Tinley girls take third at state track and first solo title

Jeff Vorva Times correspondent

Area athletic stars felt at home in Charleston for two weekends in May.

State champions and all-state performances were prevalent at the Illinois High School Association state meets, with the girls starting May 17-18 and the boys closing May 24-25 at O’Brien Field on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.

The most successful area team was the Tinley Park girls, who finished third in Class 2A and had the first state champion in program history, with junior Gabby Graham winning the 300-meter hurdles in 43.56 seconds.

Graham also earned a third-place finish in the 100 hurdles, speeding around the track in :14.58, and teamed with Janiyah Oglesby, Kaylah Forrest and Natalie Gomez to finish second in the 400 relay with a :47.92.

Forrest took fourth place in the 400 with a :57.00. Yakyra Wilder placed fifth in the shot put with a throw of 37 feet, 3.5 inches.

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Graham made history mainly because she had not previously competed in club track.

“Once track season starts, I know I have to step in and do what I have to do,” she said. “But this year I’m joining an AAU team to keep practicing and bettering myself over the summer.”

She enjoyed the Titans’ big season.

“This year has been great for me,” Graham said. “The team was great. They have been my biggest supporters and the coaches have helped me grow.”

The Titans hadn’t won a section through 2023, but with plenty of talent coming from this third-ranked team, they should be in the conversation for a state title in 2025.

“We talked about it,” Titans coach Wayde Tabor said. “We have quite a few athletes returning.”

Winning the program’s first trophy was huge, Tabor said.

“You always think about how great and amazing it would be,” he said. ‘But you know how hard it is to get there.

“At the beginning of the year we were talking about a Top-3 finish. Is it realistic? As the year progressed, we performed well indoors at Top Times (an indoor meet before the outdoor season), and the conversation started to get real. Then we were ranked fourth in a series of power rankings and thought maybe this was realistic.

In Class 3A, Lincoln-Way East’s 1600 relay team won the state championship with a 3:50.73. Junior Kyra Hayden and Jui Aremu teamed with freshmen Nora Keane and Alaina Steele for the win.

Individually, Steele placed fourth in the 400 with a score of :56.75. Hayden placed third in the 300 hurdles with a :43.81.

Lincoln-Way Central freshman Mia Forystek had a great debut with a second-place finish in the 800 with a 2:12.24

At the State Boys Meet, Dedrick Richardson Jr. finished. of Lincoln-Way East finished second in the long jump with a 23-4.25.

Lincoln-Way Central’s 3200 relay team of Kyle Friedl, Bryce Counihan, Evan Jensen and Braden Hoff placed fifth with a 7:44.51.

In Class 2A, Terrence Hower-Gardner of Tinley Park placed third in the 110 hurdles with a :14.67.

Heading into the state meet, East won the always tough Bloom Sectional with 121.5 points, edging Homewood-Flossmoor (117).

The 3200 run was Lincoln-Way tough as East’s Sean Hanrahan and Michael O’Brien finished first and second in the race with Central’s Jack Galminas third, Lincoln-Way West’s Nicholas Dul fourth and Central’s Leo Grzesiak fifth.