Girls Track: Huskies’ Erin Svehla inching toward state berthOak Park-River Forest's Erin Svehla in the high jump at a girls track meet April 17, 2012 at Glenbard West in Glen Ellyn. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 1, 2012 10:46PM
One more inch. That’s all Erin Svehla needs in order to reach the Class 3A state-qualifying height in the high jump.
On a frigid night at Wheaton Warrenville South Friday, the Oak Park-River Forest senior jumped 5 feet, 1 inch to tie for fifth place at the Tigers Invitational girls track-and-field meet. Under less-than-ideal conditions, Svehla fell one inch short of equaling her personal-best of 5-2, which was set April 21 at Glenbard West’s Pariseau Invitational.
The minimum height to advance to the state meet in Charleston is 5-3. Svehla must reach that height May 10 at the Lyons Township Sectional in Western Springs. Her last meet of the regular season is at 4:30 p.m. Friday at York for the West Suburban Conference Silver Division meet.
Svehla knows she can reach 5-3. That’s her personal record indoors, but she has gained confidence to reach that height outdoors after recent meets.
Svehla attributes some of that success to a new assistant coach, Dan Reyes, who works with OPRF’s high jumpers and distance jumpers.
“It’s been a little surprising (lately),” Svehla said. “I don’t think I’ve been getting a lot of jump time (in practice).”
It has been easy to overlook Svehla. Two other athletes at OPRF have scaled to even greater heights this spring season. Defending state boys champion Carl Heinz leaped a state-best 7-1 at the Hinsdale Relays and is the favorite to become OPRF’s first repeat state champion in the high jump. Junior McKenzee Kroeschell placed second (11-6) in the pole vault at Wheaton South, but she equaled her P.R. to rank among the top 10 pole vaulters in the state this season.
In the preseason, Svehla worked out regularly with Heinz, but during the regular season the duo do not get to practice together very much.
“We talk a little, but not a lot,” Svehla said. “Usually when we jump at the same time, we talk and ask how each of us did.”
At Wheaton, Svehla competed in three events: the high jump and 400- and 800-meter relays. The 800 relay (1:48.27) placed fourth with Nicole Loud, Chaundia Jones and Komiya Martin. The 400 relay (51.03) took fifth with Jones, Loud and Tikara Owens.
Doing triple duty takes a toll for Svehla, who has to scramble back to the high jump pit after running.
“There are some things I have to work on, especially when I come back from a relay,” Svehla said. “I have to pull myself back together (at high jump) and kick my feet up. Sometimes I can’t because they are tired.”
“I think I could improve by (sectionals). I think I will qualify for State,” Svehla said.
Svehla doesn’t jump much in the offseason. She played outfield for a travel softball team called the Windmills last summer, but decided to compete in track over softball for the Huskies each spring. When you include the indoor track season in January, February and March, Svehla said she isn’t willing to commit to any other sport.
The Huskies (35.5 points) tied for 12th in the 18-team meet at Wheaton South.
Amari Wilkerson placed fourth (16.47) in the 100 hurdles and was fifth (49.64) in the 300 hurdles.