BELLEVILLE — Two months ago Keveion Akins was just a 16-year-old student at Cahokia High School, who had little or no interest in competing in track and field.
But than Akins got a little nudge from his soon-to-be teammates.
Competing in just the second track meet of his life, Akins shocked a quality field to win the 200 meters and spark a Comanches' comeback, as Cahokia won the team title Saturday at the Belleville West/Norm Armstrong Track and Field Invitational.
The three-time defending Class 2A state champions, Cahokia found itself in fourth place late in the 23-team meet behind Minooka, Edwardsville and O'Fallon.
But when the points were added for Jamari Ward's win in the long jump and after Akins nipped Deshon Buchanan of Belleville West in the 200 meters, Cahokia was in the lead for good.
"There are so many kids walking our halls who could come out and help us. I think maybe they don't think they can handle the hard work,'' Comanches coach Leroy Millsap said. "The kids on the team talked to Keveion and then I talked to him.
"He ran in an indoor meet before, but this was his first outdoor meet. The young man is a special talent. He's got a chance to be very good.''
Akins winning time of 21.84 seconds put the Comanches ahead. Cahokia then won both the frosh-soph and varsity 1,600 relays to finish with 95 points, 12 1/2 more than Chicago-suburban power Minooka (82 1/2 points).
Edwardsville was third with 76 points, while Southwestern Conference rivals O'Fallon (70) and Belleville West (59) rounded out the top five.
Millsap said he really didn't know what place his team was in until late in the meet.
"Honestly, it's difficult for me to keep a good watch on the team points because I'm over there in charge of running the jumps,'' Millsap said. "I have great assistant coaches who stay on top of those things. Our relays came through and we got a good day out of Jamari (Ward).''
One of the nation's best in both the long jump and triple jump, Ward had efforts of 23-feet, 4-inches in he long jump and 49-6 inches in the triple jump to complete a sweep,
Teammate Jalon Monigan was second in the triple jump, as the Comanches scored 18 points in one event.
Making its first appearance at the meet, Minooka was led by Chris Wilson who won the 400.
"It was a great experience to be able to bring down our kids and compete against teams we only see once a year and that's at the state finals. And we never compete against Cahokia, which is 2A,'' Indians coach Nick Linden said "Competition-wise we did some good things. We've got some work to do, but competing in a meet like this will help get us ready for the postseason.''
Edwardsville, which won the 400 relay in 42.09 seconds, took the top two places in the 300-intermediate hurdles.
Isaiah Michl won the race in 37.99 with Craig James was right behind in 38.13.
Fourth-place O'Fallon was without standout Patrick Perrier, who was competing in an invitational in Arcadia, Calif.
The Panthers were led by Patrick Riley, who cleared 14-0 outdoors for the first time this season to win the pole vault.
Riley also went 14-0 during the Panthers' indoor season.
The best individual race came in the 110-high hurdles, where four of the state's best competed. A fifth, Cahokia senior Gary Hickman, is sidelined with an injury.
Belleville East sophomore William Session won with a time of 14.2, nipping Annille Williams of Plainfield North and Edwardsville's James, both of whom finished in 14.55.
"It was a good race and I'm happy I won,'' Session said. "I've really worked hard this year. I feel like I'm getting stronger each race.''
The freshman of the meet was Noah Affolder of Mascoutah.
The Belleville News-Democrat Class 2A Cross Country Runner of the Year last fall, Affolder won the 3,200 in 9:40.06, then came back and won the 1,600 in 4:32.71.
"It feels good. I had enough time to recover from the 3,200 meters and while I really dislike running back in the pack, I had enough left to make a strong kick in the 1,600,'' Affolder said. "Dorrian (Gordon), of O'Fallon, had beaten me this year in cross country and coming down the stretch today I could hear him breathing hard, and so I just decided to go in the 3,200. It was a good day.''