Girls track and field: St. Francis wins IHSA Class 2A 4x800 relay title in record time

Downers Grove North second in Class 3A 4x800 relay

St. Francis’ Erin Hinsdale reacts to her team’s time in the Class 2A 4x800 Saturday, May 18, 2024 at the IHSA girls state track meet in Charleston.

CHARLESTON – To say that the start of track events on the final day of the IHSA girls track and field state championships was explosive would be an understatement.

In a heated battle for the title in the Class 2A 4x800-meter relay, St. Francis anchor Erin Hinsdale held off Morton anchor Taygen Beyer to secure the state title and the Class 2A state record after crossing the line in 9 minutes, 12.80 seconds May 18 at Eastern Illinois University.

St. Francis was the only Suburban Life area team to come away with a state title. With three freshmen – Hinsdale, Allie Sheldon and Elena Mamminga – and sophomore Margaret Andrzejewski, the Spartans said they hadn’t really thought about winning state until about two weeks ago.

“I was just like, ‘Wait, we can win state,’ ” Andrzejewski said.

Hinsdale, who ran a 2:15 final leg in the win, said when she got the baton at the same time as Beyer, she just wanted to do what was needed to win.

“I wasn’t even thinking about my 800 race,” Hinsdale said. “I’m just so excited because it’s my first year and these girls are just the most amazing people to run with.”

Hinsdale later added another all-state medal to her first-year collection after taking second in the 800 in 2:14.83.

St. Francis’ Abigael Sheldon had an all-state performance in the discus, finishing sixth with a throw of 36.36 meters (116 feet, 6 inches).

Downers Grove North’s Lily Eddington takes the baton in the 3A 4x800 Saturday, May 18, 2024 at the IHSA girls state track meet in Charleston.

Just missing out on a win in the Class 3A 4x800 was Downers Grove North, which finished second in 9:02.66. Lily Eddington, who anchored the Trojans in the race, said she was a little nervous getting the baton with both Prospect and Barrington right there with her but knew she had a job to do in the end.

“I knew I had to give it my all since it was the final leg,” Eddington said.

Sarah Paul, Sydney Hnatiuk and Ava Gilley also were part of the 4X800.

Eddington earned a second all-state medal in the 1,600, finishing seventh in a personal-best time of 5:00.85.

When she realized she was on the bubble of making all-state in the race, she knew she needed to make a surge.

“Going into it I knew I was going to hang out with the pack and I knew that I was drifting out,” Eddington said. “But I knew I needed to surge halfway through and as people kept falling back, I kept pushing.”

The Trojans had two more all-staters. Gilley (800, 2:12.44) and Audrey Casten (3,200, 11:01.52) posted ninth-place finishes in their respective events.

York finished with four all-state performances.

Leading the Dukes was Lainey Paul, who cleared 3.70 meters (12 feet, 1 1/2 inches) in the pole vault for fourth place. It was a school record for Paul.

“I feel over the moon,” Paul said. “My goal the entire season was to clear 12 feet and it was my coach’s goal as well. I’m just happy and I’m happy that my York teammates are also doing a great job today.”

The Dukes’ 4x100 (47.51) and 4x800 (9:13.69) relays both recorded season-best times on their way to fifth-place finishes. Paul, Morgan Navarre, Norah Peiffle and Jillian Booth ran on the 4x100. Sophia Galiano-Sanchez, Margaret Owens, Katherine Klimek and Scarlett Moriarty were on the 4x800.

Anna McGrail had a sixth-place effort in the 3,200 after crossing the line in 10:54.20.

Downers Grove North’s Ava Gilley (in purple) runs with the pack in the 3A 800 run Saturday, May 18, 2024 at the IHSA girls state track meet in Charleston.

Montini had three all-state finishers, including two in the 3,200. Sydney Gertsen finished fifth (10:54.74) and Ashlynn Lindt finished eighth (11:27.93) in the event.

Gertsen, who ran the majority of the race in no-man’s land between two packs, said the heat and lack of runners around her almost got to her but she fought through for a personal-best time.

“It was the last three laps that really got to me,” Gertsen said. “But I kept telling myself not to give up and that there were girls behind me that wanted it just as bad and that I needed to give it all I got.”

Montini’s 4x100 relay of Camryn Amouzou, Sofia Fisher, Julia Gergen and Takeisha Berry got on the podium with an eighth-place finish in 49.47.

Benet’s Delilah Helenhouse secured third place in the 3,200 after finishing the race in 10:47.93. With the first two finishers racing ahead for the entirety of the race, Helenhouse decided to run alongside Naperville North’s Julie Piot before making her move.

“[Piot] is really talented and I’ve ran with her before,” Helenhouse said. “I was going to let her go because I felt kind of tired, but then I found a second wind and I had to see what I could do.”

Westmont sophomore Kyla Babb finished with a personal-best in the 3,200 after crossing the line in 11:04.78. Despite not getting all-state in the 1,600 after finishing 10th in 5:28.35, Babb was still happy with the results.

“Honestly, it feels great, but it wasn’t something I really expected. I didn’t see it coming,” Babb said. “But I’m not disappointed that I didn’t do well in the mile though. I did my best and that’s what matters.”

Mia Melendez had the only all-state performance for Fenwick, posting a 2:16.18 for sixth place in the 800. Melendez said that despite the heat she kept telling herself she had to finish in order to get that state medal.

“It’s been exciting because I feel like my times have been hovering around the low 2:20s all season,” Melendez said. “So to be able to break that mark here at state just felt great.”

Glenbard West’s 4x800 relay of Elayna Boeh, Moira Ahern, Mackenzie Gilbert and Alexa Novak earned the Hilltoppers’ only all-state medal after posting a season-best time of 9:12.84 for fourth place.

Hinsdale South’s Kennedy Ruff reached the podium, placing seventh in the 300 hurdles with a time of 44.97.

Joel Boenitz

Joel Boenitz

Joel is a sports reporter for the Kane County Chronicle. Formerly from St. Charles, Missouri, he has served as an assistant sports editor and beat reporter for the Columbia Missourian in Columbia, Missouri.