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Marquette sophomore Paige Aurit competes during the 800-meter run Thursday at the IHSA State Track and Field Meet in Charleston. Aurit advanced to Saturday’s finals with a time of 2:22.77. NewsTribune photo/Kevin Chlum
CHARLESTON — Marquette senior Dani Aurit has been a regular participant in the IHSA Girls Track & Field finals during her career.
Now her younger sister Paige will join her there.
Dani Aurit qualified for the Class 1A finals in the 1,600 meters — and also will run Saturday in the 3,200 — while Paige advanced in the 800.
“It means so much,” Dani Aurit said about her and Paige both qualifying. “She’s my sister and probably my best friend. It’s going to be so great to stay here then go to finals and try to kick butt together — the Aurit sisters.”
Dani Aurit earned her third trip to the 1,600 finals by placing fourth in her heat in 5:15.77.
“I’m happy with that time,” said Dani Aurit, who hopes to place fifth or better in both distance events Saturday. “I wish I didn’t go out so fast in the beginning, but I’ll try to do that on Saturday.”
In her second trip to state, Paige Aurit punched her ticket to the finals by running a 2:22.77 to place fourth in her heat.
“I came here last year not prepared for the 800,” said Paige Aurit, who also ran the 400 in 1:02.10 but did not advance. “I got out there and it was so fast. I was not ready for it, so this year it means a lot to go to the finals.
“I was much more prepared. I knew what was going on. I knew the schedule. I knew who I was competing against. I felt much better prepared for this today.”
A familiar opponent will join Dani Aurit in the 1,600 finals in Fieldcrest senior Maria Baldwin, who owns three career state medals in the 1,600 and 3,200.
Baldwin, who also will run the 3,200 on Saturday, advanced to the finals again by breaking her own school record with a 5:14.89 to finish one place ahead of Aurit.
“It feels amazing to run the fastest race of my life today because I know I’ll be too tired to run a very fast one Saturday because I’m going to really nail the two mile in hopes of getting sub 11:10,” Baldwin said.
“It makes me so happy because (5:15) is something I’ve always dreamed of. I always thought, ‘5:15, 5:15.’ To beat it is really something.”
Teammate Tessa Holland was the only area athlete to advance to the finals in three individual events.
A year after being limited by shin splints, Holland qualified in the high jump, triple jump and 400, and she’s sitting in the top four in all three events.
“Of course, I think about (winning a state title) and I would love to do it, but I realize it takes work,” Holland said. “We’ll see what happens Saturday.”
Holland entered state as the No. 1 seed in the high jump and easily advanced by clearing 5 feet on her first attempt and then 5-2 on her first attempt.
In the triple jump, she recorded a personal best at 36-8 to enter the finals in second place.
“I’ve been working on lengthening my second phase and shortening my first one, and I think that’s helping a lot,” Holland said. “I used to get too much length on my first one and my second one was barely a step, so I’ve changed it up a lot and it’s helped. I’ve added like two feet since I’ve done that.”
She capped her day by running a 59.23 in the 400 to place second in her heat and enter finals seeded fourth.
“I knew I wasn’t going to have an easy heat and I’ve been on my legs all day jumping, so I’m happy with it considering,” Holland said.
Marquette sophomore MeKenzie Mattes did not advance after running a 12.75 in the 100 and a 26.11 in the 200.
“I’m not very happy with it, but there’s a lot of fast girls here,” Mattes said. “I guess I trained harder, but I’ll be back next year, hopefully. … It will definitely push me a lot harder (for next year).”
Amboy-LaMoille sophomore Erika Zimmerlein, a first-year track participant, ran a 26.2 in the 200.
“I think I got my P.R. today,” Zimmerlein said. “I’m excited because at sectional, that was a bad day. The weather (was bad), but today is a day to remember.”
Teammate Laura Rieker cleared 4-10 in the high jump but did not clear the 5-2 necessary to advance.
Hall freshman Madi Quinn soared over 9-9 in the pole vault but missed her three attempts at 10 feet, which was the cutout for finals.
In the 300 hurdles, Putnam County junior Paige Griffith fell over a hurdle coming around the final curve and finished last in her heat in 53.9 seconds.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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