Alton High girls track coach Terry Mitchell didn’t flinch late Saturday afternoon when he said LaJarvia Brown was the type of athlete who comes along once in a coaching career.
On Saturday, Brown ended that record-smashing career with a performance for the ages and one for the Alton record book at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston.
Headed to compete at NCAA Division I national track power Texas A & M in a little over three months, Brown won her third straight triple jump state title with a record jump of 42 feet, 1 inch and won the 100 meter hurdles title and sored 35 points by herself as Alton placed second in the Class 3A track meet.
With Lincoln-Way East running away with the Class 3A state title from the outset, Brown did what only a few special athletes in state history have done before as she proved to be nearly a one-person team, scoring 35 of the Redbirds 37 points. Katie Mans earned the other two points by placing eighth in the high jump as the Redbirds became the first girls track team in school history to earn a trophy.
Alton’s last trophy in track and field came in 1972 when the boys team placed third.
“No regrets. I wanted to come here this weekend and do what I’ve done my whole career, which is give it everything I have. I wanted to leave everything on the field. Right now, I don’t know if I want to laugh or cry,” Brown said as the Redbirds prepared to receive their medals and trophy. “I really wanted the third state title in the triple jump and I wanted the record.
“Then in the 100-meter hurdles, I got out fast and I was able to finish fast. I sometimes have trouble doing that. It feels good to be able to bring back a trophy to Alton.”
Brown’s time in the 100-meter hurdles was 13.89 seconds. She also placed second in the long jump and ended up third in the 300 meter hurdles — her least favorite of her four events.
The trophy also meant a lot to Mitchell, who has been the Redbirds girls coach for 21 years and at Alton High since the mid 1970’s.
“I’ve been wanting to be able to do this for a long time. We’ve put a lot of time, energy and hard work into this for the last few years and to see it all finally pay off, it means a lot,” Mitchell said. “It means a lot to the school as well.
“Katie Mans getting two points was big for us as well today. But LaJarvia ... she’s one special athlete and a great young lady.”
East St. Louis has a big day
Hinsdale Central and Oswego East tied for the third-place trophy with 30 points each, but not far behind were the East St. Louis Flyerettes who tied for eighth place with 21 points.
Sophomore Evangeline Harris led the way for East St. Louis with a throw of 45 feet 7, 1/2 inches. But the outgoing Flyerettes standout was hoping for more.
“I had a good meet. It could have been better because my goal coming into today was 48 feet,” Harris said. “But to be able to finish second and help my team by scoring eight points. That feels good.”
Jazzmine Poole placed fifth in the discus for East St. Louis with a throw of 133 feet, 4 inches, while the relay team of Jariah Turner, Shonjahnea Griggs, LaJeanai Keltee and Rokelle Stanley was second in the 1,600 meter relay with a time of 3:53.29 seconds.
O’Fallon manages a pair of medals in the relays
Southwestern Conference champion O’Fallon didn’t have the meet it had hoped, but the Panthers did earn medals in the 800 and 1,600 meter relays. O’Fallon placed second in the 800 meter relay with a time of 1 minute, 40 seconds. Members of that team were Kersten Douglas, Taliah Reese, Tamya Houston and Mya Watson-Blake.
Reese, Blake, Mackenzie Ryan and Caitlyn Clinton placed seventh in the 1,600 meter relay for O’Fallon.
Belleville West placed sixth in the 400-meter relay as Monique Shine, Kameron Frazier, Teonna Davis and Kelvi Searcy finished with a time of 48.83 seconds.
Granite City, which was disqualified in the 400-meter relay relay, bounced back to place fourth in the 800 meter relay as Niya Wilson, TyKiaza Jones, Andrea Hyde and Toni Rush finished in 1:43.03.
Berberich medals again
Lebanon junior Casey Berberich was the lone Class 1A athlete to earn a state medal as she finished fourth in the long jump for a second straight year. Beberich jumped 17 feet, 3 1/2 inches.
“I couldn’t get my steps right. I felt like I had a jump of 18 feet or better coming today. But to be able to earn a medal for the second straight year is a good finish,’’ Berberich said. “It would have been nice to be the first relay team in school history to earn a medal and we had a chance in the 3,200 meter relay. But we were the first relay team to make the finals. That’s good.’’