The three-day IHSA girls track and field championships opens today at O’Brien Field in Charleston with 10 local athletes that competed for the championship in their particular events last year returning with legitimate hopes of first-place medals.
Harrisburg senior Bryleigh Buchanan is coming off a third place finish last year in the Class 2A high jump, and heads into her last state final tied with two others, including Marion senior Marissa Holmes, with the top height of 5-04.
Marion is also sending two other seniors in Quincy Gordon in the pole vault and Jaidyn Porter, who qualified in the 200 last year, and in the 400 this year.
Also in 2A, Centralia senior Nikita Maines qualified for state for the third straight year in the shot put and has the top throw going in at 44-10.50. Maines is looking for her first title after finishing seventh last year and eighth the year before.
Mount Vernon's Tredaja Harris is a four-time state qualifier in the 200-meter dash, finishing eighth as a sophomore and fifth last year. The senior has the seventh best time going in, just .51 seconds behind the leader.
Carbondale junior Sydney Apgar returns to the discus state finals after finishing eighth last year, and has the third best throw going in at 123-09.00.
“Getting a taste of all-state last year has really motivated Sydney this year,” said Terriers coach Greg Storm. “She is really consistent with great work ethic and determination, and seems to be coming into her own right when it matters the most. She threw a personal best at sectionals and hopefully she can carry that over on Friday and Saturday.”
Carbondale will also be sending all four of its relay teams for the first time since at least 1997 (previous records were unavailable). The Terriers had qualified the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams the last two years, but this year, the Terrier 4x800 relay team also made the cut.
The 4x200 team of senior Destiny Harris, junior Keona Love, sophomores Zoie Saunders and Akira Custer and freshmen Cyerrah Harris, Kiara Cobb, Dasia Swansey and Novie Holliday has the fourth best time going in at 1:44.29, only 3.44 off the pace. The same group comprises the 4x100.
Running the 4x800 are senior Atlexus Green, junior Sage Nelsen and six freshmen (Holliday, Madeline Prideaux, Kara Holub, Sadie Torre, Malika Tucker and Jaquaveiah Moore). Green and Harris lead the 4x400 along with Custer, Love, Saunders, Swansey, Cobb and Harris.
Murphysboro junior Lauren Martin and Anna-Jonesboro sophomore Julia Lasley also qualified for the second straight year in the pole vault.
Also in 2A, Benton sophomore Amelia McLain qualified in the 1600 and 3200, Centralia sophomore Shanelle Reid in the 200, sophomore Megan Barton in the high jump. Herrin is sending sophomore Bianca Huddson in the triple jump and senior Kaelan Hall in the 800.
In Class 1A, there are six returning athletes who made it to the third day last year. The highest finisher was the Du Quoin 4x100 relay team, which finished fourth.
Sesser-Valier senior Paige Tucker is back in the high jump after finishing seventh last year, as is Du Quoin sophomore Gabby Alongi in the 800-meter run after finishing eighth last year.
Also returning in their events are Chester senior Kaitlyn Hoffman, who finished 10th last year in the high jump, Carmi-White County sophomore Payton Dixon, who finished 25th in the 3200-meter run and Sparta senior Carly Carril in the 3200 where she finished 31st.
Du Quoin is sending one of the biggest contingents in recent years with 14 individuals completing in eight events and two relays at the 1A championships. The key aspect about the 2018 Indians is they are built for the future with six freshmen and three sophomores making the trip north.
Alongi comes into the 800 with the sixth best time of 2:23.01 only 3.05 seconds off the pace. Alongi also qualified for the first time in the 400-meter dash with a time of 1:00.89, which is within reach of the top time of 58.99. She also is a member of the four-time qualifying 4x800 relay team.
“Gabby is the one we expect to win stuff,” said Du Quoin coach Shane Boyett. “She’s run better times this year in the 800 than she did at state last year."
Junior Madison Davis qualified for the 200-meter dash for the third time and the 100-meter dash for the first time, as well being a returning member of the three-time qualifying 4x100 relay team.
“Madison is capable of running 12.4 in the 100 and if she runs that, she has a chance at finals and she’s close in the 200,” Boyett said.
Andrea Lopez is returning to state for the first time since her freshman year when she finished 27th in the 3200-meter run. The senior qualified in both the 3200-meter run and the 1600-meter run.
“Andrea’s had a great year,” Boyett said. “She struggled last year, but this year she’s run her best times. We also plan to run her in the 3200 relay.”
Sophomores Bailey Harsy qualified for the first time in the 100-meter hurdles and returns to the 4x100 relay team while Elizabeth Bird in the high jump qualified for the first time.
“Bailey is our gamer — when we need her she always shows up,” Boyett said. “Elizabeth has cleared 5-2 and if she does that she has a chance to make it to Friday.”
Four freshmen are making the trip north, with Jacqueline Crain qualifying in the 800-meter run and the 4x800 relay, Aubrey Barwick in the shot put and discus, and Delanie Dearmond and Madeline Robison in the pole vault.
“Aubrey was a pleasant surprise after getting a PR in the discus to qualifying,” Boyett said. “Both Delanie and Madeline have shown steady improvement going from 6-6 to the school record of 8-feet. I think both have a shot. Jacqueline is a surprise this year. She started out never running the 800 before and now she’s at state.”
Freshman Cammi Knapp and seniors Olivia Craves and Hope Stewart are also members of the 4x800 relay team, as are freshman Ella Hirsch and senior Syke Westerhouse.
Nashville has four returning state qualifiers in sophomore Sydney Schnitker in long jump and triple jump, junior Carli Hoffman in the shot put, senior Josie Middleton in the discus and Jadah Heidel in the 300-meter hurdles for the first time after qualifying in the triple jump and 400-meter run last year.
In addition, Nashville qualified its 4x800 relay team for the fifth straight year and its 4x400 for the third time.
Qualifying for the third time are Chester senior Abigail Myers in the pole vault and Hamilton County junior Breanna Bowers in the discus.
Qualifying for the second straight season are Pinckneyville junior Consuela Moll in the 300-hurdles, Johnston City sophomores Maggie Coloni in the shot put and Lauren Friess in the 100 hurdles, and Fairfield sophomore Jacklyn Simms in the high jump.
Pinckneyville also qualified sophomore Dakota Krone in the long jump and triple jump and freshman Kenzie Rushing in the 400 as well as the 4x400 relay team for the second year and the 4x100 team.
In the relays, Sparta’s 4x100 team qualified for the fourth straight year while Christopher qualified its 4x800 and 4x200 teams and Fairfield also qualified its 4x400 team.