LTHS distance runner Kate Dickman, shown here in second place, trails OPRF’s Josephine Welin during the 1,600-meter state finals on June 12 in Charleston. Dickman along with two others, including Welin, would break the existing state record in the race, but finished third. (Photo by Dan Chamness)

Lyons Township High School senior Kate Dickman already appeared on pace for her greatest IHSA Class 3A girls track and field state meet after breaking the 800-meter school record by .40 of a second on May 22.

The Illinois-bound Dickman, however, had her sights on the 1,600.

“I think that was always the plan. That’s always been the race I love the most,” Dickman said.

When Dickman finally got to run her 1,600 at the state finals Saturday night, she ran 4:44.54 — the fourth-fastest 1,600 meters in IHSA state finals history — at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

Amazingly, that only got Dickman third place.

Normal Community freshman Ali Ince (4:40.85) and Oak Park-River Forest junior Josephine Welin (4:42.55) both broke the all-time state finals record of 4:43.65 from 2A by Woodstock’s Kayla Beattie in 2011.

“I’m like, ‘Aw, seriously (third place)?’ No, no, I’m totally so happy with it, so excited that I got to be a part of it. It was such a special race,” said an elated Dickman, who also broke the 3A state finals record (4:47.36 in 2019) by 2020 Glenbard West graduate Katelynne Hart.

Dickman then earned her fourth top-nine, all-state medal by anchoring the eighth-place 1,600 relay with sophomore Becky Phillips, senior Lillie George and junior Abby Deuter (4:02.77). From the lineup at the LT Sectional June 3, Deuter replaced senior Cate Judy, the lone returnee from the 2019 sixth-place state finisher who already planned to be out of town before the IHSA extended the original state date by three weeks.

In her sectional 1,600, Dickman (4:46.40) finished second to Welin (4:44.52) and comfortably broke LT’s 1,600 record of 4:55.68 by Lisa Gordon, who in 2012 also had LT’s previous highest state finish in the event (4th, 4:55.99).

Earlier Saturday, Welin won the 3,200 (10:36.36) and Ince the 800 (2:07.06), just .01 shy of that state finals record. However, moments after completion of the 300 low hurdles, the event before the 1,600, came the second of two lightning-storm delays that lasted more than four hours.

Dickman’s 1,600 race did not begin until about 9:40 p.m. By that time, the hot, humid afternoon had turned into optimal evening distance-running conditions.

“Today, Ali approached me before the break and was like, ‘Hey, we should go break that record,’ and I was like, ‘OK. I’ll work with you on that,’” Dickman said. “All three of us were the only distance girls we had here from our teams, so we could use each other as teammates and really push that throughout the race.”

LTHS’ 400 relay of sophomore Emma Kwak, junior Ava Kuhlman, senior Lily Sutkus and Phillips was 14th (49.44). Senior London White was 17th in the 100 high hurdles (15.86) and 23rd in the 300 low hurdles (49.63) and Kwak was 22nd in the 100 (12.75) and 23rd in 200 (26.87).

In the first heat of the 100, Kwak ran by herself when the other two entries scratched. Finding out five minutes beforehand, Kwak ran a personal best by .03.

“They couldn’t move me because it’s state, so I had to run alone,” Kwak said. “Super weird. I was afraid I wasn’t going to do as good because I was running against myself.”