There are a grand total of five Class 3A schools in the Tri-Cities when it comes to girls track and field.
But St. Charles East, West Aurora and Geneva produced three of the top-five times in the state in the 1,600-meter relay last week at the Metea Valley sectional.
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St. Charles, which returns three members of its state-championship quartet -- Notre Dame-bound Jordan Shead and junior twins Allison and Elizabeth Chmelik -- is the top seed.
The Saints' quartet was the lone unit in the state to break four minutes last week.
West Aurora, with the inclusion of Minnesota-bound superstar Emma Spagnola -- the No. 1 seed in all three of her individual events -- is less than six-tenths of a second ahead of Geneva for the fourth slot.
The three-day state meet begins Thursday in Class 1A, where Aurora Christian is once again in prime position to duplicate or better its third-place finish from last year, with preliminaries in 17 events.
The two largest classes follow suit on Friday morning at O'Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
"We know we have to run our hardest (in the 1,600 relay)," Allison Chmelik said. "I think we can drop even from our sectional time."
Chmelik is a returning all-state triple jumper, and Shead holds the same distinction in the open 400.
The Saints, along with Kaneland in Class 2A, have the distinction of qualifying all four of their relays.
For West Aurora, which has designs on its first trophy in program history, the consensus No. 2 team in the state -- behind only defending champion Lincoln-Way East -- knows the 1,600 relay could be the difference.
"We know we are going to have to do that," Spagnola said of the necessity of breaking the four-minute barrier in order to reach the finals. "We're going to have to give our best effort to make the finals."
The Blackhawks' quartet also features state qualifiers Elisa Zinn (100 dash), Tamiya Rayford (400 dash) and Kayla Walton (long jump, 300 hurdles).
"We're seeded fourth," Walton said. "We're excited about that. We want to win a state championship (as a team) (Scoring in the 1,600 relay) would definitely help get us a trophy."
"I think we're capable of running 3:56 or 3:57," West Aurora coach Teresa Towles said. "I don't want them to put too much pressure on themselves (to earn a state trophy). It won't be the end of the world if they don't."
Spagnola was the lone athlete in the state to exceed 19 feet in the long jump at the sectionals.
The defending state champion in the event also has significant seed advantages in the 100 and 300 hurdles.
The reigning state runner-up in both events eclipsed both 14 and 43 seconds at the sectional.
"I just want to make sure I'm the first seed on Saturday," Spagnola joked. "That would be really awesome to win all my events."
Kathryn Adelman is a returning all-state runner in the 800 for Geneva; the Bradley-bound senior also ran legs on the Vikings' 1,600 and 3,200 units.
Adelman teamed with Bella Medina, McCloughan and open 400 qualifier Foster Ignoffo to turn in the Vikings' fastest 1,600 relay time since its 2009 all-state quartet.
"We're thinking we're going to have to break (four minutes to reach finals)," Adelman said. "I am going to have to step it up to get back to where I was last year (in the 800)."
Underclassmen Hannah Schalmann and Hannah Scilb are the leaders for St. Charles North and Batavia.
In Class 2A, Kaneland expects four-year standout Lauren Zick to energize its three sprint relays.
The Kane County 100 and 200 champion missed the Freeport sectional with an ankle injury.
Prized freshman Nicole Sreeman is the second seed for the Knights in the 400.
Aurora Central Catholic sophomore Karina Liz, runner-up at the 800 last spring, is the person to beat after her 2:13.89 clocking last week at the distance.
In Class 1A, Aurora Christian senior star Peyton Wade has been limited due to hamstring issues.
But the defending champion in the high jump and 100 hurdles made the state cut.
Natasha Brown is the No. 2 seed at 200 meters and anchors the Eagles' top-seeded sprint relays at 400 and 800 meters.