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Ehimwenman Claims Two State Titles--Heartbreak in Team Race for H-F

Ohio State recruit Abie Ehimwenman soared to Class 3A girls state track and field titles in the long jump and the triple jump, but H-F finished two points back of team runner-up Lincoln-Way East and a point behind third-place Hoffman Estates.

CHARLESTON--Abie Ehimwenman was not about to be denied in her final high school track and field season.

The Homewood-Flossmoor senior, committed to Ohio State, achieved a first in more than a decade for the Vikings' program by claiming twin titles in the Class 3A girls state finals Saturday afternoon at Eastern Illinois’ O’Brien Stadium.

In authoring three individual all-state performances with a relay place-winner to boot, Ehimwenman became the first Viking in more than a decade to capture an individual title.

The Vikings’ senior leader overcame a minor deficit to turn back Glenbard West senior Kathryn Pickett in the long jump and later denied Downers Grove South senior Tori Franklin a repeat bid in the triple jump.

Ehimwenman bettered both preliminary distances in winning the long jump in 19-2 3/4 and the triple in a personal-best 40-4. It was the first time Ehimwenman had broken the magical 40-foot barrier in a state competition.

Ehimwenman, who earlier ran the second leg of the Vikings’ fourth-place 800-meter relay, ended her prep career with the same result in the open 200.

“Just going out there jumping,” Ehimwenman said of her mindset. “I wasn’t focusing on anyone but myself. I just had to go out there and jump, put it all together.”

On the team level, however, it proved to be a terribly frustrating second day of the state finals for the Viking program. A number of poor handoffs cost H-F dearly in the 800 relay, where the team finished in ninth place.

East St. Louis won the team title with 46 points, and seven points separated second through seventh place. Lincoln-Way East was second behind two-event champion sprinter Aaliyah Brown. Hoffman Estates bettered the Vikings by a mere point (36-35).

Three points cost H-F a potential state runner-up trophy.

“The four-by-two was kind of a heartbreaker,” H-F coach Rob Assise said.

 “Our handoffs weren’t the best,” said Leslie Esco, the senior anchor for both sprint relays. “We kept on going. Something so small can determine winning or losing. (The last handoff in the four-by-two) wasn’t as clean or crisp as it should have been.”

Despite being two points from a potential second-place tie with Lincoln-Way East, the end result did not distract from what Ehimwenman accomplished on her last day of the season.

“She had an amazing weekend,” Assise said. “Today she showed what kind of competitor she is.”

More Medal Winners

Imani Hayes’ seventh-place finish in the 100 hurdles represented the lone points for Marian Catholic.

* In Class 2A, Rich Central sophomore Aliyah Harmon placed in both the long and triple jump.

* Chicago Christian fell short in defending its Class 1A 3,200 relay title, finishing fifth. “We were really glad to make it back,” said senior Stacey Kamp, who anchored the squad the past two years.

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