CHARLESTON — The Edwardsville Tigers did almost everything they could Saturday to defend of their Class 3A state track title at O'Brien Stadium.
Senior Emmonnie Henderson ended one of the most remarkable athletic careers in metro-east history with two more state championships. While Lauren White, Aaliyah Covington and Kristen Dowell all placed in at least two events as the Tigers finished with 68 1/2 points.
But on this day, 68 1/2 points wasn't good enough.
(Frankfort) Lincoln-Way East senior Aaliyah Brown won the 100 and 200 meters and also was a member of two winning relays, as the Griffins scored 79 points and captured the state crown at Eastern Illinois University.
"Their strength was on the track and our strengths were in the field events. They just happened to score a few more points. That's the way track is sometimes,'' said Edwardsville coach MiKala Thompkins, whose team had scored 51 points while winning the Class 3A title in 2012 . "We did almost everything we could do. We had girls move up from the prelims in several events, we had PRs (personal records) and we scored about the number of points we thought we could. It just wasn't good enough today.
"We gave a great effort as a team and that's all I can ask. I'm disappointed, but I'm disappointed for the girls because I know how much they wanted to repeat as state champions.''
Henderson put herself in elite company by becoming a four-time state champion in the shot put. Her winning toss Saturday of 50-feet-9 1/2-inches set a Class 3A state record.
Henderson also won the discus with a throw of 156-7 inches on the final attempt of her high school career. The discus title was her third straight and gave her seven state titles in her four-year career.
After winning the shot put, Henderson handed the implement to Edwardsville throws coach Ben Bishop, before getting a championship hug.
"It means a lot to win four shot put titles, because not many athletes have won the same event four straight years,'' Henderson said. "Not many people have the chance to win one state title. To win seven, I am truly blessed."
Covington was second in the shot put and fourth in the discus. White, in her final track meet, was second in the long jump and fourth in the high jump, while Dowell was seventh in the 100 meter hurdles and third in the 300 hurdles, to lead the way for Edwardsville.
Morgan Sharpe also added a fifth place in the triple jump for the Tigers.
While Edwardsville came up short in its quest to repeat, Southwestern Conference schools continued to excel at the state level.
Belleville West claimed its third top-six performance in the past five years, placing sixth with 39 points, while O'Fallon, getting some strong efforts from its relays, was 12th with 20.
Both the Maroons and Panthers earned medals in five events.
Second at state finals behind Edwardsville a year ago, West barely missed out on a trophy. Although it finished sixth, West ended up just two points behind third-place (Glen Ellyn) Glenbard West.
"That's kind of been our story the last couple of years. Falling just short,'' West coach Paul James said. "I thought we gave a great effort today. Kelsey (Shannon) and Jasmine (Berry) had great days and I thought out 4x400 meter relay team had an outstanding race.
"Overall, it was a good day and we've got the majority of these girls back next year. The future looks bright.''
Shannon finished third in the high jump with a leap of 5-7, while Berry was third in the 100 hurdles and seventh in the 300 hurdles.
The Maroons also took second in the 1,600 relay and got a sixth-place finish from Claudette Day in the 100 hurdles.
Southwestern Conference champion O'Fallon went a perfect five-for-five in the finals, as it enjoyed one of the best state meets in school history.
The Panthers were led by their 800 relay, which placed fourth. O'Fallon added a fifth in the 400 relay, a sixth in the 1,600 relay and a ninth in the 3,200 relay.
Sophomore Tami Cardenas rounded out the Panthers scoring, placing seventh in the 800.
"To be able to have five entries in the finals and to medal in all of them is just outstanding,'' Panthers coach Neil James said.
Collinsville junior Kayla Marshall was third in the triple jump, while Granite City senior Natalie O'Keefe tied with Edwardsville's Debra Blackburn for eighth in the high jump.
The Belleville East Lancers lone entry, Anna Gailius, placed 10th in the pole vault.