Cahokia track and field coach Leroy Millsap still won’t say either way if the 2015 Comanches squad is his best.
But it could well be the deepest.
Competing without several standouts including middle-distance runner Tyran Lyons and hurdler Korrion Session, Cahokia got a two wins apiece from Ja’Mari Ward and Keveion Akins as it scored an easy 48-point win at the Winston Brown Invitational Track and Field Meet at Edwardsville High School.
Competing in the 400 meters for just the second time in his career, Akins posted a meet-record time of 48.18 seconds and also won the 100.
Meanwhile, Ward continued to dominate in the long jump and triple jump for Cahokia, which also got victories from three other individuals and won three of four relays to finish with 184 points.
“We had our prom last night and I told all the kids that if they wanted to go, it was fine and have a good time,” Millsap said. “But I also told them that if they showed up at the bus this morning, they needed to be ready to compete and compete hard. I understand that they’re kids and they need to have fun.
“The thing about this team is that where as in the past we’ve had two good athletes in the long jump, two kids in the long jump and maybe a couple of good hurdlers. This year we’ve got couple of good athletes in the discus and shot put, we’ve got a couple of high jumpers and we’ve got kids who can run several different events and in relays. We’ve got very good depth this year.’’
Edwardsville, getting wins from sophomore A.J. Epenesa, whose throw of 182 feet broke the meet record by 16 feet, Sam Griffin in the pole vault and Wes Schoenthal in the 800, placed second with 136 points.
Plainfield North (119 points), O’Fallon (110) and Collinsville (92) rounded out the top five.
Ranked as the best in the nation in the long jump and triple jump, Ward had just an average day.
The junior had a winning leap of 22-8 in the long jump and 46-9 in the triple jump.
Meanwhile Akins seized the spotlight with his superb effort in the 400.
“I thought the 200 meters was Keveion’s best event. Now, I’m starting to have second thoughts,’’ Millsap said. “For a kid to run 48 seconds in the 400 meters in his second-ever time in the event? That’s exceptional.
“Ja’Mari had a good day. He’s fine. The runway here (Edwardsville) is a little shorter than most and it’s sometimes difficult to jump here.’’
Cahokia also got a win from Anthony McRoberts, whose winning effort of 6-8 tied the meet record in the high jump. The Comanches’ Daniall Akins won the shot put and freshman Marquis Murray won the 110 hurdles.
While Ward is the tops in the nation in the long and triple jump, Epenesa is the top ranked sophomore discus thrower after a recent toss of over 187. His throw of 182 feet on Saturday smashed the meet mark of 166-4 set a year ago by Dan Ryan of O’Fallon.
Saturday’s meet was run well ahead of schedule as Edwardsville athletic department personnel and Tigers coach Chad Lakatos successfully beat the late afternoon storms.
“We got the meet in. After all the time we put in planning and setting everything up, we didn’t want to have to cancel it,’’ Lakatos said. “On the field, I would have like to have done better in some of the events. We’re still having some issues in the 400- and 800-meter relays that we’re working on. But we’ll get it done.
“A.J. (Epenesa) had another real strong day. He had the throw of 182 feet and he had three more throws in the finals. That’s important.’’
Fourth-place O’Fallon set a record in the 3,200 relay with a time of 7:56.01. The Panthers also got victories from Erik McMillan in the 3,200 and Dorrian Gordon in the 1,600.
Tyler Wilson of Collinsville won the 200 in 22.90 seconds.