After qualifying for four individual finals during the Class 2A girls state track meet preliminary round on Friday, Cahokia sophomore Mariya Hudson made the comment to coach Roscoe Dowell that “it seemed so easy.”
On Saturday at O’Brien Stadium, Hudson and teammate Raynesha Lewis made it look — so easy.
The Comanches’ lone finalists, Hudson and Lewis put on an memorable performance as they combined for four individual championships and 61 points as Cahokia successfully defended its Class 2A state title by a 10-point margin over (Chicago) Morgan Park.
One of the nation’s top sophomore track and field athletes, Hudson pulled off the sprinter’s triple crown with victories in the 100 meters (12.02 seconds), 200 (24.64) and the 400 (54.79). Hudson was the defending champion in the 400.
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Meanwhile, Lewis won the long jump with an effort of 18-feet, 10 1/2-inches and added a second place in the 100 hurdles and a fourth in the triple jump.
Hudson also placed third in the long jump and accounted for 37 of Cahokia’s points. Lewis scored the other 24.
“We really wanted to win the team title again,” said a winded Hudson, after her victory in the 200. “But we’ve had injuries all year and some of our teammates who ran on the relays were hurt and couldn’t do as well this weekend. Raynesha and I just decided that we’d try to win it by ourselves and that’s what we did.”
“I didn’t think I would win the 100, 200 and 400 meters today. But I got out of the blocks fast in the 100 meters and it just kind of carried over all day. It feels great to win another state (team) title. We’ve worked hard all year for this.”
The state track title is the sixth in the last five years for Cahokia High School. The Comanches’ boys team will be out for a fifth consecutive state championship next week on the same O’Brien Stadium track at Eastern Illinois University.
But this day belong to the Comanches girls, and more specifically Lewis and Hudson.
Dowell called the performance of Hudson and Lewis “‘unbelieveable.” Especially considering that Lewis (ankle and foot) and Hudson (knee) have battled injuries this season.
But when Lewis, who was fourth in the long jump entering the finals, came through with her winning leap on her final attempt, Dowell said that may have been the point he felt his team could repeat.
“That was just huge, because it told me that Raynesha’s foot was feeling good enough to where she could really go all out,” Dowell said. “It would have been great if our relay teams could have competed like they can. We tried everything we could think of to get them healthy enough to where they could compete. They just couldn’t go like they can.
“And I’ll say what Mariya did today was just amazing. She did come to me last night (Friday) and tell me the prelims seemed easy. My response was to out and do exactly the same thing in the finals. She did that.”
As did Lewis, who set the tome with her clutch victory in the long jump.
“My foot has been gradually getting better, but I hadn’t really hit a jump like I knew I could. My last jump, I just decided that ‘this it it,’ and just really went for it,” Lewis said. “I hadn’t been hitting the (take-off) board and I did on the last jump. I knew it was a good long jump. I didn’t know it was that good.”
“With it just being Mariya and me, we had to get it done.”
Three weeks after recording their 10th straight Mississippi Valley Conference title, the Triad Knights competed well as led by sisters Allison Richter and Abigail Richter, they combined for three medals and 13 points.
Allison Richter placed third in the discus with a throw of 129-2 inches and also earned the fifth place in the the shot put, while Abigail Richter took ninth in the 800.
“I’m very proud of both Allison and Abigail. They’ve both put in a lot of time and practice and to be able to see that work pay off with three medals is very good for them and their families, but it’s also good for our program,” Knights coach Brian Weiss said. “ The good thing about is that they’re both juniors and they’ll be back next year.”
While the Richter sisters had a good day, Saturday proved to be just the opposite for University of Wisconsin recruit Claire Buck of Triad in the pole vault. A two-time medal winner and one of the favorites entering the finals, Buck failed to clear 10-0 on Saturday.
“Honestly I don’t know what happened other than to say it was just one of those days for Claire. Every athlete has them,” Weiss said. “I know she Claire feels really bad, but a two-time medal winner and for what she has meant to the Triad girls track program, she’s had a tremendous career and I’m sure she will be very successful at University of Wisconsin.”
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 618-239-2661.