IHSA 3A Sectional Meet, 5.11.2018

Post date: May 12, 2018 8:17:21 PM

The plaque awarded to sectional team champions in track and field has the shape of Illinois raised in black on the left-hand side above a wooden background. A circular IHSA seal in gold is also raised in the upper right. In addition to the year, two gold plates with the name of the sport and words “Sectional Champions” decorate the remainder of the plaque. There is no space for a team picture or the names of the athletes.

I wish there was.

Years from now when I look at the sectional plaque won by the MInooka girls at Rock Island on Friday night, I want to make sure to remember every face and name. An engraved list would certainly help, but it would be hard to know where to stop for this team.

You could start with the 16 different girls who scored points at the 15-team sectional. Their points totaled 78, just two points ahead of host Rock Island. Often big track and field meets are won because a few athletes dominate a few events. Minooka only won one event out of 18 possible at Rock Island, but they scored in 16 different ones. That’s a heckuva team performance. Here are those 16.

Aaliyah Young and Sydney Forrest got the meet jumping over at the sand pits. Both picked the best time to be at their best. Young leaped into a personal record of 17-1.5, which earned her 2nd place and her first trip to the State Finals. Forrest followed right behind her with a personal record of her own at 16-11.5, good enough for 4th place.

About the same time 150 yards north, two more girls were vaulting their way into history. Katelyn Gall earned her first trip to the State Finals with a qualifying jump of of 10-3 and finished 5th. Freshman Ava Bezaire did even better, bouncing her way to a new school record of 10-9, a 2nd-place finish, and a trip to state.

At the high jump, Makayla Roberts went 4 inches higher than she ever had before in clearing 5-0 and earning team point with 6th place.

Back over at the sand pits, Young wasn’t done scoring points. She tallied two more with a 5th-place finish in triple jump.

In the throws, Sydney Andreano battled through some pain to scrap out a 6th-place point in the shot put.

The points continued when the running events started at 6 p.m.

The leadoff leg of the 4x800-meter relay, Vivian Van Eck, would later tell the Joliet Herald-News, “After watching how our field event teammates were doing so well, it really motivated us to go with them.”

Go with them indeed.

Seeded 4th, Van Eck began the race on a mission. Julia Dames and Olivia Krolczyk followed with strong legs of their own before Emily Ellis came from behind to nip another team at the finish line. Minooka’s 4x800 had qualified for state with a 2nd-place finish.

The 4x100-meter relay team of Eryn Renison, Lauren Larsen, Alexis Mata, and Forrest had the lofty goal of being the first ever to qualify for state. They were seeded 4th, and also finished there, missing the qualifying mark. But they ran faster than they had all season, on a night that was about 20 degrees cooler than the last time they ran. That 4th place, good for 4 points, is the highest known place ever for a Minooka girls 4x100 at a sectional meet.

There are lots of emotions when you have to run race when you are not 100 percent. Emily Shelton had to have felt most of them as she ran the 3200 meters. She courageously pushed herself to a 6th-place finish. That point she earned would be crucial to a sectional victory.

An event later, Kylie Wissel would look as strong as she’s looked in the 100-meter hurdles. If the race had been 10 meters longer, she would have picked up a few places. As it was, she finished 4th, earning 4 more points.

Lauren Larsen might have gotten the best start of her life in the 100-meter dash. Running into a slight headwind on a cool night, she managed a 6th-place finish and another point for Minooka.

By the look on her face, it was apparent that the mission Dames was on in the 4x800 was not over when she took off in the 800-meter run. She was seeded 10th, finished 4th, earned 4 points, and ran a personal best.

The 4x200-meter relay of Cierra Bachmann, Larsen, Roberts, and Mata was the closest in recent memory. Again, state was the goal. Minooka was tight with the top two teams throughout the race, but finished 3rd. An important note, on this chilly night, the two teams that beat Minooka did not run season best times. Minooka did, and it helped earn 6 points.

Qualifying for state in the 400-meter dash has been a goal for Eryn Renison for a long time. She had done everything she can to prepare, and along the way she’s made some remarkable contributions to Minooka track and field. She made yet another in her race, earning 4 points with her 4th-place finish. It wasn’t her goal, but it was another important piece of a sectional team victory.

Last year at sectionals, Wissel threw down her spike bag in disgust when it was announced that she’d just missed qualifying time in the 300-meter hurdles. This year, she didn’t let it come down to time. She just went out and won the thing. I’m not sure what was quicker, Wissel running over the final hurdle or Coach Bahret running to hug her after her victory, but they were both great to see. Wissel was the only person to win an event for Minooka on Friday, and her race got the team another 10 points.

Van Eck still had something to prove when it was her turn to race in the 1600 meters. She was seeded 5th, and went out and hung with the leaders early on. Although she fell short of qualifying for state, her 4th place finish picked up 4 points.

The final scoring event was the 4x400-meter relay. For the second week in a row, the winner of the meet would come down to this event. Minooka was down 3 points to Rock Island going into the race. Yorkville was also in the hunt.

It was after 9:30, the temperature was 53 degrees with a breeze from the northeast, and the meet was officially more than 5 and half hours long. In short, there was every reason to be tired, but you wouldn’t have known it by the way Bachmann, Krolcyzk, Wissel, and Renison attacked the race. They ran like they wanted to win a sectional championship.

It was close through all four legs, and Minooka finished third, just missing qualifying for state. But their effort was good for 6 points in a race where Rock Island only earned 1, and Minooka was the sectional team champion.

The 16 names mentioned above I would certainly like to see on the plaque, but they should also be joined by the other Minooka competitors whose efforts not only were remarkable, but gave their teammates confidence they could also do their best.

Angelica Leal hit a personal best in the 3200 meters, going under 12 minutes and finishing 7th. In the triple jump, Brooke McNally also finished 7th with a personal best.

Madison Thompson’s personal best throw in the shot put landed her sectional finals. She was 9th, which is remarkable for a sprinter who hadn’t thrown a shot before 5 months ago.

Jenna Roberts in the 100 hurdles, Amanda Wilson in the 1600, Alyssa Ritchie in the discus, and Allison Quinn in the high jump, Lauren Widlowksi in the 400, Meg Sukely in the 300 hurdles, and Jenna Seloover in the 200 all competed in less than ideal conditions. Their approaches to their events and their spirited performances continued to motivate their teammates throughout the night. Their names would be well-placed on that plaque as well.

There were also a handful of athletes who attended but did not compete since they served as alternates for relays. I saw each of them many times throughout the night. Cheering, fetching wind pants, locating a restroom, photographing races — all were done in the name of helping their teammates and trying to contribute what they could to a win. Alexis Marti, Olivia Kics, Ariana Coste, and Sophie Darden should be add to the plaque too.

A final deserved mention are the members of the track and field team who didn’t make the 2-hour trip to sectionals. Their hard work, competitiveness, and encouragement helped steel their teammates throughout the year in preparing them for the sectional meet. Their contributions are certainly not unnoticed.

This was only the second time in school history that the Minooka girls track and field program won a sectional championship, the other coming in 2014. That year, more than half of the team points were scored because of winning individual events. This year, less than 1/7 were.

I can’t think of another victory that required more of a total team contribution than the one on Friday night, certainly not one of this magnitude. All these athletes deserve to be remembered.

Go Minooka!

– Coach Thomas