TOLONO — After competing in the IHSA sectional meet in Tolono Unity on Thursday, it’s official. Five athletes from the Rantoul Township High School girls track team are going to state.

Tanaya Young, India Emery, Lovenya Perry, Shanyla Strawder and Mye’joi Williams will go on to compete at the IHSA state meet at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston on Saturday.

 Eagles finish second in 4x100-meter relay

Young, Emery, Perry and Strawder finished second (out of 17) in the 4x100-meter relay with a time of 50.19 seconds. Monticello finished first with a facility record of 49.45 seconds. The top two finishing 4x100-meter relay teams go to state.

“They were nervous going into it with them being freshmen and sophomores, but they did a great job,” Rantoul head coach Ben Hankes said. “They kept their composure and got it done.”

It’s the first time in the Rantoul girls track program that a relay team has made it to state under the tenure of Hankes.

 First relay team to go to state for Rantoul in 30 years

In fact, it has been about 30 years since the Rantoul program sent a relay team to state.

“I was asking coaches, ‘When was the last time a relay from Rantoul has made it from the girls team?’” Hankes said. “It’s longer than I have been there, and from what I figured it’s been quite a while. This is the first time that I think since the ‘90s that we qualified a relay for state, which is a big accomplishment for this school. I’m really proud of them for that.” 

Young gets facility record in long jump

Young also finished first in the long jump with a result of 18 feet, 3.25 inches, which is a facility record.

“A facility record means she beat the best jump that has ever been there,” Assistant Coach Britanni Durban said. “Which is awesome, because it is a more difficult space for them to jump. What impressed me the most today was her positive attitude throughout the whole thing. She didn’t get frustrated on herself, and she just kept going.”

Durban said she looks forward to watching how the 4x100-meter team will compete both at state and beyond. Young and Perry are sophomores. Emery and Strawder are freshmen.

“They came together running for the first time this year,” Durban said. “It’s really nice to see them growing as the season goes. We expect great things at state and in years to come.”

 Young gets third in 100-meter race

Young wasn’t done for the sectional. She finished third in the 100 meters with a time of 12.71 seconds, which is enough for her to go to state.

“She got third place and hit the qualifying time,” Hankes said. “She missed out on that last year. It was awesome for her to achieve that.”

 Perry races to first in 400-meter race

Perry finished first in the 400 meters race at 56.68 seconds, qualifying her for state. For Perry, it means a lot to finish first in the 400 meters because of the tough competition and weather conditions she was up against.

“I was scared and just trying to breathe in this wind,” Perry said. “Everybody is very competitive in the last heat, and I just had to fight. I was hoping one of us would get first, and it just happened to me.”

 Williams gets first place in shot put

Williams qualified for state by finishing first in the shot put with a throw of 42 feet. It will be the Williams’ second time at state. 

“It’s a very big deal,” Williams said. “Who wouldn’t be excited to go to state? I’m glad I’m one of the athletes that do get to go state. Not a lot of people get to go.”

Last year three Eagles qualified for state -- Williams (shot put), Perry (400 meters) and Young (long jump).

Emery, Strawder, Young,  Perry and Walker also finished fourth in the 4x200 meters with a time of 1:49.93.

Alysha Kesler finished with a personal record in the 800 meters with a time of 3:26.70.

Contact Ben Theobald at btheobald@rantoulpress.com