CHARLESTON – Marengo junior Allie Sprague mastered the idea of a closing kick Friday at the IHSA Girls Track and Field State Meet.
Sprague qualified from the Class 2A 800- and 1,600-meter preliminary heats in almost identical manners, hanging right behind the leaders and squeaking out narrow wins at the finish line.
Sprague’s teammate Katie Adams, the defending 1,600 champion, also will run in that final. Adams, last year’s 3,200 runner-up, is shooting to win the 3,200 and 1,600 titles in Saturday’s finals at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium.
“I did exactly what I wanted to do, which is win both heats and get the automatic qualifier,” Sprague said. “I couldn’t have raced that 1,600 any better. I wasn’t really worried about times today.”
Sprague finished in 5:12.76, edging Grayslake Central’s Claire Haggerty (5:12.80) at the finish. In the 800, Sprague nipped Burlington Central’s Kayla Wolf with a 2:15.85, by one-hundredth of a second.
Hampshire’s Ashley Fouch qualified in the 400 and anchored the Whip-Purs’ 4x400 relay team with Elizabeth Evans, Nikki Dumoulin and Elizabeth Pagan. Hampshire’s Jenny Dumoulin also qualified in the shot put.
Richmond-Burton senior Roxanne Kelly came through with her season-best in the triple jump (35 feet, 10 inches) to make the finals for a second consecutive year.
Adams had the best 1,600 time (5:05.50) by two seconds and is eyeing the distance double in the finals.
“I’m really excited about [Saturday],” said Adams, who will run at Iowa. “This is my last day [of high school]. I want to run hard and have fun. If I do that, I’ll accomplish my goals.”
Fouch had a subpar 400 race at the Burlington Central Sectional last week in 1:00.56, but Friday she blazed around the track she will call home next year on EIU’s team. Fouch finished in 56.87 to make the finals, then helped the Whips’ 4x400 team qualify.
“I prepared all week [before the sectional] and really wanted a [personal record] and a 56,” Fouch said. “But I ran it today. It’s exciting to know how I can push my running against [2A recordholder Shamier] Little [of Chicago Lindblom]. I had to come here and prove to myself that I’m capable of running those times.”
Dumoulin won the Fox Valley Conference Meet shot put title with a record throw of 40-4. She threw 38-6 in her preliminary flight, which puts her in eighth place heading into the finals.
“I’m very grateful for [the finals],” Dumoulin said. “It’s a big deal here with this competition. I sure hope I have another 40 It’d be really neat to be able to do that. I hope to do that and have fun.”
Kelly saw what the other competitors were jumping and did not think she would repeat as a triple jump finalist. But her first attempt, her best of the season, put her in 11th place for the finals.
“I was psyching myself out. I know I can do better,” Kelly said. “I hope I can move up. That would be really cool.”