Riverside-Brookfield High School junior Bryce Pacourek has battled all girls track and field season for any breakthrough.
“I’ve had a really tough season through sickness, and I just found out I’m low on iron,” Pacourek said. “I’ve just been so exhausted this whole season.”
No one could deny Pacourek’s determination – or speed — in the final 300 meters of her 800-meter race at the IHSA Class 3A Proviso East Sectional on May 11.
Pacourek moved from fifth to third and surged in the final straightaway to finish second in a lifetime best 2:26.82 to earn a Class 3A state berth with a top-two sectional finish.
“It’s all coming together at the end, all of this hard work,” said Pacourek, the Bulldogs’ first girls state qualifier since 2018.
“I didn’t even think I was going to catch that [second-place] girl until the last 75 meters. … [Distance coach Blair Jensen] has done a lot of work on building up each 100. I think that really pushed me to make that 300 count.”
Freshman Gianna Gelb was third in the 1,600 meters at 5:48.36.
Two days earlier, the Bulldogs had 12 all-conference efforts at the Metro Suburban Conference Blue Division Meet. RBHS was third with 109 points.
Junior Ava Connerty (17.88) and sophomore Sophie Singh (19.23) were second and third in the 100 high hurdles.
Senior Remy Hilpp (10m/32-9.75 in triple jump), junior Aja McKay (1.44m/4-9 in high jump) and the 3,200 relay of sophomore Maria Dalton, Pacourek, Gelb and sophomore Lily Kocourek (10:56.12) also were second. Senior Ashley Vazquez (100 in 13.62), Hilpp (2.29m/7-6 in pole vault), Connerty (300 low hurdles in 55.24) and Gelb (1,600 in 5:49.95) were third.
“I’m really proud of the way the depth has come through, the enthusiasm to run together, run relays together,” RBHS coach Ian Robins said. “The program’s expectations have gone up.”
Junior Scarlett Lestina was part of the Lions’ 3,200 relay that was one place at sectionals from reaching the 2021 IHSA Class 3A state meet.
On May 13, she led off the 3,200 relay at the Hinsdale Central Sectional with Anna Bylsma, Kristina Findley and Shannon Cranny that not only qualified by taking second (9:27.72) but posted the state’s fourth-fastest sectional time.
“It means so much to finally get to go after being a couple of seconds short last season,” Lestina said. “It means so much that we qualified, not just individually but as a team together.”
Junior Catherine Sommerfeld ran with the winning 3,200 relay at conference but qualified for state May 13 in the 3,200 (10:49.22) and 1,600 (5:13.24) with second-place finishes.
Junior Becky Phillips qualified in the 400 (4th, 58.83) with the sixth fastest time in LT history. The second-place 400 relay of Emma Kwak, Ava Kuhlman, Nora Gannon and Phillips (49.11) and the fourth-place 1,600 relay of Phillips, Kristina Findley, Madison Findley and Claire McVady (4:03.98) also advanced.
Nazareth senior Bella Brunke won long jump (5.08m/16-8) at the Class 2A Glenbard South Sectional on May 13 and equaled her school record in winning the East Suburban Catholic Conference Meet on May 4.
Also advancing to state were second-place freshman Alayna Plahm (400 in 1:03.95) and the 1,600 relay of freshman Clare Sandoval, seniors Erin Howard and Madeline Brent and Plahm (4:20.98).