West Aurora's Spagnola wins long jump crown
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CHARLESTON--Emma Spagnola nearly etched her name among track and field immortals.
Britney Williams could not have envisioned a greater way to end her high school career at St. Charles East.
Aurora Christian junior Peyton Wade had a day few could match.
The second day of the girls state track and field meet produced local champions in six different events in two separate classes.
Spagnola, the West Aurora dynamo, earned her first Class 3A state championship--though not in the event many expected.
The Blackhawks' superstar had her Friday preliminary effort in the long jump hold up on Saturday as none of her 11 fellow competitors was able to better her 18-feet, 9.25-inch effort.
But Spagnola suffered heart-wrenching losses in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, finishing runner-up in both, Saturday afternoon at O'Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.
In the 100 hurdles, Spagnola clipped a hurdle and lost her narrow lead to Danville senior Alexus Jimson-Miller.
In duplicating her runner-up finish from last year, Spagnola lost by four hundredths of a second.
"I think it was the seventh hurdle," said Spagnola, who was timed in 14.16 seconds in the 100 hurdles. "I'm a little disappointed. My start wasn't as strong as I could have done."
Looking to address her first loss in a hurdles race of the season to Peoria Richwoods' Brenna Detra from the Friday preliminaries, Spagnola was edged by 22 one-hundredths in the 300 hurdle finals by Detra.
"This race (the 300) was really smooth," Spagnola said. "I'm a state champ, so I'll get over (finishing second)."
When sprinter Anita Saffa closed out her West Aurora career with a second consecutive all-state performance in the 100 dash (sixth), the Blackhawks' 30 points were worth third place.
But West Aurora, despite its best team finish in program history, had to settle for a fourth-place tie with Homewood-Flossmoor.
St. Charles East also earned top-10 status in Class 3A behind the thrilling performances Williams and Jordan Shead authored.
The latter was fourth in the 400 dash, and her expertise at the distance completely altered the final race of the state meet: the 1,600 relay.
Shead erased a 15-meter deficit on the second leg, and Allison Chmelik provided Williams with a 10-meter buffer on the anchor.
The Iowa State-bound senior would need every advantage she could muster.
Also all-state in the open 400, Williams withstood a furious kick by Belleville West sophomore Ni'Jia Williams.
The Saints' Williams crossed the finish line in 3:50.07 for what is believed to be the first relay state championship in program history.
"I wanted to get it in the possible position for us to win," Shead said of her critical second leg.
"You know they're coming for you," Williams said of her pursuers. "I tried to stay calm. I just never imagined this moment."
"I about had a heart attack," Shead said of Williams' ever-shrinking lead down the stretch.
Elizabeth Chmelik was the Saints' opening leg.
The Saints also received all-state efforts Allison Chmelik in the triple jump (seventh); its two other relays--the 3,200 and 400--were seventh and ninth, respectively.
Kathryn Adelman had the misfortune of being in the same 800 final with several seasoned veterans.
Rockton Hononegah senior Courtney Clayton not only defended her title but established a new state record in event with her 2:07.05 time.
The Vikings' junior was sixth.
Batavia senior Skylar Schoen failed to place in the pole vault.
Lincoln-Way East won its first Class 3A state championship behind superstar sprinter Aaliyah Brown; the Texas A & M recruit won the 100 and 200 for the third time each and also anchored two sprint relays to titles.
Aurora Christian appeared prime to be holding the state-championship trophy in Class 1A after Peyton Wade won the high jump, 100 hurdles and anchored the Eagles' 800 relay to a third title.
Moments earlier, Taylor Knauf won the pole vault for Aurora Christian with a winning height of 12-1.
But Moweaqua Central A & M won the 1,600 relay to deny the Eagles' bid.
Erie Coop also placed in the final event to overtake the Eagles, who settled for third with 52 points.
"Our school practices really hard," said Wade, who cleared 5-8 in the high jump and won the 100 hurdles in 14.86 seconds. "We're really blessed to have all the people who are on our team. I worked hard to get first (places in three events)."
Wade teamed with Alyssa Andersen, Meghan Haggerty and Natasha Brown in the 800 relay.
Brown anchored the Eagles' 400 relay to runner-up, and the sophomore also placed in the 100 dash.
In Class 2A, Aurora Central Catholic freshman Karina Liz needed Rochelle senior Michelle Dobbs to set a new state record at 800 meters to be beaten.
Lisa Rodriguez ended her career with all-state efforts in the 100 and 200 dashes for ACC.
"I'm happy I could end my career being all-state in my two events," Rodriguez said.
Brianna Bower was seventh in the Class 2A 3,200 run for Kaneland, which also received a point from its 3,200 relay.
Sprinfield Southeast won its fourth consecutive Class 2A state championship.
Katie Trupp came ever so close to earning a state championship in two events for Burlington Central.
But the Rockets' SIU-bound senior had to settle for twin runner-up finishes in the pole vault and high jump.
Bloomington senior Sarah Bell set a new state record in the Class 2A pole by clearing 12-9; Trupp bowed out after making 12 feet.
Trupp then fell two inches shy of Morris' Haleigh Knapp in the high jump as the junior defended her title in the event.
Trupp was second in the high jump with her 5-6 effort.
"I'm actually close friends with Haleigh," Trupp said. "I knew she would jump 5-8. I was really close to 5-7 all season. I was never able to get it. I'm happy with the second place I got (in the pole vault)."
Kayla Wolf was also making her swan song for the Rockets on Saturday.
The Missouri-bound middle-distance runner was in contention in the open 800 until Rochelle senior Michelle Dobbs broke free from a congested pack en route to a new state record in 2 minutes, 10.78 seconds.
Wolf closed out her career with a 2:15.29 time to finish sixth.
"Disappointed," Wolf said. "Life goes on. You can't always have successes. It's what you do with failures that makes you great. Somewhere (down the stretch), I forgot to believe in myself."
The 20 points the Rockets' senior leaders scored enabled the squad to tie Glenbard South for ninth place.
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