Urbana athlete fueled by hardships

Urbana athlete fueled by hardships

URBANA — Monday offered a rarity in Lanaeja Carter's senior track and field season with Urbana.

The Tigers' standout thrower simply didn't have a good day in the ring.

At the 38th annual News-Gazette Honor Roll Meet, hosted by Urbana, Carter managed a top toss of 113 feet, 2 inches in the discus.

It left her fifth in the pecking order, as well as more than 10 feet behind her sectional-championship hurl less than a week prior.

Carter wasn't about to let this wreck her mindset for the Class 2A girls' state track and field meet, which opens Friday with preliminaries at Eastern Illinois' O'Brien Stadium.

"I had a little fluke," Carter said of Monday's performance. "But great things happen unexpectedly."

Carter has dreamed big since entering high school, harboring the goal of "winning state for my last four years."

And the opportunity has been there.

She's qualified in the 2A discus during each campaign with the Tigers. Carter was rated third heading into the 2017 finals but wound up fourth, then parlayed 2018's No. 5 ranking into an eighth-place display.

"Last year she kind of had a block, a little bit," said Kasey Sanders, Carter's throws coach all four years at Urbana. "The season didn't go quite how we thought it could."

So Carter hit the grind hard between her junior and senior stints.

"She put in a lot more time in the weight room this offseason, a lot more time perfecting her full throw," Sanders said. "She really dedicated herself."

There wasn't anything physically impeding Carter, according to Sanders. Sometimes, life just gets in the way of opportunity.

Carter has turned that into a driving force for her final prep run.

"I had a lot of things going on personally this year," said Carter, describing them as "things that you go through as you grow up."

"I feel like that took a weight on me," Carter added, "but I'm using those to lift me up."

Carter has lifted herself at the right time, too.

Her 2A Unity Sectional discus title came with a mark of 125 feet, 11 inches — her best outcome of the season, and nearly 10 feet clear of the sectional runner-up.

That's equated to the familiar No. 5 position in the pre-state 2A rankings. The difference is, the effort that got her to that spot as a junior was 119-3.

Her more recent 125-11 would've plotted her second leading up to the 2018 preliminaries.

"She's overcome a lot in the last four years," Sanders said. "Not necessarily just in track and field, but in life in general, and she's put it all into throwing. She's working to use shot put and discus as an outlet."

Carter's individual mission isn't the only matter occupying her headspace entering competition in Charleston.

The upperclassman is well aware the Tigers scored the third-place team trophy last year, with her two points from discus separating Urbana from fourth-place Chicago Brooks and fifth-place Springfield Southeast.

Just like she feels she has more in the tank for her throws, Carter also believes she can guide the Tigers to greater heights as a unit.

"I want to win so my team can get a chance to get first," Carter said. "We're going with the same amount of girls (as last season), so I really believe we can win."

A cut above the rest

A look at the local girls' track and field athletes who hold a top-five time in their respective events entering the state tournament, which opens today in Charleston with the Class 1A preliminaries, continues on Friday with the 2A and 3A prelims before concluding on Saturday with finals in all three classes:

Class 3A

ATHLETE SCHOOL EVENT TIME/DISTANCE RANK

Ameia Wilson Danville 200 24.37 First

Ameia Wilson Danville 100 12.10 Fourth

Class 2A

ATHLETE SCHOOL EVENT TIME/DISTANCE RANK

Emelia Ness Monticello 100 hurdles 14.82 First

DiamonAsia Taylor Urbana High jump 5-5 T-First

Tanaya Young Rantoul Long jump 18-3 1 / 4 Second

Mye'Joi Williams Rantoul Shot put 42-0 Second

Landis Brandon Monticello Pole vault 11-7 T-Second

Payne Turney Clinton 800 2:22.28 Third

Olivia Rosenstein Urbana 3,200 11:17.11 Third

Emelia Ness Monticello 300 hurdles 45.94 Third

Emelia Ness Monticello 800 relay 1:45.05 Third

Landis Brandon

Sydney Buchanan

Mattie Lieb

Olivia Rosenstein Urbana 1,600 5:13.86 Fourth

Mattie Lieb Monticello 100 12.46 T-Fourth

DiamonAsia Taylor Urbana Long jump 17-11 Fifth

Lanaeja Carter Urbana Discus 125-11 Fifth

Class 1A

ATHLETE SCHOOL EVENT TIME/DISTANCE RANK

Kenli Nettles ALAH 100 hurdles 14.56 First

Kenli Nettles ALAH 300 hurdles 44.08 First

Kenli Nettles ALAH High jump 5-6 T-First

Capria Brown Schlarman Long jump 17-7 1 / 2 Second

Katelyn Young Oakwood Shot put 42-10 Second

Fran Hendrickson St. Thomas More 1,600 5:23.97 Third

Maclayne Taylor St. Joseph-Ogden 800 relay 1:46.91 Third

Atleigh Hamilton

Danie Kelso

Hailey Birt

Kenli Nettles ALAH 200 25.98 Fourth

Sierra Bryant BHRA 400 1:00.52 Fourth

Danie Kelso St. Joseph-Ogden 400 relay 50.52 Fourth

Maclayne Taylor

Hailey Birt

Atleigh Hamilton

Jayden Standish Ridgeview/Lex. Discus 126-1 Fourth

Claire Retherford GCMS Discus 124-4 Fifth

Sarah Craig Schlarman Pole vault 10-6 T-Fifth

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