With the Class 3A Sectional Track Meet a little less than two weeks away, the Edwardsville Tigers continued to make their statement Saturday at the Collinsville Track and Field Invitational.
It was seniors DeVonte’ Tincher and A.J. Epenesa who led the way.
With one of the state’s top combination 110- and 300-meter hurdlers, Travis Anderson, out of action with a tight hamstring, Tincher and Epenesa combined for 33 points in their individual events to help Edwardsville edge defending Class 3A state champion East St. Louis on a windy Saturday afternoon at Collinsville High School.
The top metro-east athlete in the long jump, Tincher finished fourth with a jump of 21 feet, 9 inches, but rebounded to win the 200 meters in 21.98 seconds for Edwardsville, which finished the day with 90 1/2 points, just ahead of the Flyers (81 1/3 points) and six-time defending Class 2A state champion Cahokia (79 1/2 points).
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Tincher, a member of the Tigers team that placed second in the state finals a year ago, looked strong coming down the stretch in the 200 meters as he edged Collinsville freshman sensation Jemarrion Stewart by the slimmest of margins. Stewart, who won the 100 meters, finished in 22.05 seconds.
“It wasn’t the best jump of the season. There are so many good young jumpers in the (Southwestern) conference, it might take a 23-foot jump to win the (SWC) meet on Tuesday,” Tincher said, looking ahead. “There was some tightness in my groin earlier today, but I am happy I was able to come back and win the 200. Not totally pleased with the time, but pleased with the outcome.”
Epenesa, the defending state champion in the discus, won his event with a throw of 180 feet and placed second behind defending Class 2A state champion Sam Sikon, of Carbondale, in the shot put with a throw of 56 feet.
Sophomore Max Hartman won the 3,200 meters. With Anderson out, Hartmann’s 10 points proved to be a key in the Tigers edging a pair of state champions.
Matt Griebe also helped out the Tigers cause by winning the 110-meter hurdles.
“Actually its Travis’ (Anderson) other hamstring which tightened up,” Lakatos said. “The time of year we’re not going to take any chances with him. If he’s not ready to go on Tuesday at conference, he won’t run. We’ll get him ready for the sectional in two weeks. That’s when it counts.
“Overall, I was pleased. We keep talking about how young our distance group is. But they’ve really improved and Max (Hartmann) ran a great race.
East St. Louis, running without state-ranked brothers Delano and Deante Anderson, the Flyers won the 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter relay and also got a win from freshman Willie Johnson in the 400 meters.
Cahokia was led by a pair of outstanding efforts from senior Chris Stanley and Andra Ward. Coming off a hamstring injury suffered two weeks ago at the Granite City Invitational, Stanley edged previously undefeated Chris Conra in the 800 meters. Stanley finished in a time of 1 minute, 55.95 seconds, while Conrad, the top-ranked Class 3A 800-meter runner in the state, finished in 1 minute, 55.10 seconds.
Ward won the triple jump with a leap of of 47 feet, 1 inch. Ward’s previous best was 45 feet, 10 inches.
Granite City sophomore Andrew O’Keefe turned in perhaps the top individual effort of the day. The Warriors standout won the 1,600 meters with a personal-best time of 4 minutes, 16 seconds. His previous best was 4 minutes, 22 seconds.
Warriors teammate Torrey Deal won the high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 7 inches, while Jemarrion Stewart, of Collinsville, won the 100 meters in 10.85 seconds.
Triad sophomore Jadon Elliott won the pole vault (14 feet, 1 inch), while Belleville East freshman Kenyon Johnson edged Tincher in the long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 1/2 inch.