The East St. Louis Flyers made good on a promise on Saturday and won a Class 3A state track and field championship along the way.
Seniors Roosevelt Davis and Marlowe Mosley ran legs on winning 400 and 1,600 meter relay teams and the Flyers overall depth proved to be the difference as East St. Louis sent coach Barry Malloyd out with a championship as it scored a 12-point win over Edwardsville at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston.
With Mosley and Davis, two four-year starters leading the way, East St. Louis won the 400 relay in 41.64 seconds then put the finishing touch on its first state championship since 2008 by posting a winning time of 3:15.3 in the meet ending 1,600 relay.
The Flyers also placed second in the 800 relay and had two athletes earn points in both the 400 and 200 meters to help finish with 54 points, 12 more then 2015 state champion Edwardsville. The Tigers were led by championship efforts from AJ Epenesa in the discus and 110 meter hurdles from Travis Anderson.
The title almost came a year late for Malloyd, who was going to step down after last season, but with the urging of and the promise of a state title from his athletes, decided to come back for one last try. On Saturday, Malloyd, an East St. Louis Lincoln graduate and the Flyers brought back a state championship to East St. Louis.
“I was done after last year. But the kids wanted me to come back for one last try. I told them I would if they would guarantee a state title. They said they would and today they delivered on that promise,” Malloyd said. “The difference in the meet was getting all four relay teams into the finals and putting two kids into the finals of the 200 and 400 meters. They delivered.”
Mosley was one of the stars of the day for East St. Louis as in addition to running on both winning relay teams, was fourth in the 400 meters and placed sixth in the 200 meters. Davis was fifth in the 200 meters.
“I’m almost speechless. This is what we’ve worked so hard for the last four years. Today all the hours paid off,” Davis said. All we had to do was compete like we have all year and that’s what we did. What a way to end my high school career.”
Edwardsvillle didn’t have the number of entries the Flyers did in the finals, but they did have Epenesa and Travis Anderson who totaled 35 of the Tigers 42 points. Epenesa, who broke the IHSA State Track Meet record in the discus with a throw of 205-feet-11-inches during the preliminary round on Friday. That mark stood up on Saturday as did his throw of 60 feet 4 1/2 inches he threw on Friday which was good enough for second place in the shot put behind John Meyer, of Lockport.
“I think I maye have surprised some people with my throw in the shot put but I’ve been blessed and work hard every day to improve and make the most out of that ability,” Epenesa said. “I believe in setting goals because it makes you work hard to achieve those goals. I’d like to break the all-time state mark in the discus, but after that I really haven’t thought about it.”
Anderson, who came into Saturday with the top time in both the 110 and 300 meter hurdles, nipped longtime rival William Session of Belleville East in the 110 hurdles with a time of 13.71 seconds compared to that of 13.72 by Session. But Session got the better of Anderson, winning the 300 hurdles. Anderson was third in that event.
Edwardsville also got a seventh place from DeVonte Tincher in the long jump and a sixth place finish in the 400 meter relay.
“It came to number of entries. East St. Louis just had more entries in the finals even though I’m very proud of DeVonte (Tincher) . He was 12th after the prelims and for him to move to seventh was big for us,” Edwardsville coach Chad Lakatos said. “What can you say about AJ and Travis. They were tremendous. But give credit to East St. Louis. They’ve had a great season and performed very well this weekend.”
Session bounces back for title
William Session of Belleville East didn’t successfully defend his 110 hurdles state championship but he did end his career with a title, winning the 300 hurdles title in a time of 37.46 seconds. Session, who is headed to the Indiana University, was in a tight battle with Anderson and Roland Amarteifio of Evanston, but managed to pull ahead in the final few meters and hold on for the win.
“My coach (Kevin Anderson) told me that if I wanted to be a state champion then I had to fight for it. It’s been a tough year in a lot of ways, but to be able to end my career with a state championship is special,” Session said. “I’m anxious to start college and see where the next chapter in my life takes me.”
Belleville East, which finished 11th in the meet with 23 points, also got a fifth place finish from Amani Franklin in the triple jump.
Belleville West got a seventh place finish from Deshon Buchanan in the 200 meters.
Smith loses a heartbreaker
O’Fallon senior Aaron Smith placed second in the high jump with a career best effort of 6-feet-9-inches. But Smith left O’Brien Stadium wondering what might have been. Needing to clear 6-10 to stay in the battle with Camron Donatlan of Aurora West, Smith nipped the bar on his final attempt.
But just when it looked like the bar would stay, it fell on the tarp as Smith sprinted away in disbelief.
“It was a heartbreaker. But I tipped it (the bar) on the way over. I could blame the wind,” Smith said. “I’m pleased. To finish second in the state and have a personal best, it was a good day.”
Panthers teammate Chris Conrad was third in the 800 meters.
Wheelchair athletes win
O’Fallon junior Nathan Rainge now has six state championship medals after sweeping the 100, 200 and 400 meter titles in the wheelchair division Saturday at O’Brien Stadium. Rainger also won all three championships a year ago.
Waterloo freshman Donovan McBride won the 800 meter title.