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updated: 5/15/2014 11:56 PM

West Aurora's Spagnola shines at sectional

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By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent

Emma Spagnola was even more brilliant in her first two preliminary efforts than she was for the rest of the night.

The West Aurora superstar, who personally scored 26 points at the Class 3A girls track and field meet last spring, was up to her usual tricks at the Metea Valley sectional Thursday night.

On her first long jump attempt, the defending state champion soared 19 feet, 1.75 inches to establish a new personal best.

Only minutes later, in the third preliminary of the 100-meter hurdles, Spagnola ran a smoldering 13.83 seconds.

It only served as an appetizer as Spagnola won both events with ease and added a third personal record in the 300 hurdles by lowering her state-best time to 42.95.

Capping her night with the anchor leg on the Blackhawks' runner-up 1,600 relay, Spagnola engineered the third West Aurora sectional championship in the last five years.

West Aurora defeated defending champion St. Charles East 100-87 in Aurora.

Hoffman Estates was a distant third, followed by Batavia, Metea Valley, Geneva, Glenbard North, St. Charles North, Schaumburg, Streamwood, Dundee-Crown and South Elgin.

"I have been trying to break 14 (seconds) all season (in the short hurdles)," Spagnola said. "(The 300 victory) was a PR by three one-hundredths. I am ready (for state). We were undefeated the whole season."

The state powerhouse captured its fifth consecutive major meet with the double-digit win.

"Emma has been carrying us for four years," West Aurora coach Teresa Towles. "We need to give her some help (at the state meet)."

St. Charles East used its equally familiar cast to great effect.

Notre Dame-bound 400 runner Jordan Shead not only won the open distance in front of three additional state qualifiers in 56.45 but also anchored the reigning state-champion 1,600 relay in 3:57.85.

Twin sisters Allison and Elizabeth Chmelik were part of the Saints' considerable downstate contingent as well.

The other returning members of the Saints' 1,600 relay also qualified in the 400 and 800 relays.

Allison Chmelik was second in the triple jump to earn a fourth downstate bid for the second year in a row.

"If we go out there (in the relays) we know we have the opportunity to PR," Shead said.

"Obviously I was trying to qualify for as many events as I could," said Allison Chmelik, the regular-season state leader in the triple jump who scratched all three finals attempts in the event to remain fresh.

Torree Scull advanced in the 3,200 relay and open 1,600 for the Saints.

Hannah Schlaman picked an opportune time to announce her presence on a grand stage.

The Batavia freshman smoked the competition at both 100 and 200 meters to become a double sprint winner.

"This was just an amazing race for me," Schalman said after winning the 200 dash in 25.82. "Talent is 50 percent. Luck is definitely a big part. I am very lucky today."

Geneva crowned two individual champions as well.

Kathryn Adelman was hardly a surprise as the Bradley-bound senior displayed her customary kick to outlast Schaumburg junior Erin Falsey in 2:18.21.

"I was holding on so long," said Adelman, who also advanced on the Vikings' 1,600 and 3,200 relays. "(The 800) is a nice (event) between the sprints and the long distances. "(I was once told),'Run with your head the first lap and run with your heart the second lap."

Kristin Higgins won the high jump on criteria for Geneva.

Jessica Grill captured the last local title with a win in the pole vault for St. Charles North, which also advanced Ashley England in the 3,200 for the second straight year.

St. Charles North sophomore field star Hannah Schilb qualified in both the long and triple jumps for the North Stars.

The two throwing events featured some of the top contenders in the largest-class state meet next week in Charleston.

Metea Valley junior Holly Julifs, who owns the longest discus throw in the state, and Hoffman Estates' Wisconsin-bound Banke Oginni, who occupies the same status in the shot put, won their respective events in 139-11 and 44 even.

The two athletes also easily qualified in their other throwing disciplines.

Metea Valley freshman Courtney Morgan was only 8 inches behind Oginni in the shot put while also qualifying in the discus.

"Holly won the discus on her final attempt, and Morgan had her best throw in the shot put on her final throw," Metea Valley head and throws coach Jim Braun said. "You like to see people do that, because you know they're competing. We're optimistic we can get both of them to place downstate in both events."

"Today was a really good day," Oginni said. "(The competition) is going to make me better for state. I am satisfied with both."

Hoffman Estates won both the 3,200 and 800 relays.

Megan Biddle held off a strong St. Charles East bid after third leg Solome Haile overcome a significant deficit in the longer relay.

The two also both qualified in the open 1,600 run as Biddle held off a furious challenge from five different runners on the gun lap to defend her sectional title.

"I had to just do it for my (relay) team," Biddle said. "I wanted to make sure they all got a good (state) experience. My mindset was to move on to state."

Kaylan Williams' anchor leg secured Hoffman Estates' sprint-relay victory at 800 meters in 1:44.66.

Simone Carr earned a third consecutive bid to the state meet in the 400; the DePaul-bound Glenbard North senior also anchored the Panthers' 400 relay to another state berth.

"I have been through this so many times," Carr said. "It doesn't make it any easier. The experience definitely helps."

Allison Wahrman had a remarkable evening for Glenbard North.

The senior qualified in all three jumping events, including a triumph in the triple jump.

"I knew I could do it in the triple jump," Wahrman said. "I made it last year in the long and triple jump and wanted to do it again."

West Chicago failed to advance any individuals or relays.

Gabby Juarez realized her season-long goal for Streamwood.

The Sabres' junior, following her first state appearance last fall in cross country, doubled her tally with a victory at 3,200 meters and a runner-up showing in the 1,600.

"I am very satisfied with (my events)," Juarez said. "I knew I would probably win (the 3,200 as the top seed). I wanted to get as good a time as I could to get a good seed time (at state) and put myself in position to get on the podium."

Juarez barely broke 11 minutes in the 3,200 and came back to post a 5:07.72 in the 1,600.

Dundee-Crown had its first individual state qualifier in almost a decade when Kayla Lawrence was earned an automatic bid with her runner-up showing in the 100 hurdles.

"I was really hoping I could have a chance," Lawrence said. "I am so happy. I am so grateful to my coaches, friends and family for pushing me."

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