Monticello senior athletes Mattie Lieb and Emelia Ness signed their letters of intent to compete with the Illinois State women’s track and field program Friday at a ceremony in the Monticello High School media center.

Both Lieb and Ness were integral to the Sages’ best-ever team state finish in the spring of 2019 when Monticello finished third in Class 2A in Charleston. Both were runners-up on the 800-meter relay team and earned fourth place in the 400-meter relay.

Individually, Lieb placed fourth in the 200-meter dash and eighth in the 100-meter dash, and Ness came in second in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.

“Emelia and Mattie are two of the most decorated track and field athletes in Monticello school history,” Sages track and field coach Cully Welter said. “As they enter their senior season, they rank second and third in Monticello history with the number of state medals earned during their careers and they currently own or share seven school records.

“Mattie and Emelia are outstanding individual talents but also great examples of the success people can achieve when work ethic is combined with ability. They have not only been integral parts of the greatest girls track and field teams in Monticello history but their leadership has been paramount in motivating others to continue to uphold the tradition that has been established the past five years. It has been a great pleasure to coach both girls and I am confident that each of them will flourish at Illinois State in the future.”

While the 2019 third-place state finish is the pinnacle of the duo’s high school career to this point, Lieb and Ness have enjoyed success since their freshmen seasons. The Sages have won the Illini Prairie Conference championship each of their three years and have also secured three consecutive IHSA sectional titles.

And they’re looking for more.

“Before heading off to college, I want to have a solid (final) season,” Lieb said. “With the college decision out of the way, I’ll be able to focus on my times individually and helping my team be successful. I’m really looking forward to my final season as a Sage.”

Lieb and Ness will join an ISU track and field program that has also had a lot of success at the Division I level.

In 2018, the Redbirds swept the Missouri Valley Conference indoor track and field championships (the first time since 1999) and then won their sixth outdoor title in program history.

““It means a lot to me — not only to get the opportunity to run track at the Division I level, but also to be able to go to the same school my dad went to,” Ness said.

Lieb plans on majoring in ag communications with a minor in business and Ness is planning on a major in ag business.