CHARLESTON – Crystal Lake Central’s Celeste Madda crossed the finish line, glanced at the O’Brien Stadium scoreboard, threw her arms triumphantly in the air and flashed the biggest smile possible.
The Tigers’ senior finished second in her Class 3A 200 meters heat, but the most important number was the 24.72 that pushed her into Saturday’s finals.
For her final high school meet, Madda is going out in style. She qualified earlier Friday from the 100 meters preliminaries at Eastern Illinois University.
“Oh, my gosh!” Madda said after the 200. “I’m happy to do it my senior year. It’s my last time running here. It’s exciting and shocking [to make both finals] at the same time.”
Madda, Cary-Grove’s Morgan Schulz and Jacobs’ Lauren Van Vlierbergen all qualified for two finals. Schulz ran personal-best times in the 800 (2:12.30) and 300 low hurdles (43.02), while Van Vlierbergen won her heats in the 800 and 1,600.
Other local athletes to advance to Saturday’s finals are McHenry’s Lauren Opatrny (1,600), Crystal Lake Central’s Claire Dalman (pole vault), Huntley’s Delaney Lyman (pole vault) and C-G’s Olivia Roehri (discus).
Roehri threw 120-10 for the discus, edging out teammate Nikki Freeman for the last spot in the 12-competitor finals field by 1 inch.
Madda ran personal-best times in the 100 (12.20) and 200 to extend her season another day.
“In the 100, I just wanted to get out of the block fast and had people pushing me,” Madda said. “In the 200, I was seeded 13th and just wanted to see what happened. I just kept running and didn’t give up.”
Madda will attend Iowa State and had not planned on running, although her performance may change things. She was offered a walk-on spot if she broke 25 seconds in the 200.
“I might have to talk to their coach now,” Tigers coach Anthony DeStephano said. “That might change. After I saw her 100, I thought if she ran like that again [in the 200] she might have a chance. The competition pushed her and she’s peaking at the right time.”
Schulz and Van Vlierbergen, both juniors, are trying to pull off demanding doubles, starting with the 800. Schulz followed her 800 heat by knocking off .65 her best time in the 300 hurdles.
“I was really tired after the 800,” Schulz said. “I was running to qualify, but at the end I got a 2-second [personal record]. The 300s are my favorite race. I felt rejuvenated for the 300s and I always want to get out fast.”
Most athletes would not even try those races at the state level. After Schulz finished the 300 hurdles, Trojans coach Mark Anderson asked her about the 200 and she said she would just like to rest.
Anderson is not concerned about Schulz running the 800 and 300 hurdles in back-to-back days.
“I have no worries,” he said. “She’ll be fine. She’s a tank. Everyone talks like that’s a crazy double, but with her skill set, it’s a no-brainer. I think the 800 and 1,600 is just as tough a double.”
That will be Van Vlierbergen’s challenge on Saturday. She has the best times in the state in both races and will make a run at the 800 state championship first, then come back with what she has left in the 1,600.
“I’m ready. It’s going to be hard,” Van Vlierbergen said. “The 800’s definitely going to be a close race. It’s going to be nice to have a bunch of people to push me.”
Opatrny ran the fastest qualifying time in the 1,600 preliminaries in 4:58.05, her second time to break 5:00.
“I really wanted to go sub-5:00, if you don’t try your best, you might not make it to Saturday,” said Opatrny, a junior. “I just wanted to try to stay consistent. [The finals] are going to be so much tougher than today. It’s so much fun to run with the fastest girls in the state.”
Dalman finished fifth in the pole vault last year and will try to improve on that in the finals. Lyman, a junior, is in the finals for the first time.
Huntley’s Macy Tramblay (100 high hurdles) and Cary-Grove’s Maggie Cherveny (triple jump) suffered near misses for the finals.
Tramblay, a junior, ran 14.99 and was 11th in the 100 high hurdles, two spots from qualifying. She had a 14.73 time out of the DeKalb Sectional.
“It wasn’t one of my best races,” Tramblay said. “I let the mental factors psyche me out. It’s kind of a letdown, but it will make me more motivated for next year.”
Cherveny went 36-1 3/4 in the triple jump, where the final qualifier was Whitney Young’s Indya McGuffin at 36-2 1/4.