Junior Vanessa Flaherty was elated as she heard the Lyons Township High School girls track and field team’s lineup for the Class 3A LT Sectional Friday.
Flaherty would compete in three events — the 800-meter run and with the 3,200 and 1,600 relays.
“I was like, ‘Awesome. This is the first time I get to triple,’ ” Flaherty said. “I was so excited because it’s a new challenge. I was super excited, super pumped.”
Flaherty qualified for the state meet with victories in all three events and the Lions roared to their fourth straight sectional title (177 points).
All 15 of the Lions’ entries going to the state meet advanced automatically with top-two sectional finishes. Riverside-Brookfield (21) was 10th with no state qualifiers.
“(Overall) it kind of went the way that we wanted to, expected it,” LTHS head coach Greg Frandsen said.
LTHS senior Emma Haugen, the defending state high jump champion, won that event (5 feet-5 inches) as well as triple jump (35-7) and the 100 high hurdles (15.26 seconds).
Flaherty won the 800 (personal-best 2:17.51). The 3,200 relay (Flaherty, juniors Natalie Jaramillo and Claudia Lundgren and sophomore Brianna Liddell in 9:38.91) and 1,600 relay (senior Mayra Baeza and Sam Stuba, Flaherty, junior Luci Lussier in 4:03.37) also were first.
Senior Grace Flynn (10-3 in pole vault) and the 800 relay (Baeza, sophomore Maggie Caplice, freshman Sonia Slusarczyk, Lussier in 1:45.16) also took first.
Seniors Julia Wink (47.71) and Maeve McDermott (48.81) finished 1-2 in the 300 low hurdles. Junior Hannah Dutler (3,200 in 11:53.39), sophomore Charlsie Domabyl (35-6 in triple jump), freshman Tara Schwarz (400 in 1:02.21), Jaramillo (1,600 in 5:29.14) and the 400 relay (Baeza, Lussier, Caplice, Slusarczyk in 49.60) were second.
Flaherty is the only returnee from last year’s all-state, sixth-place 3,200 relay (9:16.75). On Friday, Flaherty just missed the 800 outdoor school record of 2:17.27 and had relay splits of 2:17 and 1:00.
“She’s looked about as good as we’ve ever seen her. She’s just looking sharper and faster,” Frandsen said.
Haugen has won the 2014 and 2012 high jump state titles by clearing 5-7 and this spring she has cleared a lifetime-best 5-9. While battling sore shins, Haugen is appreciating her healthiest season since freshman year.
“I feel the best that I’ve felt. I feel ready and like I have a lot of spring so I feel like I can bring it,” Haugen said. “(Being a defending champion) gives me a bit of confidence. But there is a lot of pressure, too. I’ve already signed (with Wisconsin). I just want to have fun and end my senior year on a good note.”
McDermott competed for sectionals for the first time after battling a broken vertebrae the past two seasons. She ran a lifetime best by 2.33 seconds Friday to pull out second by 1.73 seconds.
“We’re sitting in the blocks and I’m like, ‘This could be my last race and I don’t want it to,’ ” McDermott said. “I’m so excited, I cried. When I went to see (my mom), she was crying. I can’t express that (emotion).”
A 2014 state qualifier in 2A cross country, RBHS freshman Hailey Jurgens ran a personal-best by nearly five seconds in the 1,600 but was third (5:33.64), 4.50 seconds behind Jaramillo. Jurgens earlier was third in the 3,200 (12:10.26), 16.87 seconds behind Dutler.
“The girls who beat me are older so it’s definitely a victory,” Jurgens said. “(My goals are) hopefully under 5:30 for my (1,600) and then for cross country just to work on my speed and break 18:00.”