GLEN CARBON - Father McGivney Catholic head girls track coach Jim Helton could not have been more pleased with his squad's perfect performance at the 2024 IHSA Class 1A State Championship in girls track and field on Saturday, May 18, 2024.

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The Lady Griffins maximized two relays and seven individual finalists and McGivney scored 56.5 points to outscore Tuscola 45, and El Paso Gridley 38, and 69 scoring teams for the State Championship, the coach said.

"The Lady Griffins set themselves up well in the preliminary competition on Thursday (5/16/24) for Saturday's finals," the legendary coach said. "Every medalist was All-State. Mia Range opened the Griffins scoring in the high jump by soaring over 5' 2" (1.58m), and barely missing at 5' 3" (1.61m) snagging 6th overall (out of 15 finalists). Freshman McKenzie Jones raced to a strong personal best of 13:15 (34th overall) in the 3200m.

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"The 4 x 800m relay: Kaitlyn Hatley, Lilly Gilbertson, Jane Cummins, and Elena Rybak won in convincing fashion in (9:30.01) a season personal best. Key to this victory was Caroline Rakers racing in Thursday's preliminary round allowing Gilbertson to remain fresh for two (400m/200m) of her open events in order to make finals; the team and selfless sacrifice for the bigger goal. Hatley (2:23), Gilbertson (2:22), and Cummins (2:23) gave Rybak a strong lead, aware she had the open 800m and 1600m later in the competition. The 800m saw Rybak beat the defending state champion (Ahry Comer) by 2 seconds, racing to 2:10; again cognizant of the later races and team goals, didn't push to her potential, causing her to miss the state record by a second.

"The 400m saw two Lady Griffins toe the line: Gilbertson and Hatley. Gilbertson raced a strong 56.2 4th place, with Kaitlyn 9th in 1:02.2. Gilbertson's time was a personal best and school record, and the two All-State finishes scored another seven points for the team. Rybak (winner of the last two state individual State titles in the 1600m), and this year was matched against three runners who had all broken 5:00. In a tactical race, Elena pulled away on the 4th lap running 1:06 (4:54.02), a personal best and school record, for another championship.

"The 200m had Gilbertson power to another personal best and school record to achieve her second individual All-State performance: 24.99 (4th). Less than 20 minutes later, Gilbertson toed the line for the last event, the 4 x 400m relay. Running a strong (but tired) lead-off leg (58.0), she handed the baton to Hatley (59.5), Cummins (1:02), and Rybak (56.8) to put an exclamation mark on the State Championship racing to 3:56.97....(.07) from the state record."

Helton said the Griffins came home with "two individual champions, two relay champions, two fourth-place finishes, one sixth place, and one ninth place totaling 56.5 points, for 11 points over second place."

Senior Kaitlyn Hatley, juniors Jane Cummins, Lilly Gilbertson, Caroline Rakers, Mia Range, and Elena Rybak all contributed to the scoring totals; "a true team effort!" Helton said. "The team went into the season expecting big things out of themselves, and it came to fruition at EIU on Big Blue."

More like this:

May 18, 2024 - Rybak, Gilbertson, Lead Way: Lady Griffins Secure Top Spots, Prepare for State Finals

Jun 4, 2024 - McGivney Girls Dominate to Win State Title, Team Rate As Byron, Carlson, Petri & Kalb Female Athletes of the Month

Apr 15, 2024 - Lilly Gilbertson Posts Three School Records: Griffins Girls Capture Sam Bennett Invite Title, Boys Are Third At Staunton Meet

Apr 22, 2024 - McGivney Girls Stand Out At Edwardsville Girls Invite, Girls and Boys Have Strong Murphysboro Invite Performances

May 14, 2024 - 12 Lady Griffins Qualify for IHSA State Championships