PRINCETON — It may have been called a conference track and field meet, but it didn’t seem like a conference meet to C.J. Rhodes.
The Princeton High School senior took part in the Tigresses’ champion 4x800 relay and won the 100 hurdles in Friday’s NCIC Conference Meet at Princeton. But admittedly her wins just didn’t feel the same in the NCIC with the once grand conference now down to just three schools — PHS, St. Bede and IVC.
“Conference used to be a big deal, but I feel running up against (just) two teams it’s not as much. It’s kind of said,” Rhodes said. “When I was at the high jump, I felt like I was at practice.”
If anything, meet officials said they made a record for the quickest meet in the 37-year-old history of the conference. The schools plan to run one more NCIC meet in 2013 with the conference folding with the departure of PHS and St. Bede to the Three Rivers IVC (90) claimed the NCIC crown followed by the host Tigresses (67) and the Lady Bruins (21). Each team was allowed to enter as many as they wanted in each event, but coaches agreed to keep the tradition that only two from each team could score or medal.
Junior jumper Phoenix Smallwood led PHS with a pair of wins, including a season best and NCIC Lincoln Division record 17-2 in the long jump and the night’s best mark in the triple jump of 34-4. Then she jumped off to Peoria to join the PHS soccer team.
PHS opened the track events by winning the 4x800 with a time of 10:38.1, on the legs of Rhodes, Birch, Sierra Storm and Zoe Mead. They finished 17 seconds ahead of runner-up IVC.
Rhodes won the 100 hurdles in 18.17 with freshmen teammate Ann Sims taking second. Rhodes had to settle for second in the 300 hurdles with IVC’s Emily Bartlett setting a NCIC Lincoln meet record (47.84).
Birch also gained a first in the 200 (28.09).
St. Bede’s Kayla MacDavitt and Rhodes both cleared 4-11 in the high jump, but the Bruin senior won on fewer attempts.
• Notes: IVC’s Liz Millford won the distance races from the 800 up. Teammate Emily Hoerr swept the weights, setting a Lincoln record in shot (36-11). ... PHS won the F/S meet with wins from Colbi Schertz (discus), Renee Scaggs Taylor Clark (shot), Frances Bowman (100) and the 4x400. ... The NCIC meet dates back to 1974 with Geneseo winning what was then a 12-team field. Sterling dominated the conference with 27 championships, including stretches of 10 straight (1988-98) and nine straight (2001-09). The NCIC was split into two divisions in 2007, but dropped back to one in 2011 with the mass exodus of the Reagan Division members. This year’s field fell to three with the departure of Mendota, Hall and Rock Falls. Next year will be the last run of the NCIC girls,