IHSA 3A Sectional Meet, 5.11.2017

posted May 12, 2017, 6:52 PM by Matthew Thomas   [ updated May 12, 2017, 7:06 PM ]

About 5 years ago, the IHSA scheduled last night’s Sectional meet.  At that date — and only on that date — far in the distance, athletes would have the opportunity to compete and qualify for the 2017 state track and field finals.  Knowing that you have to perform your best on a certain date heightens the intensity of the meet.  It increases the pressure.  It makes every heat and every flight that much more special.  


When this season started, we had that date on the schedule.  The date would not change for any of our athletes because they were ill or injured.  No matter what, that was the day they would need to step up and perform.  No previous performances mattered.  Thursday, May 11, 2017 at Ottawa Township High School starting at 3 p.m., the IHSA 3A Sectional meet was the time — and the only time — to do it.


And they did.


Minooka finished third in a tough 14-team Sectional.  The night ended in dramatic fashion with 7 entries headed to the state meet in 5 different events:


  • Emily Shelton, 3200-meter run, 1st place

  • Ashley Tutt, 3200-meter run, qualifying time

  • Sydney Andreano, discus, 2nd place

  • Brooklyn Bachmann, pole vault, 2nd-place

  • Mackenzie Callahan, 1600-meter run, 2nd place

  • Emily Shelton, 1600-meter run, qualifying time

  • Cierra Bachmann, Emily Johnson, Eryn Renison, Mackenzie Callahan, 4x400-meter relay, qualifying time


While those state-qualifiers certainly earned it, they weren’t the only ones who performed when they needed to.


Starting in the high jump, Desiree March set a personal record with a jump of 4-feet, 11 inches.


In the pole vault, Brooklyn Bachmann tied her season’s best in finishing 2nd at 10-feet and qualifying for state.  Katelyn Gall tied her personal best and finished 4th.  Both were extremely close to clearing their next heights.


Due to heavy rains of late, the long jump area was a wet mess.  This deterred neither Cierra Bachmann, whose second landing embraced the wet sand like no other’s, or Aaliyah Young, whose legs looked like they’d been covered in oatmeal when it was all finished.  Many of the jumpers at the sectional came nowhere near performing at their best.  These two did, with Young even making the sectional finals with a personal record of 15-feet, 4 inches.  


The triple jump had a similar experience with a similar approach by both Young and Emma Wiegmann, who tied her personal record.


On her second throw of the night In discus, Sydney Andreano launched a personal record of 121 feet, 1 inch.  It was good enough to finish second and qualify her for state for the first time.  Her mark is 6th all-time for Minooka.  


The 4x800-meter relay, the first event on the track, stepped up as well.  Battling throughout, the team of Ali Mondrella, Julia Dames, Gwen Barnes, and Vivian Van Eck ran a season’s best by 11 seconds.


The 4x100-meter relay team of Makaya Roberts, Sophie Darden, Lauren Larsen, and Maryam Williams have been running together during much of the season.  Their handoffs have continued to improve, and it’s fun to see the team chemistry created.  What was even more fun was they ran a season’s best time by nearly a second at Sectionals.


The 3200-meter run had a loaded field, and it did not disappoint.  Emily Shelton set a personal record, broke a school record, and ran an amazing final 200 meters to finish in 10:33.81.  If you haven’t seen the final 200 meters of the race, you can view it here.  Ashley Tutt followed a couple tough Naperville North girls, finished fourth, and met the qualifying time to advance to state.


Two underclassmen who have battled injuries finished their last 100-meter dashes in style.  Sydney Forrest and Lauren Lauren not only both ran personal bests, but they ended up as the 9th and 10th best all-time at Minooka, respectively, as well.


The 4x200-meter relay of Madison Thompson, Eryn Renison, Cierra Bachmann, and Brooklyn Bachmann, put forth a very good effort.  They had great handoffs, and executed what they were supposed to.  They, too, ran their best time of the year.


In the 400-meter dash, a lot of grueling workouts paid off for both Lindsay Freese and Lauren Widlowski.  Both girls showed great improvement this year, and their personal records in the 400 on Thursday were examples of this.


Kylie Wissel and Jenna Roberts competed in the 300-meter hurdles, and their stories are perfect examples of how sectionals heightens everything.  Roberts has looked smoother and faster every meet in both the 100-meter hurdles and the 300s.  In the 100s on this night, Roberts was interfered with near the end of the race, and she fell hard.  It was a misfortune amplified by the fact it was her last opportunity in the event this season. The only redemption she had available was later in the 300s, and while she didn’t run a season’s best there, she did run strong where others would have wilted.  


Wissel’s adversity has occurred throughout the season as she has dealt with a variety of soreness.  To her credit, she has rehabbed like a champ and put herself in position to compete for a chance at the state finals.  In the 300-meter hurdles, she ran her best race, the best time of her life, and the second-best time in the history of MCHS.  She finished third, just 0.13 seconds shy of the state-qualifying mark.  Coming that close stirs all sorts of emotions.  We were only getting started with those.


The 1600-meter run was another field loaded with the state’s best.  Callahan and Shelton battled with the top runners throughout the race, and both would end up earning a chance to run again next week.  Callahan finished 2nd with the second-best time in her life.  Shelton — completing the dirty double after the 3200 — ran a state-qualifying season’s best and finished 4th after her 12th lap around the track that night.  


In the 200-meter dash, Madison Thompson ran her final 200-meter dash of the season.  It would be tough to find a sprinter who has put in more work than she has.  It paid off well for her, as she ran the fastest time of her life, and one that puts her 8th on the MInooka all-time list.  In that same race, Sydney Forrest chalked her second person record of the night.


Watching a relay try and qualify for state is nerve-wracking.  You are counting on not one, but four individuals to perform at their best on that one special day that was picked so long ago.  The 4x400 was our best chance to qualify a relay.  The four runners — Cierra Bachmann, Emily Johnson, Eryn Renison, and Mackenzie Callahan — had all run the relay many times before, but only once had they run all together, and that was indoors.   Minooka had not run a state-qualifying time during the year, and had only won one race all year.  


Bachmann led off looking the best she had looked in a 400 in memory.  Johnson, a freshman running in her first race at the end of a long night, followed with another strong leg.  Renison then came out charging and finished charging.  Yet even with those three good legs, when Callahan got the baton it was clear finishing in the top 2 would be darn tough.  Callahan ran well, but Minooka finished 5th.  Coach Gummerson and I looked at our watches, and from our angle, we had run a season’s best time, but likely had just missed the state-qualifying standard.  We were disappointed for the girls. They were disappointed in their finish. We congratulated them on their time, thanked them for their efforts, and prepared to move on.


And then the official results came.  We saw the time on paper mere seconds before they announced it over the P.A. system.  The 4x400-meter relay had qualified by 0.08 seconds.  Sad tears turned into happy tears, and low-hanging heads turned into high-fives.  

Like so many other athletes earlier in the night, the 4x400-meter relay had performed at their best when they had, too.  That’s all you can ask for on a day of Sectionals.


Go Minooka!


— Coach Thomas



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