A special team is made stronger by each member’s strengths.

A special team is made stronger by each member’s strengths.

The Illinois Top Times Invite serves as the unofficial indoor state track meet, and the Geneseo girls’ relay teams personified what it takes to reach a new level of success.

Geneseo’s 4x400-meter relay team and 4x800-relay team each earned third place finishes at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Shirk Center on March 23.

Geneseo’s Julia Poel, Lauren Belvel, Esther Brown and Josie Brown were seeded 10th in the 4x800 relay, but they surprised everyone by running a season-best time of 9:53.49.

The Lady Leafs’ relay crew ran 23 seconds faster than their seed time, and it was the third fastest relay time in Class 3A this season.

Geneseo Coach Kyle Morey attributes the Lady Leafs success to the member’s selfless nature.

Brown was a member of both of Geneseo’s third-place teams, but she fell just short of earning an individual medal in the 800 placing ninth in 2:25.23.

“I know she wanted to place in the open,” Morey said. “She could have easily saved energy for the open and pulled back in the relay, but she ran an anchor split of 2:21.4.

“Her time would have been good enough for third place in the 800. Instead, she gave everything she had in the relay to help her teammates recognize a huge goal of running sub 10 minutes and besting the outdoor state qualifying mark by nine seconds.”

Belvel who raced her way onto the 4x800-relay team during Geneseo’s intrasquad meet was another key piece of the puzzle.

“We have all known that Lauren has a lot of fight in her and she just had to have that one race to break out,” Morey said. “This was her race. Her split time was 11 seconds faster than any 800 she has run this season. Her race put us in a great position and allowed us to finish where we did.”

Geneseo’s Poel, Alison Bowers, Josie Brown, and Ali Rapps nearly ran down the title in the 4x400 relay (4:11.20) finishing behind champion Rosary High School (4:10.37) and runner-up Mattoon (4:11.04).

The Lady Leafs’ quartet set a season-best time by five seconds.

The Leafs’ Rapps was the only freshman to reach the 60 hurdles finals finishing sixth in 9.65.

Rapps concluded an impressive day tying for 14th in the 400 in 1:02.35.

A sophomore, Abby Reakes cleared 5’2” in the high jump to finish tied for fifth.

A senior, Alexandria Horne cleared 4’10” to finish 11th in the high jump after dealing with a back issue.

After sitting out practice the past two weeks, she came through with a solid showing against some of the state’s best.

“She did not jump as high as she would have liked,” Morey said. “To show that kind of grit and perseverance really shows why her teammates voted her as a captain.”