Long, productive Saturday for Oak Park’s Wilkerson

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On Saturday night, Amari Wilkerson couldn’t decide whether she should go out with friends or just go to bed early.

It was an extremely long day for the Oak Park-River Forest junior, who went to bed early Friday night in preparation for a busy Saturday involving the ACT exam in the morning and participating in Hinsdale Central’s 23rd annual Devilette Invitational in the afternoon.

With ACT testing early Saturday, most high school sporting events featured a later than usual start to accommodate the hundreds of juniors and many seniors taking the college entry exam.

On Friday night, Wilkerson said she made sure that she had her calculator and pencils ready for the test and had packed her travel bag for her rush from Fenwick, site of the exam, to Hinsdale Central for track and field.

Wilkerson was up at 6:20 a.m. Saturday, ate some brown sugar oatmeal for breakfast and had arrived at Fenwick at 7:30 a.m. for the test. The exam started at 7:45 a.m.

“I think I did pretty good,” Wilkerson said. “I was pretty nervous. It was my first one.”

Wilkerson said she left Fenwick at 12:15 p.m. and knew that she was going to miss the team bus to Hinsdale. Her aunt, Michelle Saulsberry, drove her from Oak Park to the track meet. Wilkerson’s cousin is senior Kejuan Saulsberry, a reserve from OPRF’s boys basketball team. Wilkerson walked two blocks from Fenwick to her aunt’s house.

At Hinsdale, Wilkerson did not have enough time to warmup after the meet had started at 1 p.m. She ran the preliminaries in the 100-meter hurdles and was able to run fast enough to make the finals.

She missed the start of the long jump.

For the past several weeks, Wilkerson was taking an ACT training course on Sundays that ended a week before the test.

“ACT (training) was rigorous,” Wilkerson said. “It was like having school six days a week. I had track six days a week. It was rigorous. Track is my refuge sport. (With track), I get all my stress and aggression out.”

She won one of her two events at Devilette, taking first in the 300 hurdles (48.93) near the end of the meet and then placed second (16.23) in the 100 hurdles behind Hinsdale Central senior Cara Tenerelli (16.00).

There was a chance Wilkerson could have competed in the meet-ending 1,600 relay, but Wilkerson was given time off from that event due to the cold temperature and her successful finishes in her individual events.

OPRF (74 points) placed third in the meet behind Hinsdale Central (135) and Hinsdale South (111).

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