High School Sports

Cahokia, Edwardsville begin defense of state track titles


The journey to perhaps a sixth straight Class 2A state track and field title is about to begin for the Cahokia Comanches. But probably without Ja’Mari Ward competing.

One of the top high school track and field athletes in the nation and a two-time state champion in both the triple jump and long jump, Ward will not jump at the Carterville Sectional on Friday but may run in a relay event, Comanches coach Leroy Millsap said late Tuesday night.

Ward, who owns both the state records in the triple jump and long jump, suffered a dislocated left kneecap at the Collinsville Invitational 10 days ago and in the best interest of his athletic future, may be limited to running in a relay event, when action begins at Carterville High School on FRiday at 4 p.m.

But even without Ward, who was also a favorite in the 100 and 200 meters, in the lineup, Cahokia coach Leroy Millsap still thinks his team will be one of the favorties at the state finals, May 26-28 at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston.

“If Ja’Mari competes it will only be in a relay. And that is a maybe,’’ Millsap said on Tuesday. “But the way I have it figured out, with Ja’Mari we could score 113 points at the state meet. You take away 40 that he would get and we still have 73. The second place team usually scores in the 50’s. All we have to do is have the kids do what they’ve been doing all year and we’ll be fine. I don’t care if we win by one point, as long as we win it..’’

That journey begins on Friday at Carterville High School and is one of four sectional events begine hosted involving metro east area schools. Defending Class 3A state chamion Edwardsville, led by the top high school athlete in the nation in the discus in AJ Epenesa along with Travis Anderson in the hurdles, will battle East St. Louis and many other top teams at the Collinsville Sectional on Friday at Collinsville High School.

The field events begin at 2 p.m. followed by the running events at 3:30 p.m. The Class A Nashville Sectional, originally scheduled for Friday, has been moved up to Thursday beginning at 4 p.m. Highland and Civic Memorial are among the teams competing at the Springfield Lanphier Sectional on Friday.

The top two individuals and any others meeting state requirements in each event, advance to the IHSA State Track Meet, May 26-28 at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston.

With Ward out of the lineup, Cahokia will rely heavily on senior Anthony McRoberts in the long junp, triple jump and high jump along with Chris Stanley in the 800 meters. Cahokia, which won all four relays in taking the state title a year ago, is also ranked high in all of those this year.

Among the other op local individuals to watch at Carterville include Adam Nelson of Triad in the 100 meters and Charlie Parrish of FReeburg in the 1,600 meters and 3,200 meter events.

At the Collinsville Sectional

Edwardsville will be pushed by East St. Louis in a battle of two Southwestern Conference powers which have split a pair of decisions in the past two weeks and which will be in the heat of the battle at the Class 3A State Track Meet next weekend in Charleston.

East St. Louis, led by a large group of sprinters and strnegth in the relays and hurdles, edged EDwardsville at the Collinsville Invitational 10 days ago. Edwardsville, which is led by the raw athletic ability of junior AJ Epenesa in the discus and shot put along with a now healthy Travis Anderson, nipped the Flyers at the Southwestern Conference Meet.

Round three this week should be just as entertaining as the two perennial powers headline the 16-team field.

“This is what we’ve been working towards all year. Now its time to decide where we feel our strengths are heading into the postseason,’’ Edwardsville coach Chad Lakatos said following the SWC title win. “This is what its all about is these next two weeks.’’

Anderson, who missed several weeks early in the season with an injury, looks to be in top formin the 110 and 300 meter hurdles. The Tigers senior

Dean Criddle: 618-239-2661, @CriddleDean