Johnson: Area outdoor track season winding down

Boy, that escalated quickly.

It seems like yesterday that our local track and field teams were struggling to get their outdoor seasons started due to uncooperative weather. Today, Coal City and Seneca, along with the Minooka girls, will begin to wind down the outdoor season when they compete at their conference meets. The Morris girls will have conference Friday.

There are a ton of locals who have real hopes of collecting hardware at their conference and sectional meets. A number could do so at state at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston. I’m going to take a look at some of the hopefuls here.

Seneca coach Kim Sedlock has nine girls hitting Class 1A state marks. Willow Stuedemann is doing so in three individual events – the 100 meter dash, where her personal best is 12.72 seconds, the 200, where it’s 25.83, and the 400, where it’s 58.93.

Other Irish on track to qualify are Rylee Anderson in the high jump at 5 feet, 4 inches, Eva Bruno in the 1,600 at 5:26, Shawnna Goins in the shot put at 36 feet, 0.25 inches, Brooke Larsen in the discus at 108 feet, 5 inches, Lexi Wilkinson in the triple jump at 34 feet, 7 inches and Emily Woods in the long jump at 16 feet, 11 inches. Morgan Armbrust and Mickey Juricic have both cleared a qualifying height of 9 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault.

And that may not be all. Sedlock said the girls relays are “very close” to hitting state times. Caroline Collet, in the 3,200, Cora Wilkinson, in the 300 hurdles, Mackenzie Maierhofer, in the 400, and Claudia Paulson, in the shot put, are also on the brink.

“Our season has been very successful so far,” Sedlock said. “The girls have accomplished all the goals to this point.”

Seneca’s boys aren’t on the same level as its girls (who is?), but Sedlock thinks they too could achieve some big things in the coming weeks. Tommy Lovett, whose personal best is 14.78 seconds in the 110 hurdles, and Ross McCormick, whose personal best is 10.04 minutes in the 3,200, are running state times today, and several others are within shouting distance.

Two girls from Morris, Leona Burton and Haleigh Knapp, were state qualifiers in 2013. They’re both on track to do so again this spring.

Knapp, the two-time defending Class 2A state champ in the high jump, has hit a season-best height of 5 feet, 4 inches, which gives her two inches to spare on the state mark. Burton’s P.R. in the 100 is 12.6, which is safely on track to get her to Charleston, and she’s close to hitting qualifying marks in the long jump and the 200, where she’s 0.26 seconds shy despite only starting to run it recently.

And the Redskins’ Charleston contingent could get quite a bit larger. The state-qualifying time in the 4x100 relay is 50.84 seconds. During a meet at Yorkville Tuesday, the Morris team of Katie Erickson, Becca McKee, Jessica Webber and Burton hit a new low of 52.22 seconds.

“The relay team is determined to get their time down and qualify for state,” Morris girls coach Lori Dite said. “The girls have been working hard all season to achieve their P.R.s, and have even been holding extra captain practices on the weekends. Haleigh and Leona are where I want them to be at this point in the season.”

And I would be very remiss if I didn’t include something about both Minooka teams. The girls have won every event they’ve entered, which includes the 16-team Conant Invitational last weekend. The boys’ one “blemish” was a second-place showing at their first outdoor meet, Belleville West’s Norm Armstrong Invitational.

Janile Rogers owns season-best marks of 12.09 seconds in the 100, 25.36 in the 200, 58.92 seconds in the 400 and 19 feet, 0.5 inches in the long jump. All are easily better than the state standards.

Bethany Bachmann, Emma Tonelli, Moira McAsey and Ashleigh Wilson hit a standard-beating time of 4:03.79 in the 4x400. Ashley Tutt’s 11:08.11 is fast enough in the 3,200, and Taylor Prieboy, like Rogers, has reached that level in the long jump with a leap of 17 feet, 10 inches.

Minooka boys that have hit qualifying standards individually are Devin Ingram at 10.93 seconds in the 100 and at 22.01 seconds in the 200, Chris Wilson at 49.04 seconds in the 400, Shabari Bailey at 14.74 seconds in the 110 hurdles, Ryan Pullara in the pole vault at 14 feet, 0 inches and Brock Whalen in the shot put at 53 feet, 2 inches.

The Indians have also done better than the qualifying times in three relays. Their season-best times have come from Ingram, Mitch Miller, Victor Turpin and Wilson with a time of 42.63 seconds in the 4x100, Ingram, Miller, Matt Dlugopolski and Jake Smith with a time of 1:28.54 in the 4x200 and Matt Szymel, Kyle Brown, Kyle Shelton and Wilson with a time of 3:23.36 in the 4x400.

These performers, along with some of their teammates and athletes from Coal City and the Morris boys team, could push the area’s number of state qualifiers into record territory in the coming weeks. And I think many of our locals will be returning from Charleston far from empty handed.