Originally Posted Online: March 18, 2013, 5:37 pm
Last Updated: March 18, 2013, 11:47 pm

Hurdling trio ready for competition

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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com

Photo: Clark Brooks / PhotoNews
Annawan-Wethersfield's Sara Fisher, Rockridge's Devin Hasson and Ridgewood's Molly Jo Smith pose for a photo last May after each won a medal in the 300-meter hurdles at the Class 1A state meet. All three return this season.

One picture perfectly captured the moment with three hurdlers standing on top of a podium flashing smiles and showing true happiness.

Competition truly defines this "rivalry," but Annawan-Wethersfield senior Sara Fisher, Rockridge junior Devin Hasson and Ridgewood senior Molly Jo Smith continue reflecting on the photo taken last May after the trio finished in the top four at the Class 1A state meet.

One-thousand words could not truly describe the image.

"I love that picture," Fisher said. "Hopefully, we're there again — maybe in a different order."

Getting there is a process, one they can handle based on last season. Hasson (second place), Smith (third) and Fisher (fourth) all earned state medals in the 300-meter hurdles.

Before that, no local athletes had ever taken three of the top four spots in an individual event at the girls' state track meet.

"I know they're very talented," Smith said. "But it's good that they're in the area. It gives me the competition. That alone will help me improve."

All three set their sights on state supremacy, but that may not be the biggest hurdle this year. Trying to prove they are the best in the area is the ultimate challenge.

Fisher, who took sixth in the 100 hurdles last year, has medaled in the three consecutive state meets and will continue her career at Eastern Illinois. The most decorated and experienced in the group, she has seven medals.

However, she is not even the reigning Lincoln Trail Conference 300 hurdles champion.

That would be Smith, who entered the state meet with the fastest sectional time and proceeded to win her first state medal.

Rounding out the group is Hasson, who also snagged a fourth-place finish in the 100 hurdles. She had the top spot locally in both events at the state meet.

"We all are going to try and work as hard as we can," Hasson said. "We're going to push ourselves because we were so close to it (last year). We will all work even harder than we did last year to get there. We're right there."

During the next two months, they will work on taking the next step to fulfill the goal of being a state champion. Drive and determination make that possible, but so does the competition they will face along the journey.

With all three residing in the same region, competition is easy to find.

The trio is scheduled to compete in a quadrangular at Annawan-Wethersfield on April 1. Five other meets feature two of the three.

Fisher and Smith will run in the Lincoln Trail Conference meet on May 3.

"The season will be very competitive," Hasson said. "With each one of us being able to compete against each other and always have that person there to help push you, the year will be competitive. It will help make all of us better."

Sounds like a pretty good rivalry is developing.

"I look at it more as a friendship than a rivalry," Smith said. "We're all supportive. It's a good rivalry. We help each other."

The bond within this trio is genuine, something no result can break. One picture from last year's state meet is proof.

Minutes after the race, they gathered.

No tears. Just smiles.

"It's a really good memory," Smith said. "And it reminds me that I want to get back there again."

All three make that their goal, providing another photo opportunity.

The only thing left to be determined is which spots they will occupy.

"One, two and three," Fisher said. "That would be pretty cool."


Area track and field preview capsules

Lincoln Trail Conference boys
Defending champion:
Mercer County
Conference meet: May 3 at Wethersfield
Returning state qualifiers: Michael Cook (Annawan-Wethersfield), Payton Holmes (Mercer County), Aaron Leander (Ridgewood), Elisha McCreary (Ridgewood), Matt Welch (Ridgewood)
FYI: Mercer County is seeking its third consecutive conference championship. ... Holmes, Leander, McCreary and Welch each earned medals a year ago. ... The conference last had a state champion in 2010.

Lincoln Trail Conference girls
Defending champion:
Annawan-Wethersfield
Conference meet: May 3 at Wethersfield
Returning state qualifiers: Sydney Brokaw (Mercer County), Kaitlyn Cline (Annawan-Wethersfield), Mary Debord (Annawan-Wethersfield), Sara Fisher (Annawan-Wethersfield), Maddie Jackson (Annawan-Wethersfield), Jasmine Jefko (Ridgewood), Morgan Mahnesmith (Annawan-Wethersfield), Karissa Roman (Annawan-Wethersfield), Molly Jo Smith (Ridgewood), Mallory Tharp (United), Margaret Thomson (Annawan-Wethersfield)
FYI: Annawan-Wethersfield has won the last six conference titles. ... Fisher has seven state medals and could become the second athlete in program history to earn a medal in four consecutive state meets. ... Brokaw is the lone returner from the Golden Eagles' seventh-place 4x800.

Three Rivers Conference boys
Defending champion:
Bureau Valley
Conference meet: May 10 at Bureau Valley
Returning state qualifiers: Chris Bauer (Erie-Prophetstown), Braedon Bonnell (Erie-Prophetstown), Kevin Claus (Riverdale), Josh Green (Erie-Prophetstown), Bryce Holesinger (Fulton), Devin Johnson (Erie-Prophetstown), Ethan Oleson (Erie-Prophetstown), Darius Owens (Erie-Prophetstown), Kyle Pannier (Erie-Prophetstown), Lucas White (Erie-Prophetstown)
FYI: Johnson earned three medals a year ago. ... A year ago, Erie-Prophetstown won its first relay state medal since 2004. ... Claus took fifth in the 3200 run last year.

Three Rivers Conference girls
Defending champion:
Erie-Prophetstown
Conference meet: May 3 at Morrison
Returning state qualifiers: Hannah Arnold (Riverdale), Freya Block (Kewanee), Amanda Brummet (Riverdale), Lauren Claus (Riverdale), Raeshonda Chandler (Kewanee), Courtney Cobert (Erie-Prophetstown), Breanna Jensen (Erie-Prophetstown), Amber Jordan (Kewanee), Elle May (Riverdale), Liz Oltman (Riverdale), Erin Peed (Kewanee), Corrie Reiley (Erie-Prophetstown), Brooke Remley (Erie-Prophetstown), Paige Rus (Erie-Prophetstown), Heather Strike (Erie-Prophetstown)
FYI: Riverdale returns its entire 4x100 and 4x200 members. Both relays earned state medals last year. ... Rus and Block are both returning state medalists.

West Central Conference boys
Defending champion:
Monmouth-Roseville
Conference meet: May 3 at Sherrard
Returning state qualifiers: Matt Bertelsen (Monmouth-Roseville), Reed Dahlstrom (Sherrard), Connor Gillen (Monmouth-Roseville), Martel Hunter (Monmouth-Roseville), Jake Kissner (Sherrard), James Rogers (Monmouth-Roseville), Trayvon Smith (Monmouth-Roseville), Nyle Stevens (Rockridge), Braden Wollbrink (Monmouth-Roseville)
FYI: Bertelsen and Smith helped Monmouth-Roseville take second in the 4x400 last year. ... The conference's last state champion came in 2011.

West Central Conference girls
Defending champion:
Sherrard
Conference meet: May 3 at Sherrard
Returning state qualifiers: Stephanie Adams (Sherrard), Skye Corken (Sherrard), Danielle Crawley (Sherrard), Chelsey Crippen (Sherrard), Brittany Daniel (Monmouth-Roseville), Maddie Dulin (Monmouth-Roseville), Abbie DeBaillie (Orion), Devin Hasson (Rockridge), Madi Lape (Rockridge), Chelsey Munday (Sherrard), Ellery Parker (Rockridge), Rebekah Wollenburg (Sherrard)
FYI: Sherrard has won 11 consecutive conference titles. ... Crawley is the reigning state runner-up in the 100 and 200. ... Daniel and Dulin helped the Titans' get a fifth-place finish in the 4x800 last year.