.31; 1,600 relay — 1. C.R. Prairie (Reittinger, Emma Copeland, Moses, Cortez), 4:10.34, 2. Linn-Mar 4:12.59, 3. C.R. Kennedy 4:21.52.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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