CHARLESTON -- Prospect senior Erin Reese proved that lightning does strike twice.
After hitting a school-record 150 feet in the discus in early April, Reese settled back into the mid-130s for rest of the season.
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But on a sun-splashed Saturday in the Class 3A girls track and field state finals at Eastern Illinois' O'Brien Stadium, Reese caught lightning in a bottle for the second time.
On her second throw in the finals, Reese unleashed a beauty, hitting 146-01 to propel her to the Class 3A discus title.
"I never thought I could win the title," said Reese of her impressive performance. "It's what I've been working for all year. I got it up, and it was the perfect throw."
Reese added a fifth-place finish in the shot put (43-07) to cap her final season with an exclamation point.
"We always knew she was capable of a big throw, especially after hitting 150 early in the season," said Prospect throws coach Nick Lussow of Reese's performance. "Everything came together and it's amazing she did it here."
While Reese was striking big in the ring, Palatine sophomore Kelly O'Brien and Fremd junior Ayako Higuchi were heating up on the track.
O'Brien capped a breakout season by taking second in the 1,600 (5:00.50), closley followed by Higuchi (5:00.98) in third.
O'Brien and Higuchi were in hot pursuit of eventual state champion Anne Zaher of Hinsdale Central, who took the title in 5:00.08.
"I didn't want to lose contact with (Zaher)," said O'Brien, who stayed within striking distance before making one final surge. "I gave it my all and I had to believe in myself. I have gained confidence all year."
O'Brien, who did not even run at the state meet last season, capped a great season that included a seventh-place finish at the Class 3A cross country state meet in November.
O'Brien also combined with senior Liz Cox, senior Cassidy McPherson and junior Kara Burton in helping the Pirates secure a third-place medal in the 3,200 relay (9:10.85).
"She is just so coachable," said Palatine coach Joe Parks of his rising star. "I always said if she is close, she can do it. She just ran out of track."
Higuchi had her own breakout season, capping it with her third-place finish in the 1,600. She also combined with junior Katie Escobar, junior Lauren Ciardiello and sophomore Nora Finegan in leading the Vikings to an eighth-place finish in the 3,200 relay (9:21.10).
"I can't believe myself," said Higuchi of her big performance. "It was a big surprise, and I'm really happy."
Higuchi offered a glimpse of her potential by taking second at Mid-Suburban League cross country meet in October and she continued her success this spring on the track.
"She has been consistent with her training and does all the small things," said Fremd distance coach Joe Marcin. "She is a smart racer and her confidence has definitely grown this year."
Prospect sent retiring coach Dave Wurster out on a high note. Including Reese's title performance, the Knights hit big on the track and in the field.
Sophomore Maya Mason perfected her three step approach, leading her to a sixth-place finish in the 100 high hurdles (15.12).
Junior Catherine Sherwood continued to impress in the jumps by taking sixth in the triple jump (36-09.5) and adding a ninth-place finish in the long jump (18-00.25).
Senior Christina Santiago challenged early for a medal in the 3,200 despite running with stress fracture. The Knights senior collapsed 5 meters before the finish line, courageously crawling across the line to finish in 18th place.
Barrington senior McCall Braun came on strong at the end of the season. She capped it by taking eighth place in the long jump (18-01).
Rolling Meadows senior Vanessa Sanchez also hit big in her final performance.
The Mustangs senior missed the past two track seasons with a variety of injuries, but she hit big on Saturday with a ninth-place finish in the 3,200 (10:59.31).
In the throws, Hoffman Estates senior Banke Oginni earned her fourth and fifth state medals, finishing third in the shot put (43-10.75) and ninth in the discus (125-05).
Conant senior Jennifer Donnell also put an exclamation on her career by taking fourth in both the shot put (43-07) and discus (139-0).
In Class 2A, St. Viator senior Meghan Carroll put in full day's work and turned a few heads with an impressive three-medal day.
Carroll started off by taking sixth in the 3,200 (11:05.1). She added a ninth-place finish in the 800 (2:19.13) and capped her grueling triple distance day by taking third in the 1,600 (5:06.98).
"It was crazy," Carroll said of her long day. "I didn't think I would have my legs for the 1,600 but I gave it my all and kicked it in at the end."
Carroll capped an incredible season which included an 18th-place finish at the Class 2A cross country meet in November.
"I was about to give up on myself a few times," she said. "But I stuck with it and I'm glad I did it."
Lincoln-Way East won its second consecutive Class 3A state title with 72 points.
Cahokia secured the Class 2A title with 61 points and Aurora Christian took the Class 1A title with 49 points.