BELLEVILLE — One week after coming up a point short, the O'Fallon Panthers took no chances on Friday at the eighth annual Belleville West Lady Maroons Track and Field Invitational.
Ignoring frigid conditions despite it being spring, O'Fallon juniors Tami Cardenas and Alesha Jones won individual titles and the Panthers excelled in the relays As they romped to a 41-point win at the 18-team event at Belleville West High School.
On a night where mittens were worn and the beverage of choice was hot chocolate, Jones won the 400 meters and Cardenas reaffirmed her position as the top 800-meter runner in the metro-east area, the Panthers had little trouble on this not-so-spring like day. O'Fallon finished with 139 points, 41 more then Southwestern Conference rival Edwardsville (98) and 67 points more then Belleville West, which finished third with 72 points.
The win is the first of the season for O'Fallon, who finished one point behind Rock Island a week ago at Southwestern Illinois Relays.
The Panthers' mental toughness brought a smile to the face of coach Neil James.
"There wasn't any letdown after losing by a point last week and there was no complaining having to compete in these conditions. And it was very cold tonight,'' James said. "The girls were ready to go and they went out and competed as well as they could. I was very pleased with our effort.
"Tami (Cardenas) looked sharp, Alesha (Jones) has really stepped up and for us. And (Samantha) Lapp going out after sitting around and waiting to run the 1,600 meters ran an excellent time (5:25.9) to win her race."
The O'Fallon thinclads also won the 800, the freshman-sophomore and varsity 1,600 meter and the 3,200 meter relays.
Second-place Edwardsville was led by senior Aaliyah Covington who won the shot put (41 fee,t 6 1/2 inches) and discus (123 feet, 3 inches).
Deborrah Blackburn of Edwardsville won the high jump and teammate Allie Sweatt won the 3,200 meter championship.
One of the state's best in the shot put and discus, Covington had to share the spotlight with Belleville West senior Jasmine Berry, who looked impressive in winning both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.
Berry wasn't pushed in either race. She won the 100 meter hurdle title in 15.69 seconds then outran Edwardsville senior Kristin Dowell with a time of 46.14 seconds in the 300 meter hurdles.
"Jasmine looks very strong right now but she's worked so hard to get to this level," Maroons coach Paul James said. "She's dedicated herself to track and field with the hopes that she'll have the opportunity to compete at the next level. She's earned everything she's gotten.
"Jasmine is just a coach's dream. I'm enjoying watching her compete."
Abrea Hopson also looked impressive for West. A junior, Hopson won the 100 meters in 13.1 seconds.
Claire Buck, of Triad, broke the meet record in the pole vault with an effort of 12 feet and Sidne' Williamson, of Belleville East, took the 200 meters in 27.09 seconds.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org