CHARLESTON - So who is going to win state? The magic eight ball is still locked on undecided.
But Hoffman Estates' Precious Ogunleye and Schaumburg's Karen Lesiewicz sure made a statement in the Class 3A preliminaries at Eastern Illinois O'Brien's Stadium on an overcast but rain-free afternoon.
Hinsdale Central sits at the top of the list after qualifying six individuals and three relays, but there are more than a dozen teams left that all feel like they may have a legitimate shot at a state trophy, which should make for a very interesting Saturday. The finals kick off with the parade of competitors at 9 a.m., followed by the state finals at 10 a.m.
A couple of things that seemed clear on otherwise muddled day were the performances of Ogunleye and Lesiewicz.
Ogunleye heads into the finals with the top mark in the shot put (43 feet, 1.75 inches), helping Hoffman advance a total of seven individuals and a relay.
"I'm pretty happy with that," said Ogunleye, who missed qualifying in the discus. "I'm pretty confident in the shot put, tomorrow it will get my full attention."
Lesiewicz flashed her potential in posting the second-best qualifying time in the 1,600 (4:58.60), and she combined with junior Colette Falsey, senior Nora Ferguson and junior Britten Petrey to advance the Saxons in the 3,200 relay (9:20.51).
"Tomorrow I'm looking to have a stronger finish," said Lesiewicz, who finished second in her heat to freshman Courtney Ackerman of New Trier, who posted the top time of 4:57.48. "It's going to take tough people to stand on that podium, and I think I got what it takes."
Sophomore Haley Goers (5:02.87) and senior Melissa Schmidt (5:03.57) had what it takes in advancing for Hoffman in the 1,600. Senior Kristie Hisey also advanced for the Hawks in the high jump (5-3) with Emily D'Amico advancing in the 100 (12.11)
Hoffman also qualified its 3,200 relay (9:25.99) and has Hawks coach Dan Anderson cautiously optimistic about a trophy.
"It was good day," said Anderson of the Hawks' attack. "You never know what's going to happen with the trophy race."
Palatine also looked impressive in qualifying six individuals and a relay. Junior Meghan Flanagan advanced in the pole vault (11-0) and sophomore Laura Schwiekert showed a burst by qualifying in the 400 (57.64).
"I'm feeling pretty good," said Flanagan of her medal chances. "If I compete (Saturday) like I did the past few weeks, I should be good."
"I knew the competition down here would help me drop the time," said Schwiekert.
Senior Ruth Allen also qualified for the Pirates in the 800 (2:13.28) and freshman Meg Jump advanced in the triple jump (36-4.75).
Palatine also advanced in the 3,200 relay (9:29.69).
Falsey added to Schaumburg's special day by advancing in the 800 (2:15.75).
Barrington senior Jorie Frey showed a burst with 200 meters remaining to advance in the 400 (56.67) with the second-best time and senior Anna Etherington advanced in the pole vault (11-0).
"I definitely wanted to go out and win my heat so I wouldn't have any questions if I made it or not," added Frey.
Senior Jeanette Wochinski, senior Kasey Krum, sophomore Laura Maibuecher and senior Emily Salzman powered Prospect to the finals in the 3,200 relay (9:20.13).
"This is the seniors' last year, so we knew we had to do this," said Krum of the Knights' performance. "This is our last chance, and this is the year to do something big."
Junior Grace Gruendel advanced in the pole vault (11-0), with Samantha Sturm advancing in the shot put (38-11.5). Senior Annette White also advanced in the 1,600 (5:04.41) for Prospect.
Sarah Gorden was leading her heat in the 300 low hurdles but tripped on the second to last hurdle. The Conant junior did qualify in the 100 high hurdles (14.68). Jessica Przyby also advanced for the Cougars in the discus (116-03).
Freshman Morgan Keller advanced for Rolling Meadows in the shot put (38-3.5) and senior Klaudia Susul advanced for Leyden in the 200 (25.73).