Charger standout and 2 time State champ @Danielle Taets finds perfect fit at Illinois State.
For Clyde-Savannah (1-1), Kelsie DiSanto slammed 7 kills. Riley Carr delivered 14 assists, 2 aces and 9 digs. Cailin Bloomer also had 9 digs.
Danielle Taets stepped up her game on Saturday and walked away from the IHSA Class 1A State Track & Field Championships with two gold medals.
The Orion junior won both the triple jump and 100 hurdles titles at O’Brien Stadium. To add to her medal haul, she finished third in the 300 hurdles.
However, Taets wasn’t the only local competitor to home with a gold medal. Fulton junior Chloe Lindeman won the 1A shot put title.
“It’s kind of crazy to me; I never would have expected it coming in my freshman year of track,” said Taets. “It’s kind of unbelievable how much I’ve changed through freshman year. I’m hoping to keep getting better and better.”
Since being shut out in medals as a freshman, the sleek standout now has collected five medallions in the last two years. At the 2017 state meet, she was a triple jump runner-up and finished 7th in the 100 hurdles.
In this year’s 100 highs, she took the lead from the very beginning, not letting up until she crossed the finish line with a time of 14.72, just two-tenths of a second ahead of Arthur’s Kenli Nettles.
“When I pushed out, I felt really fast in the beginning,” she said. “I was just thinking to myself; I’ve gotta keep up this speed.”
As it turned out, the Class 1A triple jump competition turned into a Three Rivers Conference showdown between Taets and Fulton junior Daekota Knott. While Taets carried over her 38-foot qualifying leap from Thursday’s preliminary action, Knott improved 4.5-inches to 37-8.5, but remained in the silver medal position.
Taets made it to the podium in her third event, the 300-meter hurdles, taking third place in 46.03, with only .66 between her and the fourth place finisher.
Thanks to Taets efforts, Orion placed seventh in the team standings with 28 points – a total that included senior Alexandra Mack’s ninth-place finish (15.76) in the 100-hurdles.
Danielle Taets has a full day ahead of her for Saturday’s IHSA girls state track and field finals, as she prepares to compete in both hurdle events and the triple jump.
The Orion junior also takes some high expectations after qualifying among the top three in all three events during Thursday’s Class 1A preliminaries at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston.
In the triple jump, Taets logged the top qualifying mark with a best of 38-feet even. In the 300-meter low hurdles her 46.00 clocking was third-best.
“That’s my best race ever,” she said after the event. “I’m really happy about that. Hopefully, it gives me a good lane assignment for finals.”
Though Taets was nervous, she said taking the time to warm up before competing and focusing on her own lane helped.
“I saw the seedings. I knew it was going to be anyone’s race,” said Taets, who won the second heat by a half-second.
The race was “ridiculously close,” she said, but concentrated on doing her best.
Between now and Saturday, her plan is to try and relax, while doing “a bunch of drills” to try to improve her skills even more.
“I’m happy about this, especially since I PR’d at state, so it just feels really good,” said Taets, whose 100 hurdles time trailed only sophomore Kenli Nettles, of Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond.
In the triple jump, Taets is ahead of Three Rivers Conference foe Daekota Knott. The Fulton junior recorded the second-best qualifying leap of 37-4.
During last year’s state meet, Taets performed well, grabbing a second place in triple jump and seventh in the 100-meter high hurdles. Now, she says the pressure is on to keep up the pace.
Taets’ teammate, Orion senior Alexandra Mack, will join her in competing at Saturday’s 100-meter high hurdles final, grabbing the final qualifying spot in the nine-runner finals with her qualifying time of 16.07. She was the only runner over 16-seconds to make finals.
After ending her sophomore season at her peak, Orion track and field standout Danielle Taets is striving to reach greater heights.
A Class 1A state runner-up in the triple jump and a seventh-place finisher in the 100 high hurdles, the Charger junior is not only looking to make it three trips to Charleston in three years, she wants to fill up her state weekend as much as possible.
“I’m definitely hoping (to qualify in) all four events,” said Taets. “I hope to place in at least two or three of them, but I want to make it in all four. That’d be really nice.”
Starting off by clearing 35 feet, 9 inches to win the TRAC triple jump title, Taets went on to sweep the hurdles events, winning the 100 highs in 15.27 seconds and taking the 300 low hurdles title in 47.52; she also took second in the 100 meter dash with a 13.09 clocking.
“Obviously, I was shooting to get all four,” she said, “but I felt (winning) three was a realistic goal, so I’m OK with that. Being on my home track, I felt more comfortable, like I was at practice doing run-throughs and stuff like that. I perform better when I’m relaxed.”
A state qualifier in the triple jump and 4×800 relay two years ago, Taets also booked a trip to Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium in the 300 hurdles last May in addition to her two medal-winning events. Her 2017 performances inspired her to raise the bar for this season.
“This year, I’ve got really high expectations for myself,” Taets said. “I want to keep doing better, better than I did last year. Right now, I feel like I’m ahead of where I was last year. My times are better, and my jumps are longer.”
With Orion set to compete at Thursday’s 1A Alleman Sectional at Augustana College, Taets hopes to reap a golden harvest.
One person who is confident that Taets will rise above the pressure of not just the 2018 postseason, but the shadow cast by last year’s accomplishments, is Orion coach Morgan Leffel.
“She gives a little extra push during the bigger meets and the postseason,” said Leffel. “As soon as last year ended, she started talking about the upcoming season. As a coach, that’s awesome to see, how motivated an athlete can be once they have some success. It opens up a whole world of possibilities.”
“When Danielle came in as a freshman, we had Alexandra Mack already, and she’s family, so we hoped that family trait would be there,” Leffel stated. “Her parents were successful, and her cousin was successful. We threw her in all kinds of events her freshman year, but last year, we found out what she was good at.”
Or, as Leffel added, the bigger the meet, the better the performance by Taets.
Now, she hopes to dig down deep for some of her biggest and best efforts these next two weeks.
“Last year at sectionals, I PR’d in almost all of my events, the three I made it to state in,” she said. “I’m hoping to do that in all of my events, to make sure I get down to state. When there’s a lot of competition, that makes me push myself even harder.”
Both personal and school records were broken Thursday as local track and field athletes competed for spots in the final competition of the Class 1A IHSA state series.
Quad-Cities area schools had nine individual and one relay qualify for Saturday’s 1A finals back at O’Brien Stadium.
Topping that list were Alleman High School sophomore Kiah O’Neal in the high jump and Orion sophomore Danielle Taets in the triple jump.
Taets came out of Thursday’s prelims with the best triple jump mark of 37-00.75. She also qualified for the finals in the 100-meter hurdles (15.46), where she is seeded fifth.
Because it is her second time at state, Taets said she felt more prepared.
“This makes me excited for the next two years,” Taets said. “Maybe I could do even better than I’m doing now.”
Fulton shot putter Chloe Lindeman uncorked a heave of 43-1.5 to sit second heading into Saturday’s finals.
Riverdale junior Darcie Pilon, running in the 400, said she ran the hardest she has all year at the state meet. That led to her running the fourth-fastest qualifying time of :59.43 and breaking the school record that had been :59.6.
“I’ve been lifting a lot more, working harder in practice,” said Pilon of finally getting the mark.
Fulton’s Lindeman, a sophomore, and senior teammate Emma Jacobs (38-feet, 3/4-inch, eighth best) both qualified for shot put finals, competing in the same flight. Lindeman attributes some of her success to this “healthy competition.”
“I have someone to support me, and she has someone to support her,” Lindeman said. “We know if we have each other we can move mountains. (We’re) very strong forces with each other; we always push each other to do better.”
Though Lindeman will miss her teammate next year, she looks forward to helping Jacobs’ incoming younger sister in the same way Jacobs helped her.
Being a senior, Jacobs said she put aside her nerves to throw as well as she could as she also qualified for the discus finals with the seventh-best qualifying throw of 120-10.
“I love that I got to even come here and have this chance to have an extra meet this year,” said Jacobs after her PR toss. “This whole season, I just wanted to hit 38 again.”
After placing second in state last year, Lindeman said she is more confident but also more nervous.
Riverdale also had two throwers advance. Hope Jackson (127-feet even) is fourth in the discus and Carrie Ferguson is sixth in the shot (38-10).
Mercer County’s 4×100-meter relay — Brooke Ziegenhorn (Who missed qualifying in the pole vault and triple jump), Catelyn Hofmann, Kari Coulter and Kenzie Baker — was the only local relay entrant to qualify for Saturday’s finals. It had the fourth-fastest Thursday time of 50.50. Hofmann, a junior who did not advance in the open 200, said the team will work on improving its handoffs and getting “everything on point” so they can do their best.
She admits the team had some tough times at the beginning of the season after losing two of their runners and trying to fill their spots.
“It took us quite a few weeks to actually get people who could work together, but we finally got it,” Hofmann said.
Senior Kenzie Baker, who missed advancing in the 100 and 200, said she was more nervous this year as people had high hopes for her.
“I didn’t want to let them down,” she said. “I’m very excited actually and yeah, a little bit nervous (for finals) but I know if we get the baton and we’re on the track, we’ll medal and that’s pretty cool.”
May 18, 2017