Silver linings for Palatine 3,200 relay, Meadows' Keller
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CHARLESTON — Tess Wasowicz put her best foot forward — and didn't wince.
In the end, all was well in a season that wasn't always well for the Palatine star.
What the senior described as a "stress reaction" in her left foot kept her from competing on the track for half the season. But the perennial state qualifier left Eastern Illinois University's O'Brien Stadium with a runner-up state medal and smile brighter than Saturday's sun.
"The first time I've ever been injured — all four years," Wasowicz said of her early-season foot injury. "It was a little bit of a struggle, but I think I came out a much stronger person."
Wasowicz and her 3,200-meter relay teammates Kara Burton, Liz Cox and Cassidy McPherson ran strong on the season's final day, finishing second (9:12.21) in the Class 3A race behind only New Trier (9:04.86).
"I think we put together the best time that we possibly could have," said Wasowicz, a four-time state qualifier in both track and cross country who will run for the University of Minnesota, whose head coach watched his recruit race Saturday. "New Trier had an awesome race. There are always things when you step back from a race that you feel like you could have done better, but in the end I don't think we could have done much more. I think we gave it our all."
A member of the Pirates' state championship cross country team as a freshman, Wasowicz left Charleston with no regrets. A great track season capped a remarkable career.
"It's really bittersweet," she said. "Of course there's the stress that the season's all done, but I guarantee tomorrow morning when I wake up I'm going to be so sad. Running is kind of like my life. So I'm very excited that I'm doing it the next four years."
Another state veteran, Rolling Meadows senior thrower Morgan Keller, also headed home happy. She finished in second place in the discus (149 feet, 7 inches) and took third, of course, in the shot put (43-6).
She was also third in the shot put as both a sophomore and junior.
"Today wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, but it was still pretty good," Keller said. "It's the farthest I've thrown at state, ever."
The Illinois State-bound Keller winged the discus at state for the third year in a row and heaved the shot put for the fourth straight. She was eighth in the shot put as a freshman. She medaled in the discus as a sophomore (sixth) and junior (fourth), as well.
The Mustang was the top seed in the discus after Friday's preliminaries, but she couldn't hold off Edwardsville's mighty Emmonnie Henderson, who won both the discus (156-7) and shot put (state-record 50-9).
"I knew Emmonnie was going to have a really good day," Keller said with a grin. "It's all right. It was to be expected with her."
The Mid-Suburban League was well represented in the shot put finals, as Hoffman Estates junior Banke Oginni (41-11.5) and Prospect junior Erin Reese (41-11.5) placed fourth and fifth, respectively, while Hoffman Estates junior Jennifer Donnell also medaled (ninth, 38-11.25). Oginni took ninth in the discus (120-6), while Donnell was 12th (115-7).
A highly competitive 1,600 run saw Prospect junior Christina Santiago take third (4:55.67). Glenbard West's tiny Madeline Perez (4:52.24) used a strong kick to out-sprint New Trier's Courtney Ackerman (4:53.98) down the stretch.
"It was exciting," said Santiago, who was sixth in the 1,600 run last year. "I knew how deep the field was. I just wanted to stay as close as I could to the leader pack and hope I could rely on my kick."
Santiago, Brooke Wolfe, Hannah Getschman and Lauren Poplawski placed for fourth (9:18.85) in the 3,200 relay.
Palatine senior Meg Jump won the sixth-place medal in the triple jump, hitting 37-1.25.
Lincoln-Way East won the Class 3A state championship with 79 points, with defending state champ Edwardsville (68.5) finishing second. Prospect (19) tied for 13th, Rolling Meadows (15) tied for 18th and Palatine (12) finished in a tie for 21st.
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