IHSA 3A Girls State Championship Recap: Event By Event

4x800: The question all week leading up to the finals was "Will Prospect load their 4x8 for the finals?" After a contentious prelim, the answer would be no. The Knights got it started with senior Cameron Kalaway attacking the first lap as most leadoff legs do. In Prospect's case, it was both feet on the accelerator and making sure to crush the will of its opponents, and especially Normal Community's Allison Ince lurking on anchor. Kalaway's 2:15.90 was more than three seconds faster than anyone in the field. The lead continued to mount for the Knights who coasted home in 9:07.46. 

4x100: How fast would the final be after seeing Kenwood blaze a state leading 46.66 in their Friday prelim? With a determined star senior Asia Thomas on anchor, all that needs to go right are the transitions and handoffs. And they did. The Broncos were unchallenged as they won in 47.13 to Huntley's retooled 47.97.

3200: This did not have the all-time thrilling feeling as the Tatum David one from 2A, but there was cause for a possible classification record by defending champion Grace Schager (Sr., Carol Stream Glenbard West). Schager hit the first mile in 5:01 which would have done the trick and was plausible because she is an even split runner. Also, Rachel Soukup (Sr., Crystal Lake Prairie Ridge) was just a step back in 5:02. The record talk for both runners was over after laps of 78,78, and high laps. Schager held on for the win in 10:15.81. Soukup ran a personal best for second with a time of 10:16.61. All nine all-staters including the 10th place finisher were under 10:50. In fact, all 25 finishers were under 11:45 which is a cumulative record.

100H: After running 14.53 in her prelim, freshman Daisha Brunson of Hoffman Estates Conant erased the jitters. She took control of the race right away and dashed down the track in a school record 14.16 (+1.5). Brunson's time is the third fastest mark in the country for freshmen.

100: We knew the field was very good coming out of the prelims with times under 12 seconds. This final was one of the most surprising in a long time with the outcome going to unheralded senior Jaliyah Shepherd of Chicago Kenwood in 11.70 (+1.8). The impressive thing about the feat, Shepherd was often considered the second option behind Thomas. Zawadi Brown (Jr., Naperville Neuqua Valley) takes second in 11.79, fueling her rise as a premier threat in 2024.

800: No record because of the heavy workload by Ince but it was a convincing win nonetheless in 2:10.40 over Annika Swan (Fr., Chicago St. Ignatius) who valiantly ran 2:13.85.

4x200: Neuqua Valley would get into the winning sweepstakes, becoming the third different school to win a relay in successful turns. With Zawadi Brown on anchor, the Wildcats were untouched in 1:39.77- the only team under 1:40 this season.

400: This was probably the most anticipated event to watch because it would be Ince's third race of the afternoon. As great of a runner as she is, it is her leanest event. But she has taken the craft seriously by learning to use blocks and gauging different race attack points. For a moment it appeared as though she would crack against Rylee Lydon (Sr., Prairie Ridge). Ince's determination was able to propel her to the win 55.18-55.28. 

300H: This state meet saw an improvement in the times from top to bottom. For the first time in a long time, 3A did not have the fastest mark. However, that did not stop Evanston from producing another champion in an event they have dominated over the years. The U of Nebraska bound Abrielle Artley (Sr) waited exactly one year for this coveted title as she chased down the emerging Aisha Kazeem (So., Palatine) for the win 43.25.

1600: It wasn't a surprise to see eight finishers under 5:00. But as good as Anna Harden (Sr., Hersey) has been over the years and particularly this season, not many people thought she would end up with the gold medal. Harden sat in fifth place on the bell but made her decisive move late in the frame to hold off Catie McCabe (Sr., Hinsdale Central) 4:53.14-4:53.32 for the very emotional win.

200: It was shades of past great sprinters and present as Zawadi Brown dashed away from a great field (the entire field was under 25 seconds) in an eye-opening 23.85. It is safe to say we all saw what 2024 will look like from Brown.

4x400: Normal Community pulled into Charleston with the fastest time in the state with a 3:51.75 and after bossing the prelims, there was no way they were leaving town without four gold medals. Trailing on the anchor behind two schools, it was the perfect recipe for the showstopping dramatics of Ali Ince. Her 54.68 tote shut the door and concluded the meet in 3:53.83.

Pole Vault: Kait McHale (Sr., Naperville Central) was not talked about enough this season. She had beaten the indoor champion and state leader Joscelyn Dieckman (Jr., Dekalb) this season and went over 13 feet in the process. It was only right that she win the state crown as well. The end result was a 12-8.75 winner. The 3A division has also improved three-fold since 2022.

High Jump: Rylee Lydon easily put away the competition and didn't miss until 5-8.75. She attempted 5-10 which would have put her among the top five performers in the country. 

Long Jump: Alex Johnson grabs her third title here and helps Huntley secure vital team points with a 19-6.75.

Shot Put: Evanston senior Dawson Wright's story is amazing. A former sprinter who turned to throws because of injury and she won the state championship. We don't know if that has happened at the 3A level but for Dawson, she was all smiles at 43-2.25.

Discus: The state leader came up big once again by launching 159-10 to win in a US#17 and one of the best marks in state history. The Brown University volleyball player Allyson Panzloff of Huntley added 10 big points toward the team title.

Triple Jump: Dominique and Alex Johnson are simply the best sibling triple jump random in state history. They go 1-2 and cemented their legacy with 40-6.25 and 40-3.25. Huntley collects 18 big points.