Girls track and field: Field events, sprint relays should shine at state

The Johnson sisters could very well play their own personal version of Monopoly this weekend at the Class 3A girls track and field state finals.

Huntley will seek a program first as a result.

"We have preached a team within an individual concept," said Huntley coach Jason Monson. "It would mean everything to come home with a trophy."

The Raiders enter the two-day state meet as the third-ranked program in the state, behind only sprint-dominant Public League power Whitney Young and defending state runner-up Homewood-Flossmoor.

Alex and Dominique Johnson are the twin engines for the Raiders.

The former, a junior, is the reigning state champion in the long jump who also is a top-notch sprinter at 100 meters.

Freshmen sensations are inescapable in the spring in the sport on an annual basis - all three classes are littered with extraordinary ninth-graders - and Dominique Johnson certainly fits the never-ending narrative.

The siblings were the only two girls in the state to exceed 40 feet in the triple jump at the 11 sectionals.

Alex Johnson, the No. 1 seed in the long jump at 19 feet, 6 inches, holds the same distinction in the other horizontal jump at 41-1; Dominique trails her sister by less than nine inches in the No. 2 slot.

"They have been so consistent the whole year," Monson said. "We are pretty excited to see what they can do on that whole stage."

Batavia was the other revelation this spring among the large-school contenders.

The Bulldogs qualified athletes in nine events to Eastern Illinois University in Charleston in completing a perfect regular season last week at the Lake Park sectional.

With the notable exception of four-year distance ace Katrina Schlenker, ranked fourth and sixth in the 1,600 and 3,200 runs, Batavia employs the three sprint relays to devastating effect.

The Bulldogs' and Raiders' three relays between 400 and 1,600 meters are all legitimate finals qualifiers.

"We have great cohesion with our runners," Batavia coach Justin Allison said of his array of sprinters that include four-event qualifier Essie Newburn, sophomore Izzy Taylor, twins Maddie and Mariah Wilson and metric-mile-anchor Schlenker, who crossed the sectional line in the event to give the Bulldogs' the third-fastest 1,600 time.

"The four-by-four, I think, that time will drop a lot," Allison said of the Bulldogs' almost four-minute flat time.

The area will be well represented in the field events.

In addition to the Johnsons' quest for state gold, Natalie Buratczuk is one of two high jumpers with a 5-5 clearance at the sectional.

The Eastern Michigan recruit, third in state last year, is the lone representative for St. Charles North.

"It's intimidating but it's better knowing I will have my support group with me," Buratczuk said of being both a top seed and the North Stars' only state competitor. "Anything can happen at the state meet."

In Class 2A, Kaneland continues the field-prominent local theme as Olivia Rohlman and Jessica Phillipp are top-two seeds in the discus and pole vault, respectively.

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