In a day of high-tech training methods Mariya Hudson of Cahokia prefers to keep her philosophy in track and field simple.
"Why do I like track? Because I'm good at it,'' Hudson said. "It's easier to be good at something you like to do.''
In her freshman season at Cahokia, Hudson was far more than good.
After leading the Comanches to the Class 2A Herrin Sectional title, Hudson won the 400-meter state title, placed third in the 200 and added a seventh-place finish in the long jump.
She also teamed with Rayneshia Lewis and Daisha Townsend to lead Cahokia to its first Class 2A girls state team title.
Hudson totaled 20 of the Comanches' 61 points, as they posted a seven-point win over Normal Community.
For her accomplishments, Hudson has been named as the Belleville News-Democrat co-athlete of the year. She shares the honor with Highland senior Lena Giger.
Hudson, who spends most of her summer traveling and competing in regional and national track meets as a member of the Cahokia Track Club, posted a time of 55.65 seconds to win the 400. Her third-place time in the 200 was 24.80.
"I really didn't off to a great start, but I felt good coming off the turn and was able to finish strong,'' said Hudson of the 400. "That's why the 400 meters is my favorite event. There is time to come back if you get out to a slow start.''
Comaches coach Roscoe Dowell, who has been watching Hudson while she competed for the Cahokia Track Club for the past four years, said she is very coachable and willing to learn.
"Mariya was voted as our most coachable athlete and a lot of time you don't see that in such a talented athlete,'' Dowell said. "Mariya has the God-given athletic ability and she has just a tremendous personality. She's a pleasure to work with and it says a lot when you have a great athlete such as Mariya and all the kids really like her.''
In addition to the state titles, Hudson also owns several school records.
She holds the school's outdoors and indoor marks in the 200 and 400, as well as the record in the 60.
The Comanches' first girls state championship was anything but easy on that warm spring afternoon in Charleston.
With Normal Community right on their heels, the Comanches needed every point they could get from Hudson in the 200, the next-to-last event of the meet.
A little over an hour after winning the 400, Hudson stepped to the starting line knowing what needed to be done.
"I wasn't tired after running the 400 meters. I felt good and I guess I was a little nervous, because I wanted to win and I knew we needed the points,'' Hudson said. "Looking back I didn't run the curve the way I wanted, but I was able to get enough points for us."
A week later on the same O'Brien Stadium field, the Cahokia boys completed the rare girls-boys double by nipping (Maple Park) Kaneland for their fourth straight state title.
"There aren't may schools who have boys and girls win state in the same year,'' Hudson said. "Hope we can do it again.''
Hudson is competing for the Cahokia Track Club again this summer. She also may be learning two new events --the 100 and 300 hurdles.
"We think she could be very good in both hurdle events. It's good that we don't miss anything, and in the summer you may have more time to develop those skills,'' Dowell said. "Is Mariya the best freshman I've coached? Without a doubt. The sky is the limit."