O'Fallon races to win in Southwestern Conference meet

News-DemocratMay 7, 2014 

— After a week of basking in the warmth of the Florida sun, O'Fallon senior Aleasha Jones returned to the track on Wednesday looking like an athlete on a mission.

For that matter, so did the rest of the O'Fallon Panthers.

Well rested after a week off from competition, Jones won the 100 and 400 meters to lead the way as the Panthers romped to a second straight Southwestern Conference championship on a hot but windy spring night at O'Fallon High School.

"We just took a vacation to Florida last week but it felt good to be back and help my teammates,'' Jones said. "My times weren't what I wanted but heading into the sectional meet next week, I'm about right where I want to be."

Iva Shepard won the pole vault and senior Samanatha Lapp captured the 1,600 meters for O'Fallon which finished with 196 points as it easily outdistanced Edwardsville (139 1/2) and East St. Louis (137 1/2 ) for the title.

Belleville East (74 points) and Belleville West (66) rounded out the top five teams.

O'Fallon, which also won the 1,600 and 3,200 meters on Wednesday, won the 2013 SWC title by just one point.

But one week after a subpar performance at the St. Clair County Meet, the Panthers got back on track.

"I challenged them last week after the county meet and tonight they responded as I hoped and thought they would,'' O'Fallon coach Neil James said. "This is a good way for us to go into the sectional meet next week.

"I thought Aleasha looked very strong in the 400. Tammy Cardenas has had some problems with her shins but she came back and competed well. She'll be ready to go next week. Overall, I'm very pleased.''

Second place Edwardsville got a pair of win each from seniors Kristen Dowell (100 and 300 meter hurdles) and Aaliyah Covington in the shot put and discus.

Dowell, who will more then likely compete in four individual events -- 100 and 300 hurdles, long jump and triple jump -- at the Rock Island Sectional next week, looked like one of the best hurdlers in the state as she romped to a pair of easy wins.

"My hurdles are ahead of my jumping events right now, but I've till got a week to work on everything,'' Dowell said. "I felt really strong in the 300 hurdle tonight."

Senior Allie Sweatt also won a championship for Edwardsville in the 3,200 meters.

East St. Louis got an individual title from Jada Marshall in the 800 meters. The Flyerettes' strong contingent of sprinters won titles in the 400 and 800 meter relays.

Fourth place Belleville East got a win from Sidne' Williamson in the 200 meter, while fifth-place Belleville West got a championship effort from Kelsey Shannon in the high jump.

Collinsville's Kayla Marshall won the triple jump and long jump.

Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or dcriddle@bnd.com

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