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Spencer vaults her way to state title

First individual track title for a Providence girl since 1979

Providence's Samantha Spencer competes in the pole vault during the 2019 IHSA Girls Track and Field State meet Saturday at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
Providence's Samantha Spencer competes in the pole vault during the 2019 IHSA Girls Track and Field State meet Saturday at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

CHARLESTON – To win a state title is a difficult task in any sport, but on Saturday at the 47th annual IHSA Girls Track and Field Meet, that mission was accomplished.

Sam Spencer, the Providence Catholic junior, accomplished a goal she set at the beginning of the year, as she won the Class 2A pole vault with a jump of 12 feet-6 inches. It was the first individual title for a Celtics girls track and field athlete in 40 years. In 1979, Jayne Glade won both the 100- and 220-yard hurdles.

“This feels so good and it has been my goal since I was here last year as a sophomore and placed third,” Spencer said. “The conditions weren’t too bad and we had a tailwind, so that helped some. I didn’t take my first jump for a while, so the sitting around takes a little bit out of you, but once I got going I was fine.”

Spencer did not have a miss until she had won the competition, and just missed her final attempt at 13 feet.

“I know it’s not easy to win and now I have the bull’s-eye on me, but I have a great coach in Mike Karl and we will keep working to get better. He does so much for all of our vaulters and I couldn’t ask for anyone better. He is always there when we need something and puts in countless time with us.”

The Celtics Chelsea Wells placed fifth in the triple jump (37-5) and the 4x200 relay of Teresa Topolski, Sara Kerfin, Kendall Dickason and Spencer was ninth (1:46.32). That relay ran a school record 1:43.91 in qualifying for the finals Friday.

“This is sort of a bittersweet meet for me,” said Wells, a senior. “I placed fifth last year also, but I’m proud of how this season ended because I was so inconsistent this outdoor season. It’s sad to see it end, but it’s time. I’m going to the University of Wisconsin, but I’m done with track.”

“It’s been a long season with the weather we had,” Kerfin said. “But we now know we can run fast and compete with all of these teams in the relay. All of our relay members are back next year and we want to do this all over again and get a better place next year.”

The Celtics finished the team race in 17th place with 16 points.

In Class 1A, Seneca finished ninth overall in the team standings, with Reed-Custer in 15th place with 16 points.

Seneca was led by Mara Bruno who placed in four events as the junior was fourth in the 200 (25.30), fifth in the 100 (12.44), ninth in the long jump (17-4¾) and was joined by Grace Alley, Taylor Graves and Brooklyn Giertz to take eighth in the 4x200 relay (1:48.38).

“It’s been a long day, but I’m so happy for everyone on this team,” Bruno said. “You always get done with a meet and see ways that you can improve, but we had a big team effort today.”

Giertz also placed fourth in the pole vault (11-0).

“It was a good day and I matched my personal best, but an early miss at a lower height cost me a place or two,” Giertz said.

Erica Techmanski was ninth in the shot put (37-11) and was excited about gaining All-State honors.

“This experience is so cool and I never thought I would place, but the hard work pays off and it certainly motivates you for next year.”

The Lady Irish also placed eighth in the 4x800 relay (10:13.16) run by team members Audrey Jenkins, Natalie Carajohn, Amber Vroman and Alley.

“We ran so well to qualify and coach told us just score points in the relay because all of our individual events could score and we did,” Alley said. “

This is a great way to end my career and I will miss all of my teammates.”

Reed-Custer was led by Jaden Christian, who placed fifth in the triple jump (36-11¾)a nd sixth in the long jump (17-9), and Shaelin Ruzich was sixth in the pole vault (11-0) and placed seventh in the 300 hurdles (47.25).

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