Fresh off a solid performance and another sectional title which included advancing 15 entries into the Class 2A State Track Meet preliminaries, Cahokia girls track coach Roscoe Dowell was feeling pretty good as he left Mascoutah High School last Friday.
Then Dowell saw what the Comanches chief competition did in its sectional meet.
“I thought we had a good meet and got just about everyone through that we thought we would. We got 15 entries through and I was feeling good. Then I saw what Maple Park (Kaneland) and Springfield Southeast were able to do,’’ Dowell said. “Dunlap got 20 entries through with some very good relay teams and a few high quality individuals.
“I’m sure they were feeling really good.’’
Led by two of the top individuals in the state in senior Raynesha Lewis and junior Mariya Hudson, the Comanches begin their quest to three-peat on Friday beginning at 9 a.m. when Class 2A preliminaries are held at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston.
Action in the ‘16 state finals begins on Thursday at 11 a.m. with the Class 1A preliminaries. Class 3A preliminaries are set for noon on Friday. Finals are set to begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday at O’Brien Stadium which is located on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.
The Comanches head into the state finals this year a much deeper team then they were a year ago when despite being decimated by injuries, used the brilliance of Hudson and Lewis to win a second straight state title.
This year with Hudson, the defending state champion in the 100, 200 and 400 meters and Lewis, the reigning champion in the long jump, the favorites in their events, Cahokia also has freshman LaQwasia Stepney in the long jump and 100 meter hurdles along with speed galore in the 400 and 800 meter relays. And there is more.
“I like our chances if we come in and compete like we have all year,’’ Dowell said. “Raynesha (Lewis) probably won’t high jump because we don;t want to take any chances with her sore foot. But other than that, we‘re ready to go. We just can’t have any slip ups this year. There are too many good teams here.’’
While Cahokia is clearly the top local attraction in Class 2A, several other athletes and individuals also will be in the medal hunt.
Triad senior and Western Illinois University recruit Allison Richter had the second best throw in the state in the discus last week at 126 feet 5 inches and the third best throw in the shot put at 42 feet 5 1/4 inches.
Triad’s Gabby Arbus and Stephanie Jacobs of Freeburg are tied with several others for the ninth best pole vault in the state at 10 feet 7 inches. Highland has the sixth best time in the 3,200 meter relay at 9 minutes 47 seconds while Mascoutah’s time of 49.4 seconds is the sixth best in the 400 meter relay.
Brown, O’Fallon lead the way in Class 3A
One of the state’s best in the long jump and triple jump for the last three years, Alton senior Lajarvia Brown heads into the state finals looking to cement her place as one of the best in metro east history and also put the Redbirds on the girls tack and field map.
A two-time state champion in the triple jump and twice a medal winner in the long jump, Brown is also one of the favorites in the 100 meter hurdles where she has the second best time at 14.3 seconds and fifth best time in the 300 meter hurdles (45.5).
Should Brown, a Texas A @ M University recruit, fare well in her events and Katie Manns place high in the high jump, a top five — or better performance — in the team competition isn’t out of the question for the Redbirds.
O’Fallon is also hoping for a possible top 10 performance. The dominant Class 3A team in the area for much of the season, coach Neil James’ squad has legitimate chances for state titles in both the 400 and 800 meter relays where they posted top three times at the Rock Island Sectional last week.
If the Panthers can get points from their individuals, then James feels there is a chance at a top 10 finish.
“Obviously our best chances are in the 4x100 and 4x200 relays as we have top three times in both,’’ James said. “Each of the individuals has a chance to make finals as does our 4x400 relay. All of our athletes are primed and ready for the state meet. They are excited and ready to show what they can do.
“ I think if we can get some of those individuals through to Saturday then I feel we have a shot at top 10. Our girls have done a great job this season and I expect good things from them this weekend.’’
East St. Louis could also be in the top 10 with a good weekend. The Flyerettes have two individuals — Evangeline Harris in the shot put and Jazzmine Poole in the discus — who will contend for state titles, plus a relay team or two which could make the finals.
Belleville West also has a couple of medal hopefuls in its 400 meter relay team which has a top five time of 48.2 seconds and junior Kameron Frazier in the 400 meters.
Burmester looks to double.. again
Red Bud senior Keri Burmester looks to earns medals in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters for the second straight year as she leads the way for local Class 1A athletes.
Burmester posted the seventh best time in the state in the 1,600 meters last week at 5 minutes 27 seconds and her time of 11:42 in the 3,200 meters is currently the ninth best.
The Madison Trojans have three good chances of earning medals. Delphanae Griffin has the ninth best triple jump at 35 feet 3 1/2 inches, while Janiya Collins is currently sixth in the 100 meters at 12.71 seconds. The Trojans also have the seventh best time in the 400 meter relay at 50.79 seconds.
Lebanon junior Casey Berberich has the fourth best long jump (17 feet 1/2 inch) while the Greyhounds have the second best time in the 3,200 meter relay at 10:05.
Okawville is third at 10:10.3 .
Dean Criddle: 618-239-2661, @CriddleDean