DeKALB -- Junior Olivia Roehri provided the first spark and her Cary-Grove teammates fanned the flames until the Trojans had thoroughly scorched the competition at the Class 3A girls track and field sectional Thursday night.
The first Cary-Grove athlete to compete in any event, Roehri stepped into the shot put ring and posted a personal-record distance of 37 feet, 9½ inches, thereby surpassing the state-qualifying standard of 37-8.
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"I was pretty far away from the mark because of a back injury earlier in the season," said Roehri, a junior. "So when I threw the 37-9½, I couldn't believe it."
Word spread like wildfire.
"So the very first thing this team did tonight was qualify for state," Cary-Grove coach Mark Anderson said. "It was great for me to be able to go to the rest of the girls and say, 'Guess what Olivia just did?' And that momentum just carried into the other field events and onto the track for us."
In all, Cary-Grove qualified 12 individuals and one relay team, surpassing the program's previous high of nine state qualifiers at a sectional meet. The bevy of state berths carried the Trojans to 127 points, more than double second-place Huntley's 62 points. Jacobs (48) was third, followed by Grant (46) and Belvidere North.
The Trojans dominated the field events. Sophomore Nikki Freeman came back to win the shot put on her final attempt, setting a new personal best by 2 feet, 2½ inches. Freeman was also the sectional champion in the discus (132-½). Roehri finished third (123-4) in the discus to qualify in the event for the second straight year.
The Trojans scored well in the field events. Senior Erika Sternard became a repeat state qualifier when she won the high jump (5-1). Sophomore teammate Nicole Robins took second (5-1). In the triple jump, junior Delaney Perrone finished second (35-11½) and sophomore Maggie Cherveny qualified in third place (37-8½).
Cary-Grove's momentum carried over to the running events. Morgan Schulz was a triple qualifier. The senior won the 300-meter low hurdles in 43.67, finished a close second to Jacobs' Lauren Van Vlierbergen in the 800 and took second in the 200-meter dash (25.77) behind Crystal Lake Central senior Celeste Madda (25.55), who also won the 100 (12.39)
Schulz is normally part of the Trojans' 800-meter relay team along with Faith Furio, Robins and Eva Burk, but due to her heavy workload was replaced by Perrone. The revamped lineup didn't miss a beat, winning the event in 1:47.58.
"That was probably the best moment of the night, seeing them win," said Schulz, who set a personal best in the 300 hurdles by almost a full second. "It just makes me happy when other teammates do well and pull out a win, so I was really excited."
Burk also came in second in the 100-meter high hurdles to gain an automatic qualification.
"It was so difficult. I'm so happy I found the strength to pull it out and relax myself," Burk said of her hurdles finish. "And I'm really proud of Delaney, our fourth runner (in the 800 relay). She really locked in and got it and it was only her second time running it."
Huntley senior Macy Tramblay became a three-time sectional champion in the 100-meter high-hurdles, winning in 12.39 to edge Burk (15.42).
"That was my goal, to keep the streak going," Tramblay said. "Honestly, I just did what I've been doing all year. I didn't try to change anything. I ran my own race, focused on myself and got the results I worked for."
Tramblay was also part of Huntley's qualifying 1,600-meter relay team. She and teammates Kate Mitchell, Tess Miller and Tina Driscoll placed second behind Hononegah in 4:04.65.
Miller qualified for Charleston by winning the triple jump (36-2½). Other Huntley qualifiers included 300-meter low hurdler Emily Schmidt and junior Delaney Lyman, who cleared 11 feet in the pole vault to take second place and gain a repeat bid to the state meet.
Jacobs' Van Vlierbergen qualified as expected in the open 800, where she held off a great push from Schulz to win in 2:14.30, and she took second in the mile in 5:07.58 behind winner Lauren Optamy of McHenry (5:01.95). However, her proudest moment of the meet came in the opening moments, when she helped teammates Kayla Giuliano, Molly Barnes and Taylor Bona win the 3,200 relay in 9:31.15.
"The major thing for me was the (3,200 relay) because I know how important it was for all the other girls to run on the state track, too," Van Vlierbergen said. "I was just trying to get through the races. I wanted to make sure I got myself down in the 800 and mile and, alternately, I wasn't too concerned about times."
Giuliano also finished third in the 400-meter dash in a qualifying time of 59.43. She finished behind winner Delaney Basala of Grant (58.93) and Driscoll from Huntley (59.22).
Crystal Lake South won the 400-meter relay as Gaby DeJesus, Kianna Clark Kathleen Pencak and Taylor Schau posted a time of 50.14.
"When I saw Kathleen coming around and I saw her head, I was like, 'We got this'" said Schau, who ran the anchor leg. "We've been working all season for this and it came true, so we're really happy."
Clark also qualified in the shot put with a third-place finish (37-8½).