Illinois Top Times Invitational, 3.26.16

Post date: Mar 28, 2016 2:43:46 AM

At a time when she should have looked terrible, she looked great. On the 16th of 16 laps, Emily Shelton appeared to defy logic with her performance.

When she twirled those final turns she looked to have more energy than when she started. Most people would be circling the drain at that point.

The 3200-meter run was first event on the track for the Class 3A girls at the Illinois Top Times Invitational at Illinois Wesleyan’s Shirk Center on March 26. ITT serves as the start/finish line of the outdoor and indoor seasons. This is a big-time meet. Only the best performances in the state are represented on the track. And there were some big names.

Of the 15 girls racing, seven had earned All-State honors the previous fall in the cross-country state finals. There was Class 3A state runner-up Lindsay Payne from Glenbard West with the fastest seed time. McKenzie Altmayer, Geneva’s senior who finished 7th at state, was there. Yorkville had a pair of All-state runners from the Class 2A finals. And Minooka had its own All-State athletes, three in fact: Ashley Tutt, Mackenzie Callahan, and Shelton.

To step to the line in this elite pressure-packed field is an accomplishment in itself. But once the gun went off, the Minooka girls quickly asserted themselves near the front of the race. Shelton led after a quarter mile, followed closely by Payne, Altmayer, and Tutt (Toot if you were hearing it over the PA system). Callahan was just a hair behind them.

How do you run under such pressure and still finish smooth? How do look like your legs are building power lap after lap? Is it even possible to create energy throughout a two-mile race?

Our SAT word of the day is piezoelectricity. It has to do with gathering energy from ceramics or crystals like quartz. Those materials have positive and negative charges, and when you apply pressure to them, those charges are redistributed and electricity is created.

Smart people are applying this to our body movements to harvest energy. This is an actual thing.

An engineer at the University of Florida developed a backpack with shoulder straps made from these materials. When you hike, the pack jostles on your back. The movement of the straps creates electricity.

Some graduate students at MIT proposed installing piezoelectric flooring in crowded areas of cities. When people walked on it, energy could be harvested from their footsteps. And it has, including a football stadium in Rio de Janeiro and a terminal in Heathrow airport. Now researchers are trying to put that technology into the shoes themselves.

None of the runners in the 3200 were wearing piezoelectric-tricked out shoes on Saturday, but there was some electricity generated in that race.

Payne took the lead on lap 7, with Shelton staying with her. Tutt was still fourth.

On lap 13 Callahan made a move and closed a gap, then passed a runner.

On the penultimate lap, Tutt passed Altmayer to pull into third. At the same time, Payne pulled away from Shelton.

They all charged the finish, energy flowing everywhere.

Payne won in 10:34.35, a second slower than her seed time.

Shelton was second in 10:36.26, a personal and school record. Tutt finished third in 10:43.57, also a personal record. Callahan set her own personal record finishing fifth in 10:57.22. Three Minooka girls, three personal records, three medals, and three times under 11 minutes.

Three hours later, Shelton and Tutt returned to the track for the 1600-meter run. With 16 laps already under their belts, they tacked on 8 more.

Shelton again finished strong and smooth with time of 5:03.93, just barely missing a PR, but good enough for fourth place. Tutt finished in 5:10.98.

The Indians responded great to the level of competition presented at ITT. Theirs were powerful performances.

Piezoelectricity literally means electricity resulting from pressure.

Go Indians.

– Coach Thomas

P.S. If any of those researchers developing the piezoelectric shoes read this and want a test subject, I’ve got a busy 2-year-old. She wears a size 9. And she could power Tokyo.