Girls Track: Okoro returns from State with another medal
Hinsdale South’s Uzo Okoro in the triple jump at the IHSA 3A Girls Track Championship at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Field on Saturday. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 2, 2012 9:59AM
The painful left heel injury Uzo Okoro sustained late in the indoor girls track and field season seemed a distant, albeit ever-present, reminder.
“Getting through the whole (outdoor) season was an accomplishment for me,” the Hinsdale South senior said. “I’m not going to complain. I wanted to enjoy my last season and I did.”
Last weekend at the Class 3A state finals at Eastern Illinois’ O’Brien Stadium, Okoro, a seven-time state qualifier in the triple and long jumps, closed out her storied career with the Hornets with a fourth medal.
“(Okoro) is certainly the only four-year qualifier (in the same event, the triple jump) during my time here,” Hinsdale South coach Matt Guritz said.
The Brown-bound Okoro, coming off back-to-back sixth-place finishes in the triple jump downstate the last two years, was in eighth place after the Friday preliminaries with a best effort of 37 feet, 5.75 inches.
Okoro, also making a third consecutive state appearance in the long jump, made the finals with an effort of 17-9 1/2.
But in order to get into medal contention after the Friday preliminaries, Okoro needed to improve at least two positions on Saturday.
Eight inches separated nine positions in the long jump during the finals, and Okoro was unable to better her position during the final three jumps on Saturday.
Moving over to the triple jump, though, the Darien resident found herself in yet another tightly compacted grouping as five inches were all the difference in an equal number of competitors between fourth and eighth place.
In fundamental respects, it had been a curious final season for Okoro.
After running sprint relays as an underclassmen to augment her two jumping events, Okoro went completely against the grain by undertaking two new disciplines: the shot put and discus.
“I just wanted to try and see how (the two events) went,” Okoro said.
As the triple jump, eventually won by Rich Central senior Chas Duson with a near-state record of 40-6 1/4, neared its conclusion, Okoro improved her Friday standing by an inch and a half.
Okoro surpassed Neuqua Valley senior Katie Kondry, only to retain her eighth-place status when Lake Zurich senior Kaeley Ferguson hopped, skipped and jumped 38-feet flat for seventh.
Guritz, in his third season as head coach and seventh in the program, is fully aware of the mark Okoro left on the program.
“She has just done everything right,” Guritz said. “She just went to the top her first day here. It is such a senior-dominated group here at Hinsdale South. She is going to be impossible to replace. I don’t know if I will ever have anyone else like her in my career.”
Bridget Bodee, a junior transfer from Montini, made the transition from Class 2A to 3A seamlessly in becoming the second Hornet to medal at state.
One year after an all-state campaign with the Broncos in the high jump, Bodee was flawless in the Friday preliminaries, clearing 5-3 in the process, to become one of 21 finalists in the event.
“(Bodee) certainly was consistent,” Guritz said. “For her to get through that 5-3 height without any misses was impressive.”
Hinsdale South crowned its first two individual all-state performers in 15 years when Bodee tied for seventh in the event.