Marian Central senior Eve Meintz sensed in preseason workouts that this spring would be different for the Hurricanes girls track and field team.
Meintz saw junior Meaghan Di Pietro had significantly improved through her offseason work. So had Regan Dineen.
Then, there was 5-foot dynamo Dominque Thomas, who wound up a fitting replacement for Brenna Koch, Marian’s top sprinter who graduated last year. Freshman Molly Iden also was impressive.
“I could tell at the beginning because of the newer girls coming in,” Meintz said. “They were challenging all of us. I knew we were going to have a pretty good season.”
Marian was better than “pretty good” as it tied for the Class 2A Woodstock North Sectional championship with Carmel at 78 points on Friday.
And Meintz, who qualified for the IHSA Girls Track and Field State Meet for the third time, will have a lot more company at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium on Friday for the 2A competition. In 2016, Marian’s Mikayla Knuth qualified in the 100-meter high hurdles. Last year, Koch (triple jump) and Abigail Jones (3,200) joined her.
Local state qualifiers
Marengo: Lillie Simons (LJ, TJ, 200), Bailey Bertrand (SP, discus), Jordan Parker (TJ).
Marian Central: Eve Meintz (HJ, PV, 4x100), Dominique Thomas (100, 200, 4x100), Regan Dineen (LJ, 4x100, 4x400), Meaghan Di Pietro (100, 4x100), Molly Iden (4x400), Amelia Awe (4x400), Reagan Kelly (4x400).
Richmond-Burton: Jane Wisniewski (3,200).
Woodstock: Kylie Hagmann (3,200), Syd Heidtke (300LH).
Cary-Grove: Tabor Gleason (HJ, TJ), Jenna Walker (100HH).
Hampshire: Sophia Oury (1,600), Hannah Evinger (HJ).
Huntley: Daryn Davis (100HH, TJ), Kendal Only (TJ), Jenna Belonax (4x100), Sabrina Krog (4x100, 4x200), Ola Oladipo (4x100, 4x200, 4x400), Cassidy Lackovic (4x100, 4x200), Mary Raclawski (800, 4x400), Alex Handchetz (4x200, 4x400), Chloe Smith (HJ, 4x400), McKenzie Krich (HJ), Katie Bessey (SP).
McHenry: Jenna Pauly (100, HJ, PV), Holly Vogt (LJ), Taylor Stebbins (800).
Prairie Ridge: Natasha Schaffer (LJ, TJ), Valerie Tarazi (discus).
Marian will have its largest contingent in several years – seven competitors in seven events – in Charleston this time. The 1A girls compete Thursday, with 2A girls starting Friday morning and 3A girls in the afternoon. Finals in all three classes will be on Saturday.
“I’m real excited to have the whole team there to experience it with me,” said Meintz, who tied for sixth in the high jump last year.
Meintz, who will play soccer and compete in track and field at NCAA Division III Benedictine next year, will try for her third high jump finals and has a shot in the pole vault, where she has cleared 11-0, as well.
“She gets to run too,” Hurricanes coach Andrea Radcliffe said.”She has a lot of support. I think this year, with all the support of her friends, she’ll make the finals (in high jump and pole vault).”
Dineen qualified in the long jump, 4x100 and 4x400, Thomas is in the 100, 200 and 4x100. Dineen, Iden, Reagan Kelly and Amelia Awe will run in the 4x400.
“It’s such a great opportunity for Marian to have all of these kids going,” Thomas said. “I’m really excited. I know I’m in the middle of the (100) pack. I have to get a great start and a good finish. I think I can get it done.”