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Fieldcrest junior Maria Baldwin (left) shakes the hand of an IHSA official after being presented her fifth-place medal for the Class 1A 3,200-meter run Saturday at the IHSA State Track and Field Meet at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium in Charleston. Baldwin also won a medal in the 1,600. She was the only area athlete to win two individual medals. NewsTribune photo/Genna Ord
Bureau Valley sophomore Lindsey Hoffert soars into the long jump pit Saturday during the IHSA State Track and Field Meet in Charleston. Hoffert leapt 17 feet, 4 3/4 inches to place third. NewsTribune photo/Genna Ord
CHARLESTON — Fieldcrest junior Maria Baldwin enjoyed her moment on the medal stand.
She smiled big, looked down at her fifth-place medal, gestured to people in the stands and even cheered for girls running in another final.
“It was like, ‘Wow, I’m really high off the ground.’ It feels great,” said Baldwin, who placed fifth in the IHSA Class 1A 3,200 meters Saturday. “I just looked and I saw my brother and my family and (Fieldcrest) coach (Carol) Bauer and I was just so happy with this medal around my neck, looking up at the sky and being so thankful.”
Baldwin returned to the podium later as the eighth-place finisher in the 1,600.
“It feels out of this world,” Baldwin said about winning two medals. “I can’t even believe it because I’ve been dreaming it this whole season. For it to actually happen, I’m just so happy. It was amazing.”
Last season, Baldwin narrowly missed medals in both distance events. She placed 11th in the 3,200 after winning the first heat, and she placed 10th — just one spot from a medal — in the 1,600.
This year, Baldwin’s sectional time put her in the fast heat of the 3,200, and she capitalized by earning her second career state track medal — she placed eighth in the 3,200 as a freshman — in a school-record time of 11:27.19.
“It means so much because last year was so upsetting missing the fast heat (of the 3,200) and having to run all by myself in the slow heat,” Baldwin said. “It was time for redemption, and I definitely did it with a new school record.”
In the 1,600, Baldwin sat in 10th entering the final lap, but she picked up her pace and passed two runners in the final lap.
“I was 10th with 400 to go. I was counting heads,” said Baldwin, who is the only area athlete to win two individual medals. “I was like, ‘OK, there’s no way this is happening again this year. I’m just going to gut this out and I’m going to get it,’ and I got it. I even caught someone else at the end, and I’m just so happy I did. It feels great.”
Baldwin was one of five area athletes to earn state medals Saturday at the IHSA State Track and Field Meet at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium.
Bureau Valley sophomore Lindsey Hoffert earned the area’s highest medal with a third-place finish in the long jump.
“It means a lot to actually get up there this year,” said Hoffert, who was second last year. “I wasn’t sure how well I’d do since I came in late (due to an ankle sprain). I gave it all I could so I’m proud of it.”
Hoffert entered Saturday’s finals in fourth place, but her leap of 17 feet, 4 3/4 inches moved her into third.
She actually tied for third with Sullivan’s Amanda McClain, but Hoffert earned third because Hoffert’s second-best jump of 17-3 1/4 topped McClain’s.
“I actually got on the board today,” Hoffert said. “That was key. Driving my heels into the sand, that was important, and just keeping my head in there and keeping strong.”
Fieldcrest sophomore Tessa Holland also overcame an injury to earn a medal in the 400.
Holland, who medaled in the high jump last year, suffered a stress fracture three weeks ago.
She’s been wearing an air cast when not running races and has been unable to train, but she ran a 1:00.35 to finish eighth.
“It’s always cool to get a medal,” Holland said. “It wasn’t my best race. I wish I could have run a little faster, but I tried my best and you can’t expect a lot from not working out for three weeks.”
Marquette’s Dani Aurit also earned a medal for the second year in a row by running a 5:23.35 to finish ninth in the 1,600.
“I wanted to stay with the pack and cruise with it and just finish how I could,” said Aurit, who also finished 22nd in the 3,200. “It feels really good (to medal). I love it. It was my goal coming in and I’m glad I got it.”
Princeton’s Zoe Mead earned her first individual medal by running a 2:17.27 to finish seventh in the Class 2A 800.
“When I was (coming into the first curve of the second lap), I counted I was in eighth place, so I was just trying to get up one medal so I could be on the podium,” Mead said. “It feels pretty good.”
Also competing Saturday were La Salle-Peru sophomore Megan Krolak, who finished 16th in the Class 2A 3,200 in a school-record 11:42.82, and Henry-Midland’s Jillian Monier (11:58.21) and Bureau Valley’s Regan Weidner (11:59.51), who finished 11th and 13th, respectively, in the Class 1A 3,200.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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