"Mature for her age."
"... works very hard to excel at an incredible level."
The words were used to describe Lincoln-Way East track and field standout Aaliyah Brown during a formal presentation at school Thursday to recognize her for being named the 2012 Gatorade Illinois Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
Brown, who just started her senior year at Lincoln-Way East, led the Griffins to a fourth-place finish in the Class 3A state meet last spring. She won the 200-meter dash (24.18) and placed second in the 100 (11.67). She also ran legs on two second-place relay teams.
Brown teamed with Sydney Barrera, Maria Perozzi and Dana O'Grady for a clocking of 47.66 in the 4x100 and with O'Grady, Perozzi and Nicole Nepote for a time of 3:52.45 in the 4x400.
The Griffins scored 37.50 points. Edwardsville won the 3A state championship with 51 points. Belleville West placed second with 48.5, followed by Evanston 47.
"Aaliyah is not afraid to set her goals high because she knows that she has what it takes to achieve them," Lincoln-Way East coach Caroline Gerritsen said during Thursday's toast of Brown. "She is very mature for her age and motivates her teammates more than I have ever seen anyone do."
"We are fortunate to have such athletes with us," Lincoln-Way East principal Scott Tingley said. "Aaliyah works very hard to excel at an incredible level. She's quite an athlete."
Brown is in good company.
Lincoln-Way East's Blake Winkler was named the 2011-12 Gatorade Illinois Football Player of the Year. The former Griffin quarterback is now a freshman at Illinois State University.
Brown holds Lincoln-Way East indoor track records in the 55-meter dash, 60-meter dash, 200-meter dash. She also holds outdoor records in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dash events. And she has been a part of five school record-setting relay teams.
She boasts a 3.32 GPA.
"It's hard work to balance school, athletics and family," Gerritsen said. "But (Aaliyah) has figured it out."