PREP GIRLS TRACK: Blue Devils claim second straight sectional title

May 10—ST. ANNE — In high school track, Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin coach Susan Kentner believes there are thoroughbreds and there are ponies.

The thoroughbreds are those athletes that consistently win their respective events and the ponies are the athletes that place just well enough to score team points, and it's the latter that can make the difference in a team competition.

For the second year in a row, that proved to be to true for the Blue Devils.

Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin claimed the school's third sectional title in girls track on cold and wet Thursday night at St. Anne High School with 120 points, while Salt Fork, the Vermilion County and Vermilion Valley Conference champions, were second with 95.

"Surprised. I didn't know this could happen tonight," Kentner said. "It started with Natalie (Thomason) and Ella (McFarland) finishing 1-2 in the high jump and then Ella set a new school record in winning the triple jump. And there was Reis McFarland getting points in the shot and discus events.

"Coming off the county and the conference meets, losing to Salt Fork, we were just thinking how many kids we could get to state. We didn't really look at the team stuff, but those little ponies got us those points."

It also didn't hurt that senior Amber-Christine Reed won the 100 meters, finished second in the 200 meters while also anchoring the Blue Devils first-place 400-meter and 800-meter relay teams.

Reed, who was a two-time long jump state qualifier, set her sights solely on the track this year.

"When we looked at this year's sectional meet, Amber wanted to pull out of the long jump because that event hurts her ankles," said Kentner, acknowledging that Reed probably would have qualified in the long jump again this year. "It looks like a great decision tonight. She pulled off some magnificent races and will be running in four events next weekend at state.

"Since her freshman year, she has been just so gifted. She is a natural-born leader and a great mentor to the young kids. She has been able to bring them along with her."

Joining Reed on the 400- and 800-relay teams is fellow senior Aubrey Peters along with sophomores Emily Dice and Nevaeh Scott.

Kentner noted that sophomore Aleah Potter scored 10 big points for the Blue Devils with a third in the 3,200 and a fourth in the 1,600, neither her placing or time met state qualifying.

"That's a great example of a pony for us," she said. "She won't be running next week at state, but she did a great job tonight, helping us secure a sectional title."

Reed wasn't the only Vermilion County girl punching her ticket to state for her fourth straight season.

Salt Fork senior Macie Russell has qualified for the Class 1A state meet in the 800 meters in each of her four seasons with the Storm. The future Eastern Illinois Panther athlete will conclude her high school career on her future home-meet surface.

"It feels pretty good, but now, I have to focus on next week," Russell said. "Coming into today, my goal was to do my job, make it to state and see what I can do when I get there."

Russell was also hoping that the Storm would qualify in either the 3,200-meter relay or the 1,600-meter relay, but a pair of third-place finishes did not meet state qualifying standards — top two in the event or state-qualifying time.

"It was a little disappointing," Russell admitted. "They are young, they are freshmen and sophomores, so I have full confidence that they will make it next year."

Freshman Callie Richardson from Salt Fork qualified for state in the 1,600 and 3,200 events, while freshman Brylee Filicsky advanced in the discus.

The cold and rainy conditions on Thursday night definitely kept the majority of the runners for personal best times but not Westville junior Ella Miller, who won the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 16.52 seconds — a new personal record.

"I think it comes down to be mentally tough and knowing that I'm not the only one running in this rain," she said.

But, is that really a reason to run a personal record?

"I think it started when I got up this morning," she said. "I woke up in a really good mood and I knew we needed to have a good meet," she said. "We have been preparing for this all year. I felt like I could get a PR, so I did it."

Not only did Miller win the 100 hurdles, but she also won the 300 hurdles, qualified for state in the triple jump and helped the Tigers 1,600-meter relay team qualify for state — giving her four events next week in Charleston.

"That was my goal coming into the night and it started really strong with my first jump in the triple was state qualifying," she said. "Getting that first even out of the way early was really relaxing. I was seeded first in both hurdles and I got first in both."

But, what about the relay?

"Last week at conference was the first time that we ran together this season," Miller said. "We had a really good time and decided to try it again tonight at sectionals."

And it worked for the team of Miller, Maddy Doggett, Gwen Bennett and Emma Schluter.

Reed and Russell are not only four-year state qualifiers from Vermilion County, joining them next week in Charleston will be Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman senior Haley Carlton, who has qualified every year in the pole vault. Carlton, who tied for 10th last year, won the sectional title with a height of 3.50 meters or 11 feet, 6 inches.

Hoopeston Area had a pair of girls qualify on Thursday night. Claire Dixon made it for the second year in a row in the triple jump, while senior Vivian Walsh advanced with a second-place finish in the high jump.

Oakwood senior Nikita Taylor will be a first-time state qualifier in the long jump for the Comets with a second-place finish on Thursday night.

The IHSA Class 1A state track and field meet begins with preliminaries on Thursday and the state finals are set for May 18 at O'Brien Field in Charleston on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.

IHSA Class 1A Sectional At St. Anne

Team scores — 1. Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin (BHRA) 120, 2. Salt Fork (SF) 95, 3. Paxton-Buckley-Loda (PBL) 88, 4. Westville (West) 60, 5. Milford/Cissna Park (MCP) 47, 6. Clifton Central (CC) 44, 7. Momence (Mo) 36, 8. Kankakee Bishop McNamara (BMac) 33, 9. Watseka (Wat) 29, 10. Heritage (Her) 24, 11. Hoopeston Area (HA) 23, 12. (tie) Armstrong-Potomac and Oakwood (Oak) 22, 14. (tie) Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman (GRFC) and Iroquois West (IW) 16, 16. St. Anne (SA) 5.

Individual results (state qualifiers)

100 meters — 1. Reed (BHRA) 12.75, 2. Wright (Mo) 12.88

200 — 1. Lucht (MCP) 26.51, 2, Reed (BHRA) 26.92.

400 — 1. Lucht (MCP) 1:00.43, 2. Thomason (BHRA) 1:03.27

800 — 1. Russell (SF) 2:29.11, 2. McCoy (PBL) 2:30.88.

1,600 — 1. DeOrnellas (PBL) 5:45.88, 2. Richardson (SF) 5:46.99.

3,200 — 1. Richardson (SF) 12:31.28, 2. Franckey (PBL) 12:39.82.

100 hurdles — 1. Miller (West) 16.52, 2. Johnson (PBL) 16.74.

300 hurdles — 1. Miller (West) 49.98, 2. Downing (SF) 51.33.

400 relay — 1. Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin (Peters, Dice, Scott, Reed) 51.80, 2. Momence 52.37.

800 relay — 1. Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin (Peters, Dice, Scott, Reed) 1:52.77, 2. Bishop McNamara 1:52.94.

1,600 relay — 1. Paxton-Buckley-Loda 4:23.78, 2. Westville (Doggett, Bennett, Schluter, Miller) 4:25.05.

3,200 relay — 1. Paxton-Buckley-Loda 10:42.13, 2. Bishop McNamara 10:42.81.

Shot put — 1. Martin (Wat) 10.96 meters, 2. Prairie (CC) 10.48.

Discus — 1. Prairie (CC) 30.08 meters, 2. Filicsky (SF) 29.09.

High jump — 1. McFarland (BHRA) 1.57 meters, 2. (tie) Thomason (BHRA) and Walsh (HA) 1.52, 4. Griffin (IW) 1.52.

Pole vault — 1. Carlton (GRFC) 3.50 meters, 2. Luebchow (PBL) 3.43.

Long jump — 1. Lucht (MCP) 5.14 meters, 2. Taylor (Oak) 5.06, 3. Griffin (IW) 5.00.

Triple jump — 1. McFarland (BHRA) 11.13 meters, 2. Miller (West) 10.59, 3. Tate (Her) 10.38, 4. Dixon (HA) 10.35.