Herald Staff Report
CHARLESTON, Ill. -- A successful track season was capped by a second place performance for Erie/Prophetstown on Saturday at the Illinois Class1A girls track and field state meet.
The Panthers entered the final race, the 1,600-meter relay, two points behind Moweaqua Central A&M. The teams finished 1-2 in the race to give Central A&M the 60-56 margin of victory.
E/P coach Don Robinson spent the week giving several talks to the athletes. The team’s motto is: “Giving it all, it seems to me, is not so far from victory.” By placing in the top two, Robinson said his girls gave it their all.
“They competed until the very end,” he said. “(In) this meet, some things don’t go the way you want, but you have to hang in there. Because if you get too emotionally disturbed or upset, it’s hard to bounce back. It’s a lot of bouncing back ...”
Paige Rus earned first place in the triple jump, ending her senior season on a high note and achieving her goal to be among the best in the state. Including relays and the high jump, she earned four medals.
“It brings tears to my eyes. It’s such a feeling of accomplishment,” Rus said. “The best feeling of accomplishment is when you have made sacrifices for an ultimate goal that isn’t guaranteed. That’s what I’ve done this whole year. It paid off.”
Rus sealed the triple jump title on Thursday with a leap of 36 feet, 9.5 inches. That mark carried over into Saturday and remained at the top. She joined her sister Peyton in a third-place finish in the 800 relay and helped fuel the ,team to second place on the second leg. Rus also placed fourth in the high jump, clearing 5-4.
Peyton Rus, Heather Strike and sisters Courtney and Rachel Cobert also earned gold in the 400-meter relay. Their time of 49.20 seconds edged Aurora Christian by .51 seconds. This victory also keyed the runner-up finish; had the teams been flipped, Aurora Christian and E/P would’ve tied for second in the team standings.
Rachel Cobert said it was the result of late-season adjustments. The girls changed the handoff steps.
“The first time (we made adjustments) it took off two seconds, and we just kept going down from there,” she said.
Freshmen tandem Rachel Cobert and Peyton Rus also earned individual medals. Cobert was among the finalists with the older Rus in the triple jump, where she placed sixth at 35-1.5. Peyton Rus made the cut in the 200-meter dash, where she finished third at 26.04.
“That race was unbelievable,” Peyton Rus said. “I was seeded fourth, and I knew I had a little more in me. This is the best day ever. Our team is so great.”
Her sister added, “Getting second in state -- that’s the biggest accomplishment for our school.”
The Panthers will only lose one medalist -- Paige Rus -- to graduation.
“It was a great, fun day,” Robinson said. “I think we will be knocking on the door in the future.”
Chad Dare, sports editor of the Danville (Ill.) Commercial-News, a CNHI sister newspaper, contributed to this report.