With two weeks remaining before the Class 3A O’Fallon girls sectional track and field meet, Panthers coach Neil James knows there are still some tough decisions to be made regarding which athletes to put in different events.
The 800 meters isn’t one of them.
Winding down an impressive four-year career, senior Tami Cardenas posted a season-best time of 2-minutes, 18.9-seconds to win going away as she led O’Fallon to an easy win on Friday at the Collinsville Invitational.
Cardenas led for much of the race and with O’Fallon assistant coach Ryan Massey exhorting her to begin her kick 100 meters earlier than normal, Cardenas remained strong to the end as she posted the easy win.
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“That was as smooth as she’s run all year,’’’ James said of Cardenas. “Tami ran 2:18 tonight and she wasn’t pushed.
“There is a good (800 meters) runner coming down for the sectional in a couple of weeks. We’ll see what she can do when she really has somebody pushing her in the last 200 meters.”
Cardenas wasn’t the the only elite competitor to shine as near perfect weather produced top performances by many of the state’s top athletes.
And in the case of O’Fallon, one of the state’s elite teams.
O’Fallon also won the 400 and 1,600 relays while also getting individual wins from Sam Tidwell in the 3,200 (11:39.1) and Kersten Douglas in the 200 (25.6) as it finished with 156 points. Triad earned the second place trophy by a point (86-85) over Belleville East.
With O’Fallon coming off an impressive win at the St. Clair County Meet on Wednesday, James opted to run many of his standouts in just one event and he also moved others around to get a better idea of who belongs where heading into the postseason.
“With the county meet just two days ago, we didn’t want to push the kids too much tonight. Plus we’re still moving some kids around to get some different looks on what we might do heading into the conference and sectional meets,’’ James said. “It’s kind of funny because out 800-meter relay second team nearly ran state-qualifying time tonight. We’ve got some decisions to make, but that’s the fun part.’’
While O’Fallon could be in the trophy hunt at the Class 3A state meet in three weeks, Triad also figures to be in the medal hunt in several events at the Class 2A state finals.
Third in the state in the pole vault a year ago, Triad senior Claire Buck continued her best week of the season with the best effort by an Class 2A athlete in the state this year as she cleared 12-feet, 7-inches. Buck cleared 12-1 on Tuesday at the Madison County Meet.
“Honestly, I think the big difference in Claire is the fact that our pole vault coach has been able to work with her a little bit more in the last few days. There was a time when he had to work where he couldn’t make it,’’ Knights coach Brian Weiss said. “She looked very strong tonight and I thought she almost cleared 13 feet on her second attempt at that height. Plus, she’s a senior I think she realizes that this is it.’’
Triad also got wins from Allison Richter in the shot put (40-7 1/2) and Jenniba Johnson in the 100 (12.6).
Also adding to a good week was Belleville East senior Miya Dorsey, who took advantage of a late stumble by Alton’s LaJarvia Brown to win the 300 hurdles with a time of 44.97. Dorsey also won a title at the St. Clair County Meet.
East also won the 800 relay (1:45.67)) and got a win from Sidne’ Williamson in the long jump (16-11 1/.2).
Brown did continue to dominate in the triple jump. Ranked second in the nation with an effort of 41-7 1/2 , Brown landed a leap of 41-1 on Friday.
Edwardsville got wins from Autumn Harris in the 100 hurdles (15.2) and its 3,200 relay (9:37.9). Granite City’s Catherine Jackich won the discus with a throw of 120-8, Brea Marshall of Collinsville won the 400 in 1:02 and Althoff senior Megan Seibel took the 1,600 (5:28.1).
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 618-239-2661.