When O’Fallon boys track coach Ron Koch woke up on a frosty Friday morning there was little doubt in his mind that the Panthers would be in contention for a third straight title at the 49th annual O’Fallon Relays.
With lightning crackling, heavy rain falling and a rather ominous weather forecast, the big question in Koch’s mind was whether the meet would go on as scheduled.
It did go on and once again O’Fallon’s reign of championships continued on a real drafty day.
Senior Romeo Scagliarini won the 3,200 meters, junior TJ Lambert took the triple jump and O’Fallon won three varsity relay titles as it nipped Southwestern Conference rival Collinsville to win the Gold Division crown on a cold and windy spring afternoon at O’Fallon High School.
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A harrier on the perennial state power Panthers cross country team in the fall, Scagliarini outlasted fellow Panther thinclads McMillan and Ben Eickmeier for the championship in the 3,200 meters. By sweeping the top three places, O’Fallon earned 24 points to help it finish in first place with 161 1/2 points.
Collinsville was second in the division with 150 points.
Koch, although happy with the win, said he was actually more relieved the meet was completed.
“This was a tough day to compete, but I thought everybody handled it well,” Koch said. “We did well in the 3,200 and while there wasn’t one or two kids who stood out today, we got the meet in and nobody got hurt. That’s the important thing on a cold day like today.”
Triad, getting wins from Clayton Nickerson in the 300 hurdles and Devon Webster in the triple jump, won the Blue Division title with 140 points, 17 more than runnerup and Mississippi Valley Conference rival Highland. The Bulldogs were second with 123 points.
Triad also received several top five finishes in the relay events. The win is the second in the three years the O’Fallon Relays have had a the two-division format.
Lambert won the triple jump with an effort of 43 feet, 6 inches for the Panthers who also won the 3,200 meter and distance medley relays.
O’Fallon needed all the points it could get as it fought off a strong effort from a much improved Collinsville squad. The Kahoks were led by Michael Brown who won the pole vault (10-6) and Amron Cooper-Hodges in the long jump (21-7 1/2). Collinsville also won the 1,600 relay.
Belleville West and Belleville East were not in the hunt for the team title, but both teams had several individuals stand out in the rugged meet.
Belleville East junior William Session broke the meet record in the 110 hurdles, finishing with a time of 14.21 seconds. The previous mark of 14.64 was held by four others including former Lancer Brandon Williams.
Already high on the recruiting wish list of national powers UCLA and Michigan, Session got a terrible start out of the blocks and was in fourth place at the first hurdle, used his sprinters speed to run down the field and post the win.
“He (Session) didn’t get out good again today. I didn’t even know he ran a 14.2. If he gets out quicker, we’re looking at a time in the 13’s,” Lancers coach Kevin Anderson said. “Next week at Belleville West (Invitational) he’s going to have to get out fast or he has little chance. You’re going to have maybe four of the top six hurdlers in the state there in that event.”
Session also won the 300 hurdles.
Belleville West senior Ricky Nelson won the shot put and discus to lead the way for the Maroons. Nelson won the discus with a throw of 147-9, and then with a light rain falling, the Maroons’ three-sport athlete took the shot put with an effort of 53 feet.
Although neither throw was among the best of his career, Maroons coach Patton Segraves said he loved what he saw from Nelson.
“I’m not concerned with how far he threw in either event. I was looking more at how the kids competed under tough conditions. Ricky throwing 147 feet on his last attempt was very impressive,” Segraves said. “We’ve all known he is a great athlete, but he showed me today that he can respond when the pressure is on. Not all kids can do that.”
Granite City got a win in the high jump from Raheem Beckwith.
Staking its claim as the second best Class 2A team in the metro-east behind four-time defending state champion Cahokia, Triad used its depth to overcome Highland and Mascoutah, which compiled 122 1/2 points.
Nickerson led the Knights, finishing the 300 hurdles in 42.84 as he defeated runnerup Chandler Belt (45.53) by nearly three seconds. Webster took the triple jump with effort of 42-8. The Knights also won the 400 relay and 4 x 110 hurdles shuttle relay.
Highland sophomore Tyler Higgins ran a time of 11.01 to win the 100 meters as he led the way for the second-place Bulldogs. Highland also took home titles in the 800, 1,600 sprint medley relay and distance medley relay.
Sophomore Dawson Plab took the high jump title with an effort of 5-6.