Girls track and field: Scouting the Fox Valley at state

By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 5/17/2018 4:06 PM
  • Batavia's Tori Ortiz finishes the 800 meter relay at the West Aurora girls sectional track meet last week.

      Batavia's Tori Ortiz finishes the 800 meter relay at the West Aurora girls sectional track meet last week. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • West Aurora's Victoria Spagnola leads Batavia's Sabrina Schlenker in the 300 meter hurdles at the West Aurora girls sectional track meet last Thursday.

      West Aurora's Victoria Spagnola leads Batavia's Sabrina Schlenker in the 300 meter hurdles at the West Aurora girls sectional track meet last Thursday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

The titans of west suburban girls track and field will have the ultimate get-together this weekend at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

Glenbard West is the defending Class 3A state champion, but Naperville North -- third last year -- is undefeated this season in looking to become the first program in state history to add a state track title to its cross county championship from last fall.

"The thing about state track is that you can win a state championship with one superstar," Wheaton Warrenville South coach Rob Harvey said. "Look at Glenbard West and (Katelynne) Hart or West Aurora with (Dajour) Miles."

"I totally agree with (Harvey)," said West Aurora coach Teresa Towles, who has multiple athletes seeded to make the finals on Saturday. "That one beast can make all the difference."

West Aurora immortal Emma Spagnola almost single-handedly delivered the Blackhawks their lone trophy in program history -- runner-up in 2014 -- but Miles' status is uncertain.

The defending state champion at 400 meters, Miles is in a league of her own after a career-best 54.18-second time at the Blackhawks' sectional.

Miles is also a leading contender in the 100 dash and powered the Blackhawks' 400 relay to the fourth-fastest sectional time (47.64).

But Miles collapsed around the first turn of the 200 dash at the sectional with a hamstring injury.

Towles is cautiously optimistic.

"We truly don't know right now," Towles said on Wednesday afternoon. "She is at the doctor getting physical therapy."

Tori Spagnola invoked memories of her legendary sibling by winning both the 100 and 300 hurdles at the sectional.

The prized freshman is not only ranked among the top athletes in the two events but also ran the lead leg of the Blackhawks' state-contending 1,600 relay.

"I hope to make it to finals, so I can get our team some points," Spagnola said of her thoughts in the two hurdles races.

"They are definitely a threat to do a lot this weekend," Naperville North coach Dan Iverson said of West Aurora.

"It would be nice to get (a trophy)," Towles said. "If they want it, they have to go out and get it. "(The 1,600 relay) showed (at the sectional) they can do anything they put their mind to."

Batavia also has grand designs in the sprints and hurdles this weekend.

Tori Ortiz, bound for Illinois State, is a four-event qualifier in the 100 and 200 dashes as well as their corresponding relays for the Bulldogs.

"It's my best track season ever," said Ortiz, who anchored the Bulldogs' 800 and 400 relay quartets to new school records in claiming the sixth and seventh seeds at state. "I love the three girls I run with."

Junior Sabrina Schlenker is seeded fifth in the 300 hurdles after finishing five one-hundredths of a second behind No. 4 Spagnola.

"Nobody is born a hurdler," Geneva coach Peter Raak said. "You have to learn that. Those two schools (West Aurora and Batavia) have it going on in the sprints."

"It's one of the most challenging events in track and field," Batavia coach Justin Allison said of hurdling. " (Schlenker) is right where our goal is."

The 800 is always a compelling event at the state level.

Taryn Christy (Geneva), Marygrace Golden (Batavia) and Audrey Ernst (St. Charles North) are seeded in successive order from Nos. 8 to 10 on Friday for the preliminaries.

The top 12 make the finals cut for Saturday.

"It's great the see the (Upstate Eight) conference represented so well," Raak said.

Ernst is headed to Arizona State in the fall to pursue her triathlon career. The North Stars' senior won a high school national championship in the discipline last year and also looks to add to her past all-state success in the 1,600.

Among local largest-division field-event qualifiers, St. Charles North sophomore Kayla Mikottis had the fourth-best sectional mark (132 feet) in the discus.

"I didn't expect to be seeded that high," Mikottis said. "I am my own worst enemy when I get nervous. I am just hoping to relax and have fun."

Kaneland senior Cierra Kuipers is among a group of four pole vaulters seeded No. 2 at 11-3.

For the Class 2A local hopefuls, Illinois-bound Rosary senior Brooke Delahanty seeks to cap her career with three all-state performances.

"That's my ultimate goal," said Delahanty. "I am so excited for the open 800."

Delahanty is the No. 1 seed at the distance; Aurora Central Catholic sophomore Lesley Viveros earned the second seed in the event out of the same Lisle sectional.

Delahanty is also the anchor leg of the Royals' third-ranked `1,600 relay; the Sugar Grove resident is No. 5 in the open 400.

"I am just so excited for my last time in a Rosary uniform," Delahanty said.

Burlington Central has intentions of being represented on the final day of the season as well on Saturday in Class 2A.

Another freshman hurdling sensation from the area, Brooke Barkocy, was bettered only by defending 300 state champion Karyn Best (Wheaton Academy) last Friday in Lisle.

Barkocy is ranked behind only Chicago Brooks' Imani Carothers and Best in the 100 hurdles for Central.

Chloe Bilyk is the Rockets' senior standard-bearer for a fifth-seeded 3,200 relay.

"We want to be as high on the podium as we can be," Bilyk said.

There will not be a final Class 1A state finals for St. Edward trailblazer Bella Uscila.

The only individual all-stater in program history, Uscila -- bound for DePaul -- had the second-fastest dash time regardless of class during indoor season.

But Uscila was injured at Top Times, the unofficial indoor state championship, and ran only one outdoor race the entire season.

The Lena-Winslow sectional 100 runner-up had to scratch on Thursday.

"I wasn't sure if I was going to come back (for outdoor) but had high hopes," Uscila said. "I didn't want to take the risk. I want to make sure I am healthy when I get to DePaul."

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