The dominant track and field team in the state, the Cahokia Comanches fifth straight Class 2A state championship was one for the record books on Saturday at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston.
Completing perhaps the greatest team performance in lllinois boys state track and field meet history, the Comanches got a pair of championships from Ja’Mari Ward, swept all four relays and became the first boys team to score over 100 points as they romped to an 82-point victory on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Eastern Illinois University.
The Comanches, who earned medals in 13 of 18 events, finished with a record 119 points, shattering the mark of 99 1/2 points they set in 2013, as they became the first boys track team in state history to win five straight state championships.
“That 1/2 point from two years ago really bothered me. Today, we didn’t want to take any chances. I knew if we just did what we were supposed to do and took care of our business that we would have a chance to go over 100,’’ Cahokia coach Leroy Millsap said. “I’ve said it all year and I’ll say it again. This group of kids was the most self-motivated and focused that we’ve ever had.
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“Today, they were determined to finish what they started yesterday during the preliminaries. I don’t know if this is the greatest performance in state history, but it’s got to be up there. I’m very proud of every one of these young men. We work them hard, but they’ve responded and done everything we’ve asked of them and more.’’
The Comanches also broke state records in the 400-meter relay (41.12 seconds) and 800 relay (1:25.83), and got a long jump state mark of 25-feet, 0 1/4 inch from Ward, who accomplished the feat during the preliminary round on Friday.
“I was all right with not jumping today. Today was about trying to win a fifth straight team title and breaking records,” Ward said. “We did both.”
Cahokia also set a Class 2A state record in the 1,600 relay, when it ran a 3:17.57, and the Comanches win in the 3,200 relay was their first in school history. The four relay titles also was something Millsap and the Comanches wanted to accomplish.
“That feels great. It’s good to finally get the monkey off our backs in the 3,200 relay,’’ Millsap said. “It seemed as if we would come in every year and have the best time then something would happen in the finals. Today nothing did.
“To win all four relays shows how team-oriented these kids were. It was about the team today.’’
Ward also won the the triple jump — with a Class 2A state record leap of 50-6 turned in Friday. Ranked No. 1 in the nation in both the long jump and triple jump, Ward swept those events at the state meet for the first time.
Cahokia also got a pair of top six finishes from Korrion Session in the 110 and 300 hurdles, a pair of runner-up finishes from Keveion Akina in the 100 and 200, a second-place finish from Daniall Akins in the shot put and a third-place medal from Anthony McRoberts in the high jump.
“I was very pleased with Korrion. He didn’t win a state title like he had hoped, but he ran well today as did Keveion (Akins). He’s a kid who came out for track for the first time last year and he gets a pair of second-place finishes and is on both the 400 and 800 meter relay teams,’’ Millsap said. “He had a great day.’’
Also having a great day was Highland sophomore Tyler Higgins.
One of the top sprinters in the state, Higgins won his first state title — taking the 400 in a time of 48.29.
As he has all year, Higgins ended the race with a flourish.
“I got out good and the race was about the way I expected it to be. I’m usually better in the last half of the race and that’s when I made my move again today,’’ Higgins said. “This is what I’ve worked for all year. It feels great to be a state champion.”
Highland also placed fourth in the 3,200 relay and seventh in the 400 relay. Waterloo senior Lance Mueller was third in the 1,600 while junior Graysen Moehrs was sixth in the 110 hurdles.
Triad junior Adam Nelson was sixth in the 100 and the Knights were sixth in the 400 relay.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2661.