A year ago, Raynesha Lewis and Mariya Hudson were part of a deep and talented Cahokia girls track and team which went on to win the Class 2A state championship.
This year, Hudson and Lewis seem determined to defend that title — on their own.
One of the top sophomores in the nation, Hudson posted the best qualifying times in the 200- and 400-meter dashes and Lewis turned in the top performance in the 100 hurdles to lead the way for metro-east athletes during the preliminary round of the Class 2A state track meet on Friday at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston.
The defending state champion in the 400, Hudson ran a time of 55.56 seconds as she took aim on a second straight title. Hudson, who also has the second best long jump (17-feet, 11 3/4-inches) and the fifth best time in the 100 (12.28), closed out her remarkable day with a time of 24.56 in the 200.
Lewis, a junior, has the best qualifying time in the 100 hurdles — 14.81 — and also had the fourth-best long jump at 17-5 1/4. She also is seventh in the triple jump at 36- 0 1/4.
Should Hudson and Lewis hold their standings in the finals, they would total 53 points and should be in the running for the state team title.
Action resumes in the third and final day of the 2015 Girls State Track and Field Championships at 10 a.m on Saturday at O’Brien Stadium. Finals will be held in all three classes.
While Cahokia is in contention for the state crown, Triad could be on track for a possible top 10 finish. The Knights have five entries in the finals — led by Allison Richter.
Richter advanced in two events. The Knights senior sits second in the discus after a throw of 127-5 and is seventh in the shot put with an effort of 38-9 1/2.
The Knights have two athletes in the finals of the pole vault. The favorite to win the title, senior Claire Buck and junior Gabby Arbas both cleared the 10-3 qualifying height to move on.
Junior Abigail Richter has the ninth-best time in the 800 at 2:20.55.
Freeburg advanced with the 12th-best time in the 3,200 with a 9:50.15. The Midgets also advanced Stephanie Jacobs in the pole vault and Emily Vahlkamp in the triple jump.
East St. Louis standout Aaliah Herron and defending state champion LaJarvia Brown of Alton posted the top performances in their respective events to lead the way for Class 3A athletes at the girls state track meet at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston.
Brown, the defending state champion in the triple jump, had the best effort of the preliminary round at 39-8. The Redbirds junior also has the fifth-best long jump at 18-3 and posted the fourth-fastest time in the 300 hurdles at 44.23.
Alton freshman Katie Manns also is in a final after clearing the 5-3 qualifying height in the high jump.
Herron, the top shot putter in the Southwestern Conference, leads the way at the state meet after throwing 42-2 3/4. She owns a narrow advantage over Granite City’s Katherine Jakich, who is second with a throw of 41-8 1/2.
Herron is also in the medal hunt in the discus, where she is 11th. Flyerettes teammate Jasmyne Poole is ninth in the discus with three throws left.
The first day of competition proved to be a tough one for the O’Fallon Panthers.
The Southwestern Conference and sectional champions advanced Mya Watson-Blake and Abby Carney, both of whom cleared 5-3 to advance in the high jump. O’Fallon also advanced its 400 relay, which posted the fourth-fastest time of the day with a 47.76.
The highlight of the day was O’Fallon’s 800 relay, which qualified second with a time of 1:40.64. The Panthers will also be represented in the 3,200 by Sam Tidwell and Noelle Gilster.
Belleville East senior Miya Dorsey will come home with a pair of medals. She had the ninth-fastest time in the 100 hurdles (15.02 seconds) and the second-best time in the 300 hurdles (44.0).
East junior Tamar Mosby also made the finals in the high jump.
The coaching career of Belleville West’s Paul James will come to an end Saturday, but not without bringing home some hardware. The Maroons advanced to the finals in the 400 relay with the ninth-best time of 48.37. James is retiring following the end of the school year.