MINOOKA — The Minooka girls track and field team equaled a program record by qualifying for the state meet in six events at the Class 3A Plainfield North Sectional.
Coach Kevin Gummerson says the Indians’ second-place finish in the sectional team standings is likely their best ever. They also have wins at the Southwest Prairie Conference Meet, Conant’s Cougar Twilight Invitational, the Plainfield North Relay Invitational and their own Minooka Invitational to their credit this outdoor season.
At the forefront of the Indians’ success are three girls who qualified for state in multiple events. Junior Janile Rogers advanced individually in both the triple jump and the long jump. Senior Lucia Rossi and junior Moira McAsey each moved on in one individual event and a pair of relays.
“We had a great night,” Gummerson said of the sectional. “Tons of girls had season highs and personal bests. There were so many bright spots that it would be hard to name them all. The kids did a great job of responding to the pressure.”
Rogers qualified for state in the triple jump in 2012, finishing 12th with a distance of 36 feet, 10 inches. Last season, she was also part of the Indians’ state-qualifying 4x200-meter relay team.
“It’s crazy to be able to go in two (individual) events,” Rogers said. “I also run the 200, but I was third in that so I didn’t make it. ... I really want to place, and I can go in knowing that I always have next year to try to make it back again.”
Rossi says she has been told she is the first Minooka athlete to make it to the girls state meet in a hurdles race. She finished second at North in the 300 low hurdles with a time of 46.27. In addition, she was a member of the Indians’ qualifying 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams from a year ago, and the anchor in the 4x800.
“I live (anchoring). I like being able to have us finish first,” Rossi said. “I’ve been hurdling since seventh grade, and it’s great to be able to break though and go to state.”
McAsey shares the 4x400 and the 4x800 with Rossi and qualified individually in the 800-meter run with a second-place sectional finish. She is the anchor in the 4x800, just as she was in 2012, when the Indians finished ninth in their heat at state.
“In the 4x800, we definitely want to be on that podium. That would be awesome if we can make it happen,” McAsey said. “For me, in the 4x400 and the 800, if there any way we can make the finals, I’d be really happy with that.”
Ashleigh Wilson and Abigail Paul joined McAsey and Rossi on the winning 4x400 relay team at North. Caleigh Beverly and Haley Renison ran the 4x800 at the sectional with McAsey and Rossi.
This is the fifth straight year Minooka has qualified at least one relay team for the state meet. The Indians had three relays advance in 2012. Prior to 2009, when the streak began, they had not qualified a relay since 2002.
“One of our biggest strengths is our team depth,” Gummerson said. “The success we’ve been able to have in relay events is a testament to that depth.”
Minooka will compete in multiple events at state for the sixth consecutive year, and in at least one event for the eighth straight year, beginning Friday. The Indians are hoping to place for just the second time since 2004 after their 4x200 relay team took seventh last year.