Girls 2A State Championship Preview

The 2A classification is as unstable and unpredictable as a volcano.  It seems anything can and will happen with this class in terms of who is coming and going.  Case in point: Chicago Morgan Park is back here after spending time in the 3A ranks.  Now make room for E. St. Louis Senior.  The Flyerettes have won more state titles than any team (boys or girls) in IHSA history.  They are the elders of this sport looking to get on the top of the podium at the expense of three-time defending champion Springfield Southeast.


Key team capsules-

Springfield Southeast-

Head Coach: Barb Montgomery

Key athletes: Charday Crawford (Sr.), Justice Collins (Sr.), Brion Portis (Sr.), Shauniera Wilson (Jr.), Halle Devoe (Jr.), Ceaira McGrone (Sr.), Yakira Washington (Jr.).

Key events: DT, LJ, TJ, 100, 100H, 200, 4x1r, 4x2r, 4x4.

Outlook: Even dynasty type teams go into a lull.  The Spartans are no different than any other great cast who get bored, hurt, or fill themselves with drama.  Sometimes they need this as an incentive to get the pundits writing or talking nonsense about them.  When they get enough of the naysayers the whip comes out.  New head coach Barb Montgomery figured she had enough and flipped the switch on to get her girls primed and ready for another state title run.  She is not a rookie coach though- spending many years as the legendary Thomas McBride’s top assistant.  Her girls are now ready to roll.  Sprint ace Charday Crawford got through the conference and sectional round in one piece after missing most of the indoor due to a leg injury.  She may not be as speedy as last year, but her experience says that she will have a say in the vital team points her team will need in order to earn a four-peat.  By the way, Crawford is the defending state champion in the 100, 200, 4x1r, and 4x2r. The upperclassmen team will have Brion Portis in the field events.  Portis is solid in the long jump but the triple jump is her event.  She is the defending champion and is creeping in the background to repeat again.  Key role players Justice Collins (hurdles, relays), Ceaira McGrone (100, relays), Yakira Washington (relays), and Shauniera Wilson (throws) will add to the misery of those teams trying to prevent them from obtaining another first place plaque.

East St. Louis Senior-

Head Coach: Nino Fennoy

Key athletes: Markita Rush (Sr.), Micayla Collins (Sr.), Alexus Handy (Jr.), Dynesha Powell (Jr.), Daria Walker (Jr.), Shaerra Harlan (So.), Kymyenna Mitchell (So.), Tonette Lawson (Fr.), Aaliyah Herron (So.).

Key events: DT, SP, TJ, LJ, 100H, 300H, 4x1, 4x2, 4x4, 4x8.

Outlook: Who is better than a strong Nino Fennoy led team to become streak busters? In the prime of his illustrious career, he once won nine titles in a row- an IHSA record- and 14 championships.  The key for the Flyerettes will be to match Springfield Southeast in the sprints via the relay.  ESL is going to have to place in the top three in the 4x1, 4x2, and 4x4 to have a chance.  If they can get in the 4x8 final and score a few points that would be huge.  Another advantage for Fennoy’s team will be the hurdles and throws.  Markita Rush is a top threat in the both hurdle races.  Micayla Collins will score in the jumps. His unit is superior there and could rack up over 30 points total. If they can do that, there will be a new team champion on Saturday.

Melrose Park (Walther Lutheran)-

Head Coach: Marcia Eberhard

Key athletes: Isimeme Edeko (Sr.), MaShayla Kirksy (Sr.), Anna Strong (Sr.), Arra Strong (Sr.), Dana Turner (Jr.), Hasheana Strong (Sr.)

Key events: LJ, TJ, 100, 400, 4x1, 4x4

Outlook: Despite the defection of key figure Melanie Ransom (Sr.) to Chicago Heights (Marian Catholic), the Lady Broncos appear deadly as ever.  For one, Isimeme Edeko has stepped up game and provided more than a complimentary piece to stud jumper to MaShayla Kirksy.  Both of these young ladies could potentially score in the high 30s as they are ranked at the very top of the long and triple jumps.  Kirsky, who signed with Depaul, has long jumped 19-6.5 nwi this season and on her way to 20-0 under the right conditions.  The Strong twins Anna and Arra will control the team’s focus in the 400.  The girls basically ran a hard stride at sectionals to conserve on the energy.  They may have done the same in the 4x400 relay.  So, it is very possible to see the Broncos biting on the heels of Springfield Southeast and E. St. Louis Sr. for the state title.  It will take about 45-50 points to win it and they can get that if they follow the form charts.

Shamier vs. the field-

How many times does this broken record have to be played? Shamier Little (Sr., Chicago Lindblom) is the best overall track and field athlete regardless of class.  The future Texas A&M superstar will terrorize her foes one last weekend before heading to College Station in the fall. If you recall, Little won the third place trophy for her school win she scored 39 points via three wins and a second place.  Guess what?  It may be déjà vu all over again as she is entered in the 100H, 300H, 400, and 200.  The IHSA may one day invoke the “Shamier Little rule” and make relays add up to double points to prevent a super athlete from winning a team state title.  But until happens full teams are going to have to deal with Little who is ranked IL#1 in four events and IL#3 in another (she could easily be #1 in the 300H).

Sarah Bell and Lena Giger are heads and shoulders above the rest in the field-

Sarah Bell (Sr., Bloomington Catholic Central) has been to the mountain top with a former US#1 ranking and USA Junior National placement in the pole vault.  Somehow the best is yet to come when she moves on to Vanderbilt University in the fall.  In the meantime, why not continue to rack up accolades on the high school scene? Bell is currently US#7 vaulting a sweet 13-1 and showing the consistency from the undercover season that produced a top five 13-3.5.  She has attempted heights of 13-7.  It is very conceivable that she could reach that mark by the end of the summer.  Another element to her game has been improving the leg speed.  The defending state champion has run a very respectable 12.92 and 26.49 in the short sprints.  All of these elements are things that have made Bell a fan favorite in a very difficult event.

Lena Giger (Jr., Highland) has done provided her fans with some wonderful feats in the shot put.  If it were not for Emmonnie Henderson (Sr., Edwardsville) destroying the state with her 50-foot shot put blasts and explosive discus hurls, the talk of the throws world would be Giger.  She is currently ranked US#9/IL#2 with a personal best of 48-10.75.  The best is yet to come because she believes her next stop is getting in the exclusive 50-foot club.  There are only three girls in history to make it. Gabi Jacobs (Jr., Normal University) is her nearest competitor but she is over four feet in the rear.  Giger is no slouch in the discus throw either.  She has the fifth best throw (143-6) in the state regardless of classification.

Only time will tell if the distance events will live up to the sprints in terms of hot times.  All of the quadrants need to get rocking from the 4x800 relay to the 3200m.  Katie Adams (Sr., Marengo) has endured several ups and downs since running 5:01.28 for the mile as an 8th grader.  Of course, injuries are part of the running game as is female growth maturity.  However, there is a feeling that Adams is ready to bust out that promise that everyone else had for her.  She is entered in both the 3200 and 1600- both events are wide open but the door could be closed with a strong statement in Friday’s prelims.  Two freshmen named Maryjeanne Gilbert (Peoria Notre Dame) and Adrienne Brauer (Petersburg-Porta) clocked 5:12s this spring and will be shadowing her hard.  Sydney Billingsley (Jr., Normal U), another child prodigy, has hit 5:12.96 this season… Maura Beattie (Jr., Woodstock) may be ready to challenge Adams and her 10:53 in Saturday’s 3200m… Michelle Dobbs (Sr., Rochelle) will lead eight girls who broke 2:20 in the 800m at sectionals… friendly neighbors Lake Villa (Lakes) and Grayslake Central are at the head of the class when it comes to the 4x800 relay.  Lakes will have twins Brittani and Danielle Griesbaum running in tandem on the relay.

Bob Jelks Predictions (The Messiah of IL Girls Track)


  • 100m Charday Crawford, Ebony McClendon, Ryan Preacely Darkhorses Elexis Fairley. Jazmin Jackson, Lisa Rodriguez
  •  4x1 -  ESTL, Kankakee, Spr Southeast Darkhorses, Walt Lutheran, Morgan Park, Chatham Glenwood, Pontiac, Cham Centennial
  • 100h - Shamier Little,Markita Rush,Destini Artis Darkhorse Dasha Thomas
  • 400m -   Shamier Little, Ashley fouch, Chrissa Harris
  • 300h - Shamier Little,Markita Rush,Chante Stonewall Darkhorse Sarah Goodale                
  • 4x2 -  Carbondale,Morgan Park, springfield Southeast Darkhorses Kankakee,Cahokia, Troy Triad
  • 200m - Shamier Little, Charday Crawford, Kaliyah Cobb  Darkhorses Elexis Fairley, Ebony Mcclendon, Ryan Preacley               
  • 4x4  - Carbondale, ESTL,Kankakee  Darkhorses Glenbard South, Galesburg

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