Mariya Hudson graduated from Cahokia High School last week feeling pretty secure about the immediate future.
Hudson, who has not committed yet to a college, says she is ready to test her skills at a higher level.
“My future? Well, I’ve gotten to the point where I really like the long jump. But I would have to say, I’ll probably be running the 200 and 400 meters at the college level,” Hudson said on Monday. “The last four years of high school have really gone by fast.
“I’m anxious to test myself at the college level. But part of me wishes I could stay in high school a little longer.”
Hudson’s high school career will come to a close beginning Friday when she leads the Comanches into the Illinois High School Association Class 2A girls state track and field meet at O’Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. The finals are Saturday.
A five-time state champion with a pair of state crowns each in the 200 and 400 meters, Hudson will enter the Class 2A prelims on Friday on pace to score 32 points. Hudson, along with sophomore teammate Laqwasia Stepney, will lead the Comanches as they attempt to win a fourth straight Class 2A state team title.
Hudson has the best time in the state in the 200 meters (24.07 seconds) and the 400 meters (54.90). She also has the second best time in the 100 (12.06) an the sixth best long jump at 18 feet 5 inches.
Hudson is confident in her own ability and while she admits that a fourth straight state championship might be tough, she knows all she can do is her best.
“I’m not really feeling any pressure in terms of winning because all I can do is run my best and do the best I can in the long jump. If somebody beats me, they beat me,” Hudson said. “The pressure I’m feeling is that I know this is my last meet in high school and I want to give my best. I want to help us win one more state championship.”
Dunlap High School, located near Peoria, may have something to say about that. Dunlap enters the state meet after posting the top Class 2A time in all four relays — 400, 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters — a week ago at the sectional. Dunlap also has several individuals ranked in the top 10 in their events.
“We have a chance. But looking at the number of quality entries that both teams have, in all honesty, we’re going to have to have everything go right and they (Dunlap) are going to have a few things go wrong for us to have a good chance at beating them. From top to bottom on the track and in the field events, they are really solid,” Cahokia coach Roscoe Dowell said.
“If we do our very best and still get beat the you tip your hats to the team that beat us. We would love to win it again. But the goal is a trophy.”
Hudson’s senior season hasn’t been what she had hoped. Bothered by a strained right hamstring muscle, the Comanches senior missed a couple of meets earlier in the season. Hudson’s effort at the Springfield Southeast Sectional last week demonstrated to all that she’s ready to provide plenty of highlights this weekend in Charleston.
“I would like to break 54 seconds in the 400 and go under 24 (seconds) in the 200. The key for me is getting out of the (starting) blocks. The 100 meters is another event where it depends on how I’m able to get out,” Hudson said. “We have been working on my starts recently and they’ve been a little better. I’m hoping that continues this weekend.
“Even though it was tough not being able to compete as often this season because of my hamstring, I think that maybe I’m fresher heading into the state finals than I’ve been in the past. I feel stronger this year.”
With the threat of rain Friday, the Class 2A Mascoutah boys sectional track and field meet has been moved to Thursday, Mascoutah High School athletic director Scott Battas announced. Field events at Mascoutah High School begin at 11 a.m. with the running events at 12:30 p.m.