O'FALLON — Granite City senior Catherine Jakich and Alton junior LaJarvia Brown are going back to Charleston.
Brown placed first in the long jump and triple jump and placed second in the 300-meter hurdles and Jakich finished second in the shot put at the Class 3A O'Fallon Sectional on Friday.
Brown and Jakich will compete at the Class 3A state meet, which starts Thursday at Eastern Illinois University. Brown will be making her third straight state meet appearance, while Jakich will be competing at state for the second year in a row.
“I’m excited to go,” Jakich said. “I think it’s an honor. It’s an amazing experience to be with the best track athletes in the state and compete against people who have worked really hard in track.”
A year ago, Brown and Jakich were the only representatives for their respective teams at the state meet. This year, they will have company.
Brown will be joined by freshman Katie Mans and junior Jewel Wagner as the Alton representatives at the state meet. Mans won the high jump in 5-5 and Wagner placed third in the shot put with a state-qualifying throw of 40 feet, 6.5 inches.
"I think we have a better chance of putting up more points," Brown said. "Last year, with just me there, I think we were in the top 20 at least with just me in two events. I'm in three, Katie has a good shot and so does Jewel. I think we can do good and make a name for ourselves at Alton since no girls' team has ever done anything at state."
Wagner said she was thrilled that her team will be sending three athletes to state.
"Our coaches are very proud," Wagner said. "Everybody's proud of them."
Mans will be making her first trip to state after competing in the Illinois Elementary School Association state meet as an eighth-grader at Alton Middle School last spring.
"I like (high school) a lot better," Mans said. "The competition is harder, which makes me go faster and jump higher."
Jakich will be joined by sophomore Robyn Pointer as the Granite City representatives at Charleston. Pointer will compete at state for the first time after finishing fourth in the 200 with a state-qualifying time of 25.7 seconds.
After Pointer found out that she qualified, she got a big hug from her sister, senior Fonda Clark.
"I just had to think positive," Pointer said. "I kept on telling myself that I've got to run my race. No matter what place I get, I'll just run it."
Clark's high school track career came to an end on Friday after finishing seventh in the long jump in 16-8.75 and ninth in the 300-meter hurdles in 47.07 seconds.
"I think my senior year was a really good year for me," Clark said.
Four Alton athletes saw their high school track careers come to an end at Friday's sectional – seniors Rebecca Adney, Rylee Davis, Jalisa Casey and Tatiana Britt.
Adney won her heat in the 800 in 2:31.22, but finished 11th overall.
"It felt good," Adney said. "I knew it was my last open race for high school. It kind of hit me when I walked up to the line, so I knew I had to go out and do my best because it was over after that. So I knew I had to go out with a bang."
Jakich clinched a state berth in the shot put by throwing a personal-best 40-10 on her first attempt.
"Me and (assistant) coach (Jake) Janek have been working on getting the first throw and having confidence," Jakich said. "All week, last week and this week, we've been working on hitting that state-qualifying mark in the first throw so it's out of your head and you don't have to worry about it. In shot put, I walked in and I knew what I had to hit and I did my best."
Last year, Jakich qualified for state in the discus. On Friday, she came up three inches short of clinching a state berth in the event. She finished fourth with a 117-3.
Brown finished with a 17-11.75 in the long jump and a 38-10.5 in the triple jump and ran 44.32 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles. Brown won a sectional title in the triple jump for the second straight year.
"It feels great to go in three events," Brown said. "That's been my goal all year. But it feels even better to have my teammates going, too."
Brown is looking to win her second straight state championship in the triple jump. Last year, she became the first Alton female athlete to win a state title after placing first in the triple jump. She also finished sixth in the long jump at state as a sophomore.
Alton finished in a tie for sixth with Springfield with 44 points and Granite City placed 12th with 16 in the 17-team sectional meet. O'Fallon ran away with the title, accumulating 109 points. Second-place Boomington gathered 56 points.