Girls track and field: Meadows soph Moreno, Palatine fly to sectional crowns
To qualify for state is a remarkable achievement.
To do it in front of your home fans makes it all the more special.
Rolling Meadows sophomore Melina Moreno, who compares the pole vault to "just flying," set a personal record with a mark of 3.12 meters at Wednesday's Mustangs-hosted Class 3A girls track and field sectional meet to win the event and advance to next week's girls track and field state finals at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
Moreno was denied a chance last year as a freshman due to the pandemic, but came through Wednesday at Robert A Hoese Field with, well, flying colors.
"Unreal," said Moreno. "I honestly did not expect to get this far because this is my first real season of pole vaulting. It just feels so natural. I go into every meet thinking I can do my best, and that's what I did today.
"I'm so proud of how far I've come in such a short amount of time," added Moreno, who said she was encouraged to take up the pole vault by her teammate, Rosie Piscitello. "Getting to state is the hardest part -- now performing at state will be the reward."
The Jacobs 4 x 800 relay team of Avery Mason, Elisabeth Kania, Kelly Carpenter, and Adeline Gorman qualified for the state finals by winning in the time of 9:46.81.
"I tried to just stay calm today, relax, and be ready," said Gorman, "because I knew all of the work I had put in had me prepared. All of us (the relay team) set personal records today, and that was really cool, really exciting.
"I'm just glad they're letting us do this (have a state meet) this year," added Gorman, a sophomore. "We've lost a lot of opportunities already, and we shouldn't have had to miss out two years in a row. "
Palatine's 4 x 200 relay team finished first and helped the Pirates to win the team race with 135 points. Huntley was second with 108.75 and Meadows third with 55.
"We have been working and training really hard for these end of the year opportunities," said Palatine coach Ruth Spethmann. "We were hoping that a state series for track and field was going to happen, and when we found out it was going to go on we were lucky enough to have all of the pieces in place.
"You've just got to want it," added Spethmann of the Pirates' approach, "just attack, and get after it. A lot of the girls were ready to have a good day today and prove themselves, especially the seniors, who were looking to get redemption because they didn't have a season last year."
Laura Seeberger of the Pirates won the 300 hurdles, teammate Mia Foy (26.10) grabbed first place in the 200 dash, while Haley Schaeffer of Jacobs took the crown in the triple jump and Huntley's relay team won the 4 x 400.
Anya Ball of Palatine won the high jump (1.60m), teammate Kylee Stammer (throw of 39.54m) took first place in the discus, as well as the shot put, Ashley Oliver from Hoffman Estates triumphed in the 400 dash in the time of 58.90, while Huntley's Alexandria Johnson (12.58) was first in the 100 dash. Johnson also won the long jump.
Krysta Block of Maine West took the first-place medal in the 100 hurdles with a time of 15:27; Breanna Burak from Huntley was victorious in the 1,600 and the 3,200; and Colette Lampa of Meadows won the 800.
Palatine earned the win in the 4 x 100 relay in the time of 49:13 behind runners Alli Gerdes, Jocie Waddington, Foy, and Kaci Wimer.
"This is just so exciting," said Wimer, a junior, "to be here with my team, spending time with them -- of course we didn't have a season last year, and honestly, today, we knew we could do well if we just ran our race. We were seeded fairly high, and felt like if we ran our hearts out we could make it. We believed in ourselves. You always hope (for a victory), but you're never really sure, and when it does happen, it's amazing."
Wimer also gave props to teammate Gerdes, the only senior on the relay squad.
"I was yelling Alli's name so loud when she was running down the finish line," said Wimer. "She's amazing -- she's literally always there if anyone needs to talk, and she goes out of her way to just be there for you. Alli's like the mom of our team. She is awesome."