Girls track makes Geneseo proud at State

Claudia Loucks
Ali Rapps finishes second in the 100 high hurdles in a time of 14.92 at the State Track Meet. She also finished third in the 300m hurdles in 4.08. Both races were personal bests for Rapps.
Annie Wirth clears 1.67m to become the Illinois Class 2A State Champion in the high jump.
Ali Rapps, left, Annie Wirth, Addison Pischke and Alison Bowers ran the State Champion 4x400 and 4x200 meet relay teams. The 4x200 meter relay set the school record in a time of 1:42.55.

A pandemic-altered season hasn’t seemed to hinder the athletes on the Geneseo Girls’ Track Team. Fourteen members of the GHS team traveled to Charleston to compete in the IHSA 2A State Finals on Friday, June 11, and captured a second place finish – the best by any girls’ track team in school history.

The Lady Leafs finished with 60 points, just nine points behind first place Chicago Latin. Their efforts gained three event titles, in the high jump, 800 relay and 1600 relay; two second place finishes, in the 100 hurdles and long jump; and two third place finishes, in the 300 hurdles and pole vault.

After receiving the runner-up trophy, Coach Kyle Morey said, “I’m super proud of all the girls on the team. We were seeded for 50 points coming into the day and to get 10 more than that is very hard to do.”

The field event competitors had a strong showing for the Lady Leafs. Annie Wirth, a GHS sophomore, jumped her lifetime best of 5.69 meters to win silver in the long jump.

Moments later Wirth cleared 1.67 meters to become the State High Jump Champion. Teammate Abby Reakes also competed in the high jump.

In the pole vault, Evie Wilson continued her strong season, finishing third with a personal best and school record of vault of 3.39 meters. Hannah Rakestraw placed 15th, clearing 3.04 meters.

Olivia Marshall, a GHS freshman, threw the discus 29.77 meters to finish 17th.

When the running events got underway, temperatures were well into the mid-90’s. The 4x800 relay team of Aver Magerkurth, Jaide Flowers, Phoebe Shoemaker and Esther Brown finished in 15th place with a time of 10:20.

Esther Brown ran her season best time of 2:28.48 in the 800 meter run to place 15th. Addison Pischke sprinted her high school best time of 12.8 seconds to finish 18th in the 100 meter dash.

Ali Rapps started her day off with a second place finish and a new personal best time of 14.92 seconds in the 100 meter hurdles.

The 4x200 relay came next for Geneseo. Pischke ran a strong first leg and passed the baton to Alison Bowers. By the time Bowers handed the baton to third leg Annie Wirth, the Leafs were in the lead. Wirth increased the lead slightly and when the baton came to Rapps, she increased the lead and finished in 1:42.55, nearly two seconds ahead of the rest of the field. The team captured a state title in the relay and shattered the previous school record of 1:43.85.

After anchoring the relay, with less than a 15-minute break, Rapps was back on the track for the 300 meter hurdles. She raced to a third place finish in a personal best time of 46.08 seconds.

In the 4x400 meter relay, the final event of the day, the Leafs ran the same team and order as the 4x200 relay, and the end result was the same – State Champions. Pischke ran a strong first leg. Bowers ran strong as well, but as multiple teams entered the exchange zone at practically the same time, Wirth was somewhat blocked and fell behind a bit. She did a great job of making up ground and getting the Leafs back into a close second behind Peoria Notre Dame by the next exchange. Rapps took the baton just a couple of steps behind Peoria Notre Dame. She surged into the lead with about 300 meters to go and dug deep to fend off a late push by Aurora Rosary. The team completed the race in 4:03.17 less than a half second ahead of Aurora Rosary.

COACH’S COMMENTS:

Coach Kyle Morey said he “couldn’t be more proud of the girls and everything they accomplished this year. Overcoming the challenge imposed by a global pandemic and missing out on the season last year really put things into perspective.

Winning the Western Big6 team title, a third straight Sectional title and a runner-up finish at the State Track Meet is a great way to prove the resiliency of this group of girls. The team finish was made possible by so many selfless acts. Annie (Wirth) and Ali (Rapps) could have decided to focus on trying to set records in their individual events, but instead decided they wanted to help earn team points.

Phoebe Shoemaker and Sierra Krueger were extremely selfless in helping the 4x200m relay advance to State to then be asked to come along as alternates. They both handled that with extreme class and I can’t wait to see them get their shot next year.

We have so much to be proud of with this group of amazingly talented young ladies. I am just so thankful that I am able to be there to enjoy their successes with them.”