Metea Valley’s Courtney Morgan hits competition with best shot for 3A state title

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CHARLESTON, Ill. —Courtney Morgan claimed to be “a little scared” of the other throwers around her this weekend.

The Metea Valley freshman is too modest. She might just be the best of the bunch.

Morgan confirmed it on Saturday at the Class 3A girls track and field state finals at Eastern Illinois University, winning the shot put and then coming back to take second in the discus.

“I’m excited,” Morgan said. “Coming in as a freshman I wasn’t expecting this.”

That may be, but Morgan is no stranger to big meets. Throwing for the Aurora Flyers club program, Morgan noted she’s only lost two national competitions since she was 6.

Her shot put of 45 feet, 3.5 inches that carried over from Friday preliminaries held up, making Morgan the first female state champion in Metea’s five-year history.

“This week at practice, I focused on all the little things so when I got here I wouldn’t have to worry about them,” Morgan said. “I was expecting the big crowd and the great throwers, but you still get a little scared of the girls around you.”

Morgan was sitting in third place in the discus after Friday prelims, but popped a 144-6 to match teammate Holly Julifs. Morgan’s second throw was better as she took second and Julifs third with Prospect champion Erin Reese going 146-1.

Julifs, a junior, fouled on all three discus attempts Saturday. Still the three finishes pushed Metea to a tie for fifth in 3A — won by Lincoln-Way East — and further validated the Mustangs’ strong weight program.

“We all push each other. I push Courtney, Courtney pushes me,” said Julifs, also a finalist in the shot put. “We both decided that we were going to go for it and whatever happens happens.”

Neuqua Valley junior Maya Neal added a fifth state medal to her mantle. She couldn’t better her 18-7 attempt from prelims that had her in second, finishing fourth. An Achilles injury had limited Neal to one long jump practice this week, two last week.

Neal went for gold in her second attempt, but overstrided and fouled by a quarter inch.

“I knew I had to go for at least a 19. I tried to go all out,” Neal said.

Fellow Wildcats junior Olivia Griswold bettered her prelim shot put, throwing 40-11 to earn a ninth-place medal. In the process she capped a comeback season. Griswold tore her ACL last May and didn’t start throwing again until January.

“I can say this is an accomplishment,” Griswold said. “It’s for my teammates, not for me.”

Waubonsie Valley picked up a seventh-place finish from its 800 relay, and minutes later, senior Allison Wilson took fifth in the 800.

The Bradley-bound senior, who had not medaled in the relays in two previous state trips and never been to Charleston in an open race, ran a personal-best 2:15 flat Friday. She nearly matched it with a 2:15.16 final.

“I’m pretty happy,” Wilson said. “I wish I could have held off the Belvidere North girl for fourth but I’ll take this.”

Naperville North junior Elly DeTurris added to her 10th-place finish in state cross country and seventh at 2013 state track, finishing eighth in a tough pack led by eventual repeat champion Madeline Perez of

Glenbard West.

“It’s a very fast heat,” said DeTurris, who ran in 10:54.53. “I think everybody pushed the pace. I love the competition.”

Naperville Central’s 3,200 relay medaled with a ninth-place finish.

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