Girls track and field: Batavia’s sprint relays look to find podium at state after 4x200 disaster last season

A look into each team’s best chance at medaling at the 2024 state meet

Mariah Wilson takes the baton from her twin Madison, who yells encouragement, on her way to second place overall in the 4x100 meter-relay for Batavia high School at the Lake Park Class 3A girls track and field sectional meet on Friday, May 10, 2024.

Batavia’s 4x200-meter relay team came into the outdoor season with one goal in mind: redemption.

In the Metea Valley Sectional last season, the relay team crossed the finish line thinking it had booked its chance to repeat as all-state finishers. But their hopes were suddenly crushed when the officials informed the team that they had been disqualified due to a handoff violation in the final leg.

“It was just a freak accident. It was horrible,” senior Izzy Taylor said. “We should have placed easily last year because of the times we were running that year. We worked really hard for it and it was our best event so to not go down for it, it was pretty hard.”

One year later, and their redemption tour is almost complete.

The Bulldogs’ relay team of Taylor, Mariah Wilson, Madison Wilson and Elizabeth Wende finished the Lake Park Sectional with a school record and the eighth-best statewide time at sectionals with a 1:41.22, and will look to get back on the podium at the IHSA Class 3A Girls Track and Field State Meet at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

Preliminaries for both Class 2A and Class 3A are Friday, with the finals set to be held Saturday.

Taylor, who’s a three-time all-stater after earning sixth-place finishes in the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 in 2022, said after the disqualification, the quartet put in the work during summer workouts and especially emphasized the importance of getting their handoffs down.

“We definitely take at least a day each week just to focus on our handoffs,” Taylor said. “We make sure we get our sets down right and make sure to keep it consistent. We keep doing it until we get the right one because you never want to end on a bad note.”

Their efforts off the track were not left unnoticed, especially from Batavia coach Justin Allison. He said whenever he thinks about the 4x200 relay, one word always comes to mind: resilient.

“It’s easy to get stuck in one’s head and stay focused on the negatives,” Allison said. “But I feel like our team was focused and determined to not duplicate what happened last year. They were hungry for more and they kept telling us, ‘Hey, we’ve got this.’”

And the work has shown not just in the 4x200, but in each sprint relay for the Bulldogs. Batavia also finished with the seventh-fastest statewide sectional time in the 4x400 after running a 3:58.45, and also had the 11th-fastest time in the 4x100 in 48.03.

“The sprint relays have definitely been a dominant focus for us,” Allison said. “We talk about sometimes sacrificing and going after what we think can place higher and the girls agree. And knowing how dominant they’ve been the past three years and then this year also, it just shows the level of focus they have and the determination to get back on the podium.”

The relay teams aren’t the only Bulldogs with a shot at taking the podium. Avery Hacker, who is one of two freshman qualifiers for Batavia (Abby Wirth, triple jump), heads to the state meet after breaking the 11-minute barrier in the 3,200 with a 10:59.66 for the 11th-fastest statewide time at sectionals in the event.

Also looking to add another state medal to her collection is St. Charles East’s Marley Andelman. The senior was a part of the 4x800 relay squad that took home a sixth-place finish at state in 2023. This year, the TCU commit will be racing solo in the 800, where she ran a 2:16.1 for the ninth-fastest time statewide at sectionals last week.

Andelman, who made it to state in the 4x800 in each of the past two years and qualified in the 1,600 last year, said it’s great to be going back to state as an individual.

“It’s just a special and cool experience being on a relay, and it’s exciting to have both experiences,” Andelman said after qualifying at the Hoffman Estates Sectional. “I’m excited to be finishing out my senior year solo.”

An athlete who’s also competing in the 800 is St. Charles North’s Reagan Sipla. Sipla, who just started running track and field in April, is currently seeded 23rd in the event after running 2:18.42. She also is the anchor for the 4x800 team, which ran the 16th-fastest time in 9:33.12 last week. Tosin Oshin also had the 16th-best throw in the shot put after throwing 11.61 meters.

After a 14th-place finish in Class 2A last season, Kaneland pole vaulter Cora Heller will look to make the leap onto the Class 3A podium after recording a vault of 3.43 meters for the eighth-best jump statewide at sectionals.

Geneva will be present across seven events at the state meet. The Vikings have the best chance of medaling in the long and triple jump with Reilly Day. Day had the 19th-longest long jump last week of 5.45 meters, while also coming into the triple jump with the 23rd-best jump overall after leaping 11.21 meters back on April 9.

Competing in the Class 2A meet will be Rosary, which will have three individuals and one relay team compete in the season finale. The Royals will be represented by Vivian Wyller in the 1,600, Kate Kostro in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and high jump, Madeline Ehrenberg in the 300 hurdles and the 4x400 relay.

Wyller finished with the ninth-fastest sectional time statewide with a 5:16.64, Kostro’s best chance at a state medal comes in the 100 hurdles after posting a 15.92, which was the 10th-fastest sectional time, Ehrenberg ran the 12th-fastest 300 hurdles time in 47.25 and the 4x400 the 17th-fastest time in 4:11.