Helen Kessler was the first to know, but the New Trier senior was patient.
No high jumpers cleared the state-qualifying height Wednesday, May 10, at the IHSA Class 3A Glenbrook South Sectional, meaning a tie-break was needed to place the four jumpers who cleared 1.52 meters. The top two would head to the state championships.
As coaches and officials talked it over, Kessler finally let her secret slip to teammates, and joyful murmuring evolved into full-blown celebration — even more so when fellow Trevian senior Phoebe Paster learned she finished second.
“As soon as the second to last girl went and missed (in the high jump finals), I knew I had gotten either first or second and it didn’t matter what the other girl did,” Kessler said. “I was really excited. I didn’t go to state last year so it’s exciting this year.
“It means a lot. I’ve put in a lot of effort practice wise, did a lot of offseason training for it. So it feels really good to be rewarded and go to the biggest meet of the year.”
Kessler and Paster were part of a successful field day for the Trevians. Pole vaulter Sophie Garrou (3.36 meters) and long jumper Gaby Manzano (5.56 meters) both crossed qualifying marks while collecting sectional championships. Manzano also qualified in triple jump with a second-place jump of 11.11 meters, while New Trier junior Makenzie Gable placed in both jumps (3rd triple jump, 4th long jump).
The performances led New Trier to a second-place team finish, scoring 76 points behind Prospect’s whopping total of 165. Loyola Academy was seventh of 14 teams with 38 points.
Things started off with a bang on the track, as all four quartets in the second heat of the 4-by-800-meter relay qualified for the state finals. New Trier’s Eva Scarborough, Anna Rivera, Josie Cahill and Clare Finnigan placed third at 9 minutes 29.07 seconds, while Loyola’s Kathryn San Roman, Maeve Norman, Morgan Mackie and Lauren Woodward finished fourth at 9:42.07. Prospect and Hersey teams went 1-2.
New Trier also pushed through a second relay to state, as Manzano joined with a Rivera, Carly McConnell and Calli Chiarelli to place fourth in the 4-by-400 with a state-qualifying time of 4:04.50.
Cahill will also compete in the 1,600 at state thanks to a 5:08.88 time an sixth-place finish.
In addition to the 4-by-800, the Ramblers — who on May 6 won the their conference championship mee — are sending two more relays to state. Their 4-by-200 (Zoey Kenny, Emmy Christopher, Lieselle Curry and Ali Banaszek) placed second to earn an automatic bid, and the 4-by-400 team (Curry, San Roman, Makenna Coltoff and Banaszek) hit the qualifying mark with a 4:02.78 run.
Coltoff, a senior, also qualified in the 300 hurdles with a third-place finish in 45.61 seconds, and sophomore Jane Lynch qualified in the 3,200 run with a time of 10:59.35, good enough for third place.
Highland Park High School was led by senior Sophia Labedz, who placed third in the high jump, just missing an automatic bid to state. Labedz was also part of the Giants fourth-place 4-by-400 relay team (Labedz, Samantha Byrnes, Emma Sitati and Madina Nasirov) and placed eighth in the 100 dash.
Grace Welhouse added a seventh-place finish in the 100 hurdles for the Giants.
In a Class 2A sectional Wednesday at Richmond-Burton High School, Regina Dominican finished fifth out of 13 teams.
Eight Panthers, spread across two relays, will head to state after placing in the top two.
Regina’s 4-by-100 unit of Sara Byrne, Haneefa Adam, Tiffany Richards and Kendall Williams won the race in a time of 50.04 seconds to advance to state. The 4-by-800 team (Olivia Mauer, Charlotte Kroll, Nora McCabe and Chloe Thiel) was second, crossing in 10:07.87.
Other standout performances for the Panthers included Byrne’s third-place run in the 200, McCabe’s fourth in the 300 hurdles, Williams’ and Mauer’s 4-5 finish in the 400, Thiel’s sixth in the 800, Adam’s third-place triple jump and Williams’ fourth-place long jump.
The state championships for IHSA Classes 1-3 are Thursday-Saturday, May 18-20, at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.