STATE CHAMPION: Altamont's Grace Nelson wins state title in 100-meter hurdles; finishes second in 300-meter hurdles, third in 200-meter dash

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May 22—Miserable conditions beginning in the morning and running into the late afternoon didn't stop the IHSA from completing the Girls State Track and Field Meet Saturday.

At the same time, the weather also didn't stop Altamont sophomore Grace Nelson from capturing a state championship yet again.

Nelson won the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.19 seconds, smiling from ear-to-ear as she crossed the finished line and looked into the crowd, right in the direction of her family, coaches, and teammates in attendance at Eastern Illinois University's O'Brien Field.

The win was Nelson's first state championship in the event.

One year ago, she came in second to Catlin Salt Fork's Gracie Jessup by five-tenths of a second and was eager for another crack at winning it.

"After last year, I wasn't very happy with my performance. So, this year, I knew it would be a close race, but the start is what helps me, so I know, right when I get out, and I have a good start, that if I run my race, I'm good," Nelson said.

Nelson also came in second in the 300-meter hurdles and third in the 200-meter dash.

The clear favorite in the 300-meter hurdles, Mother Nature wound up getting the better of Nelson as she slipped coming around the final corner. She finished the race in 44.81 seconds, while Tremont junior Cambria Geyer won the event in 44.43 seconds.

Overall, despite the slight mishap in the 300-meter hurdles, Nelson said she was still happy nonetheless.

"I regret how I ran my whole race, but there's nothing I can do about it now," Nelson said. "I was hoping for two [state championships], but one is good enough, and I still got second and third, so it was a good day."

As for other local athletes, Teutopolis' Isabelle Hemmen came in a tie for second in the pole vault — an event that the Illinois State commit was eager to win.

"My jumps today were feeling good," Hemmen said. "I was super happy with them, and I'm super happy with how the day turned out. I'm not a state champ, but second place is pretty good."

Hemmen cleared the bar on her first try every meter that it went up until it got to 3.50 meters. She missed her first two attempts before collecting herself for her third and final try, which she narrowly missed, leading to her clenching her fists in disbelief.

Joining Hemmen in second place were Elmwood freshman Mya Strahm, Bethany Okaw Valley and Purdue University pledge Kylie Stauder, and Catlin Salt Fork senior Brynlee Keeran.

Maroa-Forsyth junior Livia Binder won the event at 3.55 meters.

St. Anthony sophomore Allison Geen came in 11th after clearing the bar at 3.25 meters, doing so on her last attempt.

Geen, however, wasn't all that pleased with her performance.

"I struggled a lot by clearing them on my third attempts; I was running slowly, and I wasn't planning," Geen said. "It was a pretty rough day, and then finally, at 10-8, 11, I started to get a little better, but by then, I was already kind of tired and frustrated."

As a sophomore, Geen still has two more chances to try and improve that mark. She has high goals for herself, too, one of which is breaking the school record at St. Anthony, which is 3.81 meters (12-feet-6-inches). Kristin Slaughter set that mark in 2017.

"I'll be lifting like every day and going up to Champaign and vaulting at the Pole Vault Junkies Club," Geen said. "My goal for next year is 12-feet — aim high, I guess. Why not? I want to break the school record by my senior year."

Contact EDN Sports Editor Alex Wallner at 618-510-9231 or