Margot Dooley said she was aware of what she needed to do when she got the baton to run the anchor leg of the 4×400-meter relay at the Class 3A Loyola Sectional on Thursday.
Slightly behind pace to make the state-qualifying cut of 4 minutes, 4.48 seconds, the Alabama-bound senior ran a 57.7 split as the Ramblers earned a spot at next week’s state meet with a time of 4:04.24. She was joined by junior Jackie Topping, junior Laine McKinley and sophomore Addison Bendery.
“All I was thinking about was getting our girls who hadn’t qualified to the state meet,” Dooley said. “I was running as hard as I could to do that.”
Dooley already had secured a trip to Eastern Illinois University in Charleston by winning the 800 in 2:15.89, and Bendery was part of the state-qualifying 4×200 relay team that took second in 1:44.69.
“My one goal was to get Laine McKinley to state,” Loyola head coach ChrisJon Simon said. “She sacrificed so much for us at this meet. I told Margot during her leg to get Laine down there.”
Remarkably, this was the first time the foursome ran the 4×400 this season. What’s more, Topping was competing for the first time in more than a month after suffering a stress fracture.
“That was an exciting way to end,” Dooley said.
After beating a talented field in the 800 that included Highland Park freshman Stephanie Kriss, who owns the fastest time in the state, Dooley said she will head to O’Brien Field with “a lot of confidence.”
A total of eight runners qualified for the state meet in the event.
“We looked at this race as a pre-state meet,” Dooley said. “I looked forward to seeing where I stood among those girls.”
The 4×200 relay consisted of senior Erin Santacross, junior Brooke Moran, sophomore Anne Santangelo and Bendery.
Loyola finished sixth in the 15-team field with 38 points. New Trier totaled 114.5 points to take the sectional title. The Class 3A preliminaries are Friday, and the finals are Saturday.
Pictured above: Margot Dooley, Laine McKinley, Jackie Topping, Addison Bendery