Neuhauser wins 100, 200; St. Joseph-Ogden goes 1-2-3 in 800
CHAMPAIGN — The majority of the winners in the girls' division of the 30th News-Gazette Honor Roll track and field meet used Monday's competition as a warmup for state.
Danville's Kierra Forman had her own agenda.
A non-state qualifier, she had extra motivation.
"I wanted to go hard in my last race," Forman said.
Good thing she did. She needed every ounce of effort to hold off Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley's Jordyn Nettleton in the 100-meter hurdles.
Forman was timed in 16.64 seconds. Nettleton finished in 16.65.
Their race was the closest of the meet, but the 100-meter dash wasn't far behind. Sullivan/Okaw Valley's Paige Neuhauser, won later doubled up to win the 200, edged Urbana's Lateshia Dove. Neuhauser's time was 12.82. Dove's was 12.84.
The stiffness of the competition, Neuhauser said, "made me push harder and give a little extra at the end. It was a great feeling to be here."
Sullivan/Okaw Valley had a second double winner.
Olivia Herzog prevailed in both the shot put and the discus.
St. Joseph-Ogden's Chelsea Blaase led a 1-2-3 sweep for the Spartans in the 800 meters.
She covered the two-lap event in 2:28.01 and finished ahead of teammates Jolee Paden (2:28.98) and Sidney Long (2:29.65).
"We decided to run together the first lap and then kick it in and see where we were," Blaase said.
The trio usually runs together in the 3,200 relay, an event where they posted the state's quickest sectional time.
"This helps us get ready for state," Blaase said, "but we didn't want to push ourselves too hard."
Argenta-Oreana had winners in two field events. Kandie Bloch captured the high jump (5-2) and Becca Heiges was triumphant in the triple jump (33-6 1/4).
A senior, Heiges is in her second year of competition in track. While living in Benziona, Mich., she played soccer in the spring.
"It was kind of weird to switch over," she said, "but I figured soccer is a lot of running, so I could do this."
A year ago, she still missed soccer, but no longer. "I like track way more now," Heiges said.
Bloch was a state-placer as a freshman and has developed a strategy for her upcoming state appearance.
"I think too much," she said. "I'm going to go out and jump and not think about it."
Unity's Lydia Mitchell was happy to have another chance in the 300-meter hurdles before Thursday's state semifinals take place in Charleston.
"I didn't get to race too much this year," Mitchell said. "I used this as a practice."
LeRoy freshman Jess Clarke won the 3,200 meters (12:07.53), surging past Mahomet-Seymour's Rachel Rodriguez in the final 100 meters.
"This gives me a boost going into state," she said. "Now, I know I can do things. I felt pretty comfortable."
Dove, who anchored both of Urbana's victorious sprint relays, was also pleased by the turn of events.
"This is good preparation for state," she said. "We still have to get our steps and handoffs down and, if we do, we'll have a better chance at state."
She shared the baton with Alyssa Wood, Dominique Johnson and Anisha Coleman on both relays.
Other individual winners included St. Thomas More's Kaitlin Knowles (400 meters), Urbana's Meghan Houk (1,600), St. Thomas More's Kathryn Boyer (pole vault) and Ridgeview's Emily Coile (long jump).
"This race felt good," Knowles said, "but most of my focus is on Thursday."
Houk enjoyed a nice farewell race in Champaign County.
"This is my last local race and friends and family got to see me run," she said. "This is one of my favorite races."
She overtook Hoopeston Area's Lauren Houmes in the final lap to secure a sweet sendoff for her senior year.