Tseumah high jump champion

CHARLESTON – Two months ago, Huntley’s Omo Tseumah felt some trepidation that her promising senior track and field season might not get off the ground.

She finished it Saturday right where she wanted to be all along, atop the medals stand at the IHSA girls track and field state meet.

Tseumah, who learned in late March the pain in her left (takeoff) knee was nothing of real concern, soared over 5 feet, 8 inches at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium to edge Lyons Township’s Emma Haugen for the Class 3A high jump title. The two traded spots from last year.

“She’s a sophomore, she can get it back the next two years,” said Tseumah, who will jump at Marquette next year. “It’s a huge relief, honestly. You have a goal, you have a dream and you know you can get it. But you always have thoughts that you may not make it.”

Jacobs’ Lauren Van Vlierbergen took fourth in the Class 3A 1,600 meters and anchored the Golden Eagles’ 4x800 relay team of Molly Barnes, Tori Tamburrino and Sam Baran that finished fifth.

Cary-Grove’s Joslyn Nicholson improved five spots with her final attempt to take fourth in the triple jump. Trojans freshman Nikki Freeman was seventh in the discus.

Crystal Lake Central’s Claire Dalman cleared 11-9 for fifth place in the pole vault. Huntley’s Anthonia Moore took ninth in the 400.

Tseumah cleared 5-8 on her first attempt, which gave her the lead over Haugen and Belleville West’s Kelsey Shannon. Tseumah went through her ritual of shaking her arms, shaking her legs, stretching, puling up her socks, shadow boxing and visualizing her upcoming attempt.

“I don’t box, but it calms me down at one point, then it pumps me up, too,” Tseumah said. “I bounce on my feet because I’m supposed to bounce when I jump.”

Tseumah had not made 5-8 since her record jump in the McHenry County Meet on April 20, but found her best jumps again at the most opportune time.

Van Vlierbergen wrapped up her standout season with two medals. She ran 4:55.94 for fourth in the 1,600 and ran a strong leg to take the Eagles from near last to fifth in the 4x800.

“I wanted us to try to finish ninth and get a medal,” Van Vlierbergen said. “But some girls were close and I wanted to get as many of them as I could.”

Nicholson jumped her career-best 37-5 on the final jump of her high school career. She drew inspiration from her mother Mary Lou, who died when Nicholson was 7, and from friend Alex Scarbro, a 2012 Grayslake Central graduate who died last fall. Nicholson and Scarbro used to play travel basketball.

“It was awesome,” Nicholson said. “I had this huge surge of energy go through me. I did it in honor of them. That’s a huge accomplishment.”

Dalman got on a roll Saturday when she hit 11-0 on her first attempt. She switched from a 12-0 pole rated at 140 pounds to a 13-0 pole rated at 145. She made 11-0, 11-3 and 11-6 on her first attempt, then cleared 11-9 on her third try.

“I’m really excited, I surpassed my goal for the season, so it feels great,” Dalman said. “I felt confidence building and building. I got more positive and really started to enjoy it today.”

Freeman was unable to improve her throw from Friday’s preliminaries, but still earned a medal in her first state meet. Her brother Josh won the Class 3A shot put and discus championships last year.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Freeman said. “It’s upsetting to fall back (in the standings), but it’s great to be here (on the medals stand).”

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