The Southwestern Conference champions and top Class 3A track team in Southern Illinois all season, the O'Fallon Panthers put themselves in position for a strong performance at the Class 3A girls state track and field meet Friday by winning the Rock Island Sectional title at Rock Island High School.
Seniors Samantha Lapp (1,600 meters) and Aleasha Jones (400) won individual championships and the Panthers also captured the 800 and 3,200 relays as they scored a nine-point win over host Rock Island in the battle for the team title.
Lapp and Jones are just two of the 11 entries the Panthers will have for the Class 3A state meet, May 23-24 at O'Brien Stadium in Charleston.
Other individuals advancing for O'Fallon were Jasmine Bonds (long jump), Ciara Jones (triple jump and 100 hurdles), Sydney Neal (3,200), Aleasha Jones (100) and Mya Watson-Blake (200).
Belleville West got wins from Kelsey Shannon (high jump) and Jasmine Berry (300 hurdles). Berry also qualified in the 100 hurdles and the Maroons also qualified in the 400 and 1,600 relays.
Belleville East will be represented at the state finals by Brynesha Mosby in the triple jump, Kaitlynn Sanchez in the 800, Miya Dorsey in the 300 hurdles and Sidne' Williamson in the 200. The Lancers also advanced in the 800 relay.
East St. Louis advanced in all four relays, while Edwardsville was led by a pair of wins from Aaliyah Covington (shot put and discus) and a victory from Allie Sweatt in the 3,200.
The top performance of the night belonged to Edwardsville senior Kristen Dowell, who advanced in four events -- long jump, triple jump, 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles.
Collinsville senior Kayla Marshall advanced in the long jump and triple jump.
Class 1A Chester Sectional
Althoff junior Marie Harla and Red Bud sophomore Keri Burmester won two events apiece to lead a strong effort by metro-east athletes at the Class 1A Chester Sectional.
Emerging as one of the top Class 1A combination long jump/high jump athletes in Southern Illinois, Harla won both events, clearing 5-feet in the high jump and then nipping Lebanon freshman Casey Berberich in the long jump.
Berberich also qualified in the 300 hurdles.
Harla's winning leap was 16-9 1/4. The two wins move Harla into the Class 1A state meet, which begins Thursday at O'Brien Stadium in Charleston.
Also earning state bids were Althoff teammates Cara Brooks (shot put) and Grace Rowan (1,600 and 3,200).
Brooks won the shot put with an effort 36-8, while Rowan was second to Burmester in both the 1,600 and 3,200.
Burmester finished with a time of 5 minutes, 30.44 seconds in the 1,600 and won the 3,200 in 11:32.49. Burmester will be joined at state by teammate Kalli Hentis, who moved on in both the 100 and 200.
Among the other local qualifiers were Wesclin's sectional champions Teah Bliven (pole vault) and Erin Johnson (100 hurdles) Gibault's Victoria Younge won the triple jump and also qualified in the 100 hurdles.
Lebanon's Jessica Jennings qualified in the 800, while Nashville advanced all four of its relays and got a win from Easten Hoepker in the discus.