LaJarvia Brown made school history for the Alton Redbirds on Saturday afternoon at Eastern Illinois University's O'Brien Stadium in Charleston.
She secured an IHSA girls track championship, the first one in AHS annals.
The 5-foot-2 sophomore won the Class 3A triple jump by leaping 40 feet, 3.5 inches. Brown actually made her best leap Friday and that mark carried over to Saturday’s competition. Her final jump the second day was 40-2.
“It’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” Brown said. “I’m excited about it, but it really hasn’t hit me yet. I know that I put in a lot of hard work this season.”
Brown also finished sixth in the long jump by soaring 18-2. Yet it was her leaping ways in the triple jump that caused the most commotion.
“It really feels good to have a state champion and I’m so happy for LaJarvia,” Alton coach Terry Mitchell said. “We figured that after she jumped 40 feet on Friday, it would be tough for anybody else to do that.
“And LaJarvia was only one to do that Saturday.”
Mitchell has been coaching girls track for 20 years and he witnessed Jessica Stockard placing second in the long jump 13 years ago. Yet until this weekend, he never got to celebrate a Redbird winning state.
“She has done something no other girl in Alton track history has ever done,” Mitchell said proudly.
The last AHS track athlete to snag a state title was Larry Perry in 1975. He won the long jump.
“It’s awesome to be around a state champion,” said Alton director of athletics Jeff Alderman. The Redbirds intend to honor Brown, also a standout basketball player, during the upcoming week.
“I was more mentally tougher this season and I kept working hard,” Brown said.
Jersey’s Mary Kate Davis, fifth in the Class 2A high jump at 5-3, said Brown is deserving of her state title.
“I’ve competed against her in the triple jump before and she’s really good,” Davis said.
The senior joined junior Sydney Jones in giving Jersey a solid finish in the state finals. Jones took fourth in the triple jump at 36-5.25.
“I’m happy with that,” Jones said of her finish. “I made improvements this year and now I’m hoping I can compete for a state championship next year.”
Davis was equally enthused about her effort. “I’m excited and I accomplished something,” she said, closing her prep career on a high note. “I made it to state as a sophomore, but I didn’t place. So this is a nice way to end it.”
Alex Singleton, a sophomore from Civic Memorial, finished 25th in the 3,200-meters at the Class 2A finals. Her time was 12:14.24. Singleton won the event in last week's Springfield SHG Sectional.
Cahokia scored 61 points to claim the 2A team title. Jersey scored 11 points and was 24th. Frankfort Lincoln-Way East rolled up 72 points to win the 3A competition. Edwardsville and Belleville West tied for fifth with 25 points apiece. Alton totaled 14 points -- all by Brown -- to share 19th place. Aurora Christian's 49 points were good enough to win the 1A crown.
Alton second in sectional -- The Redbirds scored 24 points and took second to host Edwardsville, the sectional king with 36 points. Triad took third with 12 points, while Jersey and CM shared fourth with eight points.
Allan Bower, a senior from Alton, came in third in singles and earned a berth to next week's IHSA finals in Chicagoland. The Redbirds doubles teams of Adam Ruckman and Kain Henson, plus Carl Stradal and Jackson Scheiter, also qualified for state. Ruckman and Henson were third. Stradal and Scheiter wound up fourth.
Litchfield 5, Southwestern 1 -- The Purple Panthers ended the Piasa Birds' season by prevailing in the Class 2A title game at Gillespie. Meghan Peuterbaugh had two hits for Southwestern. Litchfield moves on to its own sectional.
Dupo also earned a Litchfield sectional slot by blanking Staunton 7-0 for the Hillsboro Regional championship.