CHARLESTON – Katelynn Pankhurst nearly had the long jump of her young lifetime at the Class 1A Girls State Track Meet preliminaries on Thursday afternoon.
Unfortunately for the Amboy senior, she scratched by the length of a toe.
So she did it again – and the second time, it was perfectly legal.
Pankhurst uncorked a career-best leap of 17 feet, 8 inches to comfortably move into the finals on Saturday. She will be joined by teammates in two relays, as well as athletes from Fulton and Bureau Valley in the finals.
Pankhurst’s first jump was estimated to be about 17-9, which would have shattered her own school record of 17-3 1/2, set at the Gordon Mool Invitational earlier this season. She moved back about a foot on her run-up, and had no trouble on the second jump.
“Last year I was hurt for a lot of the season for jumping, and I didn’t get the chance to come here,” Pankhurst said. “I just really wanted this really bad. Coach [Bob] Halberg always tells me just go for it in big meets like this. I warmed really well, my speed was great – I just felt really good today.”
Pankhurst trails just Keith Country Day’s Paige Yoder (18-1) and Litchfield’s Bryn Guthrie (17-11) heading into Saturday’s finals. Prelim distances carry over the finals, if they are not improved on.
“My dad [Marshall Pankhurst] is hoping I go 18, but I at least want to get 17-10, 17-11 – enough to get up with the top two or three in the state,” Pankhurst said.
Amboy-LaMoille also started and ended the track portion of the meet in style. The first event was the 3,200 relay, and the foursome of Kaitlin Ortgiesen, Erin Hosto, Margaret Vaessen and Megan Grady raced to a time of 10 minutes, 4.69 seconds. It shattered their own school record of 10:11.21, set at last week’s Bureau Valley Sectional.
The last race on the track was the 1,600 relay, and Cassidy Corcoran, Pankhurst, Madeline Foster and Ashley Althaus won their heat with a time of 4:11.82. It eclipsed the 4:12.74 the group had run at sectionals.
Corcoran was in second place after the lead lap, then Pankhurst secured about a 10-meter lead at the midway point. Foster maintained that lead heading into the final lap for Althaus.
“I was ecstatic,” Althaus said. “I was able to lead the charge and hold the lead. That’s what I like doing the best, and I’m glad I got the chance to do it today.”
The Clippers will enter the finals as the ninth of nine seeds, and will likely need to drop even more time to move up the medal stand.
“I think Saturday will be a better day, especially for me,” Althaus said. “We don’t have all those events to run before. We’re ready to cut a couple of seconds off and hope for the best.”
Fulton was led by its throwers, sophomore Chloe Lindeman and senior Emma Jacobs, who each advanced in both events.
Lindeman sits in second place in the shot put after a heave of 43-1 1/2, which paled in comparison to her sectional distance of 47-5.
“I think Saturday I’ll be very prepared because I’m going to be prepared mentally,” Lindeman said. “When I get in the ring, I know I can do it physically, but mentally, I need to be more prepared.”
Lindeman is chasing Warrensburg-Latham senior Kathleen Young, who went 48-11 1/2 on her final throw. Young, who has gone over 50 feet this season, is going for her fourth consecutive state title.
“It’s encouraging watching her,” Lindeman said. “It’s sleek. It’s nice. It’s quick. I absolutely love watching it, just because it gives me the idea, hey, someday I’m going to be up there, and hopefully I’ll be able to have that form as well.”
Jacobs advanced with a final throw of 38-0 3/4. It was the first time she’s cracked 38 feet, after going 38-0 at the Three Rivers Conference meet as a junior.
“This whole year I’ve struggled trying to build back up,” Jacobs said. “I got hurt halfway through the year, so that kind of stunted everything. I had been close to 38, but hadn’t gotten it.”
Jacobs safely qualified for the discus finals with a distance of 120-10, while Lindeman was the 12th and final finalist after throwing 113-10.
Jacobs and Lindeman are again chasing Young, who went 147-8 on her final attempt.
The Steamers will also be represented in the long jump finals, as Kearra Kohrt went 17-1 3/4 in the prelims.
Bureau Valley moved on in the 800 relay with a time of 1:47.56, a mere .04 off the school record time set in 2015. Competing were Marissa Endress, Carly Konneck, Tiana Kennedy and Marissa Mungia.
The Storm also had one individual move on, distance ace Haley Weidner. She covered the 1,600 in a career-best 5:14.39, slicing more than 14 seconds off her sectional time of 5:28.71.
“The coach was telling me I’m not running the 2-mile today, so I’ll be fresh. I’ll go under 5:20,” said Weidner, who is also in the fast heat of the 3,200 on Saturday. “I’m like, ‘That’s not possible. I just can’t do it.’ I felt good today. My time, dropping it by 14 seconds, I’m happy with that.”
The day’s heartbreak finishers were the Newman 400 relay crew of Delaney Hinrichs, Lizzie Oswalt, Maddie Jacobs and Mary Jensen, who posted a school-record time of 51.06, eclipsing the 51.28 it had run at the Bureau Valley Sectional. Unfortunately for the Comets, it left them one spot out of qualifying. The final spot went to Trenton Wesclin, which ran a 51.03.
Individually for Newman, Jensen ran a 12.79 in the 100 to cut .02 off her school record set last year at the conference meet. A time of 12.421 was needed to move on in the event.