CHARLESTON – Marengo senior Allie Sprague found an extra gear she didn’t know existed on the home stretch in the Class 2A 800 meters.
Sprague passed two runners in that final 100 meters to take second in her heat Friday at the girls track and field state meet, assuring herself a spot in the finals for the third consecutive year.
It turned out that Sprague, who was fifth in 2012 and fourth last season, was safe, as three runners behind her also qualified. Sprague’s time of 2:18.63 was her season best by more than 2 seconds and the sixth-fastest qualifying time.
The other area qualifiers in Class 2A were Woodstock’s and Hampshire’s 4x800 relay teams and Hampshire long jumper Elizabeth Pagan.
Woodstock’s 4x800 team of Maura Beattie, Lacey Heaver, Kate Jacobs and Grace Beattie qualified in 9:44.40, taking second in
its heat. Hampshire’s 4x800 relay of Natalia Sztuk Vel Sztukowski, Trish Dumoulin, Elizabeth Evans and Nikki Dumoulin ran 9:52.06 for the 11th spot in a 12-team finals field.
“It was pretty good,” said Sprague, who will run cross country and track at South Carolina this fall. “I had the No. 1 seed in my heat [Aurora Central Catholic’s Karina Liz] and she was out in front. I knew I wanted to get second. I didn’t think I had a kick left, but somehow I found it.”
Sprague was elated to have one more run on the blue track at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium.
“I just want to leave everything on the track,” Sprague said. “It’s my last high school race, and that’s kind of sad. I’m real excited and ready for it.”
Woodstock came in with the fastest 4x800 time from last week’s sectionals and Heaver said running 12 seconds slower did not really matter.
“We ran smart and held back for the most part,” Heaver said. “We had the lead most of the race and came in second. [Saturday] we’ll worry more about time. It’s really exciting. It’s a great way to end my high school year.”
Maura Beattie, who will defend her Class 2A 3,200 state championship after the 4x800 Saturday, gave the Blue Streaks a lead they held into the final leg.
“We were a little nervous, it’s about 10 seconds slower but we still got to tomorrow,” Jacobs said. “It was really fun. We just want to go out and compete [in the finals].”
Woodstock coach Steve Erwin looks forward to Streaks boys coach Matt McCulley’s arrival Saturday morning. McCulley was coaching the boys team at the Grayslake Central Sectional Friday night, but works with the distance girls.
“It was most important to get in, we didn’t have to run our absolute best time to do that,” Erwin said.