Top-10 finish for Central girls track

Standout performances by seniors Chandler, McCabe help power Red Devils


Last updated 5/24/2023 at 3:14pm | View PDF

Hinsdale Central seniors hurdler Elyssa Chandler and miler Grace McCabe each earned All-State honors in their individual events at last weekend's IHSA state final before joining forces with their 4x400-meter relay teammates to place second and garner another All-State prize. (photos provided)

Seniors Elyssa Chandler and Catie McCabe already shared a membership in Hinsdale Central's Class of 2023. After last weekend's IHSA girls track state meet, they have another identifier in common: four-time All-State honoree.

Chandler, who earned All-State status last year with her seventh-place performance in the 300-meter hurdles last year, garnered three more nods in Saturday's final at Eastern Illinois University. Two were in hurdles, with Chandler improving her 300-meter hurdles result with a sixth-place finish (including a personal best 44.47 in the prelims), and capturing ninth in the 100-meter hurdles.

"It feels incredibly gratifying because I can see the culmination of all the work that I put into the sport since Day 1," Chandler said.

She expressed disappointment at not clocking as fast as she did in the heats, but was pleased to have competed in the 100-meter hurdles at all.

"I was kind of surprised that I made it to the state finals at all given some of my previous times," she said.

Chandler attributed her development over her Central career in part to better technique in the discipline.

"But also just better training, having more endurance," she related.

That allowed her to run full-steam the entire 300 meters.

"Before whenever I ran 300 hurdles, I thought I needed to pace myself to make sure I had enough left at the end," she said. "But going into this meet, I told myself I need to start completely sprinting my heart out and hold nothing back. I think it worked."

The Red Devils placed ninth overall with 24 points (see sidebar for full results). Huntley High School was crowned state champs with 62.5 points.

Distance specialist McCabe came into the state meet with All-State accolades in the 1,600 meters and the 800 meters that last two years, respectively. She returned to the 1,600 for this meet to gauge her progress.

"I actually ran the 800 more during the season, but we did that to get ready for the mile (1,600), just looking to see what I could improve from what I did sophomore year," McCabe explained.

McCabe's time of 4:53.32 was her fastest of the season, and just a second slower than the school record time she set as a sophomore. McCabe is the Red Devil record holder in both the 800 and 1,600, indoor and outdoor. She said she felt a greater degree of confidence this time around.

"I just tried to be prepared and make sure that I was engaged for the whole race and sticking with the girls ahead of me," she said. "Our coaches do a good job of making sure we're not burned out by this time of year and come in strong to the state meet."

McCabe and Chandler then teamed up in the 4x400-meter relay, with Chandler leading off, McCabe anchoring and freshman Lily Hodneland and senior Sarah Skora running the middle legs. The combo captured second place, and All-State status, with 3:56.75.

Chandler said she relishes the team race.

"It's my favorite, partly because it feels like a culmination of what we do in track, but you're doing it as a team. It's kind of like the perfect distance for me, and it's long enough where it's possible to catch up to and pass opponents," said Chandler, admitting she felt a little down after her 300-meter hurdles final. "My teammates really picked me up and got me ready for the race."

Skora said it's been a highlight of her track career.

"I love being part of the relay because we are all running for each other and have to work together," she said, describing the event as a sweet spot between speed and distance disciplines. "I am pushed to limits I never thought I could achieve."

McCabe said the quartet had high expectations and strong chemistry.

"Going into the final, we knew it would be tough, but we had been running well all season, so I think we were pretty confident," she said. "The relays are always the most fun because you're trying to do well for your teammates, not just you."

Chandler feels thankful for the support of teammates, coaches and family as she reflects on a Central track career she never would have predicted.

"I know that if I told my freshman self that going down this path would led to as much success as it has, I don't think I would have believed myself," said the soon-to-be Carnegie Mellon University student. "I'm going to study computer science and I won't be running track, But I hope I find something to enrich my life the way that track has."

McCabe, who will compete at Indiana University next year, said she'll take away memories for a lifetime.

"Being able to have the two-night stay at the state final with the team is where a lot us of make our best memories," McCabe said. "I'm definitely really happy with all four seasons. Throughout my time here I've learned a lot from my coaches and teammates.

"It has gone by fast, and I'll be sad to leave - but excited to start getting ready for college," she added.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean


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