CHARLESTON – Marengo’s Katie Adams needed to run against Freeburg’s Kristen Busch in person and not against Busch’s time.
In a rarity, Adams won the fast heat of the Class 2A 3,200 meters at the IHSA Girls Track and Field State Meet, but did not get the first-place medal. Busch had run a faster time out of the earlier slow heat.
Later, with both running in the 1,600 finals, Adams evened the score. She pulled away with a strong final lap and won in 5:05.10, 2.86 seconds ahead of Busch.
With her first- and second-place finishes, Adams led the Indians to a fifth-place team finish in Class 2A at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium. Allison Rogutich added a seventh in the triple jump and ninth in the 100 high hurdles, and Allie Sprague took fifth in the 800.
Hampshire’s Ashley Fouch was fourth in the 200 in 25.62. Woodstock’s Maura Beattie was seventh in the 1,600 in 5:14.48.
“I’m overwhelmed right now,” said Adams, who was 1,600 runner-up to Woodstock’s Kayla Beattie last year. “All my life I’ve been running to win the 1,600. I’m ecstatic.”
Busch had a subpar 3,200 race in the sectional, which put her into the slower heat of that race. It gave her two more hours of rest than Adams had on a day when temperatures reached 88 degrees. Busch said it was not a deliberate tactic to have more rest while attempting the distance double. She was nervous waiting to see if her 10:54.74 would stand up as Adams kicked hard in the final lap of the 3,200. Adams finished in 10:57.48.
“That was the most nerve-racking thing I’ve ever done,” Busch said.
Adams was ready in the 1,600, despite having less rest than Busch. They split from the group in the final lap, then Adams split from Busch in the final 250 meters.
“I was just thinking, ‘I cannot let anyone pass me,’ ” Adams said. “At that point, I wanted it so bad. I can’t be happier.”
Adams’ state title is the first for a Marengo girls track athlete since Kerry Eddy, Kristi Ragsdale, Sara Ettner and Sara Nelson won the 4x200 relay in 1996.
“Nobody went hard in the second lap, and that may have been an advantage for Katie in the heat,” Marengo coach Brian Tveter said. “When she pulled away with 250 [meters to go], I said, ‘She’s got it.’ ”
Sprague started running the 800 full-time this season and found the race suits her well. She passed two runners in the final 50 meters to take fifth with a personal-best time of 2:14.74.
“I got a little worried, I was counting and saw I was in eighth place,” Sprague said. “I didn’t want to get eighth and I found a surge somewhere. I’m so happy. To be here and place, you have to be happy.”
Fouch’s fourth makes the third consecutive year the Whip-Purs have had a medal in the top four.
“I’m thrilled,” Fouch said. “Coming down here I just hoped to run my hardest. I had no idea it would be fourth.”