O'FALLON — As the Granite City boys' track season enters its second month, coach Tom Miller is thrilled with the way sophomore Raheem Beckwith has been performing in the jumping events.
“Raheem has had a little success in the high jump,” Miller said. “He’s starting to work hard in practice and he has improved a lot in the last few weeks.”
Beckwith captured his first championship of his brief prep track and field career on Friday at the O’Fallon Relays. He won the high jump large-school division title after placing first in the event in six feet under chilly and windy conditions.
“He’s a power jumper and he’s real muscular, so the wind had less effect on him,” Miller said. “We know that with some good competition in our area, hopefully he can stay up and stay in the top of the conference.”
The Warriors finished 13th overall and sixth in the large-school division with 72.5 points in the 13-team O’Fallon meet. Last week, they finished 10th out of 10 teams with six points in the Southwestern Illinois Relays at Edwardsville.
Miller said so far, Beckwith and senior Vincent Clark have been among the team’s top performers this season. Clark recorded third-place finishes in the shot put in the Southwestern Illinois Relays and the O’Fallon Relays.
“Having Vinnie Clark and Raheem has been awesome,” Miller said. “They’ve been giving us some more support in the team scores.”
Clark, who moved to Granite City from Iowa last summer, threw 44 feet, 10.5 inches in the shot put on Friday.
“Vinnie did a great job today,” Miller said. “He was looking forward to competing against some of the good teams that had a great meet.”
Clark was the only Granite City athlete who scored points in last week’s Southwestern Illinois Relays. He threw a 46-6.
“I think it was pretty well,” Clark said. “It’s all about trying to push yourself to get the places you need. I pushed myself as hard as I could that day. I’m going to keep pushing and keep trying.”
Beckwith, who is competing in his first full season with the Granite City boys' track team, won the high jump by two inches over O’Fallon’s Jordan Johnson. He cleared 6-0 on his fourth attempt.
Another sophomore, Torrey Deal, placed in the high jump, finishing fourth in a 5-6.
Granite City finished third in the 400-meter relay and fourth in the 800-meter relay. Seniors Cliff Burris, Dominique Clark and Joe Moran and junior Wilyonde Bell competed in both relays.
“We’re still trying to figure a few things out,” Miller said of the relays. “They did alright today and they placed OK and they ran some of their better times of the year so far in bad weather.”
Junior Raishon Bobo finished second with a time of 41.89 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles.
A year ago, the Warriors finished seventh in the Southwestern Conference and had an all-state medalist in now-graduated Quentin Jackson in the high jump.
This year, Granite City has 36 athletes on its squad, seven of them are seniors.
Miller said in order for the Warriors to finish with a successful season, they must have solid efforts from their distance events. Granite City finished second in the 3,200-meter relay and third in the distance medley relay at the O’Fallon Relays.
“We’re looking for some success at the end of the season with our distance events,” said Miller, who is in his 15th season as Granite City coach.
The Warriors’ next meet is the Belleville West Invitational on April 11. Last year, Granite City finished 20th at the Belleville West meet with six points, scoring its only points in the 3,200-meter run and the freshman/sophomore 1,600-meter relay.