After an impressive win at the Belleville East Sectional last week, there was no excessive celebration by the defending Class 3A state champion, Edwardsville Tigers girls track and field team.
Then and now, the talented and poised Tigers realize their work has just begun.
"We want very much to repeat as state champions and while we were very pleased at how we did at sectionals, we realize that we still have a lot work to do,'' Tigers coach MiKala Thompkins said following the sectional win. "Across the board we were very consistent in our events and we'll need that same kind of consistency in Charleston.''
Looking to become a rare four-time state champion in the shot put, senior Emmonnie Henderson will lead the defending state champion Tigers into competition when the Class 3A state track and field meet preliminaries take place at O'Brien Stadium in Charleston, beginning at noon on Friday.
Henderson, whose winning toss of 50-feet, 3-inches at sectional is the longest in state history according to the Illinois High School Association, also is a two-time state champion in the discus. The University of Louisville recruit is just one of several returning Tigers medal winners who will be looking to bring home even more hardware late Saturday afternoon.
The 2013 Girls State Track and Field Championships begins at 10 a.m. on Thursday, with the Class 1A preliminaries. Class 2A preliminaries begin at 8 a.m. on Friday, with the Class 3A athletes to follow in the afternoon.
The finals in all three classes will be held Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m.
Among the teams most likely to challenge Edwardsville for the Class 3A title are (Frankfort) Lincoln-Way East and perhaps Southwestern Conference rival Belleville West.
Lincoln-Way East is led by one of the premier sprinters in the nation in senior Aaliyah Brown, who had the state's fastest qualifying time in both the 100 and 200 meters last week.
West won't have a 400 or 800 relay team competing, but the Maroons, who placed second at state in 2012, could be in the trophy hunt with a good weekend.
But in Class 3A it all begins with Edwardsville. Henderson had the best throw in the shot put and discus (155-9). Teammates Lauren White (long jump and high jump), Aaliyah Covington (shot put and discus), Debra Blackburn (high jump), Morgan Sharpe (triple jump) and Kristen Dowell (100 and 300 hurdles) also should contend for medals or even titles.
Dowell had the best sectional time in the state in the 300 hurdles (44.22 seconds).
West's Jasmine Berry has the second best time at 44.24 in the 300 hurdles and also could medal in the 100 hurdles, along with teammate Claudette Day.
Both posted times that ranked in the state's the top five during sectional competition.
The Maroons recorded the top qualifing time in the 1,600 relay (3:56.3) while junior Kelsey Shannon, along with Granite City senior Natalie O'Keefe are tied for the state's top ranking in the high jump at 5-7.
"About the only ones we didn't get through were the 400-meter relay team and Claudette (Day) in the 300 hurdles,'' West coach Paul James said. "The magic number to be in the trophy hunt seems to be 40 points. We feel like on a good day, we can get there.''
O'Fallon's hopes are in the 400, 800 and 1,600 relays, and with sophomore Tami Cardenas in the 800.
Collinsville's Kayla Marshall posted the third-best effort in the triple jump (37-7 1/2).
Led by senior Markita Rush, the East St. Louis Flyerettes are also looking to be in the trophy chase Saturday.
Rush posted the fastest sectional times in the state in the 100 hurdles (14.62) and 300 hurdles (44.79), while teammate Micayla Collins had top five efforts in both the long jump and triple jump.
The Flyerettes own the best time in the state in the 400 relay (48.8) and are ranked second in the 1,600 relay.
"I was very pleased at how we performed. But this was only the first step,'' Flyerettes coach Nino Fennoy said following the Triad Sectional last week. "The next step comes on Friday in the preliminaries.
"You've got to be ready on Friday to get to the finals on Saturday."
Highland junior Lena Giger is the athlete to beat after posting the best sectional throw of 45 feet in the shot put. She also is ranked third in the discus.
Triad also is looking for perhaps its finest state performance. The Knights are led by Abi Sowash, whose effort of 5-5 is the second-best high jump in Class 2A.
Teammate Jenniba Johnson is ranked in the top 10 in the 100, as is the Knights' 800 relay.
Cahokia also could be knocking on the door for a top 10 finish, if freshman Dasha Thomas has a couple of good days.
Thomas heads to Charleston ranked second in the long jump (17-9) and third in the triple jump (36-4).
Red Bud senior Brittney Burmester and Metro-East Lutheran senior Jessica Jump headline the group of local athletes who will compete in the Class 1A state finals.
Burmester posted the state's fastest time in the 1,600, when she ran a 5:20 at sectional. Her 11:24.9 ran at sectional in the 3,200 puts her second among all qualifiers.
Musketeers teammate Deanna Deterding has the sixth-best time in the 3,200 at 11:30.1, while Kalli Hentis has the fifth best time in the 200 at 26.22.
Jump, one of the top all-around athletes in the metro-east, is ranked in the top 10 in the 100, 200 and 400, while Althoff standout Kara Brooks is fifth in the shot put at 38-2 1/2.
Althoff junior Savannah Ames has the ninth-best time in the 1,600 at 5:28, but owns a personal best of 5:16.