JCA’s relay team thrilled by state track experience

Blotnik, Demos, Kennedy, McSteen, Sartori, Sikorski look back

Moira McSteen (from left), Rachelle Sartori, Erin Kennedy, Frankie Sikorski and Alex Blotnik share a moment at the state track and field meet. (Photo by Cory McDermott)

JOLIET – To sophomore Moira McSteen, it was “scary.” To junior Francesca Sikorski, it was “exciting.” To junior Erin Kennedy, it was “the energy.” And to assistant coach Mindy Izzo, it was about “redemption.”


As much as shooting for a medal, as much as lining up at the starting line or crossing the finish, going downstate in any sport translates into memories. Joliet Catholic Academy’s 4×800 relay team came home from the girls track and field state meet with a bevy, even though their heat ended up too hot.

A year after the 4×800 relay of Sikorski, Kennedy, Rachelle Sartori and Stephanie Demos just missed repeating as state qualifiers, McSteen replaced Demos, a senior, due to mononucleosis. Demos and sophomore Alexandra Blotnik became alternates, with Sartori providing the needed senior leadership.

“It definitely was exciting,” said Izzo, JCA’s coach in charge of the long-distance runners. “It’s almost like redemption since they missed going downstate by a split-second the year before, when most of them were freshmen and sophomores. They worked hard for this opportunity and they truly earned it.”

With a time of 9:53.06, the foursome of Kennedy, McSteen, Sartori and Sikorski nearly earned a shot into the next round of 12. Running in the second heat, they placed fourth, but they were 15th overall.

“It was a very fast heat,” McSteen said. “We dropped a quite a few seconds from our sectional time and that’s really as much as we could have hoped for – it was amazing. It was scary to be down there with all that talent and you appreciate what it takes. There were so many runners better than me, I was in awe.”

“I loved the energy down there,” Kennedy said. “I wish we could have stayed and made it to the next day. We were seeded in the 30s the last time, but we were 19th this time, so we definitely improved.”

Part of that improvement happened with Kennedy in the leadoff spot, McSteen and Sartori handling the middle stages and Sikorski taking over at anchor. All four including Sartori, a four-time all-conference choice, were on the JCA cross country team that qualified for state for the first time in school history.

“It was great to follow up what we did in cross country and go back for track,” Sikorski said. “It was different for me from the last time because I led off and this year I anchored. It was a different position for me, but I think I learned a lot from our experience and hopefully we can go back down next year.”

Even though next year means the graduation of Demos and Sartori, McSteen and Blotnik are primed to fill the void, meaning the JCA girls have ramped up their hopes for the cross country and track seasons.

“At this point, the girls are on a high and they believe they can only get better,” Izzo said. “We lose very good runners in Sartori and Demos, but it’s cool to see what they’ve done and what they want to do.”

— Bill Scheibe, Director of Communications

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