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updated: 5/24/2014 8:33 PM

Jacobs' Van Vlierbergen state 800 champ

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  • Jacobs' Lauren Van Vlierbergen reacts after winning the Class 3A 800-meter run during the girls track and field state finals at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston Saturday.

       Jacobs' Lauren Van Vlierbergen reacts after winning the Class 3A 800-meter run during the girls track and field state finals at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston Saturday.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Jacobs' Lauren Van Vlierbergen pulls ahead of the pack during the Class 3A 800-meter run Saturday at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

       Jacobs' Lauren Van Vlierbergen pulls ahead of the pack during the Class 3A 800-meter run Saturday at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Streamwood's Gabby Juarez competes in the Class 3A 1,600-meter run Saturday in Charleston.

       Streamwood's Gabby Juarez competes in the Class 3A 1,600-meter run Saturday in Charleston.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
By Michael Eaken
Daily Herald Correspondent

CHARLESTON -- Jacobs junior Lauren Van Vlierbergen has been eyeing a state title in the 800 meters since the beginning of the season.

And on a sun-splashed day at Eastern Illinois University's O'Brien Stadium she delivered.

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Van Vlierbergen shot out of the start leaving the field in her wake. She hit the first lap in 61 seconds, cruising to the Class 3A 800 title in an impressive 2:10.14 and becoming the first Jacobs individual to win a girls state track title.

"It's still sinking in," said Van Vlierbergen of her historic run. "I never thought I'd win a state title … I'm so happy."

Van Vlierbergen had been focusing her training on the 800, concentrating on the speed. It paid off on Saturday.

"That's been her focus all year," said Jacobs coach Ryan Lamanski of his junior star. "And she ran the perfect race."

Van Vlierbergen added to her successful day by taking fifth in the 1,600 (5:01.72). Last year she finished fourth in the 1,600 and she also finished fourth at the Class 3A state cross country meet last fall.

Van Vlierbergen left little doubt in the 800 race jumping to a substantial lead in the first 200 meters showing the speed that has been her focus this season.

"I didn't want to leave anything on the track," said Van Vlierbergen. "This is what I've been training for."

Cary-Grove's Morgan Schulz also had a successful state final appearance. The Trojan junior was biting at the heels of West Aurora senior Emma Spagnola for much of the 300 low hurdle race finishing in second place with a time of 43.28, with Spagnola earning the title in 42.45.

"I'm really happy," said Schulz of her performance, that also included a seventh-place finish in the 800 (2:16.09). "I could feel (Spagnola) the whole race and in the final 100 meters I just wanted to keep pumping my arms."

Schulz has always had the speed and strength for the 300 low hurdles but this season she polished her form and it paid off.

"I think I realized my potential this season," said Schulz of her performance. "I'm motivated to get back here next year."

Streamwood's Gabby Juarez also had a successful double, capping a breakout season with a seventh- place finish in the 3,200 (10:53.45), coming back to grind out a ninth-place finish in the 1,600 (5:02.94).

"It feels great," said Juarez of her double medal day. "I was running on empty in the 1,600, but I was able to kick it in and get the medal."

Huntley junior Delaney Lyman came back from a hip flexor injury in the fall to secure a ninth place medal in the pole vault (11-0).

The injury delayed her training, but she turned the corner by clearing 11 feet at the sectionals and she continued her climb at the state finals.

"It's huge," said Lyman. "It's good to finish on a strong note."

In Class 2A Hampshire senior Elizabeth Pagan capped a successful career by taking ninth in the long jump (16-07.75).

Pagan hit her top mark on her last jump to secure her medal.

"To be able to hit on the last attempt was exciting," said Pagan, who was the last individual to qualify for the long jump on Friday. "Being it my senior year and to get a medal is awesome."

In Class 1A Elgin Academy junior Kaitlyn Pearson made quite the first impression by earning a third place medal in the 100 (12.50).

Pearson tied eventual state champion Amelia Glueck of Tremont for the top qualifying mark on Thursday, and the junior in her first year of track didn't back down in Saturday's final.

"I was surprised at qualifying in the 100, the 200 has always been my race," said Pearson. who finished with the 10th best 200 qualifying mark, missing a spot in the finals by one spot. "I knew this was my one race to get a medal."

Lincoln-Way East won its second consecutive Class 3A title with 72 points, Cahokia won the Class 2A title with 61 points, and Aurora Christian took the Class 1A title with 49 points.

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