History will be made at the 2016 Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Girls Track & Field State Finals this weekend (May 19-21) at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
For the first-time in state history, the IHSA will crown a Combined Team State Champion, which is determined by combining the scoring by wheelchair student-athletes with the traditional team scoring system.
“This marks another positive step in the IHSA’s quest to provide participation opportunities for high school student-athletes in Illinois,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “It will be a historic occasion that both the IHSA, and the schools who are fortunate enough to win these trophies will be incredibly proud.”
The IHSA will continue to conduct its traditional awards ceremony in Class 1A, Class 2A and Class 3A on Saturday, May 21, by presenting the top three scoring teams (first, second, third) in each class with trophies.
It will also take the team scores across all classes and add the points scored by their respective wheelchair student-athletes. These results will determine the IHSA Combined State Champion, runner-up and third-place winners.
The IHSA has long embraced an inclusive model of providing reasonable accommodations to allow athletes with disabilities to participate on their high school teams, before choosing to expand its opportunities for athletes with disabilities in 2012 when it began offering a separate State Series in boys and girls bowling, boys and girls swimming, and boys and girls track & field. The IHSA has also conducted a wheelchair basketball tournament in conjunction with its Boys Basketball State Final tournament since 2004, and will hold its second unified high school bass fishing tournament this weekend at Carlyle Lake.
The IHSA Board approved the concept of Combined Team State Championships in June, 2015. The 2016 Girls Track & Field State Finals mark the first time that an IHSA Combined State Champion will be crowned, as each sport has a minimum number of participants required to enact the combined state final scoring system. Next weekend’s IHSA Boys Track & Field State Finals will not meet the participation threshold this year.
“We have only offered these programs for a short time, so it is rewarding to see the growth in participation numbers,” said Anderson. “We expect that to continue in all the programs and hope to contest Combined State Championships in all the applicable sports in the near future.”
Four wheelchair student-athletes from three high schools will compete this weekend in three events (100-Meter, 200-Meter, 400-Meter) at O’Brien Stadium:
Danielle Dimaria, Freshman, Niles West
Ahalya Lettenberger, Freshman, Glenbard West
Savanna Klobnak, Sophomore, Metamora
Daniela Polencheck , Sophomore, Glenbard West