Dowell and Berry go out strong at girls state track meet

News-DemocratMay 24, 2014 

— It was four years ago when Kristen Dowell of Edwardsvile and Jasmine Berry of Belleville West burst upon the metro-east track scene as talented freshman with bright futures.

On Saturday, Dowell and Berry concluded their high school careers at O'Brien Stadium with six Class 3A state track and field medals and seemingly bright futures in the college ranks.

Putting a fitting end to her West career, Berry placed third in the 100 and 300 meter hurdles, while Dowell claimed three individual medals to lead the way for local Class 3A athletes at the 2014 state finals, held in ideal conditions at Eastern Illinois University.

Competing in talent-rich fields, which included one of the nation's best in Aurora West senior Emma Spagnola, Berry more than held her own while Dowell earned fourth place medals in both hurdle events.

The fourth-place medal in the 300 hurdles gave Dowell her nine-career state medals, the most of any female track athlete in school history

"I didn't realize that. It's kind of cool,'' Dowell said of the record. "I wish I would have placed higher in my events today. But three medals is pretty good.''

It also was a good day for the Dowell family.

Her father, Roscoe Dowell, is the head coach of Cahokia High School, which won the Class 2A state team title. While most of the Edwardsville seniors hurried home to go through graduation ceremonies later in the day, Dowell stayed to watch her dad's team win the title.

"I wanted to see him hoist the state championship trophy,'' Dowell said smiling.

Headed to the University of Nebraska, Dowell also placed eighth in the triple jump.

Fellow senior Aaliyah Covington, getting off a throw of 45-feet, 2-inches in the shot put Saturday, moved up several spots to finish second in the event.

Covington placed seventh in the discus.

Edwardsville finished in a four-way tie with four other teams, including West, for fifth in the team standings with 25 points.

Frankfort (Lincoln-Way East) won the title with 72 points.

Berry also was hoping to place higher in the hurdles.

In the 100 hurdles final, Berry got out fast but was overtaken by the speed and textbook form of Spagnola late in the race.

"I got out of the blocks well. I felt good and I thought I ran a smart race. I was hoping for better, but third is good,'' Berry said.

Berry, who is headed to the University of Illinois, combined with Abrea Hopson, Monique Shine and Ni'Jia McNamee to place fifth in the 400 relay.

West senior Kelsey Shannon placed fourth in the high jump, earning a medal in the event for the fourth straight season.

O'Fallon, led by a fifth-place finish from Ciara Jones in the 100 hurdles, had three medal winning entries.

Breaking the 3,200 relay school record by six seconds, O'Fallon finished in seventh place with a time of 9 minutes, 17.90 seconds. O'Fallon placed fourth in the 1,600 relay.

Alton sophomore LaJarvia Brown became the Redbirds' first girls state champion when she won the triple jump. Brown also became just the fifth girls athlete in state history to crack the 40-foot barrier, winning the event with a leap of 40-3 1/2.

Collinsville senior Kayla Marshall placed fourth in the triple jump with a leap of 37-7.

East St. Louis placed eighth in the 1,600 relay, while Brynesha Mosby of Belleville East failed to medal, placing 11th.

Althoff senior Cara Brooks was a medal winner for the second straight year as she placed fourth in the Class 1A shot put. Nashville junior Easten Hoepker was ninth in the discus.

Wesclin junior Erin Johnson placed fifth in the 100 hurdles, while Gibault junior Victoria Younge was ninth in the same race.

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