Catherine Sommerfeld (left) competes in the 3,200 relay at the IHSA state meet. | Richard Skora

Lyons Township High School senior Catherine Sommerfeld had her final IHSA Class 3A girls track and field state meet seemingly planned out as best as possible.

With the school prom Thursday night and state prelims Friday, Sommerfeld opted to qualify for the 3,200-meter run and not double with the 1,600 as she did in 2022.

Something still was missing. 

During sectionals, Sommerfeld realized she wanted to contribute for the first time to another potential top-nine, all-state finish by the 3,200 relay.

“I knew we had a lot of potential as a team and I wanted to be a part of it, help out,” Sommerfeld said.

Joining the lineup for Saturday’s finals, Sommerfeld teamed with junior Shannon Cranny, senior Charlotte Lange and junior anchor Kristina Findley for fourth in a season-best 9:18.38 at Eastern Illinois University.

“This is the best experience I could ask for,” said Sommerfeld, who will run at Vanderbilt.

The Lions were all-state in the relay for the fourth time in the past five state meets. Cranny and Findley were part of last year’s lineup that was an all-state eighth (9:32.05).

“I think last year helped me prepare for this year, feel more confident. It’s definitely really exciting that we did a lot better,” Cranny said.

During prelims, junior Madison Findley, Kristina’s twin sister, ran in place of Sommerfeld, who later competed Friday with the 1,600 relay.

Lange completed her breakthrough season with her first state meet, which also included 26th in the 1,600 (5:17.92).

“It’s just been so great to be able to finally contribute to the team and make some big strides,” Lange said.

In 2022, Sommerfeld was an all-state seventh in the 3,200 meters (school-record 10:35.21) and 1,600 finalist (12th, 5:11.58).

Even after her second leg in the 3,200 relay on May 20, she tried to run her 3,200-meter race in the heat just two events afterwards. Exhausted, Sommerfeld dropped out shortly past the halfway point, walking across the infield under her own power before being attended to by LTHS head coach Greg Frandsen. 

“I just couldn’t,” Sommerfeld said. “I tried.”

Among the Lions’ other state qualifiers, senior Becky Phillips (400 in 59.35) was 17th; the 1,600 relay with Phillips, Madison Findley, Sommerfeld and Kristina Findley (4:05.91) was 18th; junior Julianne Melby (3,200 in 12:04.87) was 26th; the 800 relay of seniors Emma Kwak and Claire McVady, sophomore Jordyn Hoffenberg and senior Ella Ormsby (1:48.40) was 29th; and sophomore Leigh Ferrell (2.98 meters/9 feet, 9 inches in pole vault) was 31st.