It took the East St. Louis Flyerettes more then five hours of competition against some of the top track programs in the Midwest to post what they thought was a narrow win Saturday at the 24th annual Jackie Joyner-Kersee/East St. Louis Relays.
It took about 10 minutes after the meet was over to find out they had to settle for the runner-up trophy.
Perennial Tennessee state power Memphis Whitehaven swept the top two places in the 100 meter hurdles and got a championship effort from Briana Shaw in the triple jump as it captured the team championship by half point over the host Flyerettes at Clyde Jordan Stadium.
Shaw’s winning leap of 35 feet, 10 1/2 inches was a full two feet further then East St. Louis’ Nia McKaskill (33-6 1/2), while Kiara Rhodes and Taejah Robertson gave Whitehaven a 1-2 finish in the 100 meter hurdles.
But, still when the official results were handed out, the tally was East St. Louis with 129 1/2 points and Whitehaven with 124.
But when the points were recounted it was discovered that six points were omitted from Whitehaven’s score. When added, it gave the Tennessee school 130 points and thus the title.
East St. Louis will use the narrow loss as a motivational took.
“We’ll use this to make us stronger,” Flyerettes coach Nino Fennoy said. “We’ll keep working hard and doing the right things to keep improving. I think there were 21 events and we took first, I believe in three of them. There is still work to be done.”
Springfield Southeast placed third with 85 1/2 points, while Gary (Ind.) West Side (59 points) and Chicago Westinghouse (41 1/2) rounded out the top five teams. Althoff, the only other metro-east area entry in the 16-team field, placed ninth overall with 24 points.
But as it has been in the past, the Jackie Joyner-Kersee/East St. Louis Relays was much more then just a track meet. Many of the top girls track and field programs from four states journeyed to East St. Louis for the two-day event, which features a motivational session given by Olympic legend Jackie Joyner Kersee as well as great competition and sportsmanship.
“It was a good day and a good event. The weather cooperated pretty well and we had great competition between the schools,” Fennoy said. “(Memphis) Whitehaven is one of the top programs in Tennessee, Gary (West) is always strong and then from Illinois you’ve got former state champion (Chicago) Morgan Park along with Springfield Southeast and Decatur MacArthur, just to name a few. It was a another vert strong field.”
Actually, the Flyerettes won four varsity championships, including three relays. East St. Louis won the 3,200 meter relay, the distance medley and got a pair of individual titles from Aaliah Herron in the shot put and discus.
A senior, Herron won the discus by 23 feet as her best toss was 128-1. Herron also took the shot put title with a throw of 42-11 as she edged Morgan Walton of Whitehaven (38-2) by more than four feet.
“Aaliah won a state title when she was at Lincoln Middle School and it appears she’s determined to win one in high school,” Fennoy said. “She had a very good day. She had a throw of 46 feet in the shot put earlier this year.”
Althoff didn’t win any titles on Saturday but coach Roscoe Whitfield’s Crusaders continue to show promising progress.
Megan Seible had the top finish of the day for the Crusaders with a second-place finish in the 3,200 meters. Seible’s time of 12:31.9 was four seconds better then teammate Grace Rowan, who was third at 12:36.1.