KANKAKEE | Pedra Hicks doesn’t think she belonged at the IHSA Class 2A state meet.
Her performance at the 2A Kankakee Sectional on Thursday said otherwise.
The 15-year old Thornridge talent hustled out a second-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles (47.30) to secure her first trip to Charleston for the Class 2A meet May 17-18 at O’Brien Field.
One who was expected to qualify, didn't.
Illiana Christian senior Victoria Archie spent the last week battling acute upper respiratory and sinus infections, which included stays in a hospital. Archie failed to qualify in any of her events Thursday.
“It’s tough because I just feel so weak and so tired,” Archie said during the meet. “I just returned to practice yesterday, and I just feel like I never really got a chance to get back into the swing of things before today.”
Hicks, competing in her first full season of track and field, has had trouble staying confident all season. And with rain and wind in large supply, Hicks wasn’t sure she could punch her ticket to state.
“I’m always nervous because I don’t feel like I can compete with the upperclassmen,” Hicks said. “I didn’t even want to run the hurdles at the beginning of the year, because I didn’t think I could do this.
“But coach [Tashanna Catron] believed in me, and that has really helped me up my game a lot.”
Hicks left Kankakee as Thornridge’s lone state qualifier, but Catron found a silver lining in that development.
“Not entirely how I was hoping for this day to go,” Catron said. “But on the bright side, I have a very strong competitor going down to state, and I couldn’t be more proud of her.
“Pedra and I bumped heads at the beginning of the year because she beat herself up so much before running races. But I think she’s finally starting to realize that she can compete and has a shot to win state.”
Hicks was .04 seconds shy of winner Destini Artis of Hillcrest.
Joining Hicks at the 2A meet next week will be a handful of Illiana Christian competitors.
The Vikings’ 3200-meter relay team got the momentum going when twin sisters Kristen and Lauren Brink, along with Monica Smits and Alexa Beezhold, qualified with a time of 9:54.60 to nab third place behind Lincoln-Way West.
Senior thrower Ariel Peevy will also be making her first trip to the state competition after posting a throw of 102 feet, 4 inches in the discus. Another competitor that believed a berth at the state meet was a pipe dream, Peevy is still keeping her sights set on modest goals heading into next Friday.
“I just wanted to throw 110 feet this year because that’s the school record,” Peevy said. “And that’s still what I plan to do at state. That would be a success for me.”
Despite the unfortunate turn of events for Archie, Illiana Christian coach Deb Top was pleased with the Vikings’ performance as they placed fifth overall with 57 points.
“Everyone fought hard today, and the girls really exceeded my expectations,” Top said. “I’m very upset about Victoria, because I just don’t think she was herself today. But overall, as a team, I’m excited for what we did here, and can’t wait to see how it translates to the state meet.”