Litchfield has had a number of elite high jumpers come through their girls track program over the last four decades. Jana Hartke took seventh in 1987 and eighth in 1988. Samera Powell was ninth in 2004. Ellie Niemann was a three-time state medalist, finishing eighth in 2015, sixth in 2016 and ninth in 2017.
On Thursday, June 10, Carly Guinn added her name to that list with an eighth place finish at the Class 1A State Track Finals at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
Guinn was perfect in her first two jumps, clearing 1.47 and 1.52 to solidify her spot in the top portion of the 35-competitor field. The Panther junior would take three shots at 1.57 meters, which she cleared last Wednesday to win the North Mac Sectional, but was unable to make it over the height.
Still, the height was good enough to tie for eighth with four other competitors, six centimeters behind Lindley Johnston for the state championship.
With all the challenges of COVID-19, the lack of training, the shortened schedule, the changes to the state tournament, Guinn’s accomplishment is even more special. Next year, with a more normal schedule hopefully, she will see if she can join Hartke and Niemann as the only Purple Panthers to earn multiple state medals in the girls high jump.
While the highlight of the day was Guinn’s performance in the high jump, her trip to the state tournament also included running in three relays with her fellow Panthers as Litchfield had seven entries at Thursday’s state tournament.
Litchfield’s best finish in the relays came in the 4x100, where they ran a 53.74 with the team of Guinn, Carson Lemon, Kendall Stewart and Kate Komor to finish 22nd in the field of 28 teams. The 4x400 team of Guinn, Komor, Stewart and Emma Dively ran a 4:28.33 to finish 23rd, while the 4x200 relay of Guinn, Komor, Lemon and Lily Braasch ran a 1:57.96 to finish 28th overall.
Lemon also ran in the 100 meter hurdles, where she ran a 17.44 to beat Alees Trimmingham of Auburn, who edged her for a sectional championship by a thousandth of a second, by one one-hundredth of a second to finish 24th.
Between the hurdles and the two relay legs, Lemon was spent going into her fourth event of the day, the pole vaults. She was originally planning to be done with her vaults before hitting the track, but a lack of volunteers meant that two flights couldn’t be done simultaneously and Lemon wasn’t able to start her vault until 4 p.m.
Once she got the chance to compete, the LHS senior cleared 2.59 meters in her first attempt, but narrowly missed at 2.74 meters to end her day in 28th place.
Like Lemon, Kendall Stewart also ran a race in addition to the relays. Stewart was the top finishing freshman in the 400 meters, running a time of 1:02.59 to finish 19th.
Like Guinn and teammates Lily Braasch and Emma Dively, Stewart will be back next year, with another state bid her goal. While this season was far from ideal, persevering through the challenges of 2021 will undoubtedly make the Panthers stronger in 2022.