Fouch leads Hampshire to girls, combined titles

Ashley Fouch (center) runs to victory Saturday in the 200 meters with teammate Elizabeth Pagan (right) taking second in the Ed Reeves Track and Field Invitational at Marengo. Hampshire won the girls and combined team titles.
Ashley Fouch (center) runs to victory Saturday in the 200 meters with teammate Elizabeth Pagan (right) taking second in the Ed Reeves Track and Field Invitational at Marengo. Hampshire won the girls and combined team titles.

MARENGO – Ashley Fouch prefers to add the “é” to her last name in honor of her ancestors who, somewhere through the years, dropped the last letter of their last name.

The Hampshire senior sprinter has the old spelling on the back of her sweatshirt, although it creates some confusion over what to call her.

“People mix it up and give me nicknames, they call me Foosh,” Fouch said. “But, hey, it doesn’t matter, I know what my last name it, so either way I’ll take it. If you’re close to it, it’s fine.”

Mainly what Fouch has been called this season is winner. She won the 100 and 200 meters at Marengo’s Ed Reeves Invitational Track and Field Meet on Saturday at Rod Poppe Fields, helping the Whip-Purs to an impressive 2001/2 points for first place. Fouch likely would have won the 400, too, but was disqualified for a false start.

Fouch then cheered on teammate Elizabeth Pagan to the win in that race.

Hampshire’s girls scored enough by themselves to take the combined boys and girls trophy. The Whips’ combined teams finished with 231 1/2 points, with Marengo (198) taking second and Woodstock (196) third.

Harvard’s boys team, on the strength of sophomore Christian Kramer’s 36-point performance, took first with 135 points. Woodstock (108 1/2) was second. Kramer won the 100 and 200 and took seconds in the 400 and long jump.

Hampshire’s girls depth, particularly in the sprints, has given the Whips one of their strongest teams ever.

“We have a lot of good sprinters,” said Pagan, who also won the long jump and was 100 and 200 runner-up to Fouch. “Most years we have a lot of good distance runners. We stack the lineup. We have so many good girls and go out there and do our thing.”

Hampshire coach Patti Nihells said this is her largest team ever with 52 athletes.

“We’re more well-rounded this year,” Nihells said. “We used to be really good in the 800 on up, so it’s nice to get some younger sprinters and use people in the right events, instead of just filling events. There’s a good healthy competition which we haven’t had in the past. Now, they have to fight for some spots.”

Harvard boys coach Dennis Eisele said the Hornets’ team victory was unexpected.

“I thought we would compete,” Eisele said. “I was hoping we would finish in the top three. Everybody’s pretty competitive here, no one has that much more than anyone else. It’s good for the kids. This is good for us, we’re pleased.”

Eisele preached to the Hornets to not be concerned about times or distances on the cold, windy day, just to compete. Distance man Jorge Pichardo won the 1,600 and was second in the 3,200, while Kramer led the way.

“We’re just trying to work hard in practice and get better,” Kramer said. “We always want to impress the coaches and show them we want it.”

Woodstock thrower Phil Krueger took firsts in the shot put and discus and also grabbed fourth in the pole vault. The Blue Streaks’ Kyle Olesen set a meet record with his 6-4 high jump. Olesen’s jump was his personal best in a high school meet.

Olesen came in at 5-8, at which point all the other jumpers were finished.

“It happened that everyone else had a poor day and my day was good,” Olesen said. “I got to stay moving the whole time. I was lucky to get to keep jumping.”

Olesen likely will be the top seed Thursday at the McHenry County Meet and is driven to finish his senior year well.

“I really, really, really want to go to [Class 2A] state, really badly,” he said. “Last year I choked in my sectional [making 5-11, when 6-1 would have made it]. I’ve been trying to work and get there.”

Streaks coach Matt McCulley feels Olesen is right on track.

“He has taken his offseason program and been working since the fall to get ready,” McCulley said. “He’s done a great job with [girls] coach [Steve] Erwin. For any athlete, once they know they can do it, getting that mark is a lot easier. They feel like, ‘I’ve done it before, I can do it again.’ ”

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