For the second straight season, Morris junior Joy Dudley qualified for the IHSA Class 2A state track and field meet. Dudley finished second at the Geneseo Sectional in the 3200-meter run with a time of 12:44.10 to advance to next weekend’s meet at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
“I am excited to go back to state,” Dudley said. “It wasn’t my best time of the year in the sectional. A lot of the meets we have run in this year, the weather has been pretty cold and that’s easier to run distances in. At the sectional, it was our first real hot meet, so it was a more strategic race.
“There were a lot of girls ahead of me coming into the sectional, but having experience in the sectional last year, I knew what to expect. I conserved my energy to the end.”
Morris coach Ryan Battersby was pleased with Dudley’s performance.
“Distance runners prefer the colder weather, so I didn’t know what to expect in the sectional,” he said. “It was the first time I have ever seen high school runners being offered cups of water every lap. Most of the girls took the cups and just dumped them over their heads or into their faces to cool off.
“There was one girl that was well ahead of everybody else, and it was Joy and another girl neck-and-neck for second most of the race. Joy just pulled ahead on the last lap and it wasn’t even close.”
Though she is the only girl from Morris that will be competing in the state meet, Dudley won’t be alone, either in Charleston or in the week of preparation preceding the meet.
“The day of state, some of my friends that live in another town are going to come and warm up with me,” she said. “It will be nice to not feel alone.”
Battersby said that a few of the distance runners from the Morris girls team will come and run with Dudley during the week, and that she will be also running with the boys team, which is preparing for next week’s sectional meet.
Dudley has one goal entering the state meet.
“I don’t want to leave anything on the track,” she said. “I want to go out there and run my best time, no matter where I finish. There are girls who have better times than me, but if I can go out and run my best, I will be happy.”