PREP GIRLS TRACK: BHRA wins sectional title, qualifies 5 individuals, 2 relays for state
May 13—PAXTON — Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin claimed both the Vermilion County and the Vermilion Valley Conference titles in girls track thanks to great depth as they double scored in multiple events.
On Thursday night in the IHSA Class 1A sectional at Paxton-Buckley-Loda's Guyot Track, the Blue Devils showed they also had some extremely talented individuals and relay teams.
For just the second time in school history, Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin won the sectional title, beating St. Joseph-Ogden by 4.5 points (93.5-89).
"I really thought we had a chance if we could come out of the field events where we were rated," said BHRA coach Susan Kentner.
The Blue Devils scored 32.5 points in the six field events, giving them a 16.5-point lead over the Spartans heading into the track events.
That's where Kentner admitted a few choices the team made regarding who would run which relay races and which individual events became very stressful.
"We sacrificed some team points in an effort to get a couple of our relays to state," she said. "We started wondering if we had sacrificed too much."
The Blue Devils went on to qualify for state in the 400 relay, taking second, and the won the 800 relay.
"We decided to go all gas and no brakes at sectionals," said Bis-Henn/Ross-Al junior Ella McFarland, a member of the 400 relay team. "I have been in and out of the relay all season because of my other events, but tonight, we just went for it."
McFarland had already qualified for state by winning the high jump and taking third in the long jump.
"Now, I have two more events to put on the back of my shirt at state," said McFarland, who qualified last year in just the high jump. "It's always good to have one event at state, but it's better to have two more."
She was moderately satisfied with her performance in the two jumping events.
"I really wanted to make the qualifying mark in the high jump and not just make it to state with a first or second-place finish," said McFarland, who eventually not only cleared the 1.52 meters (5 feet) to qualify for state but her sectional winning jump was 1.55 meters. "I'm finally back to where I should be in the high jump. I just had to focus on getting up and holding that jump."
But, McFarland says the high jump has been her favorite, the triple jump, which she just started doing on a regular basis this year, is getting pretty close.
"I did it a couple times in junior high and coach (Kentner) knows I have long legs and she said that's do something long," said McFarland. "Last year, we didn't do it because we just wanted to focus on the high jump and we didn't want to drain my energy going back and forth."
McFarland admits it more mentally draining doing the high jump and triple jump at the same time.
"It's two different mojos," she said. "Tonight, once I hit the state qualifying distance in the triple jump, we completely changed my focus to the high jump."
While McFarland has qualified for state in three events, junior Amber-Christine Reed will be representing the Blue Devils in four events as the anchor runner on both the 400 and 800 relay teams to go along with a state-qualifying jump of 5 meters (16 feet, 5 inches) in the long jump, good enough for third, and then she finished second in the 200.
"That was not only big for her, but it was 8 big points for the team at the end of the meet," Kentner said.
Winning the 200 meters was Hoopeston Area senior Bre Crose, who also won the 100 meter race. She will be making her third straight state appearance in the 100.
"They weren't my best runs tonight, but definitely one of my best," said Crose, who is just amazed that she qualified in both the 100 and 200.
"If you would have told me during my sophomore year that I would make it in both, I would have said 'you were funny and that's not happening,'" she said. "I didn't ever think I was built for the 200, but I have trusted my coaches and it has shown."
Crose also credits her family for supporting her during her career.
"The just pushed me to do my best and that little extra motivation has helped me focus on this," she said.
Unfortunately for Crose, her trip to state next week will keep her from joining her senior class at Six Flags Great America in Dundee.
"I would chose state every day over Six Flags," she said. "I will miss being with my classmates and that is going to push me even more to make the state finals, but it's a great honor for me to end my career as a Cornjerker on the state track."
By the way, if she makes the finals, Crose will also miss her high school graduation, which is scheduled for Saturday, May 20.
"That's alright," she said. "Nothing compares to a state medal."
Crose is not the only athlete from Hoopeston Area making the trip to Charleston on Thursday. Sophomore Claire Dixon qualified as the sectional champion in the triple jump with a personal best jump of 10.55 meters.
Salt Fork senior Shelby McGee has battled health issues all seasons, but on Thursday night she qualified for state in three events, the 100 hurdles for the third straight year, the 300 hurdles and the triple jump.
Junior Macie Russell from the Storm also qualified in the 800 and 1,600 events.
Westville will be represented at state by sophomore Ella Miller in the triple jump and freshman Lainey Wichtowski in her first track season ever, made it in the discus.
Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman junior Haley Carlton is making her third straight appearance at state in the pole vault.
The preliminaries for the IHSA Class 1A girls state track and field meet are set for Thursday in Charleston at O'Brien Field on the campus of Eastern Illinois University. The finals will be held on Saturday.