CHARLESTON — For a precious few minutes Saturday afternoon at O'Brien Stadium, it appeared the Edwardville Tigers would tie for the Class 3A boys state track and field title.
But when the final scores were totaled, it was (Elmhurst) York which had the final say.
Senior Craig James helped key a winning effort in the 400-meter relay and also earned medals in the 110 and 300 hurdles, as the Tigers earned a tie for second in the Class 3A meet before a large crowd at Eastern Illinois University.
In one of the most competitive state finals in history, York had just enough athletes to finish with 40 points, four more than Edwardsville and (Roselle) Lake Park, which tied with 36 points.
Three other schools -- (Naperville) Neuqua Valley (34 points), (Harvey) Thornton (32) and Plainfield Central (30) -- all finished within 10 points of the title.
"This has got to be one of the more competitive meets in a long time, especially in the sprints,'' Tigers coach Chad Lakatos said. "We're very happy. Any time you can take home a trophy in the Illinois state meet, with so many outstanding teams, you've earned it. We had a good day.''
Also having a good day was O'Fallon senior Patrick Perrier and Collinsville senior Martinus Mitchell.
Perrier won the state championship in the 1,600 and placed second in the 3,200, while Mitchell won the Class 3A shot put title.
East St. Louis won the 1,600 relay with a time of 3 minutes, 16.59 seconds.
James teamed with Fontez Davis, Isaiah Michl and Rene' Perry to run a time of 41.46 as they edged York in the 400 relay.
James also placed third in the 110 hurdles and teamed with Michl to give the Tigers a 4-5 finish in the 300 hurdles.
"No regrets. It's been a great career and to end my final track meet as a member of the state champion relay team and to help this team take back a trophy, I'm satisfied with that,'' James said.
Edwardsville also got a fifth place finish from its 800 relay and a seventh from Davis in the long jump.
Perrier, one of the top distance runners in the nation and the Class 3A state cross country champion, was edged by Jessie Reiser of McHenry in the home stretch of the 3,200, but added the 1,600 state title with a strong effort.
Perrier, whose time of 4:07 at the Collinsville Invitational was one of the best in the nation this year, finished with a time of 4:10.34 on Saturday.
And he did it a popped blister on the bottom of his foot.
"I felt it pop early in the race. But this being my last state meet race and in the 1,600-meter final, I figured I'd go with it,'' Perrier said, smiling. "To win the 1,600 meters with all the top runners in the field, I'm thrilled. It's a nice way to go out.''
Mitchell became the first Kahok state champion in four years and the first Collinsville shot put state champ since 1949 when his preliminary round throw of 61-feet, 0 3/4-inches stood up through three more throws Saturday.
"Was I nervous? Not really. Being up here last year really helped me get used to the atmosphere and the big crowds,'' Mitchell said. "I felt good about my chances, but I knew I had to stay calm and do what I had been all year.
"It's great to see all my hard work pay off in a state title.''
Belleville West didn't win a state title, but the Maroons earned top seven medals in three relays.
West placed fifth in the 1,600 relay and seventh in both the 400 and 800 relays.
"That's got to be some sort of record,'' West coach Patton Segraves said. "I'm also very pleased for Evan (Alcorn). He's a kid who has been a big part of our success for the last few years and today he went out and made history by becoming the first runner from West to medal in the 800 meters.''
Alcorn placed ninth in the 800, while East St. Louis sophomore Roosevelt Davis placed eighth in the 400.
Granite City senior Quinetin Jackson placed sixth in the high jump.