pdated: 3:56 pm, Sun May 24, 2015.
CHARLESTON – Mission accomplished.
The Bolingbrook 4×100-meter relay team came into the state meet at Eastern Illinois University with one goal – winning the state championship.
Thanks to a lean across the finish line by senior Jessica Watkins, they did just that, edging Lincoln-Way East by one hundredth of a second, finishing with a time of 47.58.
“I was waiting for the scoreboard,” Watkins said after the finish. “I gave it all I had. I was confident we had a good time and I finished the race as strong as I could. I had a really good lean. I knew she was coming, so I just got the lean in. I just gave it all I had.”
“It feels amazing to get our goal,” Bolingbrook junior Charlyncia Stennis said. “It is incredible. Our handoffs were really good.”
The veteran unit overcame adversity of the years to win the title, making everything pay off in the end.
“This makes it all worth it,” senior Asha Wallace said. “This is such a blessing. We worked so hard to get to this point. This was my main goal. I always have to watch from the back, so I was just hoping for the best.”
“It feels good,” senior Alexis Brooks said. “This feels like home. It feels good to redeem ourselves. I just knew I had to get a good block start and catch the girls ahead of me in lanes eight and nine. It feels good to end senior year like this.”
Watkins closed her career in style, finishing with a fourth-place finish in the 100 (12.11) and a seventh-place showing in the 200 (25.52).
She concluded her career with an impressive eight state medals. “It’s been great,” said Watkins, who is headed to DePaul University. “I’ve grown so much as a student, an athlete and a person. I learned so much. I’m excited to go to college and continue my career. I’m happy I got the chance to compete on this great track in front of all the fans.”
Stennis placed seventh in the 400, finishing with a time of 57.79.
“My main goal was to PR,” Stennis said. “Whatever place I get, I’m happy with.”
Senior Mikayla Houston had a shot put distance of 37-feet, 9.5-inches, which was short of qualifying for finals.
Last year Cierra Pulliam put herself on the track scene with a third-place showing in the triple jump at the state meet.
This year, she topped that performance.
The Romeoville senior finished in second place Saturday at Eastern Illinois University with a distance of 39-feet, 7.75-inches.
“I think I did put on a good show and I’m excited with how I did,” Pulliam said. “I moved up another place from last year, so that was really exciting. I’m a little upset I didn’t make my goal, but I’m still excited.”
Her experience last year helped her out this year.
“I knew what was going to be happening and I knew the entire setup,” Pulliam said. “I knew what I had to do and how everything was going to be. Being a two-time medalist means a lot to me. The opportunity was great for me.”
Next up for Pulliam is college, where she will be staying in town at Lewis University. “I’m really excited to go to the college level now,” Pulliam said. “My goal is still to get 42 feet. It is nice to stay close to home.
The 4×200 meter relay of Pulliam and freshmen Idara Anyang, Jahnetta Jones and Kaniyah Rush set had a PR and finished third in their heat, but the time of 1:43.28 wasn’t quite enough to make finals.
“We had a good PR,” Anyang said. “We really got the technique that the coaches gave to us. What we learned all season went into this race. Our handoffs were perfect. We did everything really well. It was exciting hearing the noise and the cheering. It is nice to have the support.”
“I’m really happy,” Jones said. “We all did what we were looking to do. I’m so proud of everyone. This motivates me a lot and we want to do better next year. It was different coming out here as freshmen at the state meet. I learned from everyone else.”
“We’re motivated,” Rush said. “I feel we did pretty good. I was nervous, but once I got the baton I stopped being nervous. It was fun.”
Pulliam missed out on finals in the 200, finishing with a time of 26.09.
“I felt pretty good about my races,” she said. “I didn’t come out of the blocks as fast as I should have in the 200. I’m still excited I had the opportunity to run it.”