Junior qualifies for four finals at state track and field meet.
CHARLESTON — Miranda Marry has one day to enjoy being the No. 1 300-meter hurdler in the state.
On Saturday, the Fisher High School junior will try to make that a permanent designation.
During Thursday’s Class 1A state track and field qualifications at Eastern Illinois University, Marry posted the quickest time (45.11 seconds) among the 35 competitors who were seeking the nine spots in the 300 hurdles finals.
She felt that she put herself in position for success long before the season started.
“This year I gave up basketball to do track year-round,” Marry said.
When she started competing last year with a track club program formed by ex-Illini Abe Jones at St. Thomas More, Marry was strictly a runner.
“I didn’t start doing hurdles until last summer,” she said.
Thursday’s school-record time is the area’s second best this spring and one of the top 10 in the area during the 41-year history of girls’ track.
Buoyed by her success in the hurdles, Marry returned to the track two events later in the 200 meters. It was a race she was seeded 21st, but she won her heat and advanced to the finals with the fifth-best time (26.21).
Marry and Sullivan/Okaw Valley’s Amanda McClain will be the two busiest area athletes in Saturday’s finals. They each will compete in the maximum four events. Marry also helped the Bunnies’ two sprint relays move into the finals.
Her motivation prior to the 200 was easy to detect.
“I’d made it in three (events), I thought I might as well make it in four,” Marry said.
Marry is unsure how she’ll handle being so busy in the finals. Her last three races are scheduled to occur within a two-hour span.
“I’ll go hard in each one, and if I run out of strength, I run out of strength,” Marry said. “All you can ask is to make it.”
She will be joined by the same three teammates in the 400- and 800-meter relays: Carli Clifton (also a triple jump finalist), Gina Masko and Olivia Heffernan. Clifton and Masko are the team’s seniors. Heffernan is a junior.
“I’ve always pictured myself at this position,” Masko said. “I’m glad to finish my year like this.”
Fisher’s 800 relay (1:46.24) is seeded eighth entering the finals. The 400 relay (50.60) ranks fourth. Both foursomes posted season-best times Thursday.
“I feel accomplished,” said Masko after helping the 800 unit lower its top time by three seconds.
“We’re all excited,” Marry added. “This makes all of the hard work pay off.”
The school’s 400 relay faced an unexpected delay before it could run in the prelims. Fisher was in the last of four heats in the event but was called to the track when a malfunction prevented the timing system from starting for the third heat. That group was recalled as they prepared to make their first handoff, but rather than ask them to immediately race again, schools in the fourth heat were summoned.
“It was stressful and chaotic,” Marry said. “We got on the track and had our steps counted, then they called us off.”
There was an 18-minute delay before the starter’s pistol fired again. Fisher placed third in its heat but still advanced.
“Having all that competition around us makes us push even harder,” Marry said.
Clifton jumped 35-6 on the second of her three attempts in the triple jump and is looking to improve upon her eighth-place finish from 2012.
AMANDA McCLAIN, Sullivan/Okaw Valley
The sophomore had the top 1A qualifying time in the 400 meters (56.92 seconds) with the second-best time in area history. She’s also a finalist in the 200, the long jump and with the 800-meter relay.
KANDIE BLOCH-JONES, Argenta-Oreana
The defending high jump state champ sailed over both heights she tried in the prelims and is close to becoming the school’s first four-time placer in the sport. She’s in the triple jump finals, too.
JENNY KIMBRO, Salt Fork
The freshman reached the finals in both hurdles races, winning her 300s heat (46.52) when she was the only non-junior or senior finalist, and posting the second-best time in the 100s (15.20).