Top Ranked Father McGivney Girls Win 1A Title

Elena Rybak shows off that happy feeling in leading her team to a victory in the 4x800 (Griffin Forberg photo)




It was a methodical weekend for top-ranked Father McGivney, whose school is smacked in the talent-rich St. Louis Metropolitan area. Ironically, the town of Glen Carbon has inhabitants who attend high-profile Edwardsville High School. But there is enough talent for everyone, as you find out.

One of the stars of the Griffins is junior Elena Rybak. She would bookend the team's championship drive with the 4x800 and 4x400 relays. In the middle of them were her prized 800 and 1600-meter runs.

With the opening 4x800 victory in the midst, Rybak received the baton as the anchor and toted around the track with conservative optimism, finishing with a 2:19 split and 9:30.01. Rybak fought off a tough challenge in the 800m, particularly by Ahry Comer (Sr., Pope County), to win her first half-mile title in 2:10.06. Rybak won her third consecutive title in the 1600m, and this one was a season-best 4:54.07- precisely two seconds faster than Keller.

There were more Griffins than Rybak in the scoring department. Speedster Lilly Gilbertson (Jr.) placed fourth in the 400 (56.29) and 200 (24.99). She teamed up with Rybak in the 4x800 and later on the winning 4x400, which clocked 3:56.97. Mia Range (Jr.) took sixth in the high jump with a height of 5'2.25." 

Trophy scores: Father McGivney 56.5, Tuscola 45, El Paso-Gridley 38.

The rest of the best dropped fire all over the place-

It was boiling hot on the track for the 3200m, humming the field, including Isabella Keller (Fr., Effingham St. Anthony). After several opening fast laps, Keller was forced to endure 80-plus second laps, but she ultimately won in 10:34.07. Molly Farrell (So., Marshall) barely held off Kate Foltz (So., Tuscola) for second 10:56.72-10:57.73.

Most people knew that Lia Patterson (Jr., Tuscola) was the short hurdler in the state, but she even knew that a victory would be hard-earned. Her chief competitor, Makhiya Stephen (Sr., Maroa-Forsyth), literally stepped forward for the challenge. The victory was a photo finish in favor of Patterson in 14.51 (+0.0). Stephen clocked 14.54. Patterson completed the hurdles sweep, taking the 300H in 43.10.

One name that many folks did not talk about was Emma Randecker (Jr., Savannah West Carroll) coming into the state meet. Maybe because her school is in a remote area near the Mississippi River. Whatever the cause, Randecker had to overcome many obstacles, such as not having a home track or even a regular track to train on. Randecker transitioned from the grass and cinder surface to face off with Alaina Lester (Sr., Belleville Althoff), who also has a story. Randecker got the best of the two in the 100m, 12.11-12.15. But Lester, who was in an arm sling last year after undergoing shoulder surgery, took down the class 200m record that stood since 1992 with a smoking time of 24.49. Randecker was second in 24.51. It was a silver lining for both young ladies.

Comer defended her 400m title in a new personal best of 55.19. This dominating performance was the second-fastest time across all three classes, and Comer finished in the third slot overall.

It is rare to see a Class A sprint relay among the top 25 overall in the merged results, but after Monmouth United ran a speedy 1:43.42 in their Thursday prelim, there was talk of them running much faster on Saturday. The Titans blazed past their competitors into the record book with a smoking 1:41.78. They finished 15th overall across all three classes.

Mya Strahm (Jr., Elmwood) enjoyed her swan song to Illinois track and field despite being a junior athletically. She is graduating in December and heading off to Tennessee to pole vault. She became the first girl to clear 14 feet with an astonishing 14'1.25" (4.30 meters) and within earshot of earning an Olympic Trials standard. She may get it at the Nike Outdoor Nationals or the U20 Championships.

Kiara Wesseh (Sr., Newmark) got her championship in the high jump, clearing 5'5.75."

Makayla Gajewski is just a freshman but is already making noise in the shot put. Nashville got their state champion, who went undefeated, by tossing the 13th-best throw in the state (39'8.75").

Addie Stadsholt (Jr., Athens) won the Top Times Indoor shot put title over 38 feet, but she is a much better discus and other implement performer. She moved from sixth to the winner's circle with a toss of 130'9."