1A Girls State Championship Recap: Illini West Takes Title On Final Event

Illini West pulled won the championship by taking the 4x4 (Sabrina Mendoza photo)


Illini West High School formerly known as Carthage won its first girls state championship. This is a big deal to the Hancock County community whose school which has only been in existence since 2007. The Chargers were trailing Jamaica (Sidell) 47-42 going into the final event (4x4 relay). They won in 3:59.92 and the 10 points propelled the well rounded Chargers attack to 52 points. Sullivan squeezed by defending champion Aurora (Christian) 40-29 to earn the third place trophy.

  • The nation's top ranked shot putter Kathleen "KD" Young (So., Warrensburg-Latham) has stamped herself into a house hold name in this sport. Young, who has traveled around the country to compete in the best meets, won her second title in a row with a solid 48-10.25. She improved from the 47-10 prelim mark on Thursday. Young was all smiles in winning her title. "I'm just having so much fun here; I love having the bulls-eye target on my back," she said while waiting for her medal ceremony and acknowledging that she is indeed the #1 shot put thrower in the United States. Young later swept the throws taking the discus throw with a 143-11 toss.
  • Luther North High School is located on the northwest side of Chicago in a quiet, tight-knit neighborhood. Several years ago the doors of the private institution almost closed permanently. On Saturday things changed for the better for the Wildcats who won two relays. The first one was the overthrowing of defending champion in the 4x1 with a solid 49.27. The second set of gold medals were earned in the 4x2 in a near record breaking time of 1:42.84. The established standard set by Sullivan in 2012 (1:42.82) hangs on for another year. The Wildcats will return three sophomores and a junior. Among the quartet to watch for is sophomore emerging star Jada Williams.
  • The Illinois State University bound Amanda McClain completed her storied IHSA track and field career with three victories. McClain started her day by taking the long jump 18-8.5 over fellow senior standout athlete Tessa Holland (Fieldcrest). McClain later won the 400m in a classification record 55.18 out of lane 8. It should be noted that McClain ran on the 4x2 just prior to taking the blocks in her individual race. McClain's final race of her high school career was the 200. This is one title that she perhaps wanted more than any because her best finish was fifth as a sophomore. McClain scooted for the victory in 25.32 against a nasty headwind.

  • One of the state's best 800m runners in Cassie Mundekis (above photo by Dan Chamness; Sr., Midwest Central) did not clock a time anywhere near what she is capable of, but United States Military Academy bound runner won her third title in a row in 2:15.52. Mundekis seemed to coast during several parts of the race and only appeared interested in racing hard on the homestretch. Perhaps it was knowing that she had to run the 400 later where she finished second.
  • Anna Sophia Keller (So., Effingham St. Anthony) won two more titles but the task was much more difficult than a year ago. Keller endured a trying season battling hip issues which kept her from getting in quality training in from time to time. Keller battled Daly Galloway (So., Dwight) stride for stride until finally shaking her just prior to the bell lap. Keller won 10:42.93-10:46.97. Later in the day Keller needed a furious closing kick to hold off Maria Brauer (Jr., Petersburg-Porta) 5:03.19-5:03.45.
  • Although Jamaica (Sidell) competed well as a squad, it was Jenny Kimbro who stood tall for her team. Kimbro broke both hurdles classification records. The first was the 100HH which was a swift 14.23 by the Salt Fork junior. Kimbro later took down the old record that stood since 2003 with an IL#1 42.84. Kimbro indicated earlier in the season that she wanted to go under 43-seconds.
  • Morgan Zacharias (Sr., Reed-Custer) continued a great tradition of girls pole vaulting in recent years. The University of Louisville bound Zacharias won the Illinois Top Times indoor crown and followed things up with a classification record 13-3. But she wasn't done. She asked the bar be raised up to 13-5- a clearance which would have established the all-time best. Zacharias just missed clearing the height.