CHARLESTON — The Deer Creek-Mackinaw High School 3,200-meter relay and LeRoy sophomore hurdler Janika Peitzmeier took home two types of souvenirs from the 45th annual girls state track meet on Saturday.
One was a gold medal for winning in Class 1A and the other was a thrill they’ll never forget.
Dee-Mack posted the No. 2 time in school history at 9 minutes, 40.25 seconds to win by a wide margin over runner-up Springfield Lutheran (9:45.54). The Chiefs also won the 2014 title in 9:36.38.
Dee-Mack’s Fab Four consisted of Victoria Myers (2:27), Mikayla Moore (2:26), Emily Embry (2:28) and Chelsea Pawlak (2:19). Pawlak was the lone leftover from 2014 and a key member of the 2015 runner-up relay and last year’s third-place unit.
Pawlak got the baton in third and was closing on leader St. Joseph-Ogden when the Spartans’ anchor stepped on the rail and fell.
“When it happened, my first instinct was ‘I’ve got to help her up,’” Pawlak said. “What am I gonna do? I’ve got to keep going.”
St. Joseph-Ogden got up and finished, but was disqualified for stepping inside the rail.
“I came in my freshman year and we won state and I went out (with a title) my last year with some of my best friends,” said Pawlak, who later placed fifth in the open 800 in 2:19.83. “I couldn’t be more happy.”
Moore said, “This is everything I’ve ever wanted. Freshman year, I came here as an alternate. This was my goal.”
“It’s just a great honor to know that all the hard work I put in at practice all season long, competing with these girls, it’s finally paid off in the end,” Embry added.
Myers said, “We are super close. Sharing this moment with them is all I ever wanted.”
LeRoy’s Peitzmeier, a German exchange student, wanted something good to happen in the 100 hurdles and it did when the No. 5 seed, who ran 15.36 in Thursday’s prelims, shocked the O’Brien Stadium crowd by winning in a school record 14.55, which is the No. 2 time in Pantagraph area history.
She became LeRoy's first female state track champion.
“I honestly couldn’t believe it,” said Peitzmeier after hearing the result. “I thought that there was someone else ahead of me, but there wasn’t and it’s crazy.
“I really didn’t think I had a chance to win. I’m amazed by how all this worked out, especially with this being my very last meet. I will really miss this. Germany is cool, too, don’t get me wrong.”
Peitzmeier, who also placed fifth in the high jump with a season best of 5-3, flies home on June 9.
Dwight’s Daly Galloway ran her state medal total to 12 by placing second in the 3,200 (10:58.11) and third in the 1,600 (5:10.62). Both were won by Effingham St. Anthony’s Anna Sophia Keller (4:58.42 and 10:36.64). If Keller had lived in another state, Galloway would be a four-time champion.
“Yeah, I get that, and you know, you can’t change anything,” Galloway said. “It definitely motivated me to work harder.”
Fisher junior Alayna Stalter, third in the 100 hurdles a year ago, took third again, lowering her school record of 14.83 to 14.80, the No. 6 time in area history.
“I was really hoping (to win), but it’s all right,” she said. “I’m proud of my race.”
Giving the Heart of Illinois Conference a third medalist in the 100 hurdles was El Paso-Gridley’s Gracie Feeney (15.54), who later placed third in the 300 hurdles in a school record 45.79. She rated both medals as team awards.
“I’ve had coaches constantly helping me,” she said. “I’ve had teammates ahead of me and below me push me in everything I do.”
Fourth in the 300 hurdles went to Delavan sophomore Katie Springer (46.07), who was doubling back after placing third in the 800 (2:18.16) an hour earlier.
“Halfway through the season, I started running the 800 and I didn’t think I was going to be able to be where I am now, but I made it and I’m happy with what I got,” she said.
Other area 800 placers were Delanie Dykes of GCMS (sixth, 2:20.67) and Fieldcrest’s Claire Weers (ninth, 2:23.21). Dykes clocked a personal best and Weers a school record.
“I’ve been training a lot so I’m glad to see that it paid off,” Dykes said.
“Running is definitely a mental game,” noted Weers. “If you don’t think you can do it, you won’t do it.”
Rain moved the 1A pole vault indoors where Central Catholic’s Maddie Kelley, an Illinois-Chicago recruit, took fifth at 11-3.
“It would have been really nice to jump outside,” she said. “I’m really happy about the season.”
Tri-Valley pole vaulters Cassie Wilson (7th, 11-0) and Jenna Ring (8th, 10-6) won the third and fourth medals of their respective careers.
“I couldn’t do it without Cassie or (coach) Tom Coulon,” Ring said.
Wilson said, “I’m excited that I’m going to college (at Illinois State) and doing it four more years, but I’m sad that this is the last time I’m going to jump in high school.”
With just one senior, Ridgeview’s 800 relay placed seventh (1:49.10) thanks to Jules Grunloh, River Rosales, Elesys Rosales and Mya Tinsley.