Given a 24 hour reprieve by a stormy weather forecast on Wednesday, the O’Fallon Panthers made the most out of near ideal conditions for the annual St. Clair County Girls Track Meet on Thursday at Clyde Jordan Stadium.
Continuing to save her best performances for the major competitions, O’Fallon sophomore Brooke Witzel ran to an easy 21 second win in the 1,600 meter relay, while the Panthers also triumphed in three of four relays as they eased to a 40-point win over host East St. Louis.
A two-time Belleville News-Democrat Class 3A Cross Country Runner of the Year, Witzel continued to excel on the track as well, as she broke away from the pack with about 600 meters left and continued to lengthen her advantage the rest of the way. Witzel finished with a time of 5 minutes 26.11 seconds, 21 seconds faster then teammate Hannah Nabb (5:47).
“You can tell its getting to the end of the year by watching Brooke because she has a history of being at her best for the bigger races,’’ O’Fallon coach Neil James said. “She went out well today and I thought she looked very strong in the last 200-300 meters. She had a lot left at the end.’’
Kaileigh Perrier added a win in the 3,200 meters for O’Fallon, which also won titles in the 400, 800 and 3,200 meters relays. But the difference might have been the overall depth of the Panthers, who finished with 190 points and coasted to a third straight county championship.
East St. Louis, getting winning throws from Evangeline Harris (44 feet 4 3/4 inches) in the shot put and Jazmine Poole (136 feet, 6 inches) in the discus, finished a distant second with 150 points, while two-time defending Class 2A state champion Cahokia placed third with 131 points.
Cahokia was led junior standout Mariya Hudson, who won the 100, 200 and 400 meter titles.
But using its superior depth and getting another splendid performance from its group of talented junior sprinters in the relays, O’Fallon was the team of the day.
“It always is good to come into the (St. Clair) county meet and perform well especially when you are competing against a very strong East St. Louis team and a Cahokia team, which has won back-to-back Class 2A state titles and may win it again this year,’’ James said. “Plus Belleville East and Belleville West both always have outstanding individuals.
“I’m pleased. It was a good day, and overall it was a very good team effort.’’
Belleville West also had a good day. Continuing to progress under first year coach Sally Stephens, the Maroons were fourth with 124 1/4 points and received titles from Karlee Barnett in the pole vault and Brittany Walker in the triple jump. Fifth place Belleville East (86 1/2 points) was led by a title in the high jump from from senior Tamar Mosby.
East St. Louis also impressive
The East St. Louis Flyerettes also enjoyed a solid day. Harris won the shot put, while Poole, one of the top Class 3A combination athletes in the metro-east won the discus and was a solid second with a throw of 38 feet in the shot put.
The Flyerettes also won in the 800 meters, where Shonjahnea Griggs outkicked O”Fallon senior Caitlyn Clinton to the finish line. Griggs finished with a time of 2:20.7 while Clinton was at 2:21.5. East St. Louis also spoiled O’Fallon’s hopes of sweeping the relays by winning the 1,600 meter relay.
East St. Louis finished in a time of 3 minutes 57.6 seconds, five seconds faster than Belleville West.
Hudson shines for Cahokia
The Class 2A state champion in the 100, 200 and 400 meters last year, Cahokia junior Mariya Hudson won all three on Thursday. Within a time frame of little more then in an hour in the fast moving county championship, Hudson posted winning times of 12.12 seconds in the 100 meters, 55.42 seconds in the 400 meters and 25.20 seconds in the 200 meters.
Yet Hudson wasn’t satisfied.
“It was a good day. But it could have been better. I wanted to go under 12 seconds in the 100 and I was a little tired in the 200 meters. But I was able to win anyway,’’ Hudson said. “I only had like 20 minutes between the 400 meters and the 200 meters. But I was glad I was able to win.’’
The Comanches also got a pair of wins from freshman sensation LaQuasia Steppe in the 100 meter hurdles and long jump, while Takyra Buford won the 300 meter hurdles.