When Cahokia High School sophomore Mariya Hudson arrived at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston on a late May Saturday morning for the finals of the Class 2A Girls State Track and Field Meet, she had no idea what the day would bring.
The defending state champion in the 400 meters, Hudson had posted the fastest time in the preliminary round of the event the previous day and also was one of the favorites in the 100 and 200. But with only herself and teammate Raynesha Lewis competing, the chances of Cahokia successfully defending its team state title seemed slim.
“I guess there was pressure. I just tried not to think about it. I just concentrated on going out and doing my best in my events,’’ Hudson recalled recently. “That’s all I could do.’’
What Hudson ended up doing was putting on a performance for the ages as she scored 37 of the Comanches’ 61 points, which included capturing the sprinter’s Triple Crown. That along with the efforts of Lewis, who won the long jump and placed in the top four of two other events, powered the Comanches to a 10-point win over perennial state power (Chicago) Morgan Park for the championship.
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The title was clinched when Hudson won the 200 – checking in with a time of 24.64 seconds – as she put the final touch on a memorable day and memorable performance.
“It was a combination of relief, fatigue and happiness after the 200. There were a few good girls in the 200 and I had just finished the 400 a few minutes earlier. I was tired,” Hudson said. “Once the race started, I felt good and very motivated because the state title could have been on the line.
“I just had to stay steady and keep my form. I couldn’t worry about what the other runners were doing and where they were in the race. All I could control was how I was running and doing the best that I could.’’
The Belleville News-Democrat co-track Athlete of the Year in 2014, when she shared the honor with Stanford University standout Lena Giger of Highland, Hudson was in a class of her own this season as she claimed the recognition outright.
In her first two years of high school track, Hudson has won four individual state championships, a total of seven medals and been part of two state championship teams.
Hudson also joins a select group of athletes who have won the 100, 200 and 400 in the same year. Brittny Ellis, of (Gurnee) Warren, did the same in Class 3A this year.
“I know there aren’t many who have won all three in the same state meet. It makes me feel proud to know that I’m among that group,’’ Hudson said. “I worked hard for this. It’s good to know that all the hard work paid off. ‘’
Hudson continued to train hard after the state meet. She accompanied a group of Cahokia High School athletes to the Great Southwest Track Invitational at the University of New Mexico, where she qualified for the 400, her favorite sprint event. She also ran on a relay for Team Illinois.
This summer, Hudson is still training and competes as a member of the St. Louis Blues Track Club, an organization which includes many of the top high school track athletes in the St. Louis area. The team competes at meets throughout the Midwest.
But Hudson is also having fun being a typical teenager.
“I’m still training. But I’m also spending time doing things with my friends and family,’’ Hudson said. “It won’t be long before school starts again and I’ll run cross country. It’s not my favorite sport. I just started a couple of years ago. But it’s good for conditioning and keeping me in shape for track in the spring.’’
Hampered during the regular season by a sore knee, Hudson wasn’t at full strength until the Triad Sectional where she and Lewis, who missed a considerable amount of time with a broken bone in her ankle suffered during basketball season, gave an indication of things to come with an impressive effort as they led the Comanches to the team title.
But once at O’Brien Stadium, Hudson and Lewis, took their performances to another level.
The defending champion and heavy favorite in the 400, Hudson also had the fastest time in the 200 in the preliminary round. If there was a concern, it was in the 100.
Not yet exceptionally fast out of the starting blocks, Hudson was good enough on this day, finishing with a winning time of 12.02.
“Assistant coach (Greg) Crockett is always telling me that I need to learn to get out of the starting blocks faster in the 100 meters. This time, I tried putting the blocks closer together to see if it would help,’’ Hudson said. “Coaches are also telling me that I don’t need to be out of the blocks first. I just need to be even with the other runners, because if it’s close or I’m even with them I am usually able to win because I’m stronger in the last half of the race.’’
Hudson then won the 400 in a romp — finishing ahead of the field by nearly two seconds with a time of 54.79.
Although it’s still two years away, Hudson is starting to think about colleges and beyond.
“I know I want to compete at college. I’m just not sure where I want to go or what I want to study,’’ Hudson said. “As for next year, I think we could win it again. We’ve got some girls coming back and we’re getting a couple of good freshmen coming in.’’
2015 Belleville News-Democrat
Girls All-Area Track Team
Athlete of the Year
Mariya Hudson, Cahokia, soph
Coach of the Year
Roscoe Dowell, Cahokia
Long Jump: Raynesha Lewis, Cahokia, jr.
High Jump: Tamar Mosby, Belleville East, jr. and Katie Mans, Alton, frosh.
Triple Jump: LaJarvia Brown, Alton, jr.
Pole Vault: Claire Buck, Triad, sr.
Shot Put: Aaliah Herron, East St. Louis, sr.
Discus: Aaliah Herron, East St. Louis, sr. and Allison Richter, Triad
100 Meters: Mariya Hudson, Cahokia, soph.
200 Meters: Mariya Hudson, Cahokia, soph.
400 Meters: Mariya Hudson, Cahokia, soph.
800 Meters: Tami Cardenas, O’Fallon, sr.
1,600 Meters: Angela Buch, O’Fallon, sr; and Noelle Gilster, O’Fallon
3,200 Meters: Keri Burmester, Red Bud, jr. and Noelle Gilster, O’Fallon, sr.
100 Meter Hurdles: Raynesha Lewis, Cahokia, jr.
300 Meter Hurdles: Miya Dorsey, Belleville East, sr.
400 Meter Relay: O’Fallon ( Kersten Douglas (So.), Tamya Houston (So.) Nautica Lockett (Sr.), Mya Watson-Blake (So.)
800 Meter Relay: O’Fallon ( Kersten Douglas (So.), Tamya Houston (So.) Nautica Lockett (Sr.), Mya Watson-Blake (So.)
1,600 Meter Relay: Belleville East ( Maronjanie Jones (Sr.), Tamar Mosby (Jr.) Kaitlynn Sanchez (Jr.), Miya Dorsey (Sr.) and O’Fallon (Tami Cardenas (Sr.), Taliah Reese (So.) Kersten Douglas (So.), Caitlyn Clinton (Jr.)
3,200 Meter Relay: Edwardsville ( Danielle Bohannon (Jr.), Lorie Cashdollar (Fr.) Victoria Vegher (So.), Bailey McGuire (So.)
Long Jump: Mariya Hudson, Cahokia and LaJarvia Brown, Alton and Casey Berberich, Lebanon
High Jump: Abbey Carney, O’Fallon, Mya Watson-Blake, O’Fallon; Marie Harla, Althoff
Triple Jump: Raynesha Lewis, Cahokia
Pole Vault: Teah Bliven, Wesclin, Stephanie Jacobs, Freeburg; Gabby Arbas, Triad
Shot Put: Catherine Jakich, Granite City; Jewel Wagner, Alton; Allison Richter, Triad
Discus: Jasmine Poole, East St. Louis
100 Meters: Jenniba Johnson, Triad; Kersten Douglas, O’Fallon
200 Meters: Jenniba Johnson, Triad; Sidne’ Williamson, Belleville East
400 Meters: Ni'Jia McNamee, Belleville West
800 Meters: Abigail Richter, Triad; Grace Rowan, Althoff
1,600 Meters: Keri Burmester, Red Bud
3,200 Meters: Jayden Shelton, Highland; Sam Tidwell, O’Fallon and Rachel Russel, O’Fallon
100 Meter Hurdles; Miya Dorsey, Belleville East
300 Hurdles: Takyra Buford, Cahokia; LaJarvia Brown, Alton
400 Meter Relay: Belleville West
800 Meter Relay: Belleville East
1,600 Meter Relay: East St. Louis
3,200 Meter Relay: Freeburg and O’Fallon
Long Jump: Sydney Jones, Jerseyville; Elizabeth Harla, Althoff; Faye Meissner, Central; Sidne’ Williamson, Belleville East; Aubreeny Brady, Collinsville; Nicquayleenaotae Moore, East St. Louis; Nautica Lockett, O’Fallon
High Jump: Genna Bourgeois, Waterloo; Lexie Wheeler, Triad
Triple Jump: Delphanae Griffin, Madison, Emily Vahlkamp, Freeburg; Sydney Jones, Jerseyville; Mackenzie Ryan, O’Fallon
Pole Vault: Gabriella Romano, Edwardsville
Shot Put: Leia Campbell, Dupo, Dierrah Reese, New Athens; Megan Deimeke, Mater Dei; Jasmine Spearman, O’Fallon
Discus: Catherine Jakich, Granite City; Easten Hoepker, Nashville; Rachel Liefer, Red Bud; Jenna Kennedy, Freeburg
100 Meters: Daisha Dunn, Sparta; Faye Meissner, Central; Nautica Lockett, O’Fallon; Nicquayleenaotae Moore, East St. Louis; Maronjanie Jones, Belleville East; Robyn Pointer, Granite City
200 Meters: Robyn Pointer, Granite City; Mya Watson-Blake, O’Fallon; Ni'Jia McNamee, Belleville West; Tamya Houston, O’Fallon
400 Meters: Kiara Chapman, Jerseyville; Marie Harla, Althoff; Brea Marshall, Collinsville; Robyn Pointer, Granite City; Faye Meisnner, Central; Lorie Cashdollar, Edwardsville
800 Meters: Megan Seible, Althoff; Caitlyn Clinton, O’Fallon; Danielle Bohannon, Edwardsville; Kaitlynn Sanchez, Belleville East; Emily Marler, Freeburg
1,600 Meters: Kayla Whitworth, Freeburg; Megan Seible, Althoff; Jayden Shelton, Highland, Elizabeth Lynn, Edwardsville
3200 Meters: Mallory Unverferht, Okawville; Lindsay Mank, Freeburg,
100 Meter Hurdles: Victoria Younge, Gibault; Takyra Buford, Cahokia; Hannah Finnerty, Waterloo; Autumn Harris, Edwardsville; Mackenzie Ryan, O’Fallon
300 Meter Hurdles: Casey Berberich, Lebanon; Rockell Stanley, East St. Louis; LaJeanai Keltee, East St. Louis
400 Meter Relay: Belleville East; Cahokia; Sparta; Central, Alton, Triad
800 Meter Relay: Sparta, Cahokia, Mascoutah; Central; Belleville West, East St. Louis and Edwardsville
1,600 Meter Relay: Edwardsville, Mascoutah, Freeburg, Cahokia, Althoff
3,200 Meter Relay: Nashville, Althoff, Mascoutah, Belleville East and East St. Louis