GIRLS TRACK — Thursday’s Class 3A sectional will live long in the memory at Loyola, and not just because of the summer-like weather.
Running on their home track, the Ramblers captured the program’s first sectional crown, and did so in emphatic fashion. Loyola scored 113, finishing well ahead of second-place Evanston (77) and Niles West (73).
Of course, the sectional is all about athletes punching their ticket for this week’s IHSA Class 3A State Meet in Charleston, and the Ramblers had plenty of qualifiers, as well.
“It was a great meet overall. (Winning a sectional) was not necessarily our goal,” coach ChrisJon Simon said. “(Our first priority) was to qualify athletes in as many events. We had the most qualifiers we’ve ever had.
“The weather has been tough all spring, and (the day of the sectional) was almost too hot. But we had a plan for how the girls were going to go from event to event, and they followed the plan and handled the heat really well.”
The meet started well for the Ramblers, as senior Katie Simons won the pole vault (personal record 9-feet-3). Sophomore Stacey Weaver also had a personal record (8-9, 3rd), though missed advancing.
Ramblers senior Bridget Doyle qualified with a second-place finish in the high jump (4-11).
Loyola then opened the running portion of the competition by winning the 3,200 relay with a program-record 9:28.25. That team included junior Karlie Slowiak, sophomore Maddy Fassett, senior Natalie Kaminski and freshman Jackie McDonnell.
Later, the Ramblers would close out the meet by qualifying in the 1,600 relay (2nd, 4:01.97). That group featured McDonnell, sophomore Jenny Franzen, Slowiak and senior Rachel Price.
Loyola’s sprint relays also were in top form, both running best times of the season. Both finished second to Evanston, and will be heading Downstate.
The team of junior Mary Kate Clifford, junior Debbie Mokeleba, senior Brittany Nino and senior Agnes Aniol was second in the 400 relay (49.53), while Clifford, Mokeleba, senior Julia Jamieson and Aniol were the runners-up in the 800 relay (1:448.38).
“The sprint relays were outstanding. We knew Evanston was at a higher level, but we told the girls to fight for second and get Downstate,” Simon said. “(The relays) have really gelled together, (Aniol) has come out of the shadows and loves anchoring, which is great.”
Aniol, who will be heading to her first State Meet, said the brutal conditions the team faced most of the spring may ultimately have worked for the Ramblers.
“I think it was almost better because if you train in harsh weather and then you get a good day (like at sectional), you’re times go up,” she said.
Individually, Loyola’s Mokeleba qualified in the 200 meters (2nd, 26.08) and both Price (1st, 2:17.51) and McDonnell (2:17.71) are heading to Charleston in the 800 meters.
“Price is the best athlete on the team and (McDonnell) doesn’t run like a freshman,” Simon said.
Simon said he is just hoping for the best from his athletes at State, which begins Friday morning at Eastern Illinois’ O’Brien Field.
“I don’t want to set expectations too high. There is not a lot of pressure on the kids,” Simon said. “We just want them to perform well on Friday to have an opportunity to race (in the finals) on Saturday.”
The Ramblers (120.5) finished second to Brother Rice (133) in Saturday’s Chicago Catholic League Meet at Loyola.
Loyola had two winners: senior Mac Ford in the 3,200 (9:39.20) and junior Tim Norwood in the triple jump (42-5).
Also, Mac Ford was fourth in the 1,600 (4:27.83), junior Will Hague was second in the 3,200 (9:42.08 ), junior Todd Ford came in third in the 3,200 (9:44.85) and third in the 1,600 (4:27.56) and junior Ryan Santacrose was fifth in the long jump (20-0).