Girls' state track notes: Summitt reaching her peak

Girls' state track notes: Summitt reaching her peak

CHARLESTON — A year ago, Arielle Summitt was absolutely exhausted heading into the 1,600 meters at the Class 1A state meet.

Just minutes earlier, the Uni High junior had qualified for the finals in the 400 and the 800, the latter a race she'd win two days later.

But that didn't mean she gave herself a free pass. When she didn't qualify for the 1,600 finals, she was down.

"It kind of upset me," she said after a year of reflection.

On Thursday, in her return to O'Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University, Summitt redeemed herself.

Despite suffering from a back issue that kept her out of the 400 for the last few weeks, she used late surges to qualify comfortably in both the 800 and 1,600, running the third-fastest preliminary time in each event.

In the 800, she used a last-lap sprint to close a gap of about 10 meters between herself and the lead pack of three. She finished in 2 minutes, 20.91 seconds.

In the 1,600, she held with the leaders in a fast first half of the race and once again used a strong finish to move up, placing second in her heat with a time of 5:09.09.

"I kind of wanted to see how the (800) would play out, and I was just focused on qualifying," Summitt said. "(The 1,600) went out fast, but I feel like coming out of the 800 I was ready for that, and I gave it everything at the end."

She'll be joined in Saturday's 1,600 final by teammate Annemarie Michael, who ran a time of 5:16.48 to finish third in her heat and qualify for the finals.

Saturday's race will be the final one for the accomplished teammates, who have combined to earn the last three News-Gazette Runner of the Year honors in cross-country. And in a season that has been slowed by injuries, Michael, a senior, was glad to see her junior teammate back at her best.

"We've been running together since the sixth grade, so it's going to be really weird that I won't be around next year," Michael said. "I won't have her there to always be my buddy. It's going to be pretty sad.

"I'm always pretty impressed (by her), especially because she's been having some back issues. I think she's kind of been playing it safe. She looked like she was really back and good to go (Thursday), so it was exciting to see her being that fierce competitor again."

***

When Fisher junior Alayna Stalter felt an elbow bump her in the first 10 meters of the 100 hurdles, one thought ran through her mind.

"I was just like, 'Get in front of her so she doesn't hit me again,'" Stalter said.

She did just that. Stalter won her heat with the second-fastest overall time of 15.17 seconds and advanced to Saturday's finals.

A year ago, Stalter finished third in the event at her first state meet. But this year's meet is decidedly different.

"I'm a lot calmer," she said. "I know my competition coming in. I don't really like to focus on that too much, but I was just ready to run (Thursday). It was a good day to run. It was warm. It just felt good."

When she steps up to her blocks Saturday, she'll have plenty of familiar faces around her. Four of the nine qualifiers come from the News-Gazette's coverage area, including St. Joseph-Ogden's Parker Francisco, LeRoy's Janika Peitzmeier, and Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond's Kenli Nettles.

Francisco had the top time in 15.07, while Peitzmeier clocked in at 15.36 and Nettles at 15.58.

"I've raced them before, and I know what I can do and what they can do," Stalter said. "It's really fun, and I love racing against them."

***

A year ago, St. Thomas More's Marguerite Hendrickson looked ahead from eighth place as Summitt, a former Holy Cross teammate from their grade school days, took home the 1A state title in the 800, running the third-fastest time in any class.

This year, the junior for the Sabers hopes it's her turn after qualifying for the 800 finals Thursday with a heat-winning time of 2:22.78.

"That was really inspiring watching her win that race," Hendrickson said. "It inspired me to do the same this year."

Hendrickson is faster this year, and she partially owes that to a new training plan that focuses more on speed that last year, when she focused more on endurance. That led to state qualification in the 400, although she didn't move on to Saturday's finals in that race.

"That 400 speed I think has definitely translated over to my 800," Hendrickson said.

The 800 won't be Hendrickson's only race Saturday. After receiving the baton from her younger sister, Fran, who took the lead for STM in the 3,200 relay, Hendrickson and the Sabers went on to win their heat in the fourth-fastest overall time of 9:56.01.

Running alongside her sister, who competed in the 1,600 on Thursday but didn't qualify for the finals, has made this year a special one for Marguerite Hendrickson.

"I don't know how she's able to go as fast as she has as a freshman," Marguerite said. "It's a new experience having a sister on the team, but it's been really fun."

***

Ridgeview senior Elexys Rosales didn't know what to expect coming into the year with freshmen filling most of her team's relays.

After qualifying for Saturday's finals in the 800 relay with a time of 1:47.77 with a quartet that features two freshmen in Jules Grunloh and River Rosales and a sophomore in Mya Tinsley, a spot in the 1,600 relay finals was within Ridgeview's grasp heading into the final stretch of Thursday's preliminaries.

Effingham St. Anthony, though, passed a team that included Elexys Rosales and three freshmen — Grunloh, River Rosales and Tia Hardt — down the stretch, and the Mustangs missed out on the final spot by seven-hundredths of a second with a time of 4:11.69.

"I did not expect that at all," Elexys Rosales said of the season-best 1,600 relay time. "I'm very proud of them for pushing themselves against seniors and everything. I was really impressed when I saw that on the board. I did not expect that."

 

Local Class 1A state finals qualifiers
200: Maclayne Taylor, SJ-O
800: Arielle Summitt, Uni High; Marguerite Hendrickson, STM; Delanie Dykes, GCMS
1,600: Arielle Summitt, Uni High; Annemarie Michael, Uni High
*3,200: Annemarie Michael, Uni High; Anika Kimme, Uni High; Cassidy Bagby, SJ-O
100 hurdles: Parker Francisco, SJ-O; Alayna Stalter, Fisher; Janika Peitzmeier, LeRoy; Kenli Nettles, ALAH
300 hurdles: Parker Francisco, SJ-O; Zea Maroon, SJ-O
400 relay: SJ-O (F. Izard, A. Mizer, M. Taylor, Z. Maroon)
800 relay: SJ-O (F. Izard, A. Mizer, M. Taylor, S. Gallo); Ridgeview (J. Grunloh, R. Rosales, E. Rosales, M. Tinsley); Bismarck-Henning (D. Smith, M. Drennan, E. Meidel, S. Bryant)
1,600 relay: SJ-O (M. Taylor, R. Sjuts, Z. Maroon, A. Mizer)
3,200 relay: STM (M. Saunders, M. Cinnamon, F. Hendrickson, M. Hendrickson); SJ-O (K. Smith, S. Mabry, H. Rajlich, F. Houston)
Pole vault: Hanna Atwood, SJ-O; Cassie Westjohn, Tuscola; Sarah Craig, Schlarman
High jump: Janika Peitzmeier, LeRoy; Kenli Nettles, ALAH; Nakaya Hughes, STM
Long jump: Katie Kidwell, Watseka
Triple jump: Maddie Meyer, Argenta-Oreana; Kaiya Clodfelder, Tuscola
Shot put: Rachyl Anderson, Salt Fork; Asia Benson, Watseka
Discus: Katie Witte, Salt Fork; Sabrina Martinez, Bismarck-Henning; Rachyl Anderson, Salt Fork
*No preliminary qualification

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