BLOOMINGTON — After four state medalists chose to leave the University High School girls track team, the Pioneers could have felt sorry for themselves.
Instead of pouting, though, first-year coach John Neisler's charges unveiled enough intestinal fortitude on Monday to win the Intercity Meet for the first time since 2005.
"Of all the groups we've had in the last few years, this is not the one that I thought would get that done," said Neisler, whose team scored 112 points while topping defending champion Normal Community by 20.
"I've got 40 girls who are out here and want to be here and want to do this and that's obvious from tonight's result. I'm excited. I know they are, too."
Third in the 27th annual meet went to Normal West (81) followed by host Bloomington (80) and Central Catholic (9). The Pioneers won six of the 18 events.
"We scored points where I didn't think we would," Neisler said. "We had people pick up those thirds, fourths and fifths that I was questionable on."
The day's top performer was its only meet-record setter, BHS junior Kylie Welch, who took down marks in the 200- and 400-meter dashes.
Welch’s time of 56.60 seconds in the 400 broke the 2015 meet record of 58.18 set by U High’s Chante Stonewall. A head wind on the backstretch kept Welch from approaching her Pantagraph area record of 55.66.
"I think today I slowed down a little more on that backstretch than I probably should have," she said, "but I'm still happy with a 56."
Welch blocks out all cheering except for Coach Kenny Herman's instructions.
"I always can hear him," she said. "He always tells me to keep my elbows in and pump my arms the last 100 meters because I tend to get a little crazy with my arms."
Welch’s 25.29 200 erased the 2015 meet record of 25.35 set by teammate Jezel Martin, who tried to contest the 100, but a leg injury forced her to jog.
Welch warmed up by giving BHS a big lead on the opening leg of the 400 relay, which won in 49.41 with help from Bailey McGill, Kniyah Kelly Arter and Kamaria Gant. McGill also won the 100 in 12.45, the area's top time this season.
Illinois State softball recruit Elle Weltha, a BHS sophomore, repeated as shot put and discus champion with outdoor career bests of 42-2¼ and 124-4, respectively.
"I'm still shooting for a 44," Weltha said. "I think I have it in me, but it's just a matter of getting it."
Weltha has added weekend workouts with BHS throws coach Don Anderson to recoup training time lost to softball.
"We're trying to make sure we can get the (discus) form down," she said. "Now that it's starting to progress, I think it's going to get a lot better."
U High’s 5-foot-9½ Brianna Pinter used her long legs to sweep the horizontal jumps, flying 17-7¼ in the long jump and 34-8 in the triple jump. Her long jump was a career best unless you count an offseason 17-11¾.
“I really worked at keeping my legs up and I think that helped,” she said. “My goal since sixth grade has been to go 18. Our school record is 18-1½ so I want to get that.”
U High's Lauren Seaver wanted to see her Flying Dragons Pole Vault Club teammates shine, but none could outshine her.
"I love vaulting with them," she said. "I made 11-6, but everybody else was really close and they jumped really well today."
Normal West’s Jasmine Loving edged U High’s Kara Henry in the 100 hurdles, 15.90 to 16.19.
“I felt like I got a really good start,” Loving said. “I’ve been working on that for a while. I had my eye on Kara.”
Henry bounced back to top Loving in the 300 hurdles, 47.35 to 49.89.
"I was just trying to get to the finish line," Henry said. "I wanted the Intercity title."
Rounding out the Pioneer victors was the 800 relay (1:48.14) of Jessica McDowell, Spencer Smiley, Micayla Mathieson and Carrington Walker and 3,200 runner Emmy Mussey (12:13.54).
West’s winning 3,200 relay (10:03.37) chopped almost 15 seconds off its season best thanks to Mara Smith (2:30), Grace Gallagher (2:31), Alexis Richardson (2:32) and Tess Birlingmair (2:30).
Smith doubled back to win the 800 in 2:28.29 while Richardson (61) also ran on the winning 1,600 relay (4:16.06) with Gracie Ecker (62), Caylie Carter (67) and Whitney Bozarth (64). Teammate Ali Reece won the high jump (4-10).
The lone NCHS champion was Rachel Zimmerman in the 1,600 (5:38.07).