CHARLESTON - Kiara Wesseh enjoyed a memorable state track meet debut Thursday.
Wesseh, a Newark freshman, enjoyed a big day at the Class 1A Girls State Track and Field Finals at Eastern Illinois University in Charleson.
She placed second in the high jump (5-4 1/4), and she was also the leadoff runner of the eighth place 4x100 relay (:51.79) that included Lindsey Hatteberg, Brooklyn Hatteberg and Megan Williams.
“I really didn’t have many nerves today. I was ready to get going, and to jump a personal best in the high jump is unbelievable, and I was not expecting that at all,” Wesseh said. “Then to come back and medal in the 4x100 was great. We are all very happy with our race.”
“The best thing is that we are all underclassmen, and we will be back next season,” Williams said after also placing 11th in the 100 hurdles (:15.99).
Kjersten Friestad placed 18th in the shot put for the Lady Norsemen, and the 4x200 relay of Wesseh, Williams, Peyton Eike and Brooklyn Hatteberg placed 13th.
Seneca came into the IHSA Class 1A Girls Track and Field State Finals with some high expectations, and after a long, hot day in the sun, the Lady Irish finished sixth as a team with 31 points, the best state finish in school history and the most points scored.
The Lady Irish were led by the super-talented Brooklyn Giertz, as she medaled in four events.
Giertz placed in a tie for sixth in the pole vault (10 feet, 11 inches), was fifth in both the 100 hurdles (:15.46) and the 300 hurdles (:47.88) and was the third leg of the fourth-place 4x100 relay (:51.12) that also included Caitlyn O’Boyle, Emma Smith and Anna Bruno. It was the first time in school history Seneca medaled in the 400.
“I’m going to miss all of this,” Giertz said. “I’m so sad it’s all over, and it bums me out they didn’t have a podium to present the medals this year. Our team did very well today, and I’m so happy and appreciative for my teammates and coaches. I want to thank all my coaches for always pushing me to become the best athlete and person I could be.”
Bruno also finished seventh in the long jump (17-2 1/2) for the Lady Irish to secure three team points, and freshman Teagan Johnson placed tied for sixth in the pole vault (10-11).
“We all feel good about the relay,” Bruno said. “In the long jump, it was my best overall day all season, and it was a great experience to be here.”
Seneca coach Terry Maxwell was happy with his team’s performance .
“We had some very good performances today and so many seasonal bests, and this is where you want that to happen,” Maxwell said. “We are a very young team, and the experience they received today will really help in the future.
“However, we will really miss Brooklyn. She is a one-of-a-kind athlete and has a team-first attitude. She has always done anything ever asked of her to help the team, and she can do just about every event out here.”