For the first time in her high school career, Cahokia senior Mariya Hudson left O’Brien Stadium and the Class 2A girls state track meet in Charleston without the ultimate prize.
The leader of a Comanches squad that had won three straight state championships had done her part. On a chilly, rainy Saturday afternoon, Hudson captured the 400-meter title for the third time in four years and scored 35 of the Comanches’ 57 team points.
But on a day when the Dunlap High School Eagles finally lived up to their potential by setting a Class 2A state record for team points with 78, not even the brilliance of Hudson could help the Comanches win a fourth straight state title.
“I was sad that we didn’t win a fourth state title. But mostly I was more sad when I saw how disappointed my teammates were after the meet,” Hudson said. “I felt like we did the best we could do that day. The other team (Dunlap) was just better than we were on that weekend. It happens. You do your best, and sometimes it’s still not good enough.
“I was still proud of my team and what we accomplished.”
No doubt — none — Mariya is the best ever at Cahokia. She’s very quiet and soft-spoken. But she has that special something that all great athletes have. She has that burning desire to be the best.
Roscoe Dowell, Cahokia head track coach
Hudson accomplished a lot during her four years as a Comanche. Owner of nine Cahokia track and field records — including six indoor marks — Hudson is also the recipient of a fourth-straight Belleville News-Democrat Track and Field Athlete of the Year honor.
She won 15 individual medals, including six state championships, along with three state team championships and a second-place medal. The 19 total medals are currently the most a female athlete at Cahokia has ever won.
On that basis, Hudson is the best female track and field athlete in Cahokia High School history.
“No doubt — none — Mariya is the best ever at Cahokia,” Cahokia coach Roscoe Dowell said. “She’s very quiet and soft-spoken. But she has that special something that all great athletes have. She has that burning desire to be the best. Every time she stepped on the track, whatever she had that day, she was doing to give it. She never held back. She went all out in every event, every competition.”
Hudson finished her high school career on an up note. She won the 400-meter state title, was second in both the 100- and 200-meter and placed third in the long jump at the 2017 state finals.
In addition to the three 400-meter state titles, Hudson also won a pair of 200-meter state championships and was the state champion in the 100-meter as a sophomore. During her sophomore season in 2014-15, Hudson became only one of a very few to win the 100-, 200- and 400-meter state championships in one meet. Hudson was also third in the long jump that year and scored 37 total points.
“That was one of the highlights of my career. Winning the 100-, 200- and 400-meters on the same day meant a lot to me because I don’t think there were a lot of people who thought I could,” Hudson said. “This season was good. Not great, but good. I didn’t hit some of the times I wanted this season, but overall, I guess I’m satisfied at what I was able to accomplish.
“I really enjoyed being around my teammates this year. I had a lot of friends, and it was a good time. That’s what I’m going to miss the most about high school track. It’s fun. I’m looking forward to college, but I think it’s going to be more like a job. It’s going to be much more serious.”
That was one of the highlights of my career. Winning the 100-, 200- and 400-meters on the same day meant a lot to me because I don’t think there were a lot of people who thought I could.
Hudson announced Wednesday that she will attend and compete in track and field at NJCAA Western Texas College in Snyder. One of the top JUCO track and field programs in Texas, Western Texas College will test Hudson both athletically and academically as she begins the next phase of her life with the hope of someday becoming a physical therapist.
“It’s a good school,” Hudson said. “I was a little disappointed about not going to a (NCAA) Division I school, but coach (Roscoe) Dowell said that a lot of athletes start out at junior college. I just have to take care of what I need to do, and everything will be fine.
“I talked to the coach, and I’m probably going to be concentrating more in the 200- and 400-meters. But I’ll compete in any events they put me in. They have girls on the team who will give me good competition each day which will only me stronger and better.”
Dowell said Western Texas is a good fit for Hudson.
“It’s a very good track and field program,” Dowell said. “Mariya has to get stronger and she realizes that. Once they get her down there and on a weight training program with a good diet, I think she has a real chance to become a world-class track and field athlete someday.”