SJO girls win IHSA Class 1A State Title in Track and Field; Freshman Atleigh Hamilton wins long jump state title.

For the first time since 2000, the St. Joseph-Ogden Spartans girls’ track and field team can call themselves state champions.

A spirited effort by the Spartans was enough for SJO to take the team title at the 2018 IHSA Class 1A state track and field meet, which was held on Saturday at O’Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

The Spartans, who qualified for five events in the finals, including all four relay events, received a great start right from the beginning, as freshman Atleigh Hamilton won the long jump state title in Class 1A by leaping 18 feet, two inches, which was a new personal record for Hamilton.

“I had wanted to get 18 feet this season, and I finally hit that mark today, so it was pretty special getting it in the state meet to win the title”, Hamilton remarked regarding her record-setting jump.

But Hamilton was far from being done with events in the state finals, as she competed in three of the four relays that ran on Saturday, running the anchor leg in all three of those races.  The 4 x 200 relay, which features Hailey Birt, Abbey Mizer, Zea Maroon, as well as Hamilton, set an SJO record on Thursday in the preliminaries with a time of 1:44.29, and broke that record in the finals, coming in with a time of 1:43.89.

In the 4 x 100 relay, the Spartans finished second, just .02 of a second from their second title on the track, and the team, which included Birt, Mizer, Hamilton and Maclayne Taylor, finished the race at 49.80. 

In the 4 x 400 relay, Taylor, Maroon and Hamilton joined forces with Rylee Sjuts to record a second-place finish, coming in at 4:05.79.  For Maroon, this was her final time running as a Spartan, but her years as a member of this team have been very fulfilling and rewarding.

“These last four years have been very productive, and with a second and a third in the last two years, it is very fitting that we get to celebrate being state champs this time around.  We have dealt with a lot of injuries and some illnesses over that time span, and even this year, we have had some of the same obstacles, but today we found a way to get around it”, Maroon said after her race on overcoming some challenges that were placed in her and her teammates’ way during this, as well as past, seasons. 

In the 4 x 800 relay, the Spartans finished third in a time of 9:51.85, as Sjuts and Maroon teamed up with sophomore Hannah Rajlich and senior Sam Mabry to get the SJO relay parade off to a good start and helped with the overall team totals.

Even though race conditions earlier in the day were less than ideal, with rain showers playing havoc during the race, it did not seem to faze the Spartans, who grew accustomed to the conditions.

“We practiced and ran in a bunch of different conditions this season, so it (the weather) didn’t really seem to bother us that much today”, Rajlich said regarding the various weather elements that they ran in during the season.

Even though this was Mabry’s final race as a Spartan on the track at EIU, it certainly will not be her last race on the blue oval, as Mabry will be heading to Charleston in the fall to run both cross-country and track for the Panthers. 

“I’m glad that I will be continuing to run on the track that I have so many great memories and success on in high school, and it will be really special to continue to be able to race here”, Mabry said following her race on what it will mean to be an EIU athlete next year.

The Spartans finished with 43 points, which was more than enough to take the top spot, and finishing second were the Farmers of Farmington, who finished with 36 points.  Decatur St. Teresa, who had a great effort by DaeLin Switzer, finished third overall with a total of 35 points.

Although there are a few SJO girls that are moving on to collegiate competition this coming fall, there are several key components that will be returning to compete for the Spartans next season, so the possibility of another podium appearance is entirely possible once again.




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