Two Orion girls qualify for state track meet
Two members of the Orion varsity girls’ track team advanced to the state meet, which began Thursday, May 19 in Charleston.
Madi Schulenberg and Ashley Anderson qualified for state at the 17-team IHSA Sectional meet in Sherrard on Friday, May 13.
Freshman Schulenberg and junior Anderson will be competing against the best in Illinois at O’Brien Stadium on the Eastern Illinois University campus in Charleston.
For Anderson, advancing to state is nothing new as this will be her third trip to the Eastern Illinois track. Anderson placed first in the 800-meter run at sectionals and her competitive edge propelled her to a time of 2:27, a full second ahead of the next runner.
“She doesn’t like to lose and you can see that in her,” said OHS track coach Jeff Padgett. “When she gets to state, the big thing we’ll have to see out of her is she’s going to have to get out and run early and fast with the lead runners. Because at state they don’t slow down.”
Anderson had the lead from the beginning of the race at sectionals and kept it for the entire first lap. She slipped back to second place for a brief moment on the back straightaway in her second lap, but quickly regained the lead. Anderson kept the lead from there on and finished nearly 10 yards in front of the other competitors.
Anderson’s season-best this season is a 2:22, nearly five seconds faster than what she ran at the cold, windy sectional meet. Padgett feels she has a shot at the finals as long as she can get a quick start in her race.
“I’m not sure if Ashley realizes her full potential yet, and I think once she does, you’re going to find that nothing is going to stop her,” Padgett said. “She can be as good as anybody in the state if she just goes and does it and believes it. She’s got a lot of natural talent and now to develop that if she keeps working at it she could be very, very good.”
Schulenberg qualified in high jump after placing second at sectionals with a jump of 5-foot.
Despite back problems throughout the season, Schulenberg was able to advance to the state meet after re-injuring her back at the West Central Conference meet on Friday, May 6.
“She handled the pressure tonight well,” Padgett said. “With her bad back, she worked through that and that’d be tough to work through. But she got through the pain and she did it.”
After hours of icing in the days leading up to the meet, Schulenberg pushed through the pain in front of a crowd of nearly 20 Charger fans as the field events took place. The scarlet and black faithful were there to cheer her on as she competed against nine other jumpers.
“I think with the background and support of the parents and family in general I would say she’ll continue to work hard,” Padgett said. “It’s going to be fun to watch her go down to state and handle the pressure. It’s exciting, but also nerve-racking. But I think she knows the event well enough that she’ll make any corrections on her own.”
Schulenberg’s confidence has built over the season as she’s gotten her steps and rhythm down throughout the year.
Padgett said the freshman has come on strong toward the end of the year, and her consistency was a major factor of that. Schulenberg will be one of two freshmen competing at the state meet.
Although Schulenberg and Anderson were the only Chargers that qualified, many Orion runners, including sophomore Sophia Maciolek, ran personal bests at sectionals. Maciolek was just one runner short of a trip to Charleston as she placed third with a time of 1:04 in the 400-meter dash.
The 4-by-100-meter relay team of Katie DeBaillie, Sara Marshall, Kiah Kostka and Lindsey Bohl ran a season-best time of 55 seconds. In the last event of the meet, the 4-by-400-meter relay team (DeBaillie, Maciolek, Kostka, Anderson) placed fourth and finished with a time of 4:27.
“I would say overall we ran really well as a team,” Padgett said. “For the most part, everyone ran personal bests tonight, but it’s just tough to finish third or fourth when you don’t make qualifying time.”