On Friday, May 20, the DGS girls track & field team will begin competition in the prelims of the IHSA State Championship meet. The meet will be held on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. The Mustangs qualified a total of 9 entries spread out among the 18 events and will be one of the team favorites to score well and place high.
In 1990, the Mustangs placed 3rd in the state, marking the highest girls track finish in DGS history. Recently, in both, 2007 and 2011, Downers Grove South placed 5th at the state meet. This season, the girls are looking to challenge again for one of the top 3 trophies.
The only field event qualifier for DGS is Maddie Manganiello (So) in the long jump. Her sectional jump of 18′ 8.25″ was the 5th best among a very tough field of jumpers. Her jump of 19′ 6″ at the previous week’s conference meet ranks #1 outdoors in Illinois this season. Maddie is poised to score valuable team points in the long jump. The top 12 jumpers on Friday will move on to the finals on Saturday where the top 9 finishers will score points and earn all-state honors.
The Mustangs have scored the majority of their points on the track this season, and Shaliyah Dixon-Tucker (Sr) is responsible for a large portion of them. This weekend should be no different, as she has qualified for the state meet in 3 individual events. Her signature event is the 100m hurdles and her sectional time of 14.23 is the #1 fastest time in Illinois this season. Shaliyah also qualified in the 100m dash, 200m dash, and as part of the 4x100m relay. Her sectional time in the 100m dash (12.05) is nearly as impressive as her hurdle time and leaves her tied for 1st among all of the sectional qualifying times, and #3 in Illinois throughout the entire outdoor season. Shaliyah’s 200m time of 25.55 ranks her 7th among the all of the state qualifiers. In all 3 of these sprint events, the top 9 prelim times will advance to Saturday’s finals.
Defending 800m state champion, Michaela Hackbarth (Sr) also has the ability to score a lot of team points for the Mustangs. In the previous two seasons, Michaela has qualified for state in both the 800m and 400m races, but has elected to scratch the 400m race to focus on the 800m. This is a notoriously difficult double because of the short amount of rest in between the two events (usually 30 minutes or less). This weekend, Michaela will compete in both events at the state meet. Her 800m time of 2:12.19 at sectionals is the #1 fastest time in Illinois this season and ranks her 1st among all state qualifiers. The top 12 times from Friday’s 800m prelim races will qualify for the finals. Michaela’s 400m time (57.90) is the 5th fastest among all of the state qualifiers. The top 9 finishers in the 400m prelims will advance to the finals on Saturday. If Michaela is able to move on to the 400m finals, she will be guaranteed to score team points in that event.
The 4x100m relay team made up of Nicole Muccianti (Jr), Soren Umali (Jr), Arianna Finley (Sr), and Shaliyah Dixon-Tucker (Sr) has qualified with the 10th best sectional time of 48.75. Earlier this season, the 4 girls teamed up to run 48.65 and set a new DGS school record. They will need to be within the top 9 times on Friday in order to make the Saturday finals and score some valuable team points. Last week’s sectional race was accomplished despite some very poor hand-offs, so hopefully with some extra practice, the Mustang quartet will improve on their sectional position and advance to the finals.
One DGS athlete that doesn’t have to worry about qualifying for finals is Katie Stapleton (Jr). She will be running the 3200m race on Saturday as this event does not have prelims. Her sectional time of 11:26 is ranked #33 among all qualifiers, but Katie will be looking to improve upon her seasonal best time of 11:02. With a great race, it’s certainly possible that she could dip under 11 minutes and steal some unexpected points with a top 9 finish.
Although Nicole Muccianti is only a junior, she is a state meet veteran having competed as part of Mustang state qualifying relays each of the last 2 years. While she will again represent DGS as the lead-off leg of the 4x100m relay, she will also step to the starting line in the 100m dash. Her sectional time (and personal best) of 12.56 will need to go even lower to advance beyond prelims as she has the #24 best sectional time. But, as is true with all events at the state meet, the only times that matter are the ones accomplished there.
The entire 2016 DGS track & field season has been one of the most exciting ones in team history. Some of the highlights include winning the North Central College Invitational over some of the best teams in the state, winning multiple events at the Top Times meet, winning the prestigious Wheaton South Tiger Invite at the end of outdoor, and scoring 200 points on both levels at the WSC Gold outdoor conference meet. But perhaps the biggest highlight of all will come this weekend in Charleston! #goMustangs