E. St. Louis Senior Girls Return To Glory In 2A Title Grab

E. St. Louis Senior ran literally ran away from the competition in Charleston on Saturday

Charleston- The performance by E. St. Louis Senior may not be as dominant as what Dunlap did last year on the Eastern Illinois University track inside of O'Brien Stadium. The 102 point output by the Eagles was one of the all-time great performances in state meet history. The Flyerettes, on the other hand, have their own rich history- they have essentially owned the state championship annals with an all-time best score of 140 points in 1986. That is something that may never get topped unless we go to double pointed relays. However, 72 tallies were good enough to beat a great Springfield Southeast crew that scored 65 and Monticello got the third-place trophy with 48 points.

The Relays were the foundation of the state championship-

Everyone loves relays at the state championship and it's even more fun when a title contender has good and fast ones. E. St. Louis has shown dominance in all four races: 4x800, 4x100, 4x200, 4x400. The first one went to Normal University who pulled away late in 9:41.81, four seconds faster than Dixon and the Flyerettes picked up two points with an 8th place finish.

The 4x100 was a very different story as the Flyerettes came to the final with a statement-making 47.28. With the wind shifting to a strong SSW flow and gusting up past 20mph, the oval races were sure to struggle with a strong headwind. ESL won a tough battle against the field in 47.41. Carbondale and Chicago Lindblom ran 47.51 and 47.95 respectively. 

As good as the Flyerettes were in the 4x100, they were even better in the 4x200. The consensus was expecting the first sub-1:40 by an Illinois team during Friday's prelim round. Without any competition and with several of their top legs removed to run other events, the best time put up was 1:40.50. Saturday was very similar as the Flyerettes blew away the field by almost four seconds running 1:40.86. They are no doubt a 1:37 group if ever given competition and ripe conditions.

The final event of the evening was the 4x400 and the fate was just as dominant as the previous relay for the Flyerettes. It was all over after a 57.7 opening leg and they went on to run 3:52.96 and win by an almost ridiculous 10 seconds. 

The distance races were inspirational to say the least-

The times of the three distance races were not blazing by anyone's standard. But it didn't matter. The first one up was the 3200m and it featured two warriors battled through the cross country season with leg injuries. Jordan Harmon (Sr., Tolono Unity) and Olivia Rosenstein (Jr., Urbana) did not earn all-state honors in Class A and Class 2A. Harmon's team competes in 2A during the track season so the uphill battle would be very tough. Rosenstein and Harmon pulled away from Aspen Gordon (Sr., Morton) late in the contest to make it a two-party affair. Rosenstein tried to steal the whole thing herself on the final lap, but Harmon reeled her in on the homestretch with a raucous crowd on her side. The win to Harmon in 11:09.06 over Rosenstein's 11:09.86.

Payne Turney (Jr., Clinton) wants to be the best overall 800m runner in Illinois. Maybe one day that will happen. But in the meantime, she will gladly accept her first title in 2:17.54. Turney won by nearly four seconds over Amelia Mclain (Jr., Benton) who ran 2:21.12.

Lydia Roller (So., Staunton) was denied a second opportunity to win a state title by an injured warrior. It was cross country fave Lianna Surtz (Fr., Aurora Rosary) that took control of the 1600m very late inside the first lap to win in 5:09.07. Surtz had missed much of the season due to a growth spurt. Perhaps this is a good sign of things to come for Surtz as she moves forward in her career.

Serena Bolden was her own star of these championships-

It took a while but Serena Bolden (Sr., Springfield Southeast) became a freight train once she got lathered up near the conclusion of the indoor season. Bolden entered these games in the 100, 200, long jump, and triple jump. She had to come back in the long jump after trailing on day one. Bolden launched a 19-0.75 to turn back Tanaya Young (So., Rantoul) who was the previous leader. Bolden breezed in the 100m (11.74) and 200m (24.41). However, exhausted and tired, Bolden was not done. She polished off the triple jump with her first title there as well with a 40-2.5. It must have been thrilling for a hungry Bolden to get her first four gold medals.

The best of the rest-

Diamonasia Taylor (Jr., Urbana) was diagnosed as someone who would one day be one of the best track and field athletes in the state when she was a freshman. Taylor, who followed in the footsteps of the great high jumper Jena Rowe of Bloom Twp., almost eclipsed her predecessor with a tremendous US#5 5-11 winner. It was a classification record and several attempts 6-feet was very nice.

Samantha Spencer (Jr., Providence Catholic) repeated as the pole vault winner with a height of 12-6. To be fair, the wind may have prevented her from reaching her ultimate goal of 13-5. She may have to wait until a prestigious national meet.

Jayden Ulrich (So., East Alton-Wood River) may be the next big shot putter in the state after a big performance that propelled her to the state championship and nice PB IL#3 46-9.50. Ulrich's performance was especially nice since she placed second in the discus throw to Milesplit IL fave Sydney Apgar (Sr., Carbondale). Apgar won by just a few feet with a personal best toss IL#2 142-9. 

The hurdles races went to Shanisa Stinson (Sr., Chicago South Shore International) and Veronica Sherrod (Jr., E. St. Louis Sr.). Stinson shocked the crowd and herself with a 14.72 in the 100H. Sherrod's 43.98 was good enough for the win in the 300H, especially after running a leg on the 4x200.

Jayla Campbell (Sr., Rich Central) repeated as champ in 400m by the narrowest margin 56.36-56.58 over Jessica McDowell (Sr., Normal University). Campbell out extremely fast and was losing ground on the homestretch but McDowell ran out of real estate.