Girls track and field: Baylor commit Kiara Wesseh of Newark set for busy final weekend at state

Defending Class 1A high jump champion leads area medal hopefuls

Newark’s Kiara Wesseh clears the bar during the high jump competition at the Class 1A Seneca Sectional.

Kiara Wesseh has a mighty busy weekend ahead of her in Charleston, but that’s just fine with the Newark senior.

It’s just the start of things to come.

Wesseh, the defending Class 1A state high jump champion and an 11-time state medalist, signed her letter of intent last week to run track collegiately at Baylor. Wesseh, who does the high jump, hurdles and sprint relays at Newark, will be competing in the heptathlon in college.

“I definitely would not be able to pick one event,” Wesseh said. “I love them all. Indoors, I did four events. Back and forth the four hours, it is exhausting. But I really do just love all four of the events.”

Wesseh will be one of several Kendall County area medal hopefuls at the IHSA state track and field meet at Eastern Illinois University. The Class 1A preliminaries are Thursday and Class 2A and Class 3A preliminaries Friday, with finals in all three classes Saturday.

Wesseh may hail from tiny Newark, but she feels quite comfortable on the big stage.

Last summer, she competed in the heptathlon in a meet at Hayward Field, home of collegiate track and field powerhouse Oregon.

“I loved the environment; it was crazy,” Wesseh said. “I really do love the big meets, like state. I loved going to Oregon last year. I love the pressure. I think I will enjoy competing at the high level. I’ll do my best.”

Wesseh at sectionals last week went 1.63 meters (5 feet, 4.25 inches) in the high jump, tied with El Paso-Gridley’s Aubrey Phillips – last year’s Class 1A state runner-up – for the best mark. Wesseh believes she’s neglected the high jump this spring, and hasn’t jumped as much with so many meets rained out. But she believes she’s peaking at the right time.

“My freshman and sophomore year I had this mental block for high jump. Fortunately this year I have not had the same mental block, but I had it in a different way,” Wesseh said. “I’ve been overthinking my technique and haven’t been able to reach my full potential. This past week at sectionals I started to overcome that. At practices I’ve been able to jump higher heights. I’m hopefully peaking at the right time.”

Wesseh, fourth in the 100 hurdles and third in the 300 hurdles as a junior, posted the sixth-fastest 100 time of 16.20 and 13th-fastest 300 time of 48.88 time at sectionals. She has the fifth-fastest 100 time of 15.64 and seventh-fastest 300 time of 47.21 in the state this spring. She’s also on the 4x200 team with Tess Carlson, Brooklyn Hatteberg and Addison Ness that ran the eight-fastest time at sectionals.

“We have nine or 10 girls on our track team, and six are competing at state. It’s such a fun weekend,” Wesseh said. “We are in the hotel together and we are all so close.”

Wesseh isn’t the only area girl with serious aspirations of taking home multiple medals.

In Class 2A, standout Sandwich distance runner Sunny Weber ran the fastest 1,600 sectional time statewide of 5:04.30, and the third-fastest 3,200 time of 10:53.65. Weber as a freshman placed third in the 1,600 and second in the 3,200. Last fall Weber placed third at the state cross country meet, so she’s becoming quite accustomed to these big meets.

“I’m pretty excited. I’m not that nervous, and I usually am so that’s nice,” Weber said. “I’m trying not to psych myself out. Stay calm.”

Weber said she has not run the 1,600 and 3,200 together at the same meet that often this spring, so sectionals was good preparation.

Weber’s 1,600 time of 5:02.40 at the Don Gooden Invite is fourth-best in the state this spring. Her 3,200 time of 10:35.70 from Distance Night in Palatine is the second-fastest in Class 2A.

“I have a plan to pace myself and not go out too hard,” Weber said. “I’m hoping to get in the top three for both of them, and then getting a PR in the 1,600 would be nice.”

In Class 3A, Yorkville junior Courtney Clabough, a two-time state medalist in the shot put, is back in Charleston for the third time in both shot put and discus. This time, with legitimate medal hopes in both throwing events.

Clabough, fourth in the shot put as a freshman and eighth as a sophomore, put up the seventh-best shot put of 11.90 meters at sectionals last week, and also the seventh-best discus mark of 38.47 meters.

“I’m actually pretty confident going into this weekend, I feel very powerful,” Clabough said. “Practices are going well and I’ve been pretty consistent in practice. First and foremost I want to get a good throw to qualify for finals and then from there try to rip it and hopefully PR.”

Clabough has the second-best shot put this spring of 12.74 meters, and the ninth-best discus of 38.78, both in April.

“My technique in discus has got a lot better this season and a lot more consistent. That’s the main thing,” Clabough said. “My shot has got a lot better the last few weeks. I’m confident I can put a big number out there.”

Also in 3A, Oswego senior Lauren Broome has the fifth-best 300 hurdles sectional time of 44.97, Oswego East senior Hailey Soriaga has the sixth-best pole vault of 3.47 meters. In Class 1A, Carlson of Newark has the sixth-best pole vault of 3.36 meters from sectionals and Ness the 12th-best triple jump of 12.46 meters.