Cary-Grove senior Paige Groves noticed something with her performances in the discus and shot put this spring.
At the bigger invitationals, Groves kept hitting personal bests, or close to them. Her improvement was gratifying; her consistency was remarkable. She needed to make adjustments … to her personal goals.
“At first, my goal for this year was just to make it to state,” said Groves, who had not previously qualified. “Now that I’ve made it, my goal is to make it into the finals and throw as far as I can and place as well as I can.”
Those aspirations are hardly farfetched as Groves will compete Friday afternoon in the IHSA Girls Track and Field State Meet at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium in Charleston. The Class 1A preliminary competition is on Thursday, with Class 2A girls starting on Friday morning and Class 3A in the afternoon. Finals for all three classes will be on Saturday.
Groves’ throws from last week’s 3A Bartlett Sectional – 39 feet, 11 inches in shot, 123-6 in discus – make her a contender for the 12-person finals in both events. The discus was her personal-best, while her best shot put (40-7 1/2) came at the McHenry County Meet.
Groves is pleased to see all the offseason effort she put in paying off this spring.
“The only way you can get better is showing up to practice and putting in the work for it,” she said. “I came all summer, came in the fall, and then in November through spring break, I was coming in the mornings and throwing with the guys team a couple days a week.”
C-G assistant coaches Patrick Hurley and Craig Ameel could not be happier with Groves’ progress. She will throw at NCAA Division II Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio next year.
“She has an absolute tenacity for practice,” Hurley said. “We’ve been watching her all year get a little bit better at this, a little bit better at this, a little bit better at this, and now it’s all being put together. She’s peaking at the right moment. She doesn’t always know how good she really is.”
Groves looks to former C-G throwers like Josh Freeman, Ricky Hurley and her former teammate Nikki Freeman, last year’s 3A discus state champion, as inspiration.
“It gives me motivation knowing that I have big shoes to fill,” she said. “I look at that as initiative to really work on improving. Nikki had a huge affect, just watching her, seeing how much time she put into practices, in the weight room, just out on her own, not through the school, all the hard work she put in.”
Freeman was one of the first people Groves texted last Thursday when she qualified. Ameel and Hurley figured Groves’ offseason dedication was going to make a difference this season.
“The more time she’s put in, the better,” Ameel said. “She does what she has to do to get there. It’s exciting because for her it’s paid off. It’s real exciting to know she’s reaping the benefits and making a name for herself. That way she realizes it will happen again.”
Of the two throws, Groves prefers shot, but Hurley is proud that she has grown fonder of the discus and has become more proficient there. Hurley knew in warm-ups at the sectional Groves was poised for a big night.
“I looked at one of the other girls and said, ‘Did you see how far that [discus] went?’ ” Hurley said. “She’s putting it together now, it’s the perfect time. It’s been pretty cool to watch.”
GIRLS TRACK AND FIELD
Local State Qualifiers
Marengo: Bailey Bertrand (SP, discus), Jordan Parker (LJ), Lillie Simons (100),
Marian Central: Eve Meintz (HJ, PV), Brenna Koch (TJ), Abigail Jones (3,200).
Richmond-Burton: Megan Curran (SP, discus), Emma Langlois (800), Amy Frisch (800).
Woodstock: Kylie Hagmann (3,200), Kate Jacobs (1,600), Cora Uidl (PV), Syd Heidtke (100HH, 300LH).
Cary-Grove: Tabor Gleason (HJ, TJ), Paige Groves (SP, discus).
Crystal Lake South: Caitlin Bruzzini (1,600, 3,200), Cailey Ciezadlo (200).
Huntley: Daryn Davis (TJ, 100HH), Kendall Only (TJ), McKenzie Krich (HJ), Tyra Miller (100HH, 300LH), Cassidy Lackovic (4x200), Sabrina Krog (4x200), Taryn Sargent (4x200), Alex Handchetz (4x200).
Jacobs: Kyra Cabusao (SP).
McHenry: Holly Vogt (LJ, 200, 4x100, 4x200), Janessa Kruse (4x100, 4x200), Jenna Pauly (4x100, 4x200), Jenna Pauly (4x100, 4x200).
Prairie Ridge: Natasha Schaffer (TJ, LJ), Sam Fisher (PV).