PAXTON — The GCMS High School girls track team kept alive its undefeated streak by rolling to the championship of the PBL Class 1A Sectional on Friday night.
The Falcons outscored runner-up Champaign St. Thomas More, 110-94, for the overall title in the 18-team event.
After GCMS had opened up a commanding lead through 12 of 18 events, the skies opened up as well with the accompanying thunder and lightning, suspending the meet for nearly two hours.
The rain began during a talent-laden 800-meter race that ended up sending five competitors to next week’s state finals in Charleston and was won by El Paso-Gridley sophomore standout Julie James in 2:16.76.
James also will return to Charleston to compete in the 1,600, winning that event after the long rain delay.
“I really liked the layoff because it gave me some time to rest,” James said, adding that a foot was bothering her during the 800.
James bested Heart of Illinois Conference rival Sidney Meunier of GCMS in both events, beating Meunier to the line by 44-hundredths in the 800 and by 67-hundredths at 1,600 meters.
Lexington’s Kaley Ummel finished third in both events with times that qualified her for next week’s finals.
Angel Gaesser of GCMS also qualified in the 800. Kristen Paris of Fisher will join her HOIC foes for the 1600-meter race at next week’s state meet after finishing fourth.
GCMS junior Jordyn Nettleton helped the Falcons to the overall title by capturing the 100 hurdles over freshman Kasey Heitzmann of Lexington. Heitzmann avenged that loss by overtaking Nettleton down the stretch and nipping her by a tenth of a second in the 300 hurdles.
“Last year I was so close to making state and just missed, so it’s great to see all the hard work since then pay off,” said Nettleton.
The Falcons’ Kayla O’Neal also qualified for two events at state, finishing second in both the shot put and discus. Sophomore Mattie Buchanan of EPG was the shot put winner, edging O’Neal.
Ridgeview’s Emily Coile scored convincing victories in both the long jump and triple jump.
Coile was over a foot better than Maddie Bounds of Prairie Central in the long jump and nearly two feet superior to Gaesser of GCMS in the triple jump.
“I wasn’t coming into it too comfortable,” said Coile. “I was a little nervous but once I jumped it was better and now I’m pretty excited.”
Coile’s Ridgeview teammate, Sarah Butler, won the 200 and just missed qualifying in the 100.
The Ridgeview 800 relay team of Butler, Coile, Taylor Braasch and Kelli Richards was victorious over a unit from Prairie Central. The GCMS 400 relay team of Nettleton, Cowell, Lauren Nagle and Gaesser won its event.
Lexington’s Brittney Algar will be making her fourth straight state appearance after winning the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 4 inches.
Five pole vaulters qualified for state with Prairie Central’s Sarah Oprondek tying Kathryn Boyer of St. Thomas More for the top spot. Sam Tone and Jaymi Nettleton, both of GCMS, also qualified.