ALTON - It was an exciting day Wednesday at Marquette Catholic with a dramatic send-off for the IHSA state track and field qualifiers, their families, and friends.

Marquette Catholic will have a long jumper, shot putter, and a 4x800 relay team in Charleston. The 4x800 has three freshmen and one sophomore. The team consists of captain Kailey Vickrey, Katy Johnson, Paige Rister, and Ava Certa. They are ranked 18 and have a time of 11:04.41. In the long jump, Marquette’s junior, Sammy Hentrich, is ranked 25 with a jump of 15’2.25. Freshman shot put thrower, Laura Hewitt, is ranked 24 and has a throw of 34’8.25.

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Marquette Catholic head girls track and field coach, Tim Turnbeaugh, has done an amazing job building his girls team with an abundance of strong athletes.

Turnbeaugh thanked everyone for giving a state track send-off to his team.

"In all the years I have been in sports, I have never had anything like this," he said. "I have had great support from the parents, which I greatly appreciate. We are sending four freshmen and two sophomores to state. If that doesn't give us a future for Marquette track and field, I don't know what does."

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The coach said he loves how Marquette Catholic teaches sportsmanship and how to present themselves.

Hentrich, also a highly regarded gymnast, took her skills and put them into sprints, long jump, and hurdles over the season. Hentrich qualified in the long jump at sectional with her 15-2, but she narrowly missed qualifying in the hurdles, falling at the finish.

Tristan Fraley, another standout hurdler, triple jumper, and part of the Explorers’ 4 x 100 team, was injured after her first jump at the sectional and unable to compete after that. Turnbeaugh is excited Tristan will return in 2022. Vickrey is a middle to long-distance standout for the Explorers. Hewitt has finished at the top in the shot put and discus of nearly every meet for Marquette.

Johnson, Rister, and Certa all play huge roles with the Explorers’ team in the relays and their own individual events.

Dan Brannan also contributed to this story.

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