From Lithuania to Charleston: Lemont’s Vika Marmaite punches state ticket with superb sectional showing

SHARE From Lithuania to Charleston: Lemont’s Vika Marmaite punches state ticket with superb sectional showing

Tim Plotke’s first face-to-face with Vika Marmaite could be described as a eureka moment.

Told in February that a new student just moved in from Lithuania and was interested in running track, the Lemont coach asked Marmaite how far she triple jumped at their initial meeting.

“She said 12 meters,” Plotke said, “and I did the math – that’s 40 feet.”

Lemont’s phenomenal junior find is going to Charleston next after winning the triple jump and long jump at Friday’s Class 3A Downers South sectional.

Marmaite moved with her parents from Lithuania in February, settling in Lemont’s large Lithuanian community. Last year in Lithuania she won a national triple jump competition for her age group, and competed at a large meet in Bosnia.

She missed indoor season in Lemont, then broke the program record of 36-4 the first outdoor meet. At conference last week Marmaite soared to 39-6, behind only the 40-6 effort of Cahokia’s Raynesha Lewis in the Class 3A state-wide rankings.

“It’s the prettiest jump I ever saw,” Plotke said. “Her second and third phases are the best I’ve ever seen. She’s real high on the second phase and just explodes out of the third phase. She’s not afraid to throw herself into the sand.”

She went 37-9.5 on Friday, and long-jumped 17-1.5. Next is her biggest meet. In this country, at least.

“It’s amazing,” Marmaite said. “I’m really excited.”

With Michaela Hackbarth winning the 800 and taking second in the 400 and Shaliyah Dixon-Tucker taking the 100 hurdles, Downers South won the team title with 67 points, edging Hinsdale Central’s 65. Shepard was third.

Downers Grove North, owning the second-best 3,200 relay time coming in, looks poised to challenge for a state title after the quartet of Emma Moravec, Margaret Schaub, Zayna Jan and Stephanie Urbancik posted a season-best time of 9:20.86.

“I’m honestly so happy,” said Urbanic, who later qualified in the 800 and as part of the 1,600 relay. “We can improve on that.”

The best race of the night came down to two friendly rivals.

Neck-and-neck down the stretch, Richards sophomore Kyla Jimmar got Shepard’s Courtney Dalton at the lean in 46.02, a tenth of a second the difference.

The two have enjoyed a tug-and-pull this year, Dalton winning at conference last week and Jimmar at district the week prior to that.

“Me and Courtney, we’ve been going back and forth since the season began,” said Jimmar, who also qualified in the 100 hurdles and 200. “She’s a good runner. We’re from the same district so we cheer each other on.”

Hinsdale Central scored an upset win with its 800 relay foursome of Morgan Serwat, Jennifer Thomson, Monica Bhagavan and Katie Sluman running a PR 1:45.88, and swept the longer distance races.

Anne Zahel won the 1,600 in 5:02, and earlier freshman Alexa Haff – second at state cross country last fall – pulled away from Downers Grove South’s Abby Kargol in the final lap to take the 3,200 in 11:04.24.

“It was the final 400. I knew I had to go,” Haff said. “I heard people yelling for me and I thought of my family. This means so much.”

Elsewhere Bolingbrook dominated the sprints, Jessica Watkins taking the 100 and 200, Charlyncia Stennis the 400 and the Raiders winning the 400 relay.

Other sectional champions included Marist’s Alaina McCarthy in the high jump and teammate Hannah Reilly in the pole vault, Shepard’s Chrystal McAlpin in the discus, Lockport’s Layne Kadlec in the shot put, Lemont’s Jacque Desmond in the pole vault and Shepard’s 1,600 relay.

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