GRAYSLAKE – Not long ago, Crystal Lake Central junior Celeste Madda was less than excited about the prospects of running the 400 meters.
“We joked at the beginning of the season about her running the 400, and she said, ‘No way,’ ” Tigers coach Anthony DeStephano said.
Madda is not alone. The 400, sprinting an entire lap, is daunting for many runners. However, after recently giving the 400 a shot – in one open race and one 4x400 relay leg – she is warming up to it. She was ready to run the 400 at the Fox Valley Conference Girls Track and Field Meet on Thursday at Grayslake Central’s William Eiserman Stadium, but the meet was suspended because of lightning and thunder.
The Big Northern Conference Meet, also scheduled for Thursday, was postponed and will be run Monday at Genoa-Kingston.
The first thunder hit in Grayslake around 6 p.m., forcing an IHSA-mandated 30-minute suspension. Athletes and coaches entered the school and the meet was called at about 7:30 p.m.. It will be resumed at 5:30 p.m. Monday because most schools have their proms this weekend.
Madda was one of the area’s top sprinters as a freshman, but missed last season with stress fractures in both femurs. She won the 100 and 200 at the McHenry County Meet, and since then has worked on the 400. Her seed time (1:03.41) will not get her into Monday’s fastest heat, but she is still a threat to medal.
“I didn’t know how to pace myself at first,” Madda said. “I didn’t know what to expect. It’s a fun race. It was fun racing against the Grayslake Central girl [Cara Engal] knowing I was behind her and had to catch up.”
DeStephano talked strategy with Madda more before her 4x400 relay race and she turned in a 58.5 split.
“That was quite impressive,” DeStephano said. “She gained from the last time she ran it and it helped her pace it out. She only knows the 200, which is all-out for 200 meters. It’s not quite the same strategy with the 400.”
Madda is thrilled to be healthy and running fast times again this season. She will be one of the top seeds in the 100 and 200 Monday, before running two laps in her new race.
“I’m trying to do my best and peak at the right time,” Madda said. “My coach wanted me to get [school] records and good seed times for the sectional next week. This is a fun year.”