BELLEVILLE — During a seven-year reign in which he has led Cahokia to four state track championships, Comanches coach Leroy Millsap has witnessed many memorable performances.
But even Millsap was impressed by the Comanches overwhelming effort on Tuesday at the annual St. Clair County Meet.
Senior Chris Moore and freshman Ja'Mari Ward both had jumps of more than 24 feet in the long jump while Moore won the triple jump with an effort of 48 feet, 10 1/2 inches to lead the way as the Comanche thinclads romped to a 37-point win over O'Fallon in the meet held at Belleville West High School.
Moore shattered the previous long jump record of 24-6 set two years ago by former teammate LaDerrick Ward with a leap of 24-8 1/2 in the long jump, while Ja'Mari Ward was second with a jump of 24 feet 2 inches.
"We've been waiting for him (Moore) to hit the (take off) board all year and I guess today was the day,'' Millsap said. "Then to come back and jump 48-10 in the triple (jump) it was just a remarkable performance.
"Ja'Mari broke the freshman school records in both jumps today as well. But we also got a great effort by Antonio Pierce in the high jump and by the kids in the shot put and discus as well. It was a good day.''
Trey Story added a win in the 200 meters, defending Class 2A state champion Marlin Brady won the 400 meters and the Comanches won three of four relays as they finished with 185 points.
O'Fallon was second with 148 points, followed by East St. Louis (117) and Belleville West (115). Mascoutah, which got wins from Chris Martin in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters, was fifth with 74 points.
But on a hot, breezy spring afternoon, the Comanches, led by the brilliance of Moore and Ward, showed why they may be the best team in the state in any class.
Moore, who also placed second behind Marcus Greer of East St. Louis in the 300 meter hurdles, had a realistic goal of "something in the 23 foot range" before the day began.
But when Moore landed in the pit after his school record tying effort of 24-8, he knew it was a good jump.
"As a jumper, I know when I nail a long one. I knew this one was out there a ways,'' Moore said. "But I even I was shocked when they said it was 24-8. I wanted to do better in the triple jump, but there is always Saturday at Collinsville (Invitational).
Ward was third in the triple jump with an effort of 47-7. Belleville West senior Jamion Nash set a new school record of 48-9 to finish second to Moore.
"It was a great day for our freshmen,'' Millsap said. "Ja'Mari just takes things in stride. He's a kid who has fun competing and just does a great job.
"Trey (Story) had a great day in the 200 and Marlin (Brady) was more like Marlin Brady today. He's been a little behind, but he looked outstanding today."
For O'Fallon, which was competing without its two top pole vaulters and without one of the state's best in junior distance runner in Patrick Perrier, still had several outstanding performances.
Jon Villagran won the pole vault and Dan Ryan won the discus for the Panthers wins in the field events, while Alex Riba (800), Damon Boone (110 meter hurdles) and Chris Wiggins (100 meters) also scored wins for the Panthers.
Still, veteran coach Ron Koch wasn't all that pleased with the times his athletes put up.
"We were sluggish. I don't know if it was the wind, the heat or that it was a Tuesday, but we weren't that sharp,'' Koch said. "We had prom on Saturday, so maybe that had something to do with it.
"I was pleased with Damon (Boone). He hadn't put a complete race together until today."
Koch also made no effort to hold back in his praise for what Moore and Ward did on Tuesday.
"Back in the 1960's, Alton had that good group of long jumpers and I'm sure they had a couple of years when they had more then one who went more then 24 feet,'' Koch said. "But in 30 years I've never seen two jumpers from the same team go over 24 feet on the same day.
"It was just a remarkable performance.''
Belleville West got a win from Taron Johnson in the shot put. The Maroons also won the 400 meter relay.''
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or email@example.com