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updated: 5/16/2013 7:42 PM

Keller, Oginni primed for big throws at state

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  • Rolling Meadow's Morgan Keller throws the discus on her way to a sectional victory last weekend in the York sectional.

       Rolling Meadow's Morgan Keller throws the discus on her way to a sectional victory last weekend in the York sectional.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Hoffman Estates' Banke Oginni, shown here in last season's state meet, is in the thick of things for another medal performance this weekend.

       Hoffman Estates' Banke Oginni, shown here in last season's state meet, is in the thick of things for another medal performance this weekend.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

By Michael Eaken
Daily Herald Correspondent

Morgan Keller has definitely left her mark during her four years at Rolling Meadows, and the Mustangs senior is not quite finished.

Keller has won five state medals for shot put and discus over her first three years, and she was also the starting center for a Rolling Meadows basketball team that finished second in Class 4A this past winter.

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Keller has earned 11 varsity letters in three sports, including volleyball, during her four years and was just selected as the recipient of the Howard Lester Award for top female athlete in District 214.

"Morgan is a great representative of what a student athlete is all about," said Rolling Meadows girls athletic director Jim Voyles of Keller, who will be attending Illinois State on a track scholarship. "Overall she went and got the best experience she could, and had a major impact on each sport."

This weekend Keller will be looking to add to her accomplishments at the Class 3A girl's state track meet at Eastern Illinois in Charleston.

Keller enters Friday's preliminaries with the second-best mark in discus (150-02) and third-best mark in shot put (44-2.5).

Keller has finished third in shot put in Class 3A the past two seasons, and last year she finished fourth in the discus.

"It's definitely exciting," Keller added of her final state appearance. "Each year it changes and each year there is a different challenge, you really have to fight for your spot."

Keller entered Rolling Meadows with plenty of raw talent, but she has worked hard at the finer details and has put it all together in her final season, especially in the discus.

"She came in with a lot of strength and natural talent with a live arm," said Rolling Meadows throws coach Charlie Henry of Keller's potential. "But she has really worked on her technique, especially this year with her footwork and it is showing."

It started at the Mid-Suburban League East Division meet where Keller swept both the shot put and discus, and it continued at the MSL meet where she also swept the both events. Keller kept it going at sectionals with winning throws in both the shot and discus, including her 150-plus mark in the discus.

"Sometimes everything clicks and you just have to go with it," said Keller who has been locked in a special zone the last few weeks. "I am just happy it's clicking now."

Keller is part of a special group of MSL throwers that all will be chasing three-time defending shot put champion and two-time defending discus champion Emmonnie Henderson of Edwardsville. Henderson set the Class 3A state discus record (161-01) last season, and she will be aiming for the shot put record this weekend.

Henderson enters the state meet with the top qualifying mark in both the shot put (50-03) and discus (155-09).

Hoffman Estates junior Banke Oginni enters the state meet just as hot as Keller. Oginni hit the second best qualifying mark in the shot put (47-06.5) at the West Aurora sectional.

Last season Oginni finished second in Class 3A for the shot put, and the Hawks junior is closing hard this season.

"She has been working really hard and she has mentally matured," said Hoffman Estates throws coach Keith Peak. "She has that ability to really focus in the ring now, and not let outside distractions bother her."

Oginni has finished in the top 12 for shot put her first two years; now she is a threat to make Saturday finals in the discus. The Hawk junior hit a career best (131-01) at the MSL meet.

"I have learned how to manage my ups and downs," said Oginni of her maturation. "I am not getting too high or too low, I am just trying to do what I do and execute."

Keller and Oginni have definitely stood out among the MSL throwers, but they will have plenty of familiar company in Charleston.

Prospect junior Erin Reese is not too far off the pace Keller and Oginni have set. Reese enters the state meet with the fifth best qualifying mark in shot put (41-06) and ninth best qualifying mark in discus (122-06). The Knight junior finished 11th in the shot put in Class 3A last season.

Also joining the fun will be Conant junior Jennifer Donnell (shot put/discus), Meg O'Brien (shot put/discus), and Prospect junior Alicia Nicolau (discus).

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