CHARLESTON | Illiana Christian would love to be in today's final in the 3,200-meter relay.
But, when your relay team sets the school record in the event, it is tough to be upset.
"The competition this year was top notch," Illiana Christian head coach Deb Top said. "We worked extremely hard and are happy to have the school record."
Illiana Christian finished 16th in the Class 2A prelims in 9 minutes, 40.3 seconds. Kristen Brink, Lauren Brink, Monica Smits and Alexa Beezhold also held the old mark of 9:50.4, set at last year's state finals.
To make this year's finals, a time of 9:40.2 or faster would have been needed. A total of 12 teams advanced.
"We made up our minds that was the time we were shooting for," said Beezhold, the anchor leg. "We just went for it. If that was good enough to get in the finals, that would have been great. It was a great performance, and we were all extremely happy."
Illiana Christian also had one individual entrant. Ariel Peevy finished 20th in the discus (95 feet). Pontiac freshman Ashley Harfst grabbed the final qualifying spot (111-8).
Crete also close: Crete-Monee's 1,600 relay team of Loucreasha Smith, Chasity Powell, Latris Daniels and Tineja Foy missed the state finals by less than two seconds and two places, finishing 11th in 4:00.02.
Edwardsville took the last spot (3:58.62).
"I thought that time would be good enough," Daniels said. "I wanted a chance to run in the finals. We came in last year as the 36th-place team and we left as the 12th-place team. That gave us a jolt of confidence and made us believe that we could get into the finals."
The good news is the team could return next year, since no member is senior. Foy, a sophomore, was also 20th in the 300 low hurdles (47.43).
Other local entries: Pedra Hicks, a Thornridge sophomore, finished 26th in the Class 2A 300 hurdles in 50.67.
Ivory Cassell, a Bloom Township junior, took 20th in the triple jump by leaping 35-10 1/4.
Homewood Flossmoor's 1,600-meter relay team of Christin Salley, Cortney Cross, Ima Eno and Isabella Jimenez was 18th (4:02.94).
"We lost one of our top competitors (Jayla Stewart) to an injury," said H-F coach Rob Assise. "To accomplish this without her is unbelievable. We got six of seven events through."