CHARLESTON – Karina Liz wanted to make a statement.
The Aurora Central Catholic sophomore did just that by running the best 800-meter time in Class 2A during her preliminary race at the IHSA State Track Meet on Friday. Liz kicked it in during the final 100 meters to finish in 2:12.69 seconds, nearly three seconds faster than the next best time and more than a second faster than her sectional qualifying time.
“I wanted to show people I am capable of more,” said Liz, who's hoping to break 2:10 in today's final at Eastern Illinois University's O'Brien Stadium. “I was really just trying to qualify, but then when I saw my split [at 400 meters], I thought, 'Just keep it up. Don't slow down.'”
Liz was among the more than 20 local athletes to qualify for today's finals in classes 2A and 3A.
Senior Lauren Zick is among 10 Kaneland athletes set to race in today's finals. A few weeks ago, Zick rolled her ankle around a turn, which made it difficult to even walk. As a result, she was unable to compete during sectionals.
On Friday, though, Zick was eligible to compete on Kaneland's 4x100 relay team, running anchor for a squad that clocked the second best time in Class 2A after shaving exactly one second off its sectional time to finish in 49.13 seconds. Freshman Carly Elliot, sophomore Allie Heinzer and freshman Nicole Sreenam ran the opening legs. Chicago's Noble Street Charter Johnson finished .71 seconds ahead.
“My ankle is not strong enough to run a curve yet, so I ran the straight instead,” Zick said. “It's a different race coming back from an injury.”
Zick isn't the only local athlete dealing with an injury. Krista Fitzmaurice, a senior from St. Charles East, has battled sinus and ear infections, anemia and four broken metatarsal bones. The physical therapy three times a week healed her foot, meaning that the only thing Fitzmaurice needs to worry about is her lungs.
“I could have walked off, and I wanted to so many times because it's frustrating,” Fitzmaurice said. “But then I had to think about [state] finals last year and it gave me chills.”
The future Illinois State runner will run in the 4x800 in today's Class 3A finals after teaming with Torree Scull, Anastasia Honea and Corrin Adams to finish eighth overall in 9:23.21 seconds.
East junior Allison Chmelik qualified in three events – triple jump (36 feet, 9.5 inches), 4x100 (48.49), and 4x400 (3:55.26). She ran the third leg on the 4x100 squad that included senior Kim Abels, senior Jordan Shead and junior Elizabeth Chmelik, and ran the second leg for a 4x400 team that included sister Elizabeth, Shead and freshman Casey McNichols.
“Time dropped like it should, and I think we accomplished our main objectives today,” East coach Tim Wolf said. “The goal was to get to the next day. We are enjoying the moment.”
Also advancing to the 2A finals individually for Kaneland were Christina Delach, who vaulted 9 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault; freshman Maddie Keifer, who leapt 5 feet in the high jump; senior Sarah Nyaeeme, who leapt 36 feet in the triple jump; Sreenam, who ran 12.6 seconds in the 100 and 46.44 seconds in the 400.
Kaneland's 4x200 team of sophomore Olivia Galor, freshman Becca Richtman, Heinzer and Elliott clocked 1:45.46 to advance, as did the 4x400 team of Galor, Sreenam, senior Sydney Strang and sophomore Allie Heinser in 4:02.26.
Rosary advanced sophomore Madison Ronzone in the 1,600 in 5:07.87 and the 4x800 team of senior Emily Bakala, sophomore Shea Vero, junior Emily Martin and sophomore Madison Ronzone in 9:39.85.
In Class 3A, Shead was among five other St. Charles East athletes to advance by running 55.75 in the 400 while Scull ran 5:06.26 in the 1,600.
Foster Ignoffo will be Geneva's sole representative today after running 57.71 in the 400.