Girls 3A State Championship Recap


On-Site Coverage

Charleston, Ill- Franfort Lincoln-Way East won their state championship scoring 79 points to defeat defending champion who scored Edwardsville 68.5 pts.  Glen Ellyn Glenbard West took the final trophy with a third place finish 31 pts.

Lincoln-Way East shed paper champion syndrome-

Lincoln-Way East head coach Caroline Gerritson said it best at the team awards presentation: “paper champions don’t win championships.” She may have been referring to a time when the Griffins had everyone’s thoughts as the best team on paper but only to come up short.  This year’s team was led by the incomparable Aaliyah Brown.  The future Texas A & M Aggie appropriately earned the brand name “The Franchise” because the team went as far she took it.  Brown put the team on her back and sacrificed many individual perks; she anchored two all-time record relays (4x1 and 4x2) and won two open events: 100 and 200 in grand style.

In order to win a true team championship, there has to be elements coming from more than one source.  In the field event arena, sophomore Julia Junkroski (So.) continued her mastery in the pole vault and long jump.  Junkroski breached a personal best 12-0 in the vault to take third place behind solid competitors and 1st and 2nd place finishers Carly Schmidt (Sr., Lake Forest) and McKenzie Kroeschell (Sr., Oak Park-River Forest).  Junkroski completed her job with a fifth place effort in the high jump soaring 5-5.  So, she provided her team 14 points before the sprint crew even laced their spikes.

Emmonnie Henderson adds her name to throws Mt. Rushmore-

Daniella “Dani” Bunch (Mahomet-Seymour), Kelsey Card (Carlinville), and now you can add Emmonnie Henderson (Sr., Edwardsville) to the Mt. Rushmore of shot put and discus throw fame.  Henderson did not have the honor of competing head to head against Bunch or Card either because they were in different classifications or eras.  However, it is safe to say that her stats stack up well against those two dominant throwers.  Henderson has won four shot put state titles and three discus throw championships.  She is also the only putter to heave the metal ball over 50-feet in state competition.  The 50-9.5 finals mark is #2 in state annals.  Bunch threw 51-0.75 at the Cornbelt Conference Meet.

After receiving her shot put medal, Henderson’s thoughts turned to the discus where she sat in second place to Morgan Keller (Sr., Rolling Meadows).  Henderson of her then 146-1 mark in the prelims, “I have been behind going into the finals,” she chuckled.  It was a short time later that she overtook Keller’s 149-7 lead and pushed her winning mark to 156-7.  Keller must have been shook in not being able to improve on the momentum she had.  But champions always seem to find a way to get the job done.

Meet’s top performances-


Winnetka New Trier 9:04.86 [2:19.4, 2:20.2, 2:13.9, 2:10.9]

Summary: the lead off pace went out 67 seconds for the first 400 as all 12 girls were intact.  It was around the 500 mark that Yorkville’s sensational freshman Skylar Bollinger took off and Palatine’s Liz Cox took flight after her.  Bollinger and Cox came home to the transition in 2:16.6 2:17.9. 

Yorkville and Palatine continued their assault on the second leg.  Palatine’s Cassidy McPherson (Jr.) briefly took the lead from Yorkville’s Casey Kramer (Sr.) before giving it back for good going into the next leg.  Kramer held her Lady Fox crew down strong with a sub 2:18 lead.  New Trier came into the title chase picture with Kathleen Keene’s 2:20 carry.

New Trier’s Jessica Ackerman gave chase after Tess Kara Burton of Palatine and Kelsey Leedy of Yorkville.  Ackerman had full control of the race with one lap remaining.  It would be a race for second when she handed off to her twin sister Courtney.  The “Double Trouble” connection raised terror on the competition one final time before graduating.

Courtney Ackerman made sure that Palatine’s Tess Wasowicz would not have a chance in coming back when she blitzed her opening lap in 61-seconds.  It would a total surprise and steal for the Ackerman’s who had never before ran on a state championship relay together.  The winning time of 9:04.86 is the third fastest time in the country.  Palatine 9:12.21 and Yorkville 9:14.12 were no slouches in finishing second and third in the state.  It is quite fitting that the Ackerman twins, who have made so much noise from an individual standpoint on the track, now have their first title together in a relay.

Lincoln-Way East sprint quartet get last laugh-


Alexis Hyshaw (Jr.), Asia Brown (Fr.), Alexis Pierre-Antoine (Fr.), and Aaliyah Brown are rock stars whether you like it or not.  They have earned that title after traveling the country and producing big results.  The Griffins quartet won the Texas Relays 4x100 and 4x200 titles. They also traveled to Penn Relays and set the Illinois all-time best in the 4x1 of 46.10.  It is now fitting that they show off for the state folks at the state meet.

The prelims went well for the Griffins as they ran 46.45 against warm but stiff and swirling wind.  There were only three other teams that broke 48.00.  The final was all business as Lincoln Way East dropped the field after the second exchange and ultimately handed Aaliyah ‘The Franchise’ Brown the lead.  She brought it home nicely in 46.45.

The 4x200 was a little bit more intriguing because each girl needed to make due for not running this event at full strength since Texas.  They competed in the sectional round but their minds weren’t in it.  It was over as soon as Hyshaw handed off to Asia Brown.  Aaliyah got the stick on anchor and went full blast around the final turn and down the final straight as fast as any girl could.  The end result was 1:36.86- another all-time best for IHSA meet purposes as well as any conditions that may concern the masses.

Top meet performances-


Maddie Perez (Jr., Glenbard West) earned two titles the hard way.  First, it was the 3200m won in 10:22.29 [71.8, 2:27.5, 3:43.6, 5:00.9, 6:19, 7:39.5, 9:02, 10:22]- Perez led the entire way and was minimally threatened by Kaylee Flanagan (Sr., Lake Park) 10:34.03 and  Emma Fisher (York) 10:41.42.

Perez showed her iron will in the 1600m when Courtney Ackerman tried to take her title away in the final 200.  Perez would have none of it and neutralized the pesky Ackerman winning in 4:52.24.  Perez’s splits were 73.0, 2:27.2, 3:41.8, 4:52.

Omo Tseumah (Sr., Huntley) has been on the scene in the high jump for several years.  Well, she final got to set on the top of the podium winning in a jump off over defending champion Emma Haugen (So., Lyons Twp)- both jumped 5-8.

Courtney Clayton (Sr., Rockton Hononegah) is a student of her event, the 800m.  She knew that Shelly McBride of Crete-Monee had held on to the record for 29 years dating back to 1984.  She also understood that several girls have tried to go after the 2:07.5 record in a variety of different ways.  Some have went out in blazing efforts to only crash and burn.  A few others have gone the even split row but still come up a bit short.  Clayton tried the reach down deep approach and it worked.  A month before at the Arcadia Invitational in California, she went out fast in 62 seconds and well ahead of the field.  Although she didn’t run 2:07 or even win, she knew what 2:07 felt like.

This time she led from the gun and raced out to the front to avoid any traffic or trip ups.  No one went with her as she hit the first 400 in 61.1.  She was fully committed and could not turn back now.  The 600 was hit in 1:33.1 and squarely on course for 2:05 or 2:06 pace.  Clayton used the crowd as her inspiration as she headed home in good form and not yet tying up.  She hit the finish in in 2:07.05.  Her thoughts from a day before indicated that she was ready. “My first goal is the 800 and Shelly McBride’s record,” she said.  And she was right.

Other top performances-

Brittany Ellis (So., Gurnee Warren) won her second straight 400m title over Cameron Pettigrew (Sr., Chicago Payton) 54.34-54.84.  Ellis’ effort was pretty much identical to last year when she stormed out to a commanding lead and then hold on strong for the win.  Parker English, junior, from Evanston placed third in 55.48.  The ninth place finisher was Anthonia Moore (Sr., Huntley) in a very good 57.07.

Brenna Detra (Sr., Peoria Richwoods) completed her fine IHSA career by winning the 300H in 42.76 over Emma Spagnola (Jr., West Aurora) who ran to a personal best 42.98.  Detra returned to her bread and butter event. She didn’t run it last year due to a foot injury.

Alexus Jimson-Miller (Sr., Danville) won the 100H in 14.12 (nwi).  She will now head off to the Miami-Ohio University in the fall.

The 4x400 relay was a real treat to end the IHSA season.  St. Charles East held on to win in 3:50.07- a school record for the quartet of Elizabeth Chmelik (So.), Jordan Shead (Jr.), Allison Chmelik (So.), and Brittney Williams (Sr.).  Williams held off a hard charging Ni’Jia McNamee (So.) from Belleville West.  The Maroons pulled away from Lincoln-Way East 3:50.19-3:50.86- school records for both schools.  Chicago Lane Tech made the finals for the first time and did not disappoint by earning the 4th spot- 3:55.27.  It was a great consolation prize and redemption for the Indians quartet that finished last in the 4x800 relay earlier.



3A IL Girls Prelims Postgame Show