Ruffner, Beasley and Hill qualify for state finals

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By Jonathan Stark

Three local athletes will be competing in Charleston on the blue track this weekend at the Illinois girls track and field state finals.


At Friday's sectional in Newton, Sierah Ruffner of Vandalia Community High School, and Ashlynn Beasley and Abby Hill of St. Elmo High School qualified for state.

Ruffner has been Vandalia's most-consistent competitor all spring. The freshman will be competing in the high jump at state, an event that has been her bread and butter all year. Ruffner is no stranger to state competition.

Last year as an eighth-grader, she placed fourth at the IESA state finals in the high jump, clearing 5 feet. She has improved this season, clearing 5 feet, 1 inch several times, most recently at the sectional on Friday.

Vandalia head coach Mike Travelstead knew from the start of the season she would be a contender, but Ruffner had him a little worried on Friday, as she just barely cleared 5 feet, 1 inch, the state-qualifying height.

One of the St. Elmo High School track team's goals at the start of the season was to just try to compete with bigger schools. The Eagles had some solid finishes throughout the season, but at the Newton sectional on Friday, they delivered when it mattered most.

Beasley qualified for state in three events – the long jump at 16 feet, 5 inches; the 100-meter dash at 13.11 seconds; and the 200-meter dash at 27.24. She qualified in the 100-meter dash last season, as well.

Hill qualified in the discus for the second consecutive year, with a throw of 99 feet, 8 inches. She bested her qualifying distance from last year by 17 inches.

All three athletes will compete on Thursday in the preliminaries at Charleston, with finalists competing on Saturday.