The Cahokia Comanches moved a step closer to their first girls team title and Highland senior Lena Giger has a shot put three-peat within her grasp following Friday's Class 2A preliminaries at the girls state track and field meet.
Cahokia sophomore Raynesha Lewis qualified for the finals in three events while teammates Mariya Hudson and Daisha Townsend are virtual locks to medal in four events to lead the way for Cahokia during the preliminaries at O'Brien Stadium in Charleston.
Showing off her versatility, Lewis posted the third-best time in the 100-meter hurdles (15.19 seconds) and also turned in the third-best triple jump (36-feet, 1/2-inch). Lewis also has the seventh-best long jump (17-2 1/2) and is a member of the Comanches' 1,600 relay, which posted the sixth-best time at 4:01.64.
Townsend, a senior, is in second place in both the shot put and discus, while Hudson posted the top time in the 200 (24.66) and also moved into the finals in the long jump and 400.
Cahokia will have 10 entries in nine events when the finals in all three classes begin at 10 a.m. today at O'Brien Stadium.
But the Comanches were only part of the story Friday, as metro-east athletes took advantage of near-ideal conditions to excel in several events.
Giger all but wrapped up a third-straight state title in the shot put. The Stanford University recruit had a top effort of 45-4 1/2, which is nearly 3 feet ahead of Townsend, who had the second top throw of 42-5 1/2.
Also moving into the finals for Highland was Bailey Leitschuh, who is sixth in the triple jump (35-7). The Bulldogs also have the ninth-best time in the 3,200 relay.
Mississippi Valley Conference rival Triad is in a position to bring home three state medals.
Ranked second in the pole vault, Knights junior Claire Buck easily moved into the finals by clearing the 9-6 qualifying height, while Allison Richter is sixth in the shot put with a throw of 39-4 1/2. Tyler Bakarich is fifth in the triple jump at 35-8 1/2.
Freeburg senior Abby Lealaimatafao is on the verge of being a three-time medal winner in the shot put. The Midgets' standout is ninth with a throw of 37-7 1/2.
Teammate Chelsea Hill is in the finals of the pole vault, after also clearing 9-6.
Needing to move up is Central senior Ciara Lohman, who is 11th in the triple jump (35-1 1/2). The top nine placewinners in each event earn medals.
Edwardsville senior Kristin Dowell qualified for the finals in the triple jump, 100 and 300 hurdles, while four other Southwestern Conference athletes also are in line to earn a pair of medals after the preliminaries of the Class 3A girls state track meet.
Headed to the University of Nebraska, Dowell has the fifth-best time in both the 100 hurdles (14.48) and the 300 hurdles (44.87) and also turned in the seventh-best triple jump at 36-8.
Edwardsville teammate Aaliyah Covington moved within reach of becoming a double-medal winner for the third straight year. Covington, a St. Louis University basketball recruit, is seventh in the discus (128-9) and eighth in the shot put (41-2 1/2).
Belleville West locked up medals in four events.
Headed to the University of Illinois, senior Jasmine Berry posted the third-(*16*)best time in the 100 hurdles (14.34) and fourth-best time in the 300 hurdles (44.81).
Senior Kelsey Shannon, a three-time medal winner in the high jump, earned one final shot at that elusive state title by clearing the 5-4 qualfying height. West also reached th finals of the 400 relay.
Alton senior LaJarvia Brown had the top individual performance of any local Class 3A athlete, turning in the top triple jump of prelims at 40-3 1/2. She also 11th in the long jump at 17-5 3/4.
Collinsville senior Kayla Marshall is third in the triple jump 37-7 and 10th in the long jump 17-6 2/5.
O'Fallon advanced to the finals in the 1,600 and 3,200 relays, while Ciara Jones is assured of a state medal after posting the eighth-fastest time in the 100 meter hurdles (14.81).
Belleville East senior Brynesha Mosby is 11th in the triple jump (36-4). East St. Louis qualifyed its 1,600 relay for the finals.