FLOSSMOOR – When you’re going up against what could easily be the very best girls track and field team in Illinois that returned many individuals from its Class 3A runner-up teams in each of the past two years, the focus is not on competing for a team title, but rather on trying to get as many athletes the opportunity to compete at next weekend’s IHSA finals in Charleston.
In Friday’s Class 3A Homewood-Flossmoor sectional, the host team rolled to a 141-85 victory over second-place Lincoln-Way East, who easily had the day’s second-best effort, while Thornwood (60 points), Lockport (44), Bloom Township (42) and Lincoln-Way Central (40) were the next-best squads.
Leading the way for coach Brian Evans’ Griffins were individual sectional champions Emma Barnard in the pole vault (11-3) and Katie Sciarini in the 300 hurdles (:44.48) while placing second was Jenna Couwenhoven in the 1,600 run (5:22.93).
They also had two qualifiers in the long jump, Taylor Wright, who placed third in that event (18-4) and Mariam Azeez (18-0) was fourth. Also, Wright (:58.26) finished fourth in the 400 to advance in that event. Taking fifths and advancing were Ali Van Dyke in the pole vault (10-3) and Katie Sciarini in the 100 hurdles (:15.53)
In the relays, East’s 4x800 team (9:32.6) beat runner-up Lockport (9:36.13) for the title in that event. The Griffins also qualified in two other relays by placing second in the 4x400 (4:03.62) and were fourth in the 4x200 (1:43.69). The 4x100 relay, which Evans thought could have been state medalists, was disqualified after a collision, which gave H-F the win.
“To be in the same conference with a team that’s currently ranked number one in the state, that only pushes our kids and makes us better,” Evans said. “Last week we spent a lot of time focusing on the team championship in the conference race, but this week we were more specific in our lineup, which obviously affects the team scoring, so we would have been a little ways back, but had to make sure that as many girls as possible qualified.
“We’re pretty pleased with today and all of the people that we thought could advance, we came pretty close to doing that. We got DQ’d in the 4x1, which hurt us, since that probably was a medal team. We came to a complete stop and botched the exchange and as we came through the line. We were still under state-qualifying time, so that kind of gives an idea about if they run clean and we’ve run clean before, so I know that they’re disappointed. But we’ll have a busload of kids going and we’re very excited about the potential.”
Lockport finished in second place in the 4x800 relay (9:36.13) and its best individual finisher was Madison Polinski, who was the runner-up in the 800 run (2:23.97). Other Porters state qualifiers were the third- and fourth-place finishers in the pole vault, Andi Hennessey (11-3) and Kathleen Kwiatkowski (10-9).
Lincoln-Way Central won a title and had three seconds to help it finish two points behind Bloom and just four points behind the fourth-place Porters. Leading the Knights was Mackenzie Brownrigg, who won the title in the 1,600 (5:19.23).
Jess LiVigni, who was edged on in the pole vault on jumps by champion Barnard after also turning a jump of 11-3, as did Lockport’s Hennessey. And Merrigan Allen was second in the 3,200 run (11.27.8) and Nora Ansburg placed third in the discus (11.27.8). Lincoln-Way West scored just nine points to finish tied for 11th and had no qualifiers.