The Highland High School girls track and field team had a banner day, advancing in four events through the IHSA Class 2A Rochester Track and Field Sectional on Friday, despite having to persevere through a three-hour weather delay in a meet that did not finish until midnight.
Qualifying for Highland for the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Track and Field Finals — to be held May 20-21 at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston — were the 4 x 800 relay team, junior Polly Czar in the shot put, sophomore Rece Portell in the 800, and sophomore Alyssa Freimann in the 400.
“Our girls had an incredible meet,” Highland coach Erin Cotto said. “A big shout out goes to my girls. The meet that never ends gave us four state-qualifying events. Overall, they had an impressive meet. I’m excited to see what next week brings.”
An individual or relay team qualifies for state by either meeting the time or distance standard or by placing in the top-two spots in that event.
The Bulldogs placed second in all four events to make the cut for state.
“I am so happy we all qualified last night,” Highland senior Allison Zobrist said. “We qualified as many people as we did in 2014, and I couldn’t be more proud of all of the girls.”
4 x 800
The 4 x 800 relay team started the momentum rolling for Highland as Zobrist, junior Sarah Beth Wiegman, sophomore Rece Portell and freshman Kate Marti joined forces to clock the second best team time at 9:47.54, which was just slightly more than 3 seconds behind Rochester’s winning team time of 9:44.25.
“The 4 x 8 team looked strong in their race, running a new season best 9:47.54, which was only 9 seconds off the school record,” said Cotto, in reference to the time posted two years ago at state by the team of Zobrist, Weigman, Emily Holtzclaw and Jayden Shelton en route to garnering the seventh-place medal in the event.
Zobrist said the 4 x 800 was definitely just a race between her team and Rochester.
“Third place was really far back,” the senior said. “I started to pull away from Rochester’s Katherine Petty on the back stretch of the second lap, but she passed me up during the last 100 meters. We still secured a state qualifying place and an amazing time. I can’t wait for prelims on Friday, and I know if we give it our all, we have a shot of going on to finals and possibly breaking the school record again.”
Czar had a breakout sectional meet. She could not have picked a better time to achieve a personal record in the shot put, heaving the round ball 36 feet, 2 inches to earn the second-place medal. Her mark was only 9.50 inches behind the sectional-winning throw of 36-11.50 by freshman Madelyn Daiber of Greenville.
“Me and Abby (Beyer) have been working really hard the past week and the whole season,” said Czar, who also recorded a PR in the discus at 105-8. “I’ve been working on my own, too, and it’s a great opportunity to be a part of. It was a race in the finals. I was second for the whole time, and the second throw of finals, the girl behind me from Taylorville threw a 35-7, and I was very angry. I got in the zone and focused and put all I had in my second throw and threw 36-2. I ended up second, which is great. And I scratched my last throw, but it’s okay, because I got a PR, which is amazing.”
In addition for Greenville, senior Taylor Kalous was the champion in the discus with a heave of 124-6.
After getting it done with her teammates in the 4 x 800, Portell bounced back strong in the 800 to post a 2:25.43, which was just .72 of a second behind sectional champion East Alton-Wood River senior Haley Kerpan’s winning time of 2:24.71.
“Rece had a phenomenal race to the finish, beating the Sacred Heart girl by .01 of second to qualify,” Cotto said.
Then all of the competitors had to wait out a three-hour rain delay. Freimann competed in the second race out after the delay, but the grueling delay did not deter her from laying down a speedy second-place time of 1:02.24.
“Alyssa looked smooth during her race, beating Kiara Chapman (Jerseyville) at the line to qualify for state,” Cotto said.
Other sectional qualifiers
At the Class 2A Mascoutah Sectional, Triad had senior twin sisters Allison Richer (shot put and discus) and Abigail Richter (800) as well as senior Gabby Arbas (pole vault) qualify for state.
Arbas joined current University of Wisconsin standout Claire Buck as Triad athletes who have won sectional titles in the pole vault. Arbus, who won the event over Freeburg sophomore Stephanie Jacobs, because of fewer misses, clered the bar at 10 feet, 7 inches.
Allison Richter finished second in both the shot put (42-5.25) and the discus (126-5) while Abigial Richter qualified on time (2:21.91) after finishing fourth in the 800.
At the Class 1A Spart Sectional, Mater Dei senior Taylor Padak, a Highland native, was the champion in the high jump after clearing the bar at 5-0.
Also qualifying for the Knights from Breese was junior Megan Deimeke in the shot put (35-0.75).