Tigers load up for state meet with strong sectional effort at East

News-DemocratMay 11, 2013 

— After a rare off night, the Edwardsville Tigers responded exactly like coach Mikala Thompkins hoped they would Friday at the Class 3A Belleville East Girls Sectional Track and Field Meet.

Three-time defending state champion Emmonnie Henderson broke the IHSA state record in the shot put, while Lauren White and Kristen Dowell qualified for state in four events as Edwardsville defeated Belleville West and O'Fallon for the team title at East High School.

Just nine days after losing the Southwestern Conference title by a point to O'Fallon, the Tigers rode the performances of Henderson, White, Dowell and Aaliyah Covington as they scored 106 points and will advance 13 entries to the Class 3A state track meet, May 17-18 at O'Brien Stadium in Charleston.

West finished with 84 points, while O'Fallon checked in with 76.

"It was a wake-up call for us,'' Thompkins said of the SWC loss. "The girls walked out of that stadium with their heads down, but they said that they never wanted to have that feeling again.

"The difference tonight was consistency. Up and down the lineup tonight we had good, consistent, efforts from everyone."

Of course the Tigers also had Henderson, whose throw of 50 feet 3 inches is the longest recorded by the Illinois High School Association.

Former Carlinville standout Kelsey Card had the previous record of 49-11 1/2.

"I knew it was a good throw when I let it go,'' Henderson said.

Henderson also won the discus with a throw of 155-9, while Covington also qualified in both the shot put and discus.

White won the long jump and qualified in the high jump, 300 meter hurdles and on a 1,600 relay which finished second behind West.

Dowell won the 300 hurdles and also qualified in the 100 hurdles, triple jump and as part of the 1,600 relay.

Second at the Class 3A state meet a year ago, West recovered from a dropped baton in the 400 relay to qualify 10 entries for state.

The Maroons won the 1,600 relay and also got wins from Kelsey Shannon in the high jump (5-7), Jasmine Berry in the 100 hurdles and Ni'Jia McNamee in the 400.

The effort was a pleasing sight for West coach Paul James, whose team has been riddled by injuries during the past month.

"With the exception of the 400-meter relay, we got everybody else through to the state meet that we thought we would,'' James said. "Jasmine (Berry) had a great meet and Ni'Jia (McNamee) ran great in the 400 meters, then came back and gave us a great effort in the 1,600-meter relay.

"The goal for next week? I think we could be in the top five. If we have an exceptional day, we could be around 40 points. That's always the magic number to be in the trophy hunt."

West junior Claudette Day qualified in three events, including the long jump and 100 hurdles.

O'Fallon qualified in all four relays -- winning the 3,200 relay -- and also got a championship effort from Tami Cardenas in the 800.

In all, O'Fallon will advance seven entries to the state finals

"Our girl (Denesha Swift) barely not qualifying in the 100 meters, That was disappointing. But for the most part we got the kids out we thought we would," O'Fallon coach Neil James said. "Our best chances at state are with Tami (Cardenas) in the 800 and in our sprint-relay teams."

The hard luck athlete of the day was Belleville East senior Aniecia Brewster. One of the metro-east's top sprinters, Brewster was forced to pull up with a pulled hamstring in the final leg of the 400 relay.

Brewster was then forced to pull out of the 100 meter dash and 800 meter relay. Wanting one last chance to qualify for the state meet in her senior year, Brewster ran in the 200 meter final, but fell well short of qualifying.

"It's just heartbreaking. We were so hoping to go up to state next week and do some damage. But when Aniecia pulled up in the 400-meter relay, it was just very deflating,'' East coach Bryan Mitchell said. "Aniecia is our leader and to see her get hurt was tough for the other girls.''

"Aniecia is the best track and field athlete I've coached. It was not a good day for Belleville East track."

The Lancers' lone qualifier was Anna Gailius in the pole vault.

Granite City will be represented by Natalie O'Keefe, who was second in the high jump while Collinsville's Kayla Marshall won the triple jump with an effort of 37-7 3/4.

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