Amira Young starred one last time at a sectional championship
The idea of covering one girl's track and field championship is always fun, but what about two? The quest of the MileSplit Illinois team #1 was crafted out several days prior. Editor Tony Jones and photographer Mark Capapas selected the 2A/3A Concordia Sectional in the morning/afternoon and later the Lockport Sectional for the nightcap.
Concordia Sectional kicked off a marathon session-
It was a very nice spring day upon arriving at Concordia University in River Forest. The air temperature was in the low to mid-70s and the sun peeking in and out of the clouds added value to the day.
The opening events of the meet took place in the field with the long jump, pole vault, and the throws. It is always fun to watch the action and see how the strategy works for teams before the track action starts.
Later it was on to the oval where every event was a final. The top two athletes and anyone thereafter who hit the state qualifying standard was off to next weekend's state championship in Charleston. There were many stars in the meet who advanced with ease, but there was also some heartbreak such as dropped batons, injuries, and just plain old bad timing that caused the demise of others.
The team battle in the 2A division was a slam dunk for Evergreen Park who won handily over Chicago Lindblom 186-138. The 3A contest was much closer as Oak Park-River Forest and Chicago Whitney Young fought to the very end. The Huskies of OPRF won by three 131-128. Most will say that sectional titles don't mean all that much. In some instance that may true, but to the kids, parents, and school administration, there may be a different perception.
The final destination was Lockport High School. It was a 50-minute commute from Oak Park and we were very fortunate to avoid some serious Friday rush hour traffic. The temperature was a very nice 65 when we arrived. The host school was also accommodating, allowing us free reign of the facility and access to the coaches and athletes.
This is one meet that the final outcome seemed to matter more than it did at Concordia. Homewood-Flossmoor is rated #2 in the lastest 3A Milesplit Illinois team power rankings. They know that anything less than winning a state championship would be like a failed season. So the goal of getting as many quality kids to state is very important.
From the moment the field events started, it was a virtual snatch and grab for the Vikings. They qualified triple jumpers, long jumpers, and high jumpers before the track action even started! Coach Zontavius Johnson was all over the stadium making sure his athletes were focused on the tasks at hand. His assistant coaches followed the protocol like a glove to a hand.
The favored events on the event docket were the relays and open sprints. They did not disappoint in overall value if you are a fan. The Vikings swept the relays in typically fast times and sent a statement in 55-degree weather that they are going to be heard from.
At the end of a long evening, it was refreshing to see the athletes smile and congratulate their fellow opponents. Sportsmanship at its finest. As for Jones, Capapas, and Coach P who joined us in progress, we found a Culver's Restaurant right before they closed shop for the evening! Yum! Yum!