Springfield girls track athletes of the year, all-area team for 2024

Here are The State Journal-Register’s girls track and field athletes of the year and the other members of the Springfield all-area team.

The two winners will be listed first, followed by the rest of the team from all areas.

Katelyn Lehnen, Chatham Glenwood

Katelyn Lehnen immediately shined as a freshman by winning the Class 3A 200-meter dash at the girls track and field finals in Charleston.

The Chatham Glenwood junior can now add the 100 and 400 to her list of state golds and is The State Journal-Register’s Large School Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

Undisputed champions: Lincoln’s Heitzig, Glenwood’s Lehnen star at the 2024 state meet

Lehnen started by winning the 100 in 11.69 seconds before claiming the 400 in 54.81 last May. She finished the afternoon with a fourth place in the 200 in 24.37.

Last season, Lehnen strained her hamstring at the indoor Top Times meet in Illinois, but still recovered in time to finish third in both the 200 and 400 and fifth in the 100 at the outdoor state meet.

“I definitely got wiped out a little bit,” Lehnen said after the 200. “It’s a hot day, but I gave it everything. I had a tough field to compete against. We have girls running 23s (in the 200). That’s crazy, so it’s great to be able to compete against those girls. I just have to keep getting better – one more year.”

Emma Crawford, North Mac

Emma Crawford initially didn’t want to sign up for a sixth-grade job.

But coach Brian Carman’s persistence paid off, eventually spurring Crawford to become one of the area’s top female sprinters and hurdlers.

The North Mac junior helped lead the winning 4×100 relay to a new Class 1A state meet record of 48.50 seconds before finishing third in both the 4×200 relay (1:42.91) and 100-meter hurdles (15.36) last May.

A police escort then welcomed Crawford home to Virden, along with relay teammates Kaelyn Swift, Alexis Bowman and Addison Earley.

“It was really exciting to feel that pride come home like that,” Crawford said.

Last year’s team: Here are the 2023 SJ-R track and field athletes of the year and all-area team

Crawford, the State Journal-Register’s Little School Girls Track Athlete of the Year, initially tried the long jump and relay before pivoting to individual sprints and hurdles in eighth grade.

She placed ninth at last year’s state finals in the 100 hurdles, but made even bigger strides this season. She worked primarily with Brian’s wife, Alyssa, to master the three-step method.

It wasn’t until the South Central Conference meet that she was able to perfect it and set a new personal best by a significant margin.

“She’s the best,” Crawford said of Alyssa. “We started working on the basics in October before trying the three-step again and she put in so many long hours with me.

“It was a real relief to finally put everything together.”

Triple gold: SHG’s Jamarion Bardwell and Litchfield’s Keenan Powell will go down in the history books

As for next year, Crawford wants to focus on the hurdles and sprints. She held the school record in the 100-meter dash before Swift and later Bowman eclipsed the mark this season.

Crawford has a number of other records to his name.

Ditto Swift, also a junior. She placed ninth in the 100 (12.54) and 200 (26.34) in addition to the state sprint relay medals. The victorious 4×100 relay was the school’s first track gold medal since the Virden-Girard consolidation.

“It’s so good to have someone like that in practice and to meet someone like that,” Crawford said of Swift. “Me and Kaelyn, we’ve been running together since sixth grade and I just think we’ve always been neck and neck, so someone like that can really push you and make you better.”

Natalie Alexander, Chatham Glenwood

The senior took eighth place in the 3A 300-meter hurdles in 45.35.

Becca Heitzig, Lincoln

The senior earned her third straight gold medal in the Class 2A 800 meters. She crossed the finish line in 2:09.55 for her best run of the season. Last year’s time of 2:08.48 remains the 2A state record. Heitzig, the Girls Track Athlete of the Year and Overall Female Athlete of the Year, also won her first-ever 1600 in 4:58.82 and placed ninth in the 4×400 relay. Heitzig, who won the 2A girls cross country state title in the fall, will run at Iowa State University.

Madison Kacevicius, Greenview

The senior took second place in the 1A long jump with a distance of 17 feet, 9 inches.

Jaida Linn, Hillsboro

The freshman reached second place in the 2A high jump with a height of 1.61 meters (5-3).

Macie Rolf, Sacred Heart-Griffin

The junior took seventh place in the 2A 300-meter hurdles (46.95) and third place in the 4×400 relay (3:56.71) with teammates Antonette Bartletti, Maria Bartletti and Maggie Fleischli.

Addie Stadsholt, Athens

The junior took first place in the discus throw 1A with a distance of 130-9 ¼.

Kendall Stewart, Litchfield

The senior took third place in the 1A 300-meter hurdles in 46.49.

Kaelyn Swift, North Mac

The junior competed in the winning 4×100 relay and the third-place 4×200 relay. She also finished ninth individually in the 100 and 200.

Reese Wolfe, Chatham Glenwood

The junior won the 3A pole vault with a clearance of 3.80 meters (12 feet, 6 inches) on her first attempt for her first-ever gold medal. Last year she reached fourth place.

Brooke Zeibert, Rochester

The junior climbed to fourth in the 2A 800 in 2:15.88.