Girls track and field: Naperville North's Bieber adds to résumé
CHARLESTON -- Halle Bieber wanted to try something different in her final state track meet.
The Naperville North senior qualified for the Class 3A preliminaries for the first time in the 200 meters.
It was also the first time that Bieber qualified in four events.
Throughout her illustrious time high school years, the Duke recruit has continued to raise the bar higher for future competitors that join the program.
"I've been to state a lot and am very confident in my senior year, but I had never run the 200 at state before," Bieber said. "I was looking forward to the challenge."
An accomplished athlete in track and field, Bieber set the stage for a final memorable effort in Saturday's finals. Although she failed to qualify for the finals in the 200, Bieber posted the fastest time in the 300 hurdles, 44.07, to move closer to her third straight state title in the event.
In total Bieber has two first-place titles, a second-place effort in the 100 hurdles, a fourth-place medal in the 300 hurdles and an eighth-place showing in the 800 relay.
Bieber also won her preliminary heat in the 100 hurdles to reach Saturday's finals.
"I've still got more in me for the finals," Bieber said. "I've run average times this year in the 300, but I'm hoping the competition and competing in the finals pushes me."
Naperville North senior Claire Hill nearly won her prelim heat in the 800 to earn a spot in Saturday's finals.
Glenbard West junior Katelynne Hart is headed toward a historic showing in the finals. Hart is among the best runners in the nation. She ran the fastest time in the country in the 1,600, 4:45.33, earlier this spring. Hart, a two-time state cross country champion, has won state track titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 for the last two years but is attempting to accomplish a rare triple-feat when she competes in Saturday's 800 final.
Despite the 85-degree temperatures, Hart showed why she's considered track royalty in Illinois. Hart staved off a competitive 800 heat by posting a top time of 2:11.78, then adding the fastest prelim time in the 1,600, 4:53.04.
Downers Grove South's 3,200 relay team topped its sectional seed by winning preliminary heat number one with a time of 9:17.05, which was the fourth-best time among the three heats. Junior Erin Reidy, who ran the anchor leg, praised her teammates for putting her in a good position to win the relay.
A year ago, Downers Grove South placed third at state in the relay. Reidy is also in the finals for the 800. Glenbard West freshman Audrey Allman was right behind Reidy, taking third in the heat.
"The 800 (relay) ace is not easy to win, but having my teammates push me by doing well was all that I needed," she said. "We came in as underdogs and had more of a chip on our shoulders this year."
Neuqua Valley's Riley Ammenhauser notched a spot in the long jump finals with a top leap of 18-2¼, while teammate Sithara Gajapala advanced in the pole vault. Ammenhauser, a sophomore, advanced in the triple jump.
Neuqua Valley junior Tolu Akinbo, Glenbard East's Emma Ludwig and Naperville North's Maeve Connelly all hit the qualifying mark in the high jump. MiKenna Robinson had a busy day, leading Neuqua Valley's 400 relay into the finals. The Texas recruit added a finals appearance in the 400.