Benet Academy girls track and field dominates Ridgewood 2A sectional championship

Benet Academy girls track and field continues its success with a second consecutive sectional title at the Ridgewood 2A sectional. This highlight is sponsored by BMO.

Benet Academy girls track and field heads to the Ridgewood 2A sectional in search of a second consecutive sectional title following another ESCC championship.

The field events start the day in the early afternoon. Chinara Caldwell from Illinois Math and Science Academy leads the way with a leap of 5.36 meters to earn first place.

Benet Academy senior Shirley Bai, who has only been doing the long jump for two weeks, shows that she may just be a natural with a State qualifying jump of 5.30 meters for second place.

The Redwings with a pair of first place finishes in other field events with Nida Polikaitis winning the shot put with a heave of 9.82 meters. Junior Valerie Sarros, who earned All-State honors last season, is heading back to State after finishing first in the high jump.

Turning to the track events starting with the 4X100 meter relay. Benet starting with Ava Strugala followed by Shirley Bai, Diana Singzon and Nicole Grimes running the anchor leg. Rosary and Wheaton Academy are in the hunt along with Benet and Montini Catholic. Sophia Fisher helps Montini hang on for the win as Grimes crosses the line in second to secure a spot at State next weekend. Grimes also won the pole vault sectional title, which was actually held the day before.

Now the 4X200 meter relay later in the meet. Benet utilizing Grace Ronek to start things off in this race, with Bai, Singzon and Grimes to follow once again. The Redwings are neck and neck with Montini Catholic once again. In the final 100 meters, Takeisha Barry holds off Nicole Grimes for first place as Montini takes another first place finish. Grimes holds off Rosary for second place as Benet seconds the 4X200 relay downstate as well.

Putting up the hurdles for the 110 meter race. Benet with a pair of runners with freshman Gabrielle Brown and Shirley Bai competing in the event. The pair is in good shape in the early going. Gianna Huerta from Glenbard South emerges to take first place. Brown, the Redwing freshman takes second and qualifies for State. Bai in fourth and Olivia Pastovich from Kaneland in third just miss the State cut. Huerta also wins the 300 hurdles later on while Pastovich and Brown also earn State qualification in the 300.

The 400 meters is one full lap around the track. Looking at the final 85 meters it’s a sprint for the finish with Isabella Orozco from Aurora Central Catholic finishing first and Clare Sandoval from Nazareth in second. Both are heading to State while Benet freshman Cameron Bruce just misses out with a third place finish, despite a great effort.

The 800 meters is one of the faster races of the day in terms of number of State qualifiers. Fenwick sophomore Mia Menendez surges at the end to win the event by nearly two seconds at 2:16.78. Aurora Central Catholic has the next two finishers with Isabella Orozco and Cecilia Hilby. Another Benet Academy freshman making a great first impression as Keira Jenke makes the qualifying time by less than a half second at 2:25.21. New PR’s as well for the four qualifiers.

Benet Academy senior Louisa Diamond looks to cap off a stellar running career with another return to State in the distance races. In the 3200 she faces a tough challenge from conference rival Colette Kinsella from Nazareth. The two run essentially neck and neck for the first mile and a half of the race. But with a little more than a lap and a half to go, Diamond turns on the jets and runs away from the field. Kinsella drops back into second place as Diamond takes the sectional title at 10:57.55. Sydney Getsen from Montini, Bella Daley from Fenwick and Chiara Surtz from Rosary all qualify for State as well.

Just like the 3200, Diamond is able to pull away down the stretch to take her second first place medal. Kinsella not far behind in second place while Hilby takes third. Delilah Helenhouse sets a new PR and finishes in fourth place, qualifying for State in the process to the delight of her senior teammate. Benet Academy is a 2A sectional champion once again after a dominant performance and will bring a bevy of State qualifiers to Eastern Illinois next weekend.

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