Girls track and field: Banner day for Hoffman Estates at state

CHARLESTON - Hoffman Estates senior Anna Miller made a point for one final burst to catch up to the pack late Friday afternoon.

After competing in two Class 3A state preliminary events, Miller darted to catch up to her teammates following a sterling day on the blue track at Eastern Illinois University's O'Brien Field.

Miller ran the anchor leg in two relays, helping the Hawks reach Saturday's finals in the 3,200 (9:20.59) and the 1,600 (3:55.77).

The foursome of Janae Dean, Nikki Rong, Mikkaela Palmer and Miller comprised both relays, beating out Naperville North to win their heat in the 3,200. They also edged out Evanston to win their 1,600 heat.

"We had a good day," Miller said. "I was so motivated to run strong after watching my teammates give so much effort. They really pushed me."

Dean, a junior, said the relay was motivated to finish the meet strong after winning their 1,600. Dean added to her stellar day by claiming the top time in her 800 heat (2:13.86).

"I was feeling good at the end and had a good lead at the exchange," Dean said of the 1,600 relay.

Palmer credited "a team effort" for advancing in two relays, which set the stage for a strong showing by the entire Hoffman Estates' contingent.

Senior Makiyha Blackwell had solid showing in the discus (122 feet 10 inches) to join her teammates in Saturday's field.

Wheeling senior Alexis Knight, in her fourth state appearance, admitted to being disappointed not advancing in the 400 meters, but she's headed to the finals in the long jump (18-05.5). Senior Nicole Nguyen also is set to compete in the 100 finals (12.33).

"I felt good in the long jump," Knight said. "My 400 was rough. It's disappointing to me because two weeks before state I became brutally sick and it hurt my conditioning."

Palatine senior Jess Streepy advanced in the pole vault (11-0), while senior teammate Erin Oleksak (5-3) qualified in the high jump and the 100 hurdles (14.58). Barrington senior Gabby Cossio placed third in her 300 hurdles heat (44.91) to sneak into the finals, while Alyssa Norris punched a spot in the 1,600 final (4:59.53). Barrington sophomore Molly FitzPatrick is set to join Norris after running a time of 4:58.40.

In the relays, Barrington placed second in the first heat of the 3,200 to earn a spot in the finals (9:18.39). Prospect also placed second in its heat with a time of 9:12.06 to advance. Barrington's Olivia Helmer, Kathleen Baker, Breanne Dunn and Cossio advanced in the 1,600 relay (3:56.57).

Prospect's Marissa Valentini, Julia O'Grady, Audrey Ginsberg and Lia Skoufos ran a time of 9:12.06 in the 3,200 relay to earn one of the spots in the finals.

"We all tried to smile during our handoffs and that really helped a lot," O'Grady said. "Seeing your teammates smile at the end makes it easier and to work harder."

In Class 2A, St. Viator freshman Katie Castelli just missed making the finals after notching a time of 5:20.69 in the 1,600.

Images: Friday at the State Final Meet in Girls Track & Field

  Barrington's Gabby Cossio smiles at the conclusion of the 300-meter low hurdles during the Class 3A girls state track and field preliminaries in Charleston Friday. Joe Lewnard/
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