Sunday, May 12, 2019

Spartans to make another run at state track title

Fourteen athletes from the St. Joseph-Ogden girls track team advanced to this weekend's Illinois High School Association state track and field finals in Charleston.

Leading SJO's bid for a back-to-back team title are three gold medalists from the 2018 Class 1A championship squad. Atleigh Hamilton, who won the long jump title, along with senior Maclayne Taylor and junior Hailey Birt return to the blue oval at O'Brien Stadium in search of another championship trophy.


Ashlyn Lannert runs cross country
Ashlyn Lannert heads toward the finish line during the Class 1A race at the IHSA Cross Country State Finals on Saturday. She finished 84th overall with a time of 19:16.11 in this year's title race. Lannert and the Spartans look to win another state trophy at this weekend's state track and field meet in Charleston. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)


Runners and field event specialists qualifying for this weekend's state meet include: Grace Schmitz (pole vault), Jenna Albrecht, Kailyn Ingram (4x800), Addie Allen (4x800), Rylee Sjuts, Hannah Rajlich, Danie Kelso, Cassidy Bagby, Hannah Rajlich, Ashlyn Lannert and Jillian Plotner.

Rajlich and Sjuts medaled in 4x800 relay last spring. Sjuts also picked up a silver medal in the 400-Meter Relay with Taylor, Hamilton and then senior Zea Maroon.

In a marquee worthy, storybook performance last year, Hamilton won her first of three state medals starting with the long jump. She went 18 feet-2 inches past the board to secure the title and a career best performance. The sophomore will see some familiar faces on the runway on Thursday. Six of the nine jumpers in last season's top ten return with a legitimate shot at the title.

Despite her sectional mark of 17 feet-4 inches, which was identical to her 2018 distance, Hamilton will be a solid bet as one of the top three medalists come Saturday evening.

Peaking at just the right time, Jenna Albrecht set a new personal record in triple jump in the sectional meet. The junior landed 34 feet-1 inch away from the launch point to finish third and put a lock on her spot in this Thursday's state prelims.

Prior to Friday, Albrecht's previous PR was 32 feet-11 and half inches.

The sprint foursome of Kelso, Taylor, Birt and Hamilton in the four-by-one looks to be an exciting race. Running a 50.52 in the sectional meet, the Spartans will be challenged by squads from DuQuoin, Fulton and Bureau Valley if all four teams make the finals on Saturday as expected.

Distance specialist Cassidy Bagby could make some noise in Saturday's 3200-Meter championship race. It will be her second state appearance - the first in 2017 in the same race - and her last as a varsity athlete for SJO. She will have 35 equally capable runners to push her to a memorable finish and beyond her sectional time of 12:17.34.

Speedster Maclayne Taylor qualified for the state prelims in the 100-Meter and 200-Meter dashes as well as the 4x200 relay. A couple of top eight finishes by Taylor will be essential in the Spartans' quest for a team trophy.

Hannah Rajlich will join teammates at state after finishing second in the 1600-Meter sectional race at 5:42:37. The junior faces strong opposition from Latin's Ava Parekh, who will be heading into Thursday's prelims with sectional time a mere five seconds away from a sub-five minute mark.

Less than eight seconds separate the Spartans from the top of the list of Class 1A qualifying time courtesy of DuQuoin's at 4:07.59 in the 4x400-Meter Relay. The SJO relay advanced to state thanks to the combined speed of Ashlyn Lannert, Rylee Sjuts, Jillian Plotner and Danie Kelso, who fought tenaciously to win the sectional race by a nose, seven-tenths of a second ahead of Uni High. The Indians and the Spartans will face stiff competition for the state title in this race from perennial challengers Byron, Taylor Rockridge and Knoxville.

Admission is $10.00 per day and parking near the stadium is $5.00 per day. Tickets for Thursday's preliminary round go on sale at 9am at the O'Brien Stadium box office. Tickets for Saturday's finals will be available starting at 8am.


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