The Forecast Of Cahokia's First 2A Girls State Title Becomes A Reality

Ryan Preacely (Sr., Johnson College Prep, far right) got the best of Ebony McClendon four times on Saturday (Sabrina Mendoza photo)


Coming into the state finals very people mentioned the name Cahokia unless it referred to the boy’s team- even in years when the Lady Comanches had trophy caliber teams. Well all of that changed on late Saturday afternoon inside of O’Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.

Cahokia earned their first state with a narrow 61-54 victory over Normal U-High. Chicago Johnson College Prep also known as Noble Street Charter High School took third with 38 points.

The forecast of Mariya Hudson and Cahokia was predicted back in September (Sabrina Mendoza image)-

During the early portion of the cross country season for no particular reason a question regarding an incoming freshman named Mariya Hudson was asked. ‘Who is this Mariya [Hudson] girl?’ The outstanding boy’s head coach Leroy Millsap responded: “Mariya worked out me during the summer." “She is going to be real good,” he added. Fast forward nine months later and the forecast of a great one has come to fruition. Now we will see how the team matures over the next several years behind Hudson.

The Lady Comanches kicked started their championship off the right way in the long jump on the leaping ability of Raynesha Lewis (So.) and Hudson. Lewis moved up from her prelim mark of 17’2.5 to overtake her teammate Hudson to finish third (17’7.25”) behind the winner Lexy Duncan (Sr., Dixon) and Dana Turner (Sr., Melrose Walther Lutheran) who leaped 18’4” and 17’8” that carried over from Friday’s preliminary round. Hudson copped three points with a seventh place finish.

Daisha Townsend (Sr.) added to the team point stockpile with a second place finish in the shot put to the immovable object known as Lena Giger (Sr., Highland). Giger was considered an automatic 10 points and that was proven true with her 45’6” winning toss. Townsend was able to stay ahead of Gabi Jacobs (Sr., Normal U) with her carry over 42’5.50” effort.

Lewis returned to pick up a third place and eight points in the triple jump on a 36’11.75” feat. Vicky Gruszka (So., Peoria Notre Dame) and Jaimie Robinson (Fr., Chicago De La Salle) finished ahead of her with 38’6.50” and 37’6.5” respectively. Townsend was able to close out the field event tally with another second place, but this time it was in the discus (128’1 from Friday) just behind Jacobs winning toss of 131’4”.

The 37 points earned in the field events was more than even to alleviate any pressure the young Comanches may have felt by the time the track events got started.

The upstart Comanches went to work in the 4x100 relay without Hudson and Lewis and earned fourth place in 48.43. LaKena Harmon (Fr.), Mar’Shae Scott (Jr.), Paris Jacobs (So.), and Earlicia Shaw (Jr.) got the job done.

The big prize came in the 400 with the state leader Hudson winning a closer than expected race against Lexy Duncan. Hudson needed every meter in holding off the pesky Duncan who earlier won the long jump 55.65-56.18. Fellow freshman Nicloe Sreenan of Maple Park Kaneland hung close enough to run a personal best 56.34 to take third.
After Shamier Little graduated and move to become a superstar at Texas A&M there was a collective sadness from more than a few Chicago Public League fans. But somehow the Lindblom College Prep grad inspired the up and coming generation to take over the reins. Briyahna Desrosiers (Sr., N. Lawndale Prep) did just that in 3A. Ebony McClendon (Sr., Brooks College Prep) and Ryan Preacely (Sr., Johnson College Prep) represented the 2A classification. The two friendly rivals have battled one another each week since the beginning of the month or specifically the last four weeks. So they obviously know each other’s strength and weakness as well as tendencies. That would be put to the test this weekend.

Preacely carried her team into these finals: 100, 200; 4x100, 4x200 relays. McClendon likewise did the exact same with her team. Saturday would be the final exam.

Preacely drew first blood by running past the favored Kankakee in the 4x1 on her anchor leg. She made it look easy with the team taking first in 48.05. Brooks was fourth in 48.76.

The 100 would be the real test of individual sprint superiority. It was no contest as Preacely absolutely killed the field with a record 11.68 (+1.4) toasting that would have put the 3A class to bed as well. McClendon again to second to Preacely in 11.80. The aftermath was too much for McClendon to take as she burst in tears. However, it is not a shame to lose to such a great sprinter in the making such as Ryan Preacely.

Preacely did not show any mercy on the competition as she moved on to the 4x200 relay. Once again she anchored her mates to a powerful leg. Although Preacely could not bring her team back to victory after being out of the race (5th place when she got the baton), she put a tremendous amount of fear into Kankakee anchor Tyjuana Eason (Jr.), Kankakee fans, and coaches. Preacely burned every inch of the Eastern Illinois University Mondo X surface trying to catch Eason. The outcome was “you are lucky” there wasn’t another 10 meters left as Kankakee held on 1:41.66-1:41.77. Brooks and McClendon was behind Preacely and Johnson College Prep in 1:42.23.

The final verdict of the day would be the 200m and one last chance for McClendon to savage a victory against Preacely. McClendon got out well and for once appeared to have the edge as she had the lead entering the curve. McClendon grimaced but kept her focus on the finish line with 50m remaining. Preacely used her last gear to edge ahead right before the finish line that won her a gold medal for the third time today in 24.34 (-1.4). The strong headwind may have prevented her from breaking 24.00 and another meet record. McClendon ran well despite getting second (24.39). She has nothing to be ashamed of.

2A bits and pieces-

The Washington HS 4x800 had a little incentive to run well on Saturday. Their town was destroyed by an EF-4 catergory tornado last November. Along with the destruction was many people's personal belongings and way of life. But somehow sports have a way of bringing us all together if not providing a bit of relief. In the case of the Washington quartet, the young ladies Hailey Tranchatella (Fr.), Kassidy Dexheimer (Fr.), Haley Willis (Sr.), and Ashlee Knott (Sr.) seized the moment late during Knott's anchor leg to pull away away from Brittany Fisher (Sr.) and Lombard (Montini) to win in a school record 9:23.76. Knott admitted to hearing Fisher close in on her on the final backstretch but she was determined to not lose the race for various reasons.     

No Mailin Struck no problem. The German import who dominated the 2A distance ranks during the cross country season for Riverside-Brookfield opted to go back home in January would have been in 3A for the track season. The second bit of Irish luck for Peoria Notre Dame sophomore Maryjeanne Gilbert was foe Maura Beattie (Sr., Woodstock) leading off her team's 4x8 relay that finished fifth about an hour before hand. Although Beattie was able to get out well and lead comfortable for a majority of the race, it was clear that running on that relay was going to take away the finishing kick needed to fight off someone as good as Gilbert. Gilbert overpowered Beattie with 600 to go and put some distance on her and won convincingly in 10:34.37 to 10:42.22. Gilbert produced the day's third fastest time in all three classes.

Katelyn Hill (Sr., Glen Ellyn Glenbard South) traded hurdle victories. She won a hard fought victory in the 100HH variety in 14.84 (NWI) over Grace Cronin (So., Oak Park Fenwick). Hill came back to finish a controversial second in the 300H to Chante Stonewall (So., Normal U High) 43.92-43.84. Stonewall fell at the finish line but it was obvious that her torso did not touch as she quickly crawled across the line. Hill and Cronin appeared to get their first. It took about a minute before the scoreboard flashed up Stonewall as the champion.

Karina LIz (So., Aurora Central Catholic) did not let running the 400 prelims and not qualifying affect her ability to dominate the 800. She went out modestly in 64.5 for the opening lap in the lead. Leilani Hill (Jr., Massac County) tried to chase but Liz was too strong at the 600 mark in 1:38.0. Liz increased her lead and won with ease in a record 2:10.73. Zoe Mead (Sr., Princeton) took second in 2:15.87.

Lindsey Murray sets all-time pole vault record (Tony Jones photo)

Lindsey Murray (Sr., Harrisburg) had a wonderful time competing in the pole vault. It was so wonderful that she set an all-time IHSA record of 13'4". The previous record was held by Sarah Landau of Geneva back in the enfant days of girls pole vault (2004). Murray didn't really get started until her battle with Kassadee Ifft (So., Prairie Central) was over at 12'9. Ifft could not clear 13'0" on her three attempts. Murray wore an all black wore drobe that was slick and ripe for the occassion. She was able to hit 13'0" on her second attempt. The bar was then moved up to 13'4" in which she connected on her first attempt. The Southern Illinois University signee had set the all-time record and the crowd behind the fence was delighted. Murray asked that the bar be moved up to 13'7" to move into the top five nationally. Murray missed on all three attempts and had to settle for US#6