BELLEVILLE — After watching and competing against defending Class 3A state champion Edwardsville, Belleville West coach Paul James thought he knew all about the strengths of the Tigers. On Friday, James discovered otherwise.
Morgan Sharpe and Kristen Dowell gave the Tigers a surprising 1-2 finish in the triple jump to lead a strong performance in the field events as Edwardsville nipped host Belleville West at the Lady Maroons Track and Field Invitational.
Taking advantage of the best weather conditions of the early spring, Sharpe won the triple jump with a leap of 36 feet 2 inches, while Dowell was just three inches behind (35 feet 11 inches).
The finish was worth 18 points for Edwardsville, which ended the day with 162 points, 16 more then the Maroons.
"I knew they (Edwardsville) had one good triple jumper. I didn't realize they had two that good. I was surprised,'' James said. "That 1-2 finish was the difference in the meet.''
The Tigers duo of Emmonnie Henderson and Aaliyah Covington added 1-2 finishes in both the shot put and discus, while Kennedy Roderick added a win in the pole vault for Edwardsville which offset the Maroons effort on the track, by dominating in the field events.
The win also avenged a loss to Belleville West a week ago at the outdoors season-opening Southwestern Illinois Relays.
Both Henderson, one of the nation's best in the shot put and discus, and Covington missed the Southwestern Illinois Relays to compete in the Illinois Top Times State Indoor Meet in Bloomington.
But on Saturday, with almost a full team, Edwardsville showed why it may be tough to dethrone the Tigers as state champions.
"We figured out that without Aaliyah, Emmonnie and Kennedy (Roderick) that we missing 44-46 points last week. But it was good for us because we were able to see where we were without three of our powerhouses,'' Tigers coach Mikala Thompkins said. "We still have areas we need to work on and things we have to improve, but it was good to have our team together today.
Henderson, a three-time state champion in the shot put won that event with a throw of 45 feet 2 inches. Henderson, also a two-time state champ in the discus, had a winning throw of 158 feet on Saturday.
"The shot put wasn't that good, but its still early and this was our first time competing outdoors,'' Henderson said. The goal is 51 feet in the shot put and to just keep improving as the season goes on.''
Allie Sweatt added a win in the 1,600 meters for Edwardsville which needed every point it could get to edge a strong Maroons squad.
Junior Claudette Day and sophomore Jasmine Berry led the way for West. Day won the 100 meter hurdles (14.96 seconds) and the long jump (18 feet 1 inch), while Berry won the 300 meter hurdles (46.74 seconds) and was second in the 100 meter hurdles.
Other Maroons winners included Kelsey Shannon who edged Granite City senior Natalie O'Keefe in a battle of two of the state's best in the high jump with a leap of 5 feet 6 inches.
Sophomore Ni'Jia McNamee won the 400 meters for Belleville West in 46.74 seconds.
"For the most part I was pleased,'' James said. "Kelsey (Shannon) had a nice effort in the high jump and Ni'Jia looked strong in the 400 for us.
O'Fallon (113 points), Triad (79) and Carbondale (71) rounded out the top five teams in the 14 team field.
The third place Panthers got individual wins from Samantha Lapp (3,200 meters), Deneasha Swift (100 meters) and Tami Cardenas (800 meters).
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org