CHARLESTON — East St. Louis senior Markita Rush knew she faced an uphill battle in trying to defeat defending Class 2A 300-meter hurdle state champion Shamier Little, of Chicago Lindblom, on Saturday.
But Rush also knew how to accomplish the feat.
Exploding out of the starting blocks, Rush jumped out to a quick lead and never trailed as she set a state record of 42.14 seconds to win her second state championship.
Also the event's Class 3A state champion in 2011, Rush's winning time bested the 42.80 put up by Little a year ago.
"Which title means more? This one because I'm a senior and I knew I had to get out fast in order to beat her (Little),'' Rush said. "After I hit the hurdle in the 100-meter final, I was more determined than ever to win the 300.
"Both (state) titles are great. But this one is a little more special.''
Highland junior Lena Giger repeated as champion in the Class 2A shot put while Red Bud senior Brittany Burmester became the Musketeers' first state champ with a victory in the Class 1A 3,200 to lead the way for local Class 1A and Class 2A athletes at the IHSA girls state track meet at O'Brien Stadium.
East St. Louis, which also got a third-place finish from Micayla Collins in the long jump and an eighth place from her in the triple jump, finished seventh in the Class 2A team race with 30 points, while Cahokia (19 points) tied for 11th. Highland (18) tied for 13th and Triad (14 points) tied for 18th place also cracked the top 20 in Class 2A.
Red Bud, led by Burmester, tied for 11th in Class 1A with 19 points.
Rush also got off to a good start in the 100 hurdles, before hitting her heel on the third to last hurdle and finishing ninth.
Cahokia was led by some strong performances in the field events. Freshman Raynesha Lewis was second in the triple jump (38 feet 1/4 inch) while teammate Dasha Thomas was sixth.
Thomas also placed seventh in the long jump and Daisha Townsend took eighth in both the shot put and discus.
Giger, who won the Class 2A shot put title a year ago with a throw of just over 43 feet, had a winning toss of 47-9 this weekend.
The outgoing Bulldogs junior said a change in form was the difference.
"I changed my style in the offseason. I guess it's helped,'' Giger said. "Last year, when I won it was great. But I really wanted to repeat. That's been the goal and what I've worked for.''
Giger also placed fourth in the discus, while Bulldogs freshman Allison Zobrist was eighth in the 3,200.
Mississippi Valley Conference champion Triad also enjoyed one of its finest state finals.
Senior Abi Sowash, making her fourth and final trip to Charleston, placed fifth in the high jump by clearing 5-5, while sophomore Claire Buck was fifth in the pole vault, making 11-3.
The Knights also placed sixth in the 800 relay.
"We set a new school record in the 800 relay and it was just a great day all around for these girls. One of the best we've had at the state meet,'' Knights coach Brian Weiss said. "Claire (Buck) had a great day, going 11-3 in the pole vault and Abi Sowash ending her career with a fifth-place medal was great to see.''
Also ending her high school career on an impressive note was Burmester, who made history when she became the Musketeers' first state track and field champion in the Class 1A 3,200.
Staying on the shoulder of heralded Ivy Handley, of Decatur St. Teresa, for the first 6 1/2 laps, Burmester took the lead with about 600 meters remaining and never looked back, finishing with a time of 11:05.39.
Handley was second in 11:16.43.
"I was concerned because I thought maybe I waited too long to take the lead. I wanted to make sure I had enough left for the last 400 meters,'' Burmester said. "To win a state title and be the first from Red Bud is very special. It's something I've worked for and wanted for a long time.''
Red Bud teammate Deanna Deterding was eighth in the 3,200. Burmester came back to place third in the 1,600.
Althoff had a pair of medal winners. Junior Savannah Ames was sixth in the 1,600, while junior Cara Brooks was seventh in the shot put.
Columbia's Amy Rzepczynski placed fourth in the Class 2A high jump, while Freeburg junior Abby Lealaimatafao was sixth in the Class 2A shot put.
Metro-East Lutheran senior Jessica Jump, who won the Class 1A 200 meters state title a year ago, reinjured her left hamstring in the Class 1A 100 meter finals and placed ninth.
With the leg heavily wrapped, Jump then jogged home in the 400 and 200 finals to earn ninth-place medals in both events.