Jacobs’ Lauren Van Vlierbergen did not have to wait for the IHSA Girls Track and Field State Meet to see the state’s best competition in the 800 meters.
Van Vlierbergen has raced that person twice already, because it’s Cary-Grove junior Morgan Schulz. They have two of the state's top three 800 times recorded this season, according to dyestatil.com, a website that lists top track and field performances.
Van Vlierbergen (2:14.30) and Schulz (2:14.33) have the top Class 3A sectional 800 times from last week’s DeKalb Sectional, where Van Vlierbergen outleaned Schulz at the finish line.
Those two head a star-studded list of area competitors who will be in action at the state meet Friday and Saturday at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium in Charleston. Huntley’s Macy Tramblay (Class 3A 100 high hurdles), Crystal Lake Central’s Claire Dalman (3A pole vault), McHenry’s Lauren Opatrny (3A 1,600) and Woodstock’s Maura Beattie (2A 3,200) are some of the others with top state performances.
“I’m really excited to get to see all the competition downstate,” Van Vlierbergen said. “And I’m a little nervous.”
Van Vlierbergen also has the state’s best 1,600 time this spring. There is a strong chance she will sit out of the Golden Eagles’ 4x800 relay so she had more left for the two other races.
“She had the best competition at county and sectionals from Morgan,” Jacobs coach Ryan Lemanski said. “She’s been waiting for this. She’s been running smart races, just to win. Now she’ll be running for the time, too, not just the place.”
Schulz is trying to accomplish a rare feat in running the 800 and the 300 low hurdles. She is seeded second out of the sectional meets in both races. West Aurora’s Emma Spagnola (42.95) is the only hurdler seeded ahead of Schulz (43.67).
“I’m really optimistic about what can happen at state,” Schulz said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s really cool having Lauren in my conference and to be able to race her multiple times.”
Schulz got sick and missed the Fox Valley Conference Meet 800 finals or they would have run against each other three times. Schulz ran at Charleston last year on the 4x200 relay team, but she had the flu at the sectional and missed the 300 hurdles.
“This year is Morgan’s first [real] state track meet experience,” Trojans coach Mark Anderson said. “She feels real comfortable where she’s at. She’s not looking at the rankings much. We’re looking at going down there and between Morgan and Nikki [Freeman in the discus and shot put] and some others scoring as many points as we can.”
Schulz plans on doing what she always does, even against the state’s top runners.
“I just want to focus on my lane and keep doing what I do in practice,” she said. “I focus on my race and not anyone else. I go through all the steps I’ve been doing and when I do my best, that’s all I can ask for.”