The Cahokia Comanches will enter O’Brien Stadium in Charleston on Friday for the IHSA Class 2A Boys State Track and Field Meet preliminaries with their eyes on a seventh-straight state championship.
The Comanches are led by senior Chris Stanley in the 800-meter and senior Marquis Murray in the long jump. Coach Leroy Millsap is hoping the Comanches, who will be pushed by Normal, Springfield Southeast and Maple Park-Kaneland, are at their best this weekend.
“This has been a different group. We have athletes who can and have produced at a high level, but the one thing we haven’t had all year is a true leader. Someone who will gather everybody around when things get tight. I’m hoping someone steps up and does that this weekend. I have a feeling that this meet is going to be decided in the last event,” Millsap said. “All we have to do is give our best. If we do that, everything will be fine.”
The 2017 IHSA boys state track and field meet begins Thursday with the Class 1A preliminary round. The Class 2A preliminaries are Friday morning with Class 3A athletes taking the field Friday afternoon. The finals are Saturday.
Murray had the best jump in the state (23 feet, 1 1/2 inches) during sectional competition, while Stanley turned in the best time in the 800-meter (1 minute, 54.48 seconds). In addition, senior Brandon Roberson (400-meter) and sophomore Andra Ward (triple jump) had the second-best efforts in their events. Cahokia also had the best time in the 1,600-meter relay (3:20.76) and is ranked in the top five in both the 400- and 800-meter relays.
Other local Class 2A athletes hoping for medals this weekend are Freeburg senior Drew Wilkerson (800-meter), juniors Ian Alberts (pole vault) and Charlie Parrish (3,200-meter) and sophomore Brendan Meng (long jump); Triad sophomore Jadon Elliott (pole vault), Highland senior Tyler Higgins (200-meter); and the Waterloo Bulldogs’ 1,600-meter relay team.
Edwardsville and East St. Louis will renew their battle on the track as the past two Class 3A state champions fight to add another trophy to their collection.
Edwardsville is led by seniors A.J. Epenesa, Travis Anderson and DeVonte Tincher.
“Friday is the big day,” Edwardsville coach Chad Lakatos said. “Our goal is to try and get as many entries as we can into the finals on Saturday and take it from there. The good thing is that we’re as healthy as we’ve been all year and are coming off a really strong performance in the sectional. We’re ready to go.”
Epenesa, the defending state champion in the discus, had the third-best throw in the state last week (181-9) and fifth-best throw in the shot put (56-3), while Tincher has the sixth-best time in the 200-meter (21.71).
Anderson has the best time in the state in the 110-meter hurdles (13.64) and second-best time in the 300-meter hurdles (38.10). East St. Louis senior Delano Anderson has the best mark (38.02).
Edwardsville junior Blake Neville will compete in the pole vault.
East St. Louis is led by Delano Anderson, the No. 2 seed in the 110-meter hurdles, while his brother Deonte Anderson has the top time in the 400-meter (48.39). Freshman Willie Johnson has the third-best time in the 400 (48.72).
Other metro-east athletes hoping to contend include Collinsville freshman Jermarrrion Stewart in the 100- and 400-meter, Granite City senior Torrey Deal in the high jump and O’Fallon senior Chris Conrad in the 800-meter.
Althoff senior Jaylon Bester has one of the top 10 efforts in the triple jump (42-8 1/2 in the Sparta sectional) and is ranked third in the 100-meter with a time of 10.95.
Madison junior Dontez Pittman is eighth in the 300-meter hurdles (40.15) and fourth in the 110-meter hurdles (15.47).