Inside Track & Field: Johnsburg's Blankenship, McHenry's Opatrny Athletes of Week

Athletes of the Week


Sam Blankenship

Johnsburg, jr.

Blankenship led the Skyhawks to the team title at Marengo’s Ed Reeves Invitational on Saturday with three first-place finishes. Johnsburg scored 148 for its first invitaitonal win in almost a decade.

Blankenship won the 110-meter high hurdles in 15.94 seconds, then won the 400 in 50.45 and the 200 in 23.47.

Skyhawks coach Chis Setzler has been pleasantly surprised with Blankenship’s development in the 400.

“We knew he would do well in the hurdles, but now our focus [for Class 2A state] will be on the 400,” Setzler said. “He’s really running well there.”


Lauren Opatrny

McHenry, jr.

Opatrny broke a 23-year-old school record and the meet record at Marengo’s Ed Reeves Invitational on Saturday in the 1,600.

Opatrny ran 4:59.85 to shatter the meet record by 12 seconds. It also broke Erin Boland’s school record (5:03) set in 1991.

Opatrny also teamed with Katie Purich, Rachel Irwin and Ellie Gioia to run a meet-record 9:46.06 in the 4x800 relay.


Trial run:
Woodstock girls coach Steve Erwin, whose school will host a Class 2A girls sectional meet this season, was eager to test out the Blue Streaks’ new fully automatic timing system last week at Marengo’s invitational.

Marengo coach Brian Tveter was excited that Erwin wanted to bring the system to the meet. Jacobs has owned an FAT system for several years, Erwin thinks Woodstock is the second area school to purchase one.

Systems usually run from $5,000 to $8,000, but often schools that purchase them rent them for use at meets with other schools in their conference. Erwin said Woodstock eventually may do that.

“It’s stressful in here,” Erwin said from the tent at the finish ilne. The timing went off without any hitches though.

Sister act: Richmond-Burton sophomore Miranda Halverson won the 200 and 400 and was second in the 100 at the Ed Reeves Invitational but has to hustle to be fastest in her own family.

Halverson’s twin Waverly and their freshman sister Adelaide also are sprinters for the Rockets.

“It’s very challenging, but it’s really fun,” Halverson said of races among the sisters. “We have a good sibling rivalry. Waverly is way better at distances than me.”

Eventually, R-B coach Keith Forth wants all three to team up in a 4x400 relay.

Freeman wins: Cary-Grove sophomore Nikki Freeman won the discus Thursday at the McHenry County Track and Field Meet at Huntley. She is the sister of former C-G double state champion Josh Freeman, who won the Class 3A shot put and discus titles in 2012 and now throws at Southern Illinois University.

“I did a lot of work coming through the back of the ring,” Nikki Freeman said of her 127-foot, 4-inch winning throw. “I threw 127 in another meet here. Maybe this is a good ring.”

Playing in pain: C-G junior Ricky Hurley won the shot put and discus Thursday at the McHenry County Meet but is concerned with his right hand. On a shot put attempt in the indoor season, the shot rolled off awkwardly and there still is swelling around the knuckles on his ring and pinkie fingers.

“I may take a little time off,” Hurley said. “My hand swells up a little bit, but it’s nothing that’s going to keep me from competing through state. Every shot put throw I feel it.”

This week’s top meets

Crystal Lake Central Boys Invitational

5 p.m. Friday, Owen Metcalf Field

The host Tigers, Dundee-Crown and Prairie Ridge are the local teams that will compete in the meet.

Palatine Relays

8:30 a.m. Saturday

The Jacobs and Prairie Ridge boys and girls teams will compete, while McHenry’s girls team also will be there for one of the state’s oldest meets. Most events, even those in the field, are scored as relays.

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