Girls Track & Field: Outracing the seedings

By Brandon LaChance, Editor
Posted 5/28/24

CHARLESTON – After the preliminary races on Thursday of the IHSA State Track Meet weekend, Amboy senior Elly Jones was seeded eighth in the 100-meter hurdles for the final race on Saturday, May 18.

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Girls Track & Field: Outracing the seedings


CHARLESTON – After the preliminary races on Thursday of the IHSA State Track Meet weekend, Amboy senior Elly Jones was seeded eighth in the 100-meter hurdles for the final race on Saturday, May 18.

Giving her all for her last race, ever, she outraced the seedings and finished with a fourth-place medal in 15.92 seconds at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

“I was surprised. I was very surprised I was able to get fourth place because going into the final race, I was ranked eighth,” said Jones, who will be attending the University of Kansas this fall. “I didn’t expect much. I was just hoping to finish. When I finished, I was extremely surprised.

“I looked up at my family and my jaw just dropped. I thought, ‘Holy cow, I did it.’”

Jones finishes her career with six track and field medals, which is the most in Amboy girls track history. She took three her freshman year (sixth in the 100 hurdles, eighth in both the 300 hurdles and triple jump) two as a sophomore (seventh in 100 hurdles, ninth in triple jump), none her junior year as she qualified for state but competed through an injury, and her fourth-place medal this year, which is her best finish.

She needed to take at least eighth place to tie Arika Zimmerlein for the most points at the state meet. With her finish, she is Amboy’s reigning state points leader.

Only two Amboy girls state track finishes are better than Jones’ fourth place as the 1600-meter relay team (Ashley Althaus, Cassidy Corcoran, Madeline Foster, and Katelynn Pankhurst) took third in 2017 and Pankhurst placed third in the long jump the same year.

“It’s huge to know I finished as one of the best track athletes from Amboy High School. It’s sad that was my last race, but to end it on that high of a note is really great,” said Jones, on Sunday, May 19 minutes after receiving her high school diploma. “I’m really happy.

“It’s a lot of happy, excited emotions. When I get home after high school graduation, I’m going to freak out a little bit. I’m on a high from Amboy Honors Night, state track, and graduating.

“These past four years of track have been amazing. I feel track and basketball have taught me so much about life in working hard, not giving up, and showing up every day. I’ve learned that from sports and I’m super grateful to all of my coaches and everyone who has been with me along the way.”

Jones’ six points tied Amboy for 45th in team points to trail team champion Father McGivney’s (Glen Carbon) 56.5 points.

She also competed in the triple jump prelims finishing 15th with a leap of 34 feet.

“She’s been a great example for the progress and the results we want to see at Charleston. We start every year with the hopes that we can get some athletes down there,” Amboy girls track coach Michael Robinson said. “With her leading the way, it shows we can get down there, now let’s do something while we’re there. It’s great to make it, but it’s even better when we can walk away with some hardware.

“It goes to show the seedings are just seedings. It all depends on what the athletes do on Saturday of state. It all comes down to the actual race, not predictions.”

Also competing at state was the 400-meter relay team of freshmen Alexa McKendry, Maddie Althaus and sophomores Jillian Anderson and Bella Yanos, which finished 21st in 52.19 seconds.

Individually, Yanos placed 27th in the long jump with a 15-foot-2 landing and Anderson was one of 16 jumpers to not make the qualifying height in the high jump.

Robinson is thrilled with how his team performed in Charleston and is excited to see what they can do next year.

“It lit a fire underneath them. Jillian, Alexa, and Maddie had been to the IESA State Meet, but it was great for them to get to the IHSA State Meet and see “Big Blue” (the EIU track),” Robinson said. “It’s a different atmosphere. You’re looking at schools and competitors from all over the place. You’re looking at three different levels (Class 1A, 2A, 3A) competing on the same surface on the same day.

“It’s an experience not everyone gets to see or be a part of. Them getting down there, I think fueled the fire that they can do it and the next step is what can they do with it. I’ve already got messages from them saying they want to work harder to get ready for next year’s state track meet.”