Girls track and field: Geneva's McCloughan enjoys record-setting sectional
The smile beaming across Kelly McCloughan's face likely was a bit brighter than the lights that twinkled on the track.
McCloughan, a Geneva senior, won the triple jump on Thursday at the Class 3A Lake Park sectional, her effort of 11.79 meters also a school record and about a foot a over her personal record.
McCloughan also won the 100-meter hurdles (15.20) and was second in the 300 hurdles (47.37). Batavia's Kayla Williams came in second in the 100 meter hurdles and also qualified for state.
"That was just a really awesome feeling," McCloughan said. "I think just the excitement of sectionals and everything, I don't know, it's just such a fun environment."
McCloughan qualified for state in triple jump as a sophomore. At that time, she had just begun the event a few weeks before sectionals.
"I feel a lot smoother and stronger this year," McCloughan said. "I just feel a lot more confident this year, honestly, just I feel like we get the opportunity to be here [is most special]. It's so fun to be here with my teammates and everything. Everyone is just so excited, and obviously, the championship is pretty cool."
Six triple jumpers qualified for the state meet in Charleston -- St. Charles North's Kaylee Hopp, Glenbard North's Cameron Guy and Sarah Ozeki, Glenbard East's Keeli Dunaway and St. Charles East's Katie Kempff.
Hopp, one of the state's top triple jumpers entering Thursday, also qualified in long jump with a 5.37 meter finish.
"So many of my teammates helped me be more motivated and feel confident because they always told me 'Oh, you're going to win,'" Hopp said. "It makes me feel so great and they just boost me up to do well."
St. Charles North junior Natalie Buratczuk and Meghann Hartmann qualified in high jump. Buratczuk, with a 1.65-meter finish, earned sectional champion.
"I've just been looking forward to this day coming to sectionals," Buratczuk said, "because my freshman year ...[I didn't qualify] and I left that just knowing the next time I come to a sectional meet, [I'm] just going to dominate, do my thing. Obviously, we couldn't do it because of COVID last year but coming back today, really put all the hard work I've done [on display]."
DeKalb sophomore Sariyah Watson qualified for the Barbs in the 400-meter dash with a 59.49 second place finish for a first-ever trip down state.
"Just to be able to maintain my work ethic and just being able to keep myself all the way around the track and lift my team up [has been most rewarding]," Watson said. " ... I love those girls to death. They mean everything to me. I'd do anything for them. We worked really hard this season."
St. Charles East's Lauren Swartz qualified for state and was sectional champion in the 300 hurdles. The Saints also had their 3,200, 1,600 and 400 relays qualify for state.
"I'm honestly in disbelief right now," Swartz said. "I took the year off last year for swim because I wanted to swim in college and now that I'm back, I realized how much I missed track and I just want to do it one more year. And, finish the year strong. Honestly, it's a surreal feeling."
Seven qualified in pole vault -- Batavia's Mackenzie Benkers and Megan Schulhof, Lake Park's Paulina Lucer, Geneva's Katie Beitzel, St. Charles East's Alivia Silvestri, Kaneland's Jessica Phillip and Wheaton North's Kaelin Leishman.
Davinia Wilson qualified in the 100-meter dash for team sectional champion Batavia, coming in second to Bartlett's Gabi Stephen. Jenna Schifferer, a Bulldogs senior, qualified in the 3,200 with a second place (11:00.74) finish. Katrina Schlenker qualified in the 800 meter dash and won the 1600-meter with a 5:02.02 finish.
Bulldogs senior Kayla Williams took second in the 100 hurdles and while Jenna Schifferer took second in the 3200 and qualified for state. Senior Sylvia Bruzga took second in shot put and qualified for state with a new personal record of 40-feet, 2-inches. Kaneland's Abby Peeler also qualified in shot put.