Strong preliminary round efforts from senior Fontez Davis and sophomore AJ Epsenesa have put the Edwardsville Tigers in position to make a run at the Class 3A boys state track and field title.
Meanwhile, Belleville East’s William Session could come home a double-winner in the hurdles after a pair of strong performances.
Davis, a senior, got off a leap of 23-feet, 6-inches to take the lead in the long jump while Epenesa, a sophomore, had the top discus throw of the day as the Tigers earned nine finals berths during Friday’s preliminaries at O’Brien Stadium.
Epenesa, whose throw of 192 feet earlier this season is the best in the nation for a sophomore, hurled the discus 180-10 and has nearly a two-foot lead over Cary Grove junior Ricky Hurley, who is in second place at 179-1. Belleville West senior Ricky Nelson is in third after a throw of 176-4.
Epenesa also qualfied for the finals in the shot put, after a throw of 53-9 1/2 put him in eighth place with three attempts remaining.
Edwardsville sophomore Travis Anderson also has an excellent chance at a state championship after posting the second-best time in the 110 hurdles. Senior Wes Schoenthal posted the third-best time in the 800, running a time of a minute 54.13 seconds.
Other Edwardsville individuals in the finals include Justin White in the high jump and Isaiah Michl in the 300 hurdles. The Tigers also have the sixth-best time in the 400 relay (41.94) and fourth-best time in the 1,600 relay (3:19.30).
Session, a junior, duplicated the earlier effort of his older brother, Cahokia senior Korrion Session, who had posted the top times in the 110 and 300 hurdles in the Class 2A meet, by doing the same in Class 3A.
William Session ran a time of 14.01 in the 110 hurdles and followed with a 38.71 in the 300 hurdles.
Led by Nelson’s effort in the discus, the Belleville West Maroons will be leaving O’Brien Stadium on Saturday with medals in four events. In addition to his effort in the discus, Nelson is sixth in the shot put after a throw of 56-0 1/4.
Always a threat in the relays, West had the second-best time in the 400 relay (41.78). Junior Deshon Buchanan had the eighth-best time in the 200 (22.12).
Collinsville’s 800 relay posted the eighth-best time of 1:27.66, while East St. Louis had the eight-best time in the 1,600 relay.
The Flyers will also be represented by Roosevelt Davis in the 400, where he ran a time of 48.07 which was the sixth best of the day. O’Fallon senior DeMontez McCray posted the fourth-best time at 48:02.
O’Fallon’s time of 7:49.88 in the 3,200 relay was the sixth best of prelims.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 618-239-2661.