Girls 2A State Championship Recap

On-Site Coverage

Charleston—Springfield Southeast produced another state championship- their fourth in a row- by scoring 66 points and routed upstart Carbondale (39) and Melrose Park Walther Lutheran (39).  Chicago Lindblom or the one-woman army “Team Shamier Little” placed fourth (38).


Springfield Southeast shows why they are a true dynasty-

The main story on the track was Springfield Southeast and how they dismantled a field of quality competitors.  Superstar Charday Crawford (Sr.) was ready to put the team on her back- especially after revealing during Friday’s that she will need surgery for her detached groin.  “My [future] college coach doesn’t want me to run… but I’m ready to run. I got to,” Crawford sharply pointed out as if there was not any other option. 

The first race on the track for Crawford was the 4x100 relay.  The Spartans were in trouble from the moment the gun went off as four other teams were out in front.  Kankakee, Melrose Park Walther Lutheran, Bloomington, and Chatham-Glenwood were out in front three legs.  The crowd was on its feet as the race entered the anchor leg stage.  Kankakee’s Tyjuana Eason (So.) took flight first and appeared to be destined to get an easy steal.  Crawford did not panic though... it was a few quick moments later Crawford received a clean hand off from mate Zaneta White (So.) and tore down the track after the finish line.  The crowd was on its collective feet and going WILD!  The head public address announcer Matt Piescinski was the voice that got everyone hyped when he rudely called Crawford’s accent down the track.  Crawford moved from fifth to first… maybe not.  The scoreboard read 48.23 for Kankakee and Southeast.  But it was all sorted out a few tense moments later. Kankakee won it 48.224 to the Spartans 48.230.  It was that close.

In between the 4x100, the Spartans were having a little trouble in getting quality points in the field.  The team’s jump ace Brion Portis (Jr.) finished last in the long jump only leaping 16-11.25 that carried over from the final.  As well, shot putter Shauniera Wilson (So.) was expected score a few key points came up completely empty. 

After a sizable break to get the meet on time, it was back to running oval events.  Portis ran over to the hurdles.  She finished last again.  However, this time, the ninth place spot was worth one point. The next event featured Crawford.  The 100 was no contest as she won in a classification meet record 11.72 (1.5)- leaving Elexis Fairley (So.) and Ryan Preachly (Jr., Chicago Johnson Prep) in the dust. 

It was back to the track when the Spartans finally woke up.  Halle Devoe (Jr.) stepped up big time in the high jump by nabbing third in 5-5.  It was her career best performance and right on time for the Spartans.  Wilson rebounded in the discus throw placing seventh (122-10).  Portis got revenge as well when she defended her triple jump crown.  The 39-3.75 (+0.8) mark from the prelims held up strong.

The Spartans continued to pile on points all afternoon.  The 4x200 relay set a new classification record roasting 1:40.09.  It wasn’t as close at the final score would indicate.  Carbondale produced a valiant effort in 1:40.41.  Crawford completed her IHSA career a short time in the 200.  She placed second to Shamier Little running 24.09.

The 4x400 relay put the icing on the cake with a second place (3:56.69) to close things out.

Little in the middle closes out career in high fashion-

Shamier Little came to Charleston’s O’Brien Field to put one last final stamp on her career. Little entered Saturday’s finals as she did last year qualified in four tough races: 100H, 400, 300H, 200. 

Little really had nothing to prove to herself except maybe receiving a team trophy.  She almost made it happen after getting off to a great start.  The 100H was first up and it would be a dandy as Little posted a new meet record 13.87 (-0.1).  Little got out of the blocks much faster than she ever has- incredibly fast and it showed.

The toughest part of her master plan was the 400/300H combo.  There was no easy way to approach it other than breaking it down in two parts.  Little got out a bit slow in the first half as she usually does before mounting a strong comeback in the final 100 of her races.  Little moved past Ashley Fouch (Sr., Hamshire) on her way to victory in 54.37.  Although the time was a little slower than last year, it appeared to take something out of her.  Little could barely stand minutes afterwards.  Instead of going to the awards stand, she walked to the 300H starting area.

The 300H took place about 15 minutes later and it was off to the races.  E. St. Louis Sr. ace Markita Rush was in this one.  Rush happens to be one of the fastest hurdlers in the entire state and would make Little pay a heavy price if she wants to repeat.  Rush continue to hold a slim lead coming off the final curve, but Little was mounting a strong charge.  Little got over the final hurdle but it was not even enough as Rush won in classification record time 42.14 and good for US#9.  Little ran a personal best for the 300H variety in 42.29 (US#12).  Little is the nation’s 400H leader.  To be fair to Little, she was fresh in that historic Penn Relays race that netted an eye popping 58.80- converts to sub 41.00 for the 300H variety.

The loss to Rush did not sit well for Little who had never lost to a state foe in hurdles.  That defeat would turn into extra energy and focus she would need in revenging her loss to friend Charday Crawford in the 200.  The final state high school race for both girls would epic.  Little and Crawford stormed out of their blocks and broke stagger on the field immediately and turned the matter into a personal one.  Crawford held a short lead on a broken down and tired body as did Little.  However, neither superstar wanted to budge, but Little somehow was able to lean enough to win over Crawford 24.05-24.09.  Both young women produced personal bests that won’t count for national consideration because the wind gauge was turned off.  That was the only blemish to an otherwise great race and it was the only way to end competition between two of the state’s top competitors.

Distance events showed some flair from the past-

The 3200m was scripted to perfection as the three favorites: Katie Adams (Sr., Marengo), Maura Beattie (Jr., Woodstock), and Maryjeanne Gilbert (Fr., Peoria Notre Dame) immediately got out fast enough to separate themselves from the rest of the field and turn the race into a three-girl attack.  Beattie got into the lead off of a slingshot from her super alley position. Adams and Gilbert followed suit as they continued on and passed through the opening lap in 76.8.  Beattie continued to lead the way with a stride pattern reminiscent of her older sisters Elise and Kayla.  Kayla is the all-time record holder with a bone chilling 9:56.96 set back in 2011.

Meanwhile, Maura Beattie pushed on with splits of 2:36.0, 3:54.7, and 5:15.1 at the halfway point.  The track temperature was also beginning to rise and taking a toll on the field.  Beattie opened up a sizable gap on Adams and Gilbert who both began to fade.  Beattie remembered that Adams won big at the sectional round.  She knew that Adams has a great kick and the only way to neutralize it would be to push the fifth and sixth laps hard.

Beattie held a strong lead with 750m remaining, but she produced heavy legged laps of 1:27.0 and 1:28.8.  She hit the bell in 9:32.3 and Gilbert appeared to be recharged.  But it would be for not as Beattie put on a final spurt on in the final 200 and won comfortably in 10:55.77.  Gilbert sandwiched herself between Beattie and Adams in 11:00.31.  Adams struggled home in third (11:10.77).

Adams would later hook up with teammate Allie Sprague (Jr.) in the 1600m and go 1-2.  Adams did not mess around as she led coast to coast to win in 5:00.84.  The opening splits were 73.0 and 2:28.9- an honest but not a burning pace.  Adams the bell on sub-5:00 pace but tied up badly during the last 150 that thwarted her chance at breaking 5:00.  But it didn’t matter as the win met much more.  “I was tired after the [two-mile] but I knew I had to get ready mentally and run a better race here,” she said afterwards.

The 800m turned out to be the top performing distance event with Michelle Dobbs (Sr., Rochelle) winning in record time 2:10.78.  “I ran [2:13.61] in yesterday’s prelim,” Dobbs said after the dust cleared from the awards ceremony.  “I was going for my season goal of 2:12 but I thought ‘why not shoot for 2:10?’”  Dobbs went right for her target time after a solid 63.6 opening 400 and then 1:36 at the 600.  She was well ahead of the chasers, but at the same time kept her composure squarely on finishing strong in the final 200.  It appeared as if she would break 2:10 but the official time posted the goal time and surely smiles abound for Dobbs.

Top performances of the day-

The Depaul University bound MaShayla Kirksey (Melrose Park Walther Lutheran) didn’t really needed to compete on Saturday.  It was a mere formality to check-in and declare herself present for the competition.  Kirksey leaped 19-0.25 in the prelim and it was incredibly doubtful that Micayla Collins (Sr., E.  St. Louis Sr.) would gain the necessary one-feet required to win.  Kirksey took several cracks at improving her season best of 19-6, but only managed to improve in the competition to 19-1.75.  Taylor McCammon (Jr., Kankakee McNamara) moved in front of Collins (18-1.75) for second.

Sarah Bell (Sr., Bloomington Central Catholic) is already one of the best pole vaulters in state history with an all-time best of 13-3.5.  So, it was prudent that she quickly achieved the classification meet record of 12-6 led by Emily Grove of Pontiac.  Bell didn’t led long as she cleared 12-9 with ease and the meet record in her duffle bag.  The bar was raised to 13-4. She wanted to go after the all-time state meet best of 13-3 that Sarah Landau (Geneva) has held since 2004.  Bell had narrowly missed 13-5 indoors.  The wind appeared to play games and prevented her from achieving a dream that she has had since winning titles in junior high school.  “I wanted to go for the record right way and get it over with,” she said with no hint of disappointment afterwards.   Before heading to Vanderbilt University in the fall, Bell will have a date with some prestigious post-season meets.

Highland junior Lena Giger picked up her second consecutive state title in the shot put with a toss of 47-9.5 that held strong from Friday’s preliminary round. Giger’s throw was the second-best in all classes behind Emmonnie Henderson’s all-time heave in 3A.  Giger completed a breakout year that also netted an indoor title at the Illinois Top Times.  She may be in the same position as the legendary Henderson next year with an eye on the 50-feet mark.

Let’s give outgoing senior and future University of Illini hurdler Markita Rush some credit for beating Shamier Little in the 300H.  Rush won the 3A title two years ago as a sophomore and finished second in 2012.  In addition, she has often run strong legs on the Flyerette relays.

Who would have picked Kankakee over the pre-meet favorite Springfield Southeast with the fiery Charday Crawford on anchor in the 4x100 relay?  Head coach Benny Phillips knew how good his young wonderkinds were when he took the helm several years ago.  He previously guided the Country Club Hills Hillcrest boy’s sprints program to prominence.  Coach Phillips also guided the great Dominique Kimpel to greatness in her senior year. But it still had to be a surprise to see the Lady Kays on top of the podium after running 48.23 (48.224) to narrowly stun the Spartans 48.230.  Congratulations to Brittney Griffin (Sr.), Jemiya Bates (So.), Kenyae Collins (Jr.), and Tyjuana Eason (So.) for their winning efforts.  

The final event of the day- the 4x400 relay- produced the necessary drive home talk it always does.  Carbondale, Springfield Southeast, and Walther Lutheran produced the fastest times out of the finals.  Carbondale’s first leg got out fairly well with a solid 1:00.5 opener from Sarah Goodale (Sr.).  Her teammate Zamorrow Glispie (Sr.) moved hard to the front to secure a spot ahead of Springfield Southeast and E. St. Louis Sr.  The Terriers continue to press their command on the field.  Iesha Croft (Jr.) got team star Chrissa Harris (Sr.) the stick in prime position to bring it home safely in 3:54.70.  Harris picked up the gold medal after fourth in the 400m earlier in the day.