With defending Class 3A state long jump champion La’Qwasia Stepney still rounding into top form after an offseason knee injury, Kelvi Searcy continued to step up Friday at the O’Fallon Panthers Track and Field Invitational.
Searcy posted a season-best time of 14.95 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles and also won the 300 hurdles championship as the Maroons held off crosstown rival Belleville East for the team title at O’Fallon.
Headed next year to the University of Nebraska, where she will compete for the Cornhuskers, Stepney won the long jump Friday with a leap of 18-feet-5-inches but struggled to a third-place finish in the 100 hurdles as Searcy ran away from the field.
“Q (Stepney) didn’t have a great race in the 100 hurdles, but she went 18-5 in the long jump and earlier this week, she went 18-9 in a meet. She’ll be just fine,” Maroons coach Sally Stephens said. “Kelvi (Searcy) has another very strong meet tonight. She went under 15 seconds in the 100 hurdles. We’ve kind of been waiting for that.
“Overall, it was a good performance tonight by the team. We’re getting to the point now where we’re heading into the biggest five meets of our season. We want to kind of build as we go along here. The goal is to be ready in May.”
Third in the Class 3A state finals a year ago, the Maroons also received winning efforts from Britney Mosby in the triple jump (37-1) and Jessica Coughlin (58.1 seconds) in the 400 meters, as they finished with 143 points
Belleville East, led by wins from Hannah Eastman in the 3200 meters and Laila Graham in the high jump, placed second with 119 points. Host O’Fallon was third with 98.
Stepney suffered a sprained MCL in her left knee in a freak accident at home and had to sit out a month because of the injury.
“I did it while I was dancing. I was just having fun and goofing around. I heard it pop, and I knew something was wrong,” Stepney said Friday after finishing third in the 100 hurdles.
“The toughest part was being away from my training. I’m pretty much 100 percent now. But I’m behind a little bit as far as where I should be with my training for this time of the year. The plan is for me to go in both hurdle events and the long jump at state. I think I can go 20 feet in the long jump.
Other local winners on Friday included Quianna Johnson, of Edwardsville, in the shot put (37-1) and teammate Abby Korak in the 1,600 meters (5:10).