On a day when she was far from at her best, Cahokia High School junior Mariya Hudson saved the best for last on Saturday at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston.
Dehydrated and with a slightly injured right leg following a fourth-place finish in the 400 meters, Hudson outran a trio of the top sprinters in the state to win the 200 meters to help the Comanches tie Maple Park-Kaneland for the Class 2A state title as Cahokia earned a third straight championship.
“People won’t know how close Mariya was to being down and out following the 400 meters. She had an injured leg and she was dehydrated. I didn’t know it until that time but she hadn’t eaten a thing all day at that time,” Cahokia coach Roscoe Dowell said. “We got some fluids in her and she knew that she had to win the 200 meters because we didn’t have a 1,600 meter relay team in the finals and Kaneland did.”
“Mariya did what she’s been doing for three years. She went out and competed to the best of her ability and she won the race.”
Hudson’s win gave Cahokia a 10-point lead which Kaneland erased by winning the 1,600 meter relay — leaving both teams with 53 points, 13 better than third-place Springfield Southeast.
The 2015 state champion in the 100, 200 and 400 meters, Hudson also placed third in the 100 meters, while senior Raynesha Lewis was third in the 100 meter hurdles and fifth in the triple jump, while the Comanches were third in the 400 meter relay and sixth in the 800 meter relay.
Freshman LaQwasia Stepney placed fifth in the 100 meter hurdles and sophomore Takyra Buford placed eighth in the 300-meter hurdles for Cahokia which needed every point on Saturday.
“If this doesn’t show the girls that every point counts, nothing ever will,” Dowell said. “We’re always stressing to go all out in all of the events, because you never know if a fifth place or sixth-place finish could be the difference between winning and losing. Today it was.”
Hudson said she didn’t feel “right” all day. After injuring her leg in a team “dance party” a couple of weeks ago, Hudson showed no signs of the injury until the state finals. But after a disappointing final 100 meters in the 400 meters, the Comanches junior had a talk with one of the Cahokia coaches before warming up for the 200 meter final.
“My coach told me to just go out and have fun,” Hudson said, smiling. “I wasn’t sure about the points. I just knew I had to win the race if my team was going to win the state championship. I wasn’t about to give up the lead in the final few meters of the 200. My team needed me to win.”
The state title caps a memorable career and an even more memorable weekend for Lewis, who will compete at the University of Nebrsaka next year. The defending state champion in the long jump, Lewis failed to make the finals because of an injured foot. But she managed to score 12 big points for Cahokia on Saturday.
“No it doesn’t mean any less because we tied for the title. There were a lot of great teams out here who wanted to take our title away from us. We were going to do whatever it took to remain as state champions and that’s what we did,” Lewis said. “It was heartbreaking for me not to make the finals in the long jump, but I was able to help my team today.
“We’re still the state champions. That’s what counts.”
Richter goes out with a pair or medals
Triad senior Allison Richter was a double medal winner for the second straight year on Saturday as she placed seventh in the shot put and fourth in the discus. Richter had a throw of 128 feet, 11 inches in the discus.
But ranked among the top four in the state in the shot put all year, Richter, a Western Illinois University recruit, was subdued after the finals.
“My form was off today. I honestly don’t know why,” Richter said. “It’s nice to medal in both events again. I just wish I could have done better.”
Senior Gabby Arbus, of Triad, just missed earning a medal, placing 10th in the pole vault
Highland, Freeburg earn medals in the 3,200 meter relay
Battling injuries for most of the past two years, Highland senior Allison Zobrist and the Highland Bulldogs 3,200 meter relay team ended their season in style.
One of two local teams in the finals of the 3,200 meter relay along with Freeburg, Zobrist combined with Rece Portell, Sara Beth Wirgman and Kate Marti to place fourth in a time of 9 minutes, 44.1 seconds.
Zobrist was the News-Democrat Class 2A Cross Country Runner of the Year two years ago but has missed most of the last two seasons with a series of leg and foot injuries.
“It’s been tough. There were many times I thought about giving it up,” Zobrist said. “But to end my high school career and run my last race here and earn a medal. it makes me glad I stuck it out.”
Freeburg was ninth in the 3,200 meter relay with Kayla Whitworth, Hannah Bouas, Ashley Gilmore and Kristen Collier finishing in 9:55.