Taets explodes to huge day…

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.

But Thursday’s highlight for Taets was in the 100-meter high hurdles, where she ran her fastest race of the last three years and broke a personal record with her time of 15.12. That was the second-fastest time, missing the top seed by .04.

“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.

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