There were 13 area athletes who qualified for the finals at the IHSA Class 1A Girls State Track & Field Meet in Charleston during Thursday’s preliminaries, and they will compete Saturday in eight events.
The Panthers had a pair of throwers advance, as Kennedy Buck moved on in the shot put and Brianna Neumiller qualified in the discus.
Neumiller is seeded sixth heading into finals, and put herself in prime position to medal with a personal-best throw of 36.37 meters.
“My first throw, I was in tears when I threw it because I was happy with how far it went and that it stayed in bounds,” Neumiller said. “I knew it was far enough to get to finals, and I was very happy to get the opportunity to go into Saturday and compete and try to throw farther.
“I think it gives me an edge and a little bit of confidence being ranked sixth. I went in a little bit fearful of what the outcome could be; I’m a senior, and this is my last track meet, and what if it didn’t go well? But I kind of brushed that off when I got in the ring, and now that I have a good mark in, I can go in relaxed on Saturday and just throw.”
Neumiller missed out on the finals in the shot put, with her best throw of 10.30 meters finishing 19th.
Her teammate Buck wasn’t thrilled with her toss of 10.84 meters in the shot put prelims, but it put her in 10th place; the top 12 performers advance to finals in the field events, with the top nine earning medals.
But she said the issues she had are fixable, and is pleased to get three more throws in the finals.
“I definitely think I have more in me, because it didn’t go very well today,” Buck said. “I just need to finish harder through the ring and get my release right. I’m definitely happy to get the opportunity to do better, because I know I can. Saturday is a chance to redeem myself.
“I think that knowing that I’m one spot away from medaling, I’ll definitely come in with the attitude that I’ve got to give it my all.”
Forreston-Polo’s Sydni Baderstcher also advanced in the shot put and is seeded sixth after her toss of 11.40 meters. It was a new PR, and puts her in good position a little over a half-meter behind top-seeded Laney Lester of Henry/Midland.
Badertscher also competed in the discus, but her best toss of 30.04 meters put her 19th. She’s now looking forward to focusing on the shot put in the finals.
“It was good. I got in a new PR, and I’m pretty confident for Saturday because I’m seeded sixth and I could easily get first,” Badertscher said. “Discus just wasn’t it today, I don’t know what was off, but I’ve always had a tough time competing in that ring.
“It was a great to have the experience of getting down here again in the discus, but now it’s going to be really awesome to focus on just shot put [Saturday]. I’m aiming for 12 meters; I think that’ll be good enough for first, and I’ve already done it before in practice, so it’s just getting that one good throw.”
Her teammate Letrese Buisker competed in the high jump and the 300 hurdles, advancing to the finals in the high jump as one of 14 athletes to clear 1.55 meters. While she missed out on advancing in the hurdles – her time of 49.55 seconds put her in 18th place – she’s ready to take the next step and try to earn a medal in the high jump.
“I think today was a really good day, everything was pretty good. My steps were perfect, and just my mental focus, too. I’ve been down here before, and it was just getting myself back into that state of mind that it was time to perform at a higher level. It helped so much and was a big factor to have that experience; with the other girls, you could tell which ones were down here for the first time, and it really helps to have that experience.
“I have to do what I know how to do Saturday, and that’s just go out there and jump. I’m trying to keep it simple and just jump the way I know I can.”
Buisker will have company in the high jump finals, as Bureau Valley’s Jillian Hulsing also cleared 1.55 meters to move on.
Two other locals will also compete in the finals in field events. Oregon’s Sonya Plescia is tied for third in the pole vault as one of 11 athletes to clear 3.06 meters; two girls reached 3.21. Fulton’s Paige Cramer advanced in the long jump with a leap of 5.00 meters, tied for 10th.
Cramer’s fellow Steamers qualified for finals in the 4x200, as the quartet of Brooklyn Thoms, Annaka Hackett, Grace Dykstra and Miraya Pessman clocked a 1:47.46 to head into Saturday seeded fifth.
Also on the track, West Carroll’s Emma Randecker had the fifth-fastest time in the 200 in 25.73 seconds, while Riverdale’s Makenna Bode was the ninth and final qualifier in the 400 in 59.31 seconds.
Randecker was one of two locals who narrowly missed advancing to Saturday in an event. Her time of 12.63 seconds in the 100 was the 11th-fastest, and missed the finals by .04 seconds.
That’s the same slim margin by which Amboy’s Elly Jones missed the finals in the 100 hurdles; she ran it in 16.18 seconds to take 10th. Jones also tied for 19th in the triple jump (10.02 meters).
Oregon’s Sophia Stender was 13th in the 100 hurdles in 16.71 seconds, while teammate Hadley Lutz took 23rd in the long jump (4.68 meters). The Hawks also had three relay teams miss the cut for finals: Rylie Robertson, Miranda Ciesiel, Ava Wight and Luz were 17th in the 4x100 (51.45 seconds); Wight, Lexi Ebert, Miranda Ciesiel and Lutz placed 16th in the 4x200 (1:49.36); and Plescia, Jennica Ciesiel, Grace Tremble and Skylar Bishop finished 15th in the 4x800 (4:14.29).
Morrison’s Erika King clocked a 2:26.30 to place 17th in the 800, while Riverdale’s Mattea Wuest took 20th in 2:28.88.
Erie-Prophetstown’s Olivia Purvis tied for 22nd in the pole vault (2.61 meters), and Jillian Norman was 36th in the 1,600 (6:13.19). The Panthers’ 4x200 relay team of Ellie Johnson, Ashlyn Johnson, Aubrey Huisman and Kennedy Buck took 20th in 1:49.88.
Forreston-Polo’s Autum Pritchard ran in a pair of sprints, placing 27th in the 200 (27.89 seconds) and 22nd in the 400 (1:01.39). Teammate Ennen Ferris tied for 15th in the high jump (1.50 meters).
Milledgeville-Eastland competed in three events in prelims. Quinc Haverland took 24th in the discus (28.11 meters), Lynn Stringini was 25th in the 200 hurdles (50.60 seconds), and the 4x100 relay team of Shelby Groezinger, Trixie Carroll, Paige Joiner and Abi Sturrup finished 32nd (52.42 seconds).
Fulton also missed out on the finals in the 4x100, as Cramer, Thoms, Haley Smither and Pessman finished in 51.01 seconds to take 12th, just .18 seconds behind the last qualifier. Pessman placed 24th in the long jump (4.67 meters), and the 4x800 relay team of Jessa Read, Jordin Rathburn, Brooklyn Brennan and Jasmine Moreland finished 29th (10:53.69).
West Carroll took 33rd in the 4x400 relay, as Drusiana McIntyre, Sienna Young, Olivia Shelly and Randecker clocked a 4:32.42.