Senior Darnesha Fraley not only is a four-year varsity member of the Oak Park and River Forest girls track and field program, the standout sprinter also has multiple years of experience being the anchor for the Huskies’ state-caliber relays.
“I love anchor because I feel like if we’re ever behind, I’m that person to catch up,” Fraley said. “They’re always allowing me to catch up and I’ll work hard to finish.”
Fraley displayed her strong finishes during Saturday’s Hinsdale Central Devilette Invitational. Fraley took the Huskies from third to winning the 400-meter relay (52.72) and from third to second in the 800 relay (1:50.68). Both lineups included juniors Rhea Richard, Christina Anthony and Alicia Gaylord.
In the 400 relay, the Huskies edged Loyola Academy (53.03) and Hinsdale Central, which led before a disqualifying final baton handoff.
“It was hard catching up, but I had to help my team get a first and we all won together,” Fraley said. “When I got the baton, I was just thinking not only about myself but my team. We have to win together as a team.”
The Huskies finished third (99 points). Senior Lena Tang (10 feet in pole vault) and sophomore Lenny Sterritt (3,200 in 12:21.10) also placed second.
Fraley was third in the 100 (14.01) and anchored the third-place 1,600 relay with senior Lucca Bibbey, freshman Bella Brauc and junior Saniya Shotwell (4:30.91).
Fraley and lead leg Richards are the lone returnees from last year’s Class 3A state-qualifying 800 relay (21st, 1:47.84). In Saturday’s 800 relay, Fraley made up significant ground but ran out of room to catch Hinsdale Central (1:50.68).
“Real close. I felt it, but it is what it is,” Fraley said. “We’re all training as a team and we can all get better. I’m pretty sure we’ll make it to state.”
Tang is hoping for her first state berth after clearing the 10-3 state-qualifying standard multiple times indoors. She was a fourth-place 9-3 at the 2021 sectional.
She often practices with a bungee cord positioned at 10-3 or 10-6.
“I try and put it higher than I actually want to make,” Tang said. “I’m feeling very confident and very excited about state.”
At York, March 11, Tang cleared three successive personal bests indoors — 9-10, 10-4 and her current best of 10-10. After her final miss at 11-4, Tang came down feet first and actually snapped the measuring bar in half.
“The [York] coach told me, ‘I don’t want this sitting in the garage for seven years.’ So I took it home and now it’s mounted on my bedroom wall,” Tang said.
Bibbey (400 in 1:03.37), senior Olivia Rafia (4-8 in high jump), junior Teshell O’Neal (9.10m/29-10 1/4 in shot put), sophomores Katie Stabb (1,600 in 5:21.21) and Brianne Davis (31.80m/104-4 in discus) and Richards (200 in 27.67) were third.
The Huskies won the frosh-soph title (160 points). Sophomore Taylor Smith won triple jump (10.14m/33-3 1/4) with the invite’s best distance for both levels.