ERIE, Ill. –The Fulton girls track team braved the conditions for their chance at the Illinois High School State Track & Field meet at Erie High School on Thursday afternoon, and came away glad they did.
The Steamers finished with a total of seven qualifiers in eight events for next weeks’ meet in Charleston. The Steamers will have a 4x100 relay, an 800-meter runner, shot put, discus, high jump, triple jump and two long jumpers.
The cold and windy afternoon started off with an expected qualifier. Last year’s shot put champion Chloe Lindeman will be back to defend her title after launching the shot over 45 feet Thursday to easily win the field. Lindeman doubled up her state chances by taking sixth overall in the discus and hitting the qualifying standards.
Then, both Julia Lehman and Kearra Kohrt qualified in the long jump. Kohrt qualified first, smashing the qualifying distance and breaking her own school record. Kohrt finished second in the field as well with her leap of 17-02.
"I was really nervous today," Kohrt said. "I just went out and hit it. It was pure utter joy when I saw I broke the school record. I instantly felt happiness when I saw the 17 mark, and when he said it I threw my hands up in the air."
Lehman jumped in the first flight, and stood unsure while she waited for her distance. The announcement of 16-04.50 resulted in lots of smiles and some celebration from the watching Steamers.
"It felt so good," Lehman, who also qualified last year as a sophomore, said. "It felt really good to get it on my first jump, that's what I wanted to do. When I was doing my run-throughs I was behind the board, so I wasn't sure."
Lehman chose not to jump again after qualifying, leaving her an eighth-place finish overall.
Sydney Norman kept the trend going just across the way in the high jump pit. She cleared the bar at 5-00 to qualify, leading to cheers from friends and family.
Daekota Knott rounded out the impressive field event performance with a second place finish in the triple jump. Knott won the Illinois TopTimes meet earlier this year, and will be going into the state meet as one of the top seeds. She jumped 35-10 on Thursday night in questionable conditions.
"I would have like to jump a little bit better, but it's really cold," Knott said.
Sweeping state berths in the field events was impressive enough, but the Steamers definitely weren’t done for the night. The cold and win didn't seem to phase middle distance runner Emily Schipper, who clinched her second consecutive state berth in the open 800 with a time of 2:25, winning the event decidedly.
The thrill of the night came in the 4x100. The relay had been doing well, but was off by just a little throughout most of the season. With Daekota Knott all of a sudden running the event, for the first time mind you, the Steamers pulled off a second place finish and got a trip to the Blue Oval.
That group is Alyjah Carter, Daekota Knott, Kearra Kohrt and Julia Lehman.
"We really wanted it," Kearra Kohrt, one of the relay members said. "We worked on hand offs over and over again at practice, she [Daekota Knott] came in at the last second and we all really wanted it."
"It was so exciting just to be in the top few," Knott said. "I think we really pushed ourselves and it was really, really exciting."
To top it all off, the Steamers took fourth overall as a team at the meet.
The state meet takes place Thursday, May 16 through the May 18 at O’Brien Field in Charleston, Ill. The Clinton Herald will have stories on some of the state competitors throughout the week.