While the Triad High girls track and field team ruled the Mississippi Valley Conference Championships for the 10th straight year, it was Highland senior Jayden Shelton who put the exclamation point on a regular season in which she pretty much owned her competition among the distance runners in Southern Illinois.
Nine days after sweeping the 3,200 and 1,600 at the Madison County Championships, Shelton grabbed gold as the conference champion in the sport’s two longest events last Thursday at Triad High School in Troy.
Shelton said the 3,200 went as planned where she would run with a pack of about four runners before pulling away later on.
In sunny and hot conditions, Shelton won with an eight-lap time of 12:15.50, which was comfortably almost eight seconds ahead of runner-up Whitney Liefer of Waterloo (12:23.24), but was 35 seconds slower than the time (11:50.42) she posted in winning the event nine days earlier at the Madison County meet at Collinsville High.
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“I hate leading so I usually try to stay behind someone, but no one was willing to take the lead so I capitalized on the position I guess,” Shelton said. “I definitely went easy on the first mile of the two-mile. Coach (Tyler) Weis usually tells me if I need to kick or not. But it was hot, everyone was tired and the times were so unusual so he said wait on the kick. So, I didn’t kick.”
Shelton admitted that she got sick in between races and felt a little shaky. But before the 1,600 commenced, the temperatures subsided some and a cooler breeze began to blow. Her time may have reflected the less intense heat as she posted a winning four-lap time 5:35.00, which was nine seconds out in front of Liefer (5:44.13) and only a smidge over seven seconds behind her winning time (5:27.81) at Collinsville.
“Oh yeah, it felt a lot better than the two-mile,” she said. “And the time between the two is pretty short, but I think one thing I have gotten better at is rebounding this year because last year we didn’t have as much training in the offseason. So, I can really see the difference in my rebound runs.
Highland’s next best individual finisher in multiple events was senior Megan Hundsdorfer, who snagged the third-place medal in both hurdle races. She crossed the finish line in the 300-meter low hurdles with a PR time of 53.45 and finished the 100-meter high hurdles in 18.40.
“I was a little bit stressed for my races,” Hundsdorfer admitted. “It was a tricky day because I had fallen on Monday so I still have a big gash on my leg that was still pretty tender, and it was also the seniors last day of school so there were a lot of emotions going around. So I ran the 100s and placed pretty well even though my time wasn’t the best and I knew if I wanted to get a better time in the 300s that I would have to be more positive about it. So, I just did my best and ended up getting a personal record.”
Also placing in the top six in multiple individual events for Highland were: sophomore Sarah Beth Wiegman, third place in the 3,200 (12:28.62) and fourth in the 1,600 (5:51.96); freshman Rece Portell, third in the 800 (PR time of 2:30.06) and sixth in the high jump (4-6); and senior Bailey Leitschuh, fourth in the long jump (15 feet, 4.50 inches), fourth in the triple jump (32-2.50) and sixth in the 100 (13.83).
Placing in the top six in one individual event for HHS were: freshman Alyssa Freimann, third in the 400 (1:04.58); junior Allison Zobrist, fourth in the 800 (2:35.25); freshman Polly Czar, fifth in the shot put (30-3.50); freshman Brenna Maas, fifth in the 100 hurdles (18.58);
“I am impressed with their overall running today, and the field events were great. We had a lot of PRs today so now we just need to focus on sectionals,” said Highland coach Erin Cotto, whose team is scheduled to compete today at the Springfield Southeast Sectional. “It has been an incredible season. I work with a great group of athletes so I feel blessed. And we have a blast together.”
In the team competition, Triad used their talent and depth to pick up points throughout the meet, which was held on their home track, and run their dominant streak as MVC champions to a decade straight.
Triad finished with 150 points, comfortably ahead of second-place Waterloo, which recorded 96 points. Jerseyville (91), Mascoutah (90), Highland (85) and Civic Memorial (9) rounded out the field.
“There is a culture of winning here now,” said Triad coach Brian Weiss, who has been Triad’s coach for nine of the 10 titles. “And it’s been created by the girls. They expect to win. They expect to do well. They expect to be at their best at the end of the season.”
Triad had two athletes garner a pair first-place finishes.
Junior Allison Richter won both the shot put (41-10) and discus (118-8). Senior Allie Simmons was second in both events to earn the Knights 36 points in just events.
In the sprints, senior Jenniba Johnson swept both the 100 (12.91) and 200 (26.82).
Also for the Knights, enior Claire Buck was second in the 100 and fifth in the 200. Buck, who usually stars in the pole vault, but the MVC doesn’t offer the pole vault as part of its conference championship.
Abigail Richter, the twin sister of Allison, won the 800 for Triad with a time of 2:26.24.
The Knights also captured the 4 x 100 relay in 51.43 with the Richter twins, junior Payten Walsh and Buck making up the winning foursome.
The Lady Bulldogs rested several athletes and therefore ended up placing fourth out of five teams on Monday of last week. Jerseyville finished with a team score of 125 points, which easily outdistanced runner-up and host Mascoutah (78) for the team title.
Rounding out the meet were: Okawville (59), Highland (51) and Madison (18).
Leitschuh scored Highland’s only win on the day as she claimed the triple jump title with a season-best mark of 35-3. She also placed in the 100 (13.36) and fourth in the long jump (15-3.5) in her first time doing it.
Also placing for the Lady Bulldogs were: Czar, second in the discus (82-3) and fourth in the shot put (29-2); Wiegman, third in the discus (82-0); freshman Sydney Nyquist, second in the 1,600 (7:05.2); Sutterfield, third in the 100 (13.25); Freimann, fourth in the 200 (29.5) and fourth in the high jump (3-10); and sophomore Sarah Jansen, fifth in the 800 (2:55.1).
At the Nashville invite on April 30, Highland competed well en route to tying for fourth place out of 19 teams.
Chester was the team champion with a final team score of 102 points. Carterville finished second at 70, Freeburg was third at 69 while Highland and Breese Central tied for fourth at 45 to round out the top-five teams at the 19-team event.
Leitschuh again scored the team’s lone first-place medal after leaping to a winning distance of 33-9.5 in the triple jump. She also placed fourth in the 100 (13.18).
Shelton and Wiegman doubled up on points in the 1,600 after Shelton crossed the finish line in second place at 5:30.30 and Wiegman was not far behind in third place at 5:36.17. Red Bud junior Keri Burmester won the event with a time of 5:26.34.
Highland’s 4 x 800 relay squad of Zobrist, Shelton, Wiegman and Portell seized second place with a solid team time of 10:28.60.
Hundsdorfer also had another strong performance, nabbing the third-place medal in the 100 hurdles with a PR time of 17.32.
In addition, Freimann, placed sixth in the 400 with a PR time of 1:03.99.