Kaci Papin’s path to state has been anything but smooth. From going up against the best of the best from Class 2A as a freshman to having her sophomore season washed out due to COVID, the Hillsboro junior has been battle tested when it comes to her track career.
Regardless of what bumps have presented themselves along the way, all roads lead to Charleston for Papin as she earned her second straight state finals berth and her first sectional title in the high jump.
Papin cleared 1.54 meters (about five feet and three quarters of an inch) at the East Alton-Wood River Sectional, one of three to make the height, which was the state qualifying standard in the event.
Finishing behind Papin, but also making it to state were Highland’s Lydia Hadowsky and East Alton-Wood River’s Hannah Sechrest. Sechrest was with Papin in the finals at state two years ago, finishing eighth, while Papin was 12th.
While Papin will be the sole competitor for Hillsboro at the girls state tournament on Friday, June 11, at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, the Lady Hiltoppers had a solid day at EAWR despite being one of the meet’s smallest schools.
Sierra Compton ran a 5:52.27 to finish sixth overall in the 1600 meters, just 2.1 seconds behind fifth place finisher Vivian Rahmel of Sacred Heart-Griffin. Only Collen Zeibert of Rochester and Hannah Meiser of Civic Memorial would advance to state, with Zeibert running a 5:20.78 and Meiser taking an automatic bid with a second place finish in a time of 5:27.63, just over the state qualifying standard of 5:24.45.
Sophomore Paitynn Wilson would finish ninth in the 100 meters, placing her almost smack in the middle of the 20-competitor field. Wilson’s time of 14.25 edged Roxana’s Lily Daugherty, who rounded out the top ten with a 14.26.
No runners would hit the qualifying standard of 12.69 seconds, with Olivia Redpath of Sacred Heart-Griffin and Ameeria Jackson of Springfield Southeast the closest at 13.03 and 13.32 seconds.
In the shot put, Emma Miller threw 7.64 meters to place 13th in the throws.
Jayden Ulrich of East Alton-Wood River showed why she is one of the top prep throwers not just in the state, but in the country as she doubled up with wins in the shot (14.60 meters) and the discus (44.62 meters), with both distances enough to give her the top seed at the state meet.
Highland’s Taylor Kesner, who is seeded second in the shot and fourth in the discus, finished 2.15 meters behind Ulrich in the shot and 4.59 meters behind the Oiler standout in the discus.
As for Papin, the Hillsboro junior is in the middle of the pack, grouped in with seven athletes who jumped 1.54 meters in sectionals. Only 12 others jumped higher than that in the sectional tournament, meaning that a medal is not out of the question if Papin can post a season or career best at state.
June 4 at Wood River
Class 2A Sectional
Girls Team Results: 1. Triad 97; 2. East St. Louis 88; 3. Highland 78; 4. Breese Central 62; 5. Sacred Heart-Griffin 41; 6. Rochester 35; 7. Civic Memorial 34; 8. East Alton-Wood River 32; 9. Springfield Southeast 28; 10. Roxana 25; 11. Hillsboro 11; 12. Staunton 10; 13. Southwestern 8; 14. Lanphier 7; 15. Jerseyville 2.
Hillsboro Girls Results
100: 9. Paitynn Wilson 14.25
1600: 6. Sierra Compton 5:52.27
Shot Put: 13. Emma Miller 7.64m
High Jump: 1. Kaci Papin 1.54m