Girls track and field: Huntley wins three IHSA state titles, finishes as Class 3A team runner-up

Dominique Johnson wins second straight triple jump title, Red Raiders win two relays

Huntley’s Victoria Evtimov (left) and Sophie Amin share a hug after winning the 3A 4x100 Saturday, May 18, 2024 at the IHSA girls state track meet in Charleston.

CHARLESTON – Among Huntley’s amazing accomplishments at Saturday’s IHSA Girls Track and Field State Championships was something that never had happened before.

The Red Raiders took the Class 3A 4x100- and 4x200-meter relays, their first state titles in state races, as all previous titles had occurred in field events.

It was a banner day again for Huntley, which added Dominique Johnson’s second straight triple jump title, Sophie Amin’s 100 high hurdles runner-up finish, along with Johnson’s long jump third and Sienna Robertson’s discus fifth.

They were all significant performances, but all the defending team state champions could do for the last four events was watch and hope they had enough points as Prospect and Whitney Young tried to chase down the team trophy at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium.

Finally, in the last race, Prospect’s 4x400 team took fourth and passed the Raiders for the title. Prospect finished with 53, Huntley with 50 and Whitney Young with 49.

“I’m super happy. Any time you can come out and perform and put up 50 points at the state meet, you have to be incredibly happy,” Raiders coach Jason Monson said. “We competed against the best teams in the state and you tip you hat to the ones that got you, and I’m incredibly proud of the way our girls performed all weekend.”

The 4x100 was thrilling as Amin, Emmy Byers, K’Leigh Saenz and Vicky Evtimov ran 46.60, dropping .35 from their qualifying time on Friday, to win. Evtimov passed Whitney Young’s anchor runner to get that win.

“I trust my anchor with my life,” said Saenz, who hands off to Evtimov for in both the 4x100 and 4x200. “Amazing. She always does it. She always comes out and executes. I couldn’t ask for a better anchor or better teammate.

“It was amazing. We had really big goals coming into it and we had the utmost confidence that those two things were absolutely achievable. It was nice to go out there and achieve those goals.”

Evtimov rarely received a 4x100 handoff when she was not in first place this season.

“That was so scary,” said Evtimov, who will run at NCAA Division I Milwaukee. “It’s who could keep calm and stick with their form and finish off the race. I think I did that pretty well. I was really, really excited. That was a fun race, running with someone next to me.”

Huntley’s Dominique Johnson lands in the 3A long jump Saturday, May 18, 2024 at the IHSA girls state track meet in Charleston.

The 4x200 team of Johnson, Byers, Saenz and Evtimov knocked 1.02 off its qualifying time with a 1:38.14 for the win.

“We were on Cloud 9,” Evtimov said. “In this one, we didn’t have the best handoffs (yesterday). We were a little flimsy. But today we dropped a second. That was cleaned up. I feel amazing.”

The Huntley girls were the only area athletes to medal in Class 3A.

In Class 2A, Johnsburg’s Caitlyn Casella took fifths in the 100 and 200 and Lila Duck was sixth in long jump.

Woodstock’s Hallie Steponaitis was fourth in high jump and Amina Idris was eighth in the 300 low hurdles.

Prairie Ridge’s Katie Jewell was fourth in the 100 and the Wolves’ Olivia McPherson, Lila Stewart, Brenna Benjamin and Faith Wilder took seventh in the 4x800 relay.

Woodstock North’s Ashley Janeczko finished third in the shot put at 11.74 (38-6 1/4), her career-best throw from Friday’s prelminiaries.

Johnson had a secure lead coming out of Friday’s preliminaries to successfully defend her triple jump title and passed on her three final attempts.

“If I wanted to jump, (jumps coach Jennifer) Garza would have let me jump,” Johnson said. “I wanted to save as much as I could and really get a win for the 4x200. I wanted to save as much energy as I could and put everything into that. I didn’t want to waste my energy on a jump.”

Amin ran her career-best 14.13 for second in the high hurdles, taking second to Conant sophomore Daisha Brunson (13.81). Amin’s time was her career-best by .21.

“I really focused on taking care of myself,” Amin said of the 80-degree-plus heat. “I drank a lot of water, I really focused on fueling myself since it’s really hot.

“Daisha’s amazing competition. I was really excited to run next to her. Over the summer and at (Illinois Top Times Indoor Classic) I have. I see her only a few times, so I was excited.”

Prairie Ridge’s Katherin Jewell (left), Galesburg’s Syriah Boyd and Johnsburg’s Caitlyn Casella head for the finish in the 2A 100 dash Saturday, May 18, 2024 at the IHSA girls state track meet in Charleston.

Jewell edged out Casella for fourth in the 100 for her first state medal.

“It’s a really rewarding experience,” the Wolves’ junior said. “I was really frustrated with my 200 yesterday, so I really wanted this to go well.”

Casella was thrilled at her first finals appearances in the two sprints. The state finals was her first 200 loss of the season.

“It was a pretty successful day,” she said. “The times (12.21 and 24.87) aren’t exactly what I wanted. I wanted a PR, that would have been amazing. I can’t complain with fifth place in both. I’ve never placed in a state meet.

“(The 200) was pretty competitive. Girls in the 23s, competing in that kind of field was amazing. It was awesome to run against people faster than me. I enjoyed it. It pushes me to run faster.”

Steponaitis, a senior who switched her college commitment to Iowa from Jacksonville for volleyball last month, took fourth in the Class 2A high jump as a freshman and ended her career with another fourth.

“I love jumping in the heat, so it didn’t affect me too much,” said Steponaitis, who “I felt really good jumping until the last two heights. It was slight things I couldn’t quite get over the bar.

“Now to end my high school career, again placing fourth is kind of a cool, full-circle moment for me in my last time competing in track and field.”

IHSA Girls Track and Field State Meet
Class 2A Local Finals Results
4x800 relay: 7. Prairie Ridge (Olivia McPherson, Lila Stewart, Brenna Benjamin, Faith Wilder) 9:40.88.
100 meters: 4. Katie Jewell (PR) 12.18, 5. Caitlyn Casella (Jbg) 12.21.
300 low hurdles: 8. Amina Idris (Wdk) 46.99.
200 meters: 5. Casella (Jbg) 24.87.
Shot put: 3. Ashley Janeczko (WN) 11.74 (38-6.25), 12. Anna Crenshaw-* (Wdk) 10.49 (34-5).
Discus: 12. Janeczko (WN) 33.38 (109-6).
High jump: 4. Hallie Steponaitis (Wdk) 1.58 (5-2.25).
Long jump: 6. Lila Duck (Jbg) 5.06 (16-7.25).
Triple jump: 12. Sahanna Doherty-* (R-B) 10.68 (35-0.5).
Class 3A Local Finals Results
4x100 relay: 1. Huntley (Sophie Amin, Emmy Byers, K’Leigh Saenz, Vicky Evtimov) 46.60.
100 high hurdles: 2. Amin (Hunt) 14.13.
4x200 relay: 1. Huntley (Johnson, Byers, Saenz, Evtimov) 1:38.14.
Discus: 5. Sienna Robertson (Huntley) 38.84 (127-5).
Long jump: 3. Johnson (Hunt) 5.62 (18-5.25).
Triple jump: 1. Johnson (Hunt) 12.25 (40-2.25).
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