2A girls track and field: Prairie Ridge shines on way to sectional title

Wolves qualify 5 individuals, 3 relays to state meet

Prairie Ridge poses with its plaque after winning the Class 2A Carmel Sectional in Mundelein on Wednesday.

MUNDELEIN – Wednesday was a long time coming for Prairie Ridge.

The Wolves had their sights on Wednesday’s Class 2A Carmel Track and Field Sectional Meet since November. They talked about what it would mean to win a team sectional title, and everyone set their own goals for the meet.

They exceeded their own expectations.

PR controlled the meet right from the start. The Wolves qualified five individuals and three relays to the State Meet on their way to a sectional crown.

“We always wanted to get a big group of people down,” Wolves sophomore Lila Stewart said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The Wolves led with 122 points, while Woodstock finished second with 88. Johnsburg (77) placed third, Carmel (76) finished fourth, Woodstock North (59) took sixth, Wheaton Academy (49) earned seventh, Richmond-Burton (44) placed eighth, Harvard (28.5) finished 10th, Marengo (23) took 11th and St. Viator (7) placed 14th.

The top finishers from each event automatically qualify for state May 16-18 on Eastern Illinois’ campus in Charleston. Everyone else who reached the state standard for each event also qualified for state.

PR junior Katie Jewell led the way by qualifying for state in four events. She won the 400 meter at 1 minute, 1.45 seconds, took second in the 100 at 12.23 and placed third in the 200 at 25.46. She also was part of the 4x100 relay team, including senior Anna Borg, junior Paige Bredemeier and sophomore Anastasiya Halayko, that took second at 49.82.

Stewart won the 800 in 2:22.86, while sophomores Brenna Benjamin (12:31.04) and Kelly Anderson (16.85) won the 3,200 and 100 hurdles, respectively. Senior Olivia McPherson placed second (2:23.07) in the 800.

The Wolves’ 4x200 relay – Borg, Bredemeier, Kaitlyn Harmke and Anderson – advanced to state by finishing second in 1:47.15. The 4x800 team of Benjamin, senior Faith Wilder, McPherson and Stewart took second in 9:54.27.

While winning a team sectional title was nice for Prairie Ridge coach Kelly MacDonald, it’s how the Wolves did it that made Wednesday special.

“Winning the sectional championship is just gravy on top of everything,” MacDonald said. “Having kids set a goal and work at that goal and exceed that goal, that’s what we’re all about. That’s what was so exciting about tonight.”

Woodstock senior Hallie Steponaitis will make her fourth trip to state and try to earn her third medal after she won the high jump Wednesday. She took the event at 1.59 meters.

Blue Streaks senior Amina Idris won the 300 hurdles (46.16), while junior Sophia Mendoza took second in the 400 (1:01.51) and third in the long jump (5.10). Senior Anna Crenshaw qualified in two events after taking second in the shot put (10.84) and discus (30.38), while the 4x400 team of Mendoza, Idris and sophomores Mia Foss and Sophie Sarabia won in 4:11.37.

Qualifying for state still is special for Steponaitis, no matter how many times she’s done it.

“It’s so cool and fun to represent our school,” Steponaitis said. “We are a small school in a small town, and I think it shows even the younger girls and the other people in our school that it’s possible going and doing these things. Not only representing myself and family, but the school and my amazing teammates.

“It’s just something I love doing.”

Johnsburg senior Caitlyn Casella also will return to state after winning two events, the 100 (12.19) and 200 (24.93). Senior Lila Duck will join her after winning the long jump (5.20) and taking third in the triple jump (10.64).

The Skyhawks’ 4x100 team of senior Natalie Burke, Duck, freshman Addison Sweetwood and Casella won in 49.96.

Casella was grateful for a chance to bring as many of her teammates as she could to state. Getting another chance to do it herself never gets old.

“Every time it’s so surreal,” Cassella said. “It’s a whole new thing. It’s never the same, it’s always a shock, and it always feels so good.”

Woodstock North senior Bella Borta had a thrilling end when she tied for first with PR’s Anderson in the 100 hurdles. Senior Ashley Janeczko won the shot put (11.36) and discus (33.50), while sophomore Lauren Bieszczard placed second in the high jump (1.54)

Borta was glad to battle it out to make it to state.

“It means the world to me,” Borta said. “It’s a lot of pressure coming into the race being third, knowing that you had to get qualifying time or place second. I was just trying to do my best and get to the finish line before anyone else.”

Carmel senior Zubaydah Akorede won the triple jump (11.33). Sophomore Natlie Ferguson (long jump, 5.17) and junior Izzy Bing (1,600, 5:19.22) each placed second. Junior Ella Dicara took fifth in the 100 (12.70), while the 4x100 (49.50) – Dicara, senior Abby Hartzer, Akorede and freshman Leanna Bell – and 4x200 (1:45.20) –Dicara, Hartzer, sophomore Natlie Ferguson and Bell – each won.

“We always wanted to get a big group of people down. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

—  Lila Stewart, Prairie Ridge sophomore

The 4x400 team of Hartzer, sophomore Ashlyn Beattie, Ferguson and Dicara took second (4:11.72) while the 4x800 team of Bing, freshman Adelyn Albanese, junior Sydney Krcmarik and Beattie took fourth (10:12.80).

R-B senior Sahanna Doherty took second in the triple jump, while the 4x200 and 4x800 teams qualified after taking third. Wheaton Academy senior Quynch Sedlacek won the pole vault (3.12), sophomore Sophie Roberst took second in the pole vault (2.82), and junior Madi Jenkins placed third in the 100 (12.31) and fourth in the 200 (25.75).

Harvard junior Jaden Timblin tied for second in the high jump (1.54).

While the Wolves prepared for months for Wednesday’s meet, they’re not sure what to expect in Charleston after moving down a class. But PR will try to ride that momentum into the final meet of the season.

“We’re just going down there, trying to run our best,” MacDonald said. “We want to celebrate the fact that we’re at state.”

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