The Cahokia Comanches entered the Class 2A state track and field meet preliminaries on Friday morning with 17 qualifiers and an excellent chance at a third straight state title.
By Friday afternoon, the Comanches had all 17 of its entries in the finals and an excellent chance at making history.
Junior Gary Hickman qualified first in the 110-meter high hurdles with a time of 14.61 seconds, while Chris Moore and Ja'Mari Ward continued to dominate in the long jump and triple jump, as the Comanches have seemingly locked up a third consecutive state title at O'Brien Stadium in Charleston.
In the long jump, Ward qualified first with a jump of 22-feet-9 3/4 inches, while Moore is second at 22-8 1/2. In the triple jump, it's Moore who leads with a jump of 46-10, while Ward is second at 46-7 3/4.
Defending 400-meter dash state champ Marlin Brady also had the best effort of the day in his event, clocking in at 49.42 seconds.
With that quartet leading the way, along with all their other finalists, the Comanches seem to be in position to break their own state record for points scored of 94 1/2, which they set in 2006.
Finals in all three classes begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday at O'Brien Stadium, which is located on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.
Cahokia also posted the second-best time in the 3,200 relay (8:05.33) and the 1,600 relay (3:21.53), while senior Trey Story had the second-best time in the 200 (22.06).
East St. Louis also could be in the trophy hunt after it qualified first in three events.
Senior Marcus Greer ran a 38.21 for the top time in the 300 intermediate hurdles. The Flyers also posted the best time in the 800 relay (1:29.30) and 1,600 relay (3:21.48)
Waterloo senior and defending state champion in the high jump Justin Kretchmer cleared the 6-3 qualifying height to move into the finals. Kretchmer jumped 7-1 inch a week ago to win the event at the Salem Sectional.
Teammate Brendan Duncan is in position to win two medals.
The 2011 state champion in the discus, Duncan is tied for fourth with a throw of 170-9. He also is fourth in the shot put at 55-4.
Mascoutah sophomore Chris Martin posted the second-best time in the 1,600 (4:22.05), while teammate Murphy Affolder is seventh at 4:25.07.
Martin also will compete in the final of the 3,200 after running the second-fastest time at sectional with a 9:24.12. There are no preliminaries in the 3,200.
Triad senior Eddie Lusk had the sixth-best time in the 200 (22.25), while the Knights qualified eighth in the 400 relay (43.62).
Looking to end his prep career in a blaze of glory, Belleville West senior Jamion Nash got in a leap of 48-0 3/4 to top all qualifiers in the triple jump, as he led the way for local Class 3A athletes at O'Brien Stadium.
With Nash headed toward a possible state title, and with all four of the Maroons' relays advancing to the finals, West could be in the running for a top 10 team finish.
West has the fourth-best time in the 400 relay (42.35) and the fifth-fastest time in the 800 relay (1:28.8).
Edwardsville and O'Fallon also could be in the hunt for top 10 or better finishes, after both Southwestern Conference school advanced multiple entries into the finals.
The Tigers are led by senior Julian Harvey, who reached the finals in the high jump by clearing the 6-4 qualifying height. Harvey also is sixth in the triple jump (45-10 3/4) and 12th in the long jump (22-0 3/4).
O'Fallon will have seven entries in the finals. Junior Patrick Perrier posted the second-best time in the 1,600 (4:12.66), while Alex Riba ranked eighth coming out of preliminaries after running a 4:15.39.
Riba and Perrier also are among the favorites in the 3,200 meters.
Senior Chris Wiggins moved into the finals in the 100 with the sixth-best time (10.87), while Jack Klopfenstein and Pat Riley both made the required 14-0 to reach the finals of the pole vault.
Collinsville's Martinus Mitchell sits fourth in the shot put (55-6 1/2), while Alton's John Piper advanced with the eighth-best time (14.66) in the 110 hurdles.