Cahokia claims its third straight Class 2A boys state track title

News-DemocratMay 25, 2013 

— The Cahokia Comanches threepeat is complete.

Cahokia junior Marlin Brady captured a second straight 400-meter state crown and freshman Ja'Mari Ward won the long jump as the Comanches won their third straight Class 2A state track title with a record-breaking effort on Saturday at O'Brien Stadium.

A light shower which fell throughout the meet and an ominous forecast which caused officials to speed up the competition had an affect on most of the athletes, including the Comanches.

But it couldn't prevent the inevitable -- as getting medal-winning efforts from 14 entries -- the Comanches set a state record for team points across all classes with 99 1/2 and coasted to their fifth state title since 2006.

Cahokia also had the old mark of 94 1/2 points, set in 2006.

"I think the rain had an impact on the kids early, but to their credit, they were they were able to pick it up and get the job done,'' Comanches coach Leroy Millsap said. "Not many teams have the opportunity to win one state championship. To win three straight and five in seven years, says a lot about our coaches and these kids.

"It would have been nice to be the first team to go over 100. But 99 1/2 is pretty close.''

East St. Louis, getting a state title from Marcus Greer in the 300 intermediate hurdles and a championship effort in the 1,600 relay, placed second with 40 points, While Mascoutah sophomore Chris Martin won the 1,600 to highlight a great day for Class 2A athletes at Eastern Illinois University.

Brady struggled while running his leg on a Comanches' fifth-place 3,200 relay, but looked strong in his 400 victory, finishing with a time of 49.30 seconds.

"I didn't run very well in he (3,200-meter) relay. But I had something left in the 400 meters. I really wanted to win it. I really wanted to repeat in the 400,'' Brady said. "It means a lot to me. There aren't a lot of kids who can say they won back-to-back state titles in the same event.''

One of the nation's top freshman long jumpers, Ward trailed teammate Chris Moore in that event but nailed a state-record leap of 23-feet-7 1/2- inches on his final attempt to win the title.

Ward also placed third in the triple jump.

"I wanted to be a state champion and I was able to hit a good jump on my final attempt,'' Ward said. "It was just a matter of concentrating and hitting the (takeoff) board right.''

Moore, who finished second in the triple jump and long jump, added a fifth-place effort in the 300 intermediate hurdles for Cahokia, which also got a pair of individual medal-winning efforts from Gary Hickman and Trey Story.

Hickman was second in the 110 high hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles. Story took second in the 200 and fourth in the 100.

Antonio Pierce placed fourth in the high jump. The Comanches also earned medals in all four relays.

East St. Louis was led by Greer, who set a Class 2A record of 37.82, as he won his first state title.

He later anchored the Flyers' victorious 1,600 relay.

"What does it mean? It means a lot. It means I'm the best in the state,'' Greer said. "I was able to get out quick and there wasn't any way I was going to give it up. I wanted it too bad.''

Minutes later, Greer combined with Kendrick Lewis, Jwahun Askew and Roosevelt Davis to win the 1,600 relay with a 3:19.04

Natreace Strong added a second-place finish in the 100 for the Flyers, who seem to back on track under coach Barry Malloyd.

"We had really struggled up here the last three years and so to be able to bring back a trophy says a lot for these kids. They've done what we've asked of them this year,'' Malloyd said. "The Flyers are back and we're here to stay.''

Martin, who combined with junior Murphy Affolder to give Mascoutah a strong 1-2 punch in the distance races, was pulled out of the 3,200 final Saturday, so he could focus on the 1,600.

The decision proved to be a wise one as Martin took the lead in the final lap and went on to win a state championship in a time of 4:18.62.

"We thought I had a better chance in the 1,600 meters, that's why I pulled out of the 3,200,'' Martin said. "I felt good and I felt strong. I had a lot left for the end and maybe some of the other guys didn't.''

Affolder failed to medal, placing 10th in the 1,600.

The hard luck story of the day had to be that of Waterloo senior Justin Kretchmer. The University of Kentucky recruit who jumped 7-1 inch to win the high jump at the Salem Sectional, cleared 7-0 once again Saturday.

But Massac County's Alex King went 7-1, leaving Kretchmer in second place.

Both King and Kretchmer broke the state record of 6-9 set by (Maple Park) Kaneland's Nick Sinon in 2010.

Waterloo also got a pair of fifth-place finishes from Brendan Duncan in the shot put and discus.

Triad got a fourth place from Eddie Lusk in the 200 and a seventh from its 400 relay.

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