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Track and Field notes: Batavia’s Nick Fortino, Rosary’s Libby Saloga strive for pole vault excellence

Libby Saloga came as close as possible to the pole-vault mountaintop last June at the Class 2A girls track and field single-day state finals.

Eight days later, Nick Fortino tasted all-state success for Batavia at the Class 3A boys meet.

Saloga, a Sugar Grove resident, was instrumental in leading Rosary to its second trophy-winning campaign in program history with her runner-up, 11-feet-8 inch clearance in Class 2A.

“(Saloga) is one of our biggest point-earners,” Rosary co-head coach Vic Meade said after the junior captured the Kane County championship last Thursday night at St. Charles East with her 11-3 mark.

“I have been out for a month with a foot injury,” Saloga said. “I’m just getting back in the swing of things. I am happy with where I am right now but definitely have a long way to go. I am hoping to hit 13 (feet) by the end of the year.”

Fortino, ninth for the Bulldogs last spring, has emerged as a serious state-title contender on the basis of his back-to-back victories at major competitions at Wheaton Warrenville South and Kaneland last month.

Fortino is ranked behind only Schaumburg senior Tim Gale as well as Normal Community senior Charles Cruse–by a matter of centimeters – after clearing 15-5 at WW South.

The Bulldogs are the top-ranked Class 3A team in the state after a convincing 25-point victory over previously No.1-ranked Minooka at its invitational last month.

Fortino has been a major cog for the runaway Batavia express.

“It’s the first time we have been ranked No. 1 in track,” Fortino said. ‘All of the seniors have worked so hard. We lost our sophomore season and last year we had half a year. The focus for me came together. Conditioning was a big factor for me. I think I have more to do. The technique is there.”

Saloga has an almost similar mindset as the girls season reaches its apex in the next three weeks with the conference championships, sectional meet and return to two-day state meets.

“Technique will get me the heights I want,” Saloga said. “I am hoping for the state record next year.”

St. Charles North’s Natalie Buratczuk clears the bar during the high jump competition of the Kane County Girls Invite at St. Charles East on Thursday, April 28, 2022.

St. Charles North’s Natalie Buratczuk clears the bar during the high jump competition of the Kane County Girls Invite at St. Charles East on Thursday, April 28, 2022. (Sandy Bressner –

Buratczuk completes flawless run in high jump

Not only did Natalie Buratczuk deny St. Charles East senior Katie Kempff from becoming a three-event individual Kane County champion last week, the Eastern Michigan recruit soared 5-5 to win a third title in the high jump.

Third at the Class 3A finals last year, the St. Charles North senior edged Kempff, who had already captured titles in the 100 hurdles and the triple jump.

“I have been getting more consistent with my heights, which is giving me more confidence,” Buratczuk said. “I am living out my senior season. I am just trying to cherish and make the most out of it. I am feeling really good about where I am.”

Buratczuk burst onto the scene as a freshman three years ago in claiming her first county crown in the high jump.

After the pandemic wiped out her sophomore campaign, Buratczuk defended her title won at Batavia last year with a two-inch margin of victory over Kempff.

“Knowing all the amazing athletes in this area and I am the top (high jumper), its’ such an honor. It’s awesome,” Buratczuk said.

Rohlman stars for Kaneland

The Kaneland girls will be back in the Class 2A state series.

The Knights were a distant third at the county meet as senior thrower Olivia Rohlman carried the banner for Kaneland with a championship mark of 117-8 in the discus.

Rohlman was also third in the shot put with her throw of 33-9.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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