His place in history already secure, Cahokia junior Ja’Mari Ward took brilliance to a whole new level on Tuesday at the St. Clair County Track Meet for boys.
One of the nation’s top high school track and field athetes, Ward shattered meet records in the long jump and triple jump then concluded his day with a memorable anchor leg on the Comanches record-breaking effort in the 1,600-meter relay as Cahokia cruised to another county title at Belleville West High School.
Getting the baton trailing East St. Louis sophomore Roosevelt Davis, Ward first drew even and then took the lead over Davis, who had won the 200 title 10 minutes earlier. The two then ran stride for stride for the final 200 meters with Ward crossing the finish line first for a record time of 3 minutes, 17.78 seconds.
East St. Louis had the old 1,600 mark of 3:18.54 and it was set way back in 1981.
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But it was Ward’s 400 split time of 46.8 seconds that had veteran Cahokia coach Leroy Millsap in near disbelief after the meet.
“Do you think Ja’Mari is one of the best to come out if this (metro-east) area?” Millsap said smiling. “He had just an amazing day.”
As did the Cahokia thinclads who won 11 events and finished the day with 181 points, 52 more than second-place O’Fallon (129). East St. Louis, led by wins by Davis in the 200 and 400, placed third with 113 points. Belleville West (96) and Mascoutah (77) rounded out the top five county teams.
Cahokia senior Korrion Session edged younger brother William Session, of Belleville East, in the 110 hurdles and also won the 300 hurdles title in support of Ward. Daniell Akins won the shot put and Seandre Vinson took the high jump. Keveion Akins took the 100 dash. Cahokia also swept the relays.
“I’m ecstatic. It was a great day all the way around,” Millsap said. “Korrion ran his best time in the 110-meters hurdles at 14.03 seconds, Daniell had a throw of 57 feet in the shot put, we had two kids go 6-feet 5 inches today in the high jump, we ran a great time in the 1,600-meter relay and we ran well in the other three relays. It was just a great day.
“This is tremendously hard working group of kids. But yes, I think we can do better in some events. I’ve thought about backing off a little bit, but this is also a very competitive group as well. They want to win everything.”
Ward’s record setting jump of 49 feet, 11 3/4 inches broke the record of 49-2 set by former Cahokia great Kali Jackson in 2005, while his winning effort of 25-6 1/2 was nearly a foot longer then the one of 24-8 1/2 turned in by former teammate Chris Moore two years ago.
Ironically, both winning jumps came on Ward’s final attempts in both events
“I wasn’t warmed up well enough,” said Ward whose first two long jumps were 22 feet and 23-4 inches. “I had to generate more speed on my approach and I did that on my final long jump attempt. But it was a good day overall. I am happy with the way I’m jumping right now.”
Korrion Session was also pleased with how he ran in the 110 hurdles. Finishing with an identical time of his brother William of 14.09 in the 110 hurdles, Korrion scored the narrowest of wins.
“I’m pleased at how I ran. I love my brother and have a lot of respect for him. I know that if I can beat him and he’s in Class 3A, then I feel good about my chances in Class 2A,” Session said. “I didn’t think I ran as well in the 300 hurdles. I may have eased up a little bit in the last few meters, I don’t know why. It’s just something I need to work on.”
As expected, second-place O’Fallon dominated in the distance running events. The Panthers got wins from Romeo Scagliarini in the 3,200, Spencer Phillips in the 800 and Logan Whorton in the 1,600.
But O’Fallon coach Ron Koch said Cahokia’s performance on Tuesday was something to watch.
“What makes Cahokia so good is their depth. He (Millsap) has two high jumpers, two kids in the shot put and discus, two kids in the long jump and triple jump. Plus he’s got Ja’Mari Ward,” Koch said. “I’ve seen high school kids jump 26 feet. The only thing was is that I had to go to Chicago for the international high school championships when they were held a few years back. The kid’s name? Carl Lewis.
“Our kids did a good job. They competed hard and are improving.”
Davis led the way for East St. Louis with his wins in the 200 and 400.
Belleville West got a win from Ricky Nelson in the discus. Mascoutah’s Matt De’Tore won the pole vault.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 618-239-2661.