McClain scores four medals
CHARLESTON — Amanda McClain left the girls’ state track and field meet Saturday carrying four medals.
Not bad for an athlete from Sullivan/Okaw Valley who only competed in three events during the day.
Because of her anticipated busy day running, McClain let her long-jump mark from the preliminary round carry over. She started the day second among Class 1A long jumpers but placed third.
Two of her medals were for state championships. Thirty minutes after anchoring the triumphant 800-meter relay, McClain returned to the blue track at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium and won the 400 meters by 1.2 seconds. Her school-record time of 56.19 seconds is second on the all-time area performance list.
“I was worried I didn’t have enough recovery time,” McClain said. “I didn’t think I’d get that fast of a time.”
The highlight of her day was not her individual heroics.
“The relay, definitely,” McClain said. “This is Mollie (Bowman’s) senior year, and we wanted to finish with a bang for her.”
Emily Neuhauser — who earned medals in the 100 and 200 dashes — led off the relay and was followed by freshman Ashlynd Risley and Bowman. When McClain got the baton for the final 200 meters, the Redskins were in second place.
“To see how close it was made me more nervous and excited at the same time,” said Neuhauser, the 200 runner-up. “I know Amanda’s strong and will get up there for us.”
Risley was the new addition to the unit, joining an otherwise-intact relay that placed second at state in 2013.
“She doubted herself a lot in the beginning,” said Bowman, who placed ninth in the triple jump, “but we knew she could do it. I couldn’t ask for a better senior season.”
Risley said her teammates made the transition easier.
“Knowing they were second last year, I felt a lot of pressure to keep up,” Risley said, “but they kept telling me I could do it. This has been amazing.”
The Redskins had seven entries competing Saturday. Each one earned a medal, helping coach Kali Taylor’s team to the third-place trophy with 44 points. It’s the program’s first state hardware.