MINOOKA – The Minooka girls track and field team hoped to have a big night when it hosted a 16-team Class 3A Sectional on Thursday.
And thanks to contributions throughout their lineup, the Indians not only assured themselves of a special evening, but also a historical one.
Coach Kevin Gummerson's squad won titles in five events to defeat runner-up Yorkville by a 96-84 margin to capture its first sectional championship in the sport.
Minooka qualified nine individuals in nine different events for next weekend's state finals at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
"It's great to see how the kids responded to the pressure," Gummerson said. "Every one of our kids, the ones who scored and those who didn't, competed with a fire that they didn't have before. Janile won the long jump in dramatic fashion and that got everyone excited and it just kept building throughout the night, and that's what you have to have to win a championship. I love seeing them so excited about this since they put in a lot of work."
Leading the way for the Indians was senior Janile Rogers. The three-time state qualifier turned in a memorable effort after winning titles in the long jump (18-11.5) and the 100-meter dash (12.31 seconds) and anchoring winning efforts in the 4x200 (1:43.91) and 4x400 (4:03.31) relays.
Joining Rogers on the 4x200 relay were Latricia Dean, Megan Caldwell and Emma Tonelli while Ashleigh Wilson, Moira McAsey and Tonelli ran with Rogers in the 4x400 relay.
"This feels amazing," Rogers said. "I've been working hard to get here and my goal was to be able to make it to state in all of my events and I was able to to achieve that. And to win our first sectional ever is a big accomplishment, but we're going to keep working for next weekend. I'm real excited and looking forward to a lot of competition at state."
The Indians received good efforts all night long from individuals who performed better than they were seeded in their events.
That was no better demonstrated than in the discus, where junior Alexis Pease captured top honors in the event (116-10) after entering as the eighth-seed in that throw.
"It's nice to be on a team like this and to have the support," Pease said. "That makes it easier to just go out and do what you know how to do. Win or lose, the other people are here for you. We qualified in nine events and it's amazing how we came together as a team. This is absolutely amazing and I wouldn't trade this feeling for anything."
The Indians just missed winning two more titles as Ashley Tutt was edged at the wire in the 3,200 (11:00.96) by Yorkville's Alexis Grandys and Wilson suffered the same fate in the 400 (59.73) against Plainfield North's Khristian Jones.
Also finishing second for Minooka was McAsey in the 800 (2:16.19) while Mackenzie Callahan took third and qualified in the 1,600 (5:12.29).
The Indians also received fourth place efforts from Kelsey Oliva in the high jump (5-1) and from Taylor Prieboy in the long jump (16-10.5) while finishing fifth were Mariah Divis in the 400 (1:01.0) and Prieboy in the 300 hurdles (:49.11).