By BRADEN LAYER
---- — The 2012 Effingham girls track season was one of historic proportions. The Hearts won the Apollo Conference title, six girls qualified for the state meet at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston and senior Kelsey Cramsey picked up some hardware in the process. Cramsey placed first in the 800-meter race with a time of 2:12.54, almost a second better than her closest competitor.
Effingham also picked up a fifth-place finish in the pole vault with Chelsea Bingham’s 11-foot vault, and finished 11th in the final team scoring with 21 points (Springfield Southeast won with 63). The Hearts 4x800 relay team qualified for the state meet as well.
“We had a pretty great season,” coach Dannette Williamson said. “We had a state champion, took two vaulters to state, took relays to state, so we had a really great year.”
Both Bingham and Cramsey have moved on to the University of Louisville, but the Hearts still have three competitors that participated in last spring’s state meet on their roster.
“All three of them went as part of relays,” Williamson said. “They are looking really strong in our middle distance, like they were last year.”
Jaclyn Steppe returns after racing in the 4x400 one season ago, but Williamson says the junior has her eyes on another prize.
“She’s looking to go back in something individual,” Williamson said. “She wants to go in the 300 hurdles. I know that’s one of her goals, she’s been working very hard at that.”
Juniors Jenna Bingham and and Bethany Donaldson are the final two back from last season’s state meet, and both should contribute to a formidable 4x800 relay team with Steppe in the mix as well.
In sprints, Williamson believes her team will be stronger that years past, thanks to a pair of seniors and a capable group of underclassmen.
Holly Moore and Cort Mosier give Effingham two senior leaders for the talented youngsters to look up to.
“This is Cort’s fourth year, Holly is a three-year member of the track program,” Williamson said. “They’ve always contributed. A lot of my girls were eighth graders last year, that’s what they were strong in. Our sprints will look pretty strong.”
In the middle distances, Avery Braunecker, Kristina Rivera and Shayna Phillips will all look to give Effingham some added points in the team total. Williamson says Phillips already appears solid in both the 400 and 800 meter runs.
Donaldson, the school’s current record-holder in the mile, and has her sights sight on improving that mark this spring. Bingham figures to be in the mile mix as well, and Williamson said the pair has looked impressive thus far.
“Bingham’s running under six already to start the season for the mile, so they’re right where they need to be.”
In the two-mile race, Kelly Keitel and Madi Wolfer will be Effingham’s top performers.
Williamson returns most of her throwers this season, and the ability of Effingham to score points will likely come down to Jantzen Michael.
“She is fighting off a lingering injury from basketball season,” Williamson said. “She usually brings points for us in discus.”
Maddy Field and Dannie Ashbaugh are this year’s main shot putters, but there are plenty of young throwers waiting in the wing.
“I’ve also got others that I can work in when they need a break,” Williamson said.
It will be hard to replace state qualifier Chelsea Bingham in the vault, as Williamson said the senior was one of the best athletes she’s come across in her three seasons at the helm.
“Obviously my pole vaulting will be a little less than last year,” Williamson said. “Chelsea is vaulting for the University of Louisville, you don’t see athletes like that every day.”
Rounding out the roster are Steppe in the high jump, Holly Moore in the long jump and sophomore Cassi Green in the triple jump. Both Green and Moore should give Effingham plenty of chances to score some added points.
“Cassi Green has been working really hard,” Williamson said. “She’s already looking at the low 30s which is a pretty good place to start. Holly Moore will be back in the long jump, she was jumping 16 at the end of last year, so she will be competitive in that.”
Coming off such a tremendous season, Williamson’s team has become accustomed to success. In spite of the harsh weather, Williamson said her team has put in the neccessary effort, in large part because they have such lofty, self-set goals on the line.
“They are really wanting to defend their Apollo Conference title this year. I think they are ready, they’re going to work very hard the month of April to get where they want to be.”
Effingham will host a quad meet on Monday with Olney, Cumberland and Altamont.
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at firstname.lastname@example.org