Sectional track is all about making a “state-ment,” but it certainly doesn’t hurt to come away with a sectional crown or set some personal bests along the way.
Kaneland, Hampshire and Burlington Central athletes did this Friday night at the Class 2A Burlington Central Sectional, and it was the Knights coming away with the team hardware, not to mention eight state berths. They had 83 points to second-place Hampshire’s 74. The Whip-Purs had six state berths, while Central, which had six state berths, had 69 points for third.
“It’s nice to win the sectional, but we don’t come to do that,” Knights coach Doug Ecker said. “Lauren Zick was sick all week and managed to qualify in the long jump and ran a gutsy race (anchoring) the (1,600-meter) relay, an impressive race. Our distance runners ran well. I’m happy with all of them.
“You don’t get many chances to win a sectional. We haven’t won one in a long time.”
The Knights got a title from freshman Brianna Bower in the 3,200 meters (11:37.52), Ashley Castellanos in the triple jump (34 feet, 8 inches) and from their 3,200 relay team of Amanda Lesak, Aislinn Lodwig, Sydney Strang and Jessica Kucera (9:47.34). The 1,600 relay team qualified automatically in second place, as did 1,600 runner Victoria Clinton (5:20.92) and Zick in the long jump at 16-6 1/2, even though the illness may have taken a foot and a half off what she had previously done.
Also qualifying by beating state standard were Sydney Strang in third place for the 800 meters (2:23.84) and Christina Delach in fourth for the pole vault (9-9).
“I was really nervous at the beginning,” said Bower, who also went to state in cross country. She thought it took, “…about half a lap into it,” before she lost that nervous feeling. Then it became a three-person race.
“When there’s not as many people, it feels like it’s more like a tough practice instead of a race,” she added.
It’s also the first time at state for Delach, who didn’t reach her best vault of 10-3 but was happy nonetheless.
“I feel like I was really fast on the runway,” she said. “A lot faster than normal.”
Hampshire’s relay teams made the Whip-Purs need a bus instead of a van for the state trip next weekend. They made state in all four events, including victories by the 800 team (1:50.46) of Nikki Dumoulin, Olivia Diaz De Leon, Anita Trzebunia and Valeries Wozniak, and the 1,600 team (4:06.67) of Evans, Nikki Dumoulin, Tricia Dumoulin and Jenny Dumoulin. The 3,200 (10:03.55) in fourth and the 400 team in second (50.96) made it as well.
Fouch showed true team spirit by giving up her chance to medal in the 200, where she was fourth last year, to focus on the 400 so she could also compete in relays. She ran a strong anchor leg for the 1,600 win and also won the 400, although she thought her 1:00.56 time was disappointing.
“I really wanted to run a 56,” she said. “I don’t know what it was. There’s no excuse.”
As for giving up the 200 chance, she said, “Too me, I felt like I was benefiting either way. Whether I won the 400 or 4 by 400, they’ll help me achieve what I would have if I would have went down in the 200 anyway.”
Jenny Dumoulin had the most interesting night, running between sprint relays to the discus area, to the sprint relays again, and then to the shot put pit where she won with a 40-foot effort, made on her final throw.
“It makes it fun,” she said about all the running around. “It’s all worthwhile.
“We were definitely hoping for a really good day and this turned out to be a lot better than any of us could have hoped for. Everything that we’ve done for all year, that (coach Patti) Nihells has prepared us for so well, now it’s all paying off.”
The area’s only double individual winner was Central’s Katie Trupp at 5-4 in the high jump and at a season’s outdoor best of 11-foot-10 in the pole vault. Teammate Natalie Overstreet cleared state-qualifying height of 9-9 in the pole vault to advance as well. Two years ago the Rockets also had two pole vaulters at state, but last year Trupp couldn’t go after breaking her foot.
“I wanted to get the school record (over 12 feet) and tried for it, but maybe next week,” Trupp said.
The third-place Central 3,200 relay team (10:02.91) advanced, as did Kayla Wolf in second in the 800 (2:17.08) and Jasmine Castillo with a second in the 300 hurdles (48.23).
“I didn’t run my best time,” said Castillo, who was at 47.6 Monday in the Big Northern meet. “I was a little slow and felt I should have PRed today.
“I wanted to get to 46 seconds, but at least I qualified for state and maybe I can do it there.”