Julia Finazzo had about as perfect of a sectional track and field meet as she could have imagined.
The River Ridge senior qualified for the Illinois High School Association’s Class 2A state meet in all four of her events, while breaking two program records. The Telegraph Herald Athlete of the Week will compete in Friday’s state meet at Eastern Illinois University in the 100, 200, long jump and 4x100 meter relay.
“Making it to state in all four events was a pretty indescribable feeling for me,” Finazzo said. “I don’t think the sectional meet could have gone any better.”
Finazzo competes as a member of the Galena/East Dubuque/River Ridge track and field program and broke her own record in the long jump at 18 feet. She also anchored the winning 4x100 meter relay, which set a program record with a winning time of 50.46.
“I am really hoping to medal at state in the long jump and 4x100, because I feel like those are my top two events,” she said. “I am just extremely thankful to even have the opportunity to go to state this year after what has happened in the past year.”
Finazzo is no stranger to the state meet after qualifying for the 4x200 her freshman year and then in the long jump her sophomore season, when she placed fourth.
“I was really excited for my junior season and the opportunity to have college coaches come see me perform, and that was all taken away from us when COVID shut us down,” she said. “We were still all training like our season was going to eventually be allowed to continue, but my hopes were slowly draining as time went on. It got me really down for a while because I had been so motivated for my junior season. It was hard, but I just kept training.”
Galena/East Dubuque/River Ridge track and field coach David Eaton said that, although the girls had to train on their own during the shutdown, he continued to send them workouts that they could do individually.
“Julia has really seized the opportunities she’s been given,” Eaton said. “She has done some things this season that are really impressive, and for her to maintain that focus and drive after losing out on her junior season says a lot about her character. She has set a real fine example for our younger athletes.”
Finazzo has been competing in track since the sixth grade, and also plays volleyball for the Wildcats.
“Since our volleyball season was pushed to the spring because of COVID, I went straight from volleyball to track,” she said. “Volleyball kept me in great shape for track because we were playing three or four games a week. It’s been a little exhausting on my body, but I’m just thankful for the opportunities we’ve been given this year. It’s all been so worth it.”