ELMHURST – York junior Molly Evans approached her final preliminary triple jump at the Class 3A York sectional trying to reach the eight-person finals as well as her personal record of 33 feet, 9.5 inches.
She did surprisingly better.
Evans qualified for her first track and field state meet. Her fifth-place 36-0 beat the 35-11 state-qualifying standard at the May 12 sectional.
“I’m very surprised. I came into this not really expecting much,” Evans said. “I cried. I was shocked. But I’m very happy.”
York senior Jeanette Morley tied for second in high jump (5-3) and the 4x800-meter relay of senior Julie Biggins, junior Katherine Tomaska, freshman Lydia Hickey and sophomore Sarah May took second in a season-best 9:23.94 to both advance to state again.
Hickey’s previous track experience had been sprinting before moving over to the distance relay.
“I tried cross country. I liked it, so I did track, too,” Hickey said. “We’ve been talking about [state] since the beginning of the season.”
At the 2016 state meet, Morley’s 5-3 missed the 5-4 finals cut after she cleared 5-5 at sectionals. The 4x800 relay was 18th (9:31.67) after its 9:25.98 sectional time.
“We learned you can’t really take anything for granted,” Tomaska said. “This time we’re definitely better prepared to handle that stress.”
Biggins contributed a lifetime-best 2:19 opening split in her final home meet.
“I actually thought it my last 300 [meters]. It was really cool,” Biggins said of running on a state-qualifying relay at her last home race.
Immediately after the relay, May got sick and was hindered in her attempt to qualify in the 800 run. She tried, but her 2:24.77 missed the 2:19.88 state cut.
“We’re focusing on the 4x800 and I’m excited for that,” May said. “I still know that I have more and hopefully that’ll come out at state.”
In March, Morley was diagnosed with a borderline stress fracture in her plant leg, and her willingness to rest paid off. In her return April 13, she cleared 5-3.
“That just kind of restored my confidence,” Morley said. “I want to hit 5-5 [at state]. If I work it right, I definitely can see myself even higher.”
Kionnah Weaver won the 100-meter high hurdles at the Class 3A York sectional in 15.18 seconds to move on to the state meet.
Weaver earned another state berth in the 300 hurdles (second, 46.08), and Abbey Hoh in high jump (third, 5 feet, 3 inches) and Cailyn Biegalski in the 800 run (third, 2:17.07) were individual state qualifiers.
The 4x400 relay of Lexi Weltin, Biegalski, Brenna Peters and Emily Anderson made state by finishing fourth (4:03.53).
Three sectional titles were part of eight state meet berths the Knights earned May 11 at their own Class 1A sectional.
Jaida Smith in long jump (16 feet, 6 inches), Nailah Landon in high jump (4-10) and the 4x200-meter relay (1:52.82) were sectional champs.
Smith in triple jump (33-11.75), Mia Venezuela in high jump (4-8), Gabi Zanoni in shot put (31-9) and the 4x100 relay (52.32) placed second to advance to state.
Kiersten King was third in the 200 dash (26.86) to make state.
The Broncos won three events and earned an additional four state meet berths May 11 at the Class 2A Glenbard South sectional.
Senior Lauren Mikolajczak won shot put (32 feet, 11.25 inches), and Joslyn Boyer, Maggie Connelly, Erica Holloway and Dejah Amos comprised the winning 4x100-meter (50.33 seconds) and 4x200 (1:46.44) relays.
Mikolajczak in discus (115-11) and Boyer in triple jump (33-5.75) finished second to advance to state.
Connelly in the 300 hurdles (46.75) and Jenna Weidacher in the 800 run (2:20.34) placed third and reached state.
Elise Terpstra in the 800-meter run (2:35.10), the 4x800 relay (11:42.57) and the 4x400 (4:26.07) were champs for the Trojans at the Class 1A IC Catholic sectional.
Alyse Schnurr in the 100 hurdles (16.89), Olivia Hoekstra in the 400 dash (1:00.39) and the 4x200 relay (1:56.10) placed second to earn spots at the state meet.
Senior Kyla Denwood won a discus sectional title at York with a mark of 125 feet, 2 inches to move on to the state meet.
If you go
What: Class 1A, 2A and 3A state track finals
When: 10 a.m. May 20
Where: Eastern Illinois University, Charleston