EDWARDSVILLE — Thought to be a possible trophy-contender at the Class 3A State Track and Field Meet in late May, O'Fallon wasn't overwhelming on Saturday at the Southwestern Illinois Relays.
But the Panthers were good enough.
Chris Wiggins won the high jump and the 100 meters and O'Fallon's depth proved to be the difference as it opened the '13 outdoor season with a 36-point win over Edwardsville.
Competing without four key athletes -- including the top 1-2 distance running combination in the state in Alex Riba and Patrick Perrier -- O'Fallon got two wins from Wiggins and placed in the top three in four relays as it finished with 144 points.
Damon Boone also picked up a win in the 300 meter hurdles for O'Fallon which scored relay wins in the 1,600 meter relay and the distance medley.
O'Fallon coach Ron Koch said he was pleased with the Panthers opening day effort. But Koch stopped short of saying his team will be trophy contenders in Charleston.
"(Belleville West coach) Patton Segraves said he thinks we'll be in trophy contention. Well, we only scored three points at state last year,'' Koch said. "I think we've got the athletes who will be able to cover and score in most meets and we've got kids (Wiggins, Riba, Perrier) who could score big points for us.
"But this is only March and we've got a lot of work to do before that time.''
Edwardsville, getting a win from Austin Gusewelle in the pole vault, placed second with 106 points. Rock Island (75 points), Rockwood (Mo.) Summit (69) and Belleville West (64) rounded out the top five teams.
In the girls meet, Belleville West (116 points) nipped Rock Island (103) and defending Class 3A state champion Edwardsville (95) for the team title.
O'Fallon won the boys title despite competing without four of its major athletes. Pole vaulters Pat Riley and Jack Klopfenstein were among several athlete missing the meet to compete in the State Indoor Track and Field Championship in Bloomington on Saturday.
Riba is currently sidelined with an injured Achilles tendon and Perrier is competing in the prestigious Florida State Meet this weekend.
Edwardsville senior Julian Harvey is also competing in the state indoor meet.
But on this day it was Wiggins who helped pick up the slack for O'Fallon. He won the high jump with a leap of 6 feet 2 inches and also the 100 meters in 11.09 seconds.
Other local winners includes Greg Rogers of Granite City in the 1,600 meters and Pierre Gee (discus) and Teron Johnson (shot put) of Belleville West.
In the girls competition, Mashele Belk won the shot put and Jasmine Berry won her early season showdown with Edwardsville's Kristen Dowell and Lauren White in the 300 meter hurdles as West drew first blood in the battle between the top two Class 3A teams in the state.
West also the 400, 800 meter medley and the 1,600 meter relays.
"It was a good way to start the year. A relay event like this is fun and a good way to see where your team is at this point of the season,'' West coach Paul James said. "We had some kids step up today.
"Mashele Belk winning the shot was big for us and in the 300 hurdles, you probably had the best four kids in the state in that one race. I thought Jasmine (Berry) looked very good. For the most part, I'm pleased. But we've got a lot of work to do.''
Also aiding the Maroons cause was the absence of Emmonnie Henderson and Aaliyah Covington in the shot put and discus. Both were competing at the state indoors meet.
Henderson is a three time state champion in the shot and two-time champion in the discus. Covington placed in both at the '12 state finals.
White led the way for Edwardsville as she edged Kelsey Shannon of West with a winning jump of 5 feet 2 inches in the high jump. White also won the long jump with a leap of 17 feet 7 inches to edge the Maroons Claudette Day.
Others winning individual titles were Anna Gailius of Belleville East (pole vault). Dasha Thomas (triple jump) and Daisha Townsend (discus) both of Cahokia and Sydney Neal (1,600 meters) of O'Fallon.