CHARLESTON — Monticello's girls track team made a statement Friday that it is a contender for the Class 2A state championship — all the Sages advanced to Saturday's final.
The Sages, who finished sixth overall at last year's meet, were led by junior Emelia Ness, who advanced to the finals individually in the 100-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles and as a part of the relay teams in the 4x100 and 4x200.
Ness' time of 14.78 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles was the best overall on Friday.
"The weather here is pretty nice today after being so bad all season so I was feeling good today," she said. "I was trying to get into the 14s and doing that was a great accomplishment."
Ness won her heat in the 300 hurdles with a time of 45.55, which was the third-best time run on Friday.
The Sages also have individuals in the finals of the pole vault (Landis Brandon), 100 (Mattie Lieb), 1600 (Alyssa McPike and Rachel Koon) and the 200-meter dash (Lieb). The 4x800 relay team will also compete in Saturday's finals.
Monticello won their 4x200 relay heat in a dramatic fashion as Lieb, who set a personal record in the 100-meters dash, took the baton in the anchor leg and moved the Sages from third to first over her leg. Their heat time of 1:41.84 was four seconds faster than at sectionals.
"I knew we had to run our hardest with the competition and I knew I had to stay strong," Lieb said. "I wasn't focused on anything but getting to finals. Our time was a big improvement and I'm really surprised. I knew we were going to do well but that really surprised us."
Mount Zion advances 5 events
Led by pole vaulter Rhiannon Held, Mount Zion advanced athletes in five events to Saturday's finals.
Held entered the state tournament with the top sectional height of 12 feet, 5 inches — 10 inches above her nearest competitor. She only needed to clear 11 feet to advance out of prelims and has a calm attitude about the state competition.
"My vaulting was good today. I was trying to keep my energy up because it was quite a long wait between jumps," she said. "I'm really calm because I'm just trying to have fun and what happens happens. I can't control anyone but my own jumps."
Joining Held in the individual finals are Morgan Pilate (triple jump), Taylor Fox (800 meters) and Sara Addai (400-meter dash).
"Morgan is so much fun and she has brought so much fun to the team and I'm really excited she is coming to finals with me. I'm so excited not to be alone this year," Held said.
Fox also anchors the 4x800 team (Kaelyn Mackling, Lucy Griffith, Ashleigh Anderson and Fox) and is looking to improve upon last year's ninth place finish in the event. The relay team advanced with a time of 9 minutes, 56.87 seconds on Friday.
"We knew we were going to have to push it and we have a freshman (Anderson) who has really stepped it up this year," Fox said. "I think the thing about this year is that our distance team is so deep that any of us could have been out there and we could have made it."