Big hits, kicks and jumps
The Highland girls track team did not have a major splash, but the six athletes who advanced to the IHSA Class 3A state meet finals Friday-Saturday at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston represented the Lady Bulldogs well.
“I was really pleased and it wasn’t perfect but of the three entries (we had) we got two of them through to Saturday and I thought they both competed really well,” Highland coach Doug Bradley said.
The big finisher was Taylor Kesner, a sophomore shot put and discus thrower who competed in both events at state. She did not make the final cut in the discus, but Kesner — as she had all season long — turned in another strong outing in the shot as she finished in sixth place and medaled in the process.
It was the perfect end to Kesner’s sophomore season, as she medaled in her very first state trip.
“It’s a good feeling to be able to do it in front of the fans there and to have your family there and everything,” Kesner said. “It was fun.”
Kesner sat in fourth place Friday after the first day of throwing and, though she ended up in sixth on Saturday, Bradley was extremely pleased with her two-day effort.
“She is the eighth girl in Highland history to medal in the shot put and that is pretty impressive,” Bradley said. “Taylor’s coach is Tina-Frey Beyer and she won the first two (shot medals), so it’s kind of cool to see that combo do well. I thought Taylor was terrific and all year long we knew she was going to be a (state) competitor.”
Kesner said the biggest challenge for her in the event was calming her nerves so she could focus on making her best throws.
“The hardest thing is like your heart is racing and you know you’re up against all these girls who have been here (at state) before and they know what they are doing, so it was just calming down and focusing on what I had to do,” Kesner said.
Being on the podium was a wonderful feeling for Kesner, and she expects that to be her goal the next two years.
“I’m planning on going (to state) the next few years and I’m excited,” Kesner said.
“The 4x800 team we knew was a dark horse going in and they pulled off a really big upset of Triad on Friday and that got them in at No. 12 on Saturday,” Bradley said.
The 4x800 relay team ended up in 11th place Saturday in the final.
“We would have loved to have gotten ninth place but we ended up 11th and the girls felt like they had done pretty much everything that could to compete in that race but it just wasn’t meant to be.”