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Lauren VanVlierbergen of Jacobs (right) battles to lead the 1600-meter run prelim. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media

Some athletes from the Elgin area will likely be bringing home some precious metals Saturday.

The only question is will it be gold, silver, bronze or something else. Some coaches might even be thinking of a state trophy signifying one of the best teams in the state.

In the first Class 3A running event of the day at the IHSA State Finals on Friday, the 3,200-meter relay, Lauren VanVlierbergen not only put a smile on Jacobs coach Ryan Lemanski’s face, but probably gave the opposition teams nightmares and the fans at Eastern Illinois University something to talk about.

With only 800-meters to go and in second place, VanVlierbergen began to chip away at the 40-50 meter lead held by Palatine. It took her approximately 700 meters, but finally, VanVlierbergen caught her foe and eventually crossed the finish line in first.

“Lauren has done some amazing things, but that might be the most amazing that I have seen,” said Lemanski. “We never thought about shutting her down. We all wanted to see what would happen.”

What happened was a 2:11 split for the sophomore, who helped Jacobs post the fastest time of the day, a 9:16.19. Besides VanVlierbergen’s split in the 3,200-meter relay, Molly Barnes (2:22), Tori Tamburrino (2:23) and Sam Baran (2:18) comprised the Jacobs team.

“Finishing with the top time of the day was a full-blown surprise,” said Baran. “I knew when I handed Lauren the baton she was going after her. It is in her nature. When she finished, I just started congratulating her.”

VanVlierbergen returned later in the meet and earned the runner-up spot in the 1,600-meter relay. In a hotly contested race down to the wire, she won her heat, finishing in 4:55.40. The only athlete with a faster time is Glenbard West’s Madeline Perez, who finished in 4:52.21.

“I was feeling that 3,200-meter relay in the 1,600-meter run a little bit,” said VanVlierbergen. “It was back and forth in the final lap. When she got away from me a little bit, I just went for it.”

St. Charles East has qualified the second most athletes in the finals, finishing with seven entrants. Besides the three relays, the 1,600-meter relay, the 400 relay and the 3,200 relay, they have two athletes in the 400-meter dash and one each in the triple jump and the 800.

“We competed well on the track and in the field,” said St Charles East assistant coach Tyler Sheehan. “This is a team battle. We are deep and young. Hopefully, tomorrow is the start of many special performances for us in the state finals.

Jordan Shead, who qualified individually in the 400, is a member of the 1,600-meter relay, which posted the top time of the day, 3:51.93. The Saints are leading the field by over one second. Besides Shead, the relay was comprised Elizabeth Chmelik, Allison Chmelik and Britney Williams.

“We just want to go out and do our best,” said Shead of the 1,600-meter relay. “Winning our preliminary heat and posting the best time of the day was just a huge bonus. I want to run my best time in the 400-meter. Whatever that gets me, I will accept.”

Shead will be joined in the 400 by Williams, who finished in 56.25 seconds. She ran the sixth fastest time of the day, while Shead ran the fourth fastest, finishing in 55.37. Corrin Adams finished the 800 in 2:18.77. She has the eighth fastest time in a 12-athlete field. Alison Chmelik finished sixth in the prelims of the triple jump. She leapt 37 feet, 0.75 inches.

The Saints 3,200 relay was comprised of Krista Fitzmaurice, Adams, Anastasia Honea and Torree Scull. The foursome finished in 9:24.59. In the 400 relay, Shead, Williams, Allison Chmelik and Kimberly Abels finished in 48.24 seconds.

Huntley had two athletes qualify for the finals. Anthonia Moore finished with a time of 56.95 seconds in the 400-meter dash to grab the ninth and final qualifying spot. Omo Tseumah jumped 5-4 in the high jump to qualify for Saturday’s finals. Everyone that advanced jumped 5-4.

St. Charles North’s Ashley England will compete in the 3,200-meter run on Saturday. It is a straight-to-finals event.

In Class 2A, Burlington Central took four qualifying spots. All were individual qualifiers.

Katie Trupp and Natalie Overstreet both qualified in the pole vault. The pair jumped 10-3 as did each Class 2A qualifier. Trupp also advanced in the high jump, leaping 5-2. Kayla Wolf, a Burlington Central senior, took the fifth qualifying spot in the 800, finishing in 2:15.86.

Hampshire’s 1,600-meter relay team dashed to the fifth best time of the day, crossing the finish line on 3:59.01. The team was comprised of Elizabeth Evans, Nikki Dumoulin, Elizabeth Pagan and Ashley Fouch. Hampshire senior Jenny Dumoulin also advanced to the Class 2A triple jump final, leaping 38-6. She has the fifth best distance in the event.

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