COLLINSVILLE — Travis Anderson of the Edwardsville Tigers cleared every hurdle in split-second fashion Friday.
No obstacle could thwart the talented junior.
Anderson won the 110-meter high hurdles in 13.90 seconds and the 300-meter intermediate hurdles in 38.01 to guide the Tigers at the Class 3A Collinsville Sectional.
His pair of wins helped Edwardsville score 71 points and finish second to East St. Louis in the 16-team field. The Flyers tallied 93 points for their sectional championship. O’Fallon took third with 57 points. Granite City placed 11th with 27 points and Alton was 15th with 17 points.
“It’s truly a blessing,” Anderson said of his stellar performance that also included running a leg on the Tigers’ state-qualifying 4x100-meter relay team.
He added, “I was very happy with my times because those are my personal-bests of the season. So to this point, those are my best races of the season.”
He’s eyeing more success next weekend when the Tigers defend their state title during the large-school competition at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
“I want to get firsts in both hurdle races at state and bring home another team championship,” Anderson said.
Edwardsville coach Chad Lakatos is confident the Tigers can bring their best to the IHSA finals at EIU’s O’Brien Stadium.
“We qualified people for state in nine events,” he said. “Our goal is to try and bring home a trophy.”
Thrower A.J. Epenesa should be in the middle of things there. He finished first in the discus at the sectional and was runner-up in the shot. The junior heaved the disc 196 feet, 9 inches and tossed the shot 58-3. Senior Darius King of Moline was best in the shot with a throw of 58-8.5.
“My favorite part today was the shot because it was my personal-best throw of the season,” Epenesa. “It was all business today. Now, it’ll be getting ready for state in both events. I’m going to try and win it in the discus. I’ll be disappointed if I don’t finish first in it.”
Lakatos noted, “They (Anderson and Epenesa) have been our big dogs all season and they were again today. Travis really had an exceptional day.”
The Tigers also advanced Justin White, 6-3 in the high jump; DeVonte Tincher, 22-6.25 in the long jump; Desmond Chapple, 54-7.5 in the shot; plus their 4x100-meter relay team, second in 41.76 and their 4x2 relay, fifth in 1:28.73.
Zach Llewellyn gave it all he had for Redbirds and secured state slots in the discus and shot. The senior, bound for McKendree University in Lebanon, flung the discus 160-3 and was runner-up to Epenesa. He also threw the shot 55-3 and claimed third place.
“It was an awesome day, my best one of the season,” Llewellyn said. “I’m really excited about going to state because I want to help put Alton back on the podium.”
AHS assistant coach Eric Dickerson, who works with Llewellyn in the throws, noted: “It definitely was Zach’s best day of the year. When he first qualified for state in the shot, it took all the pressure off him competing in the discus. I’m very happy for him.”
So was Redbirds’ first-year head coach Jeff White.
“Zach really came through for us,” he said. “He has been consistent all season. We’ve had a good year overall and I think we have turned around the program.”
Granite City enhanced its program by winning the 4x800-meter relay in 7:55.48. The foursome of Will O’Keefe, Andrew O’Keefe, Ron Allen and Juwan Riggins outdistanced Chatham Glenwood, second in 7:58.59.
“It was a pretty tough race, but I kept my pace. It feels very good to win it and go to state,” said Riggins, anchoring the relay.
Andrew O’Keefe finished second in the 1,600-meters at 4:27.53 and qualified for state. Will O’Keefe turned in a time of 1:56.02 in the 800-meters to take fourth and also advanced to state. The top six finishers in the 800-meters all are headed to Charleston.
“I was happy to get out of the sectional and qualify for state,” Will O’Keefe said. “The competition was really tough. I wanted to run faster, but getting out was the big thing.”
Andrew O’Keefe said, “I went out looking for my personal-best time and qualifying for state and I did both of them.”
State action starts next Friday and concludes Saturday. The IHSA finals date to 1893 and evolved into a 3-class format in 2009.
CASS 2A SPRINGFIELD LANPHIER SECTIONAL — Roxana sophomore Jordan Hawkins landed a state berth by winning the discus with a throw of 159-0. He won handily. Bo Bauer of Stanford Olympia was runner-up 147-4.
Hawkins was the lone Greater Alton area competitor to get through the 15-team sectional that also included Civic Memorial and East Alton-Wood River.
Host Lanphier scored 140 points to snare the team title. Highland took second with 67 points and Stanford Olympia placed third with 61 points. Roxana was fifth with 34 points. CM scored 4 points.
Ben Flowers of Jersey won the 1,600-meters in 4:33.92, while Tyler Higgins of Highland was best in the 100-meters at 11.14, the 400-meters at 49.33 and the 200-meters at 22.46.
CLASS 1A GILLESPIE SECTIONAL – No competitors from Marquette Catholic or Metro East Lutheran, the two local teams in the 18-school field, advanced through the Miners’ Sectional on Thursday.
Carlinville scored 125 points to easily snare the team title. Auburn finished second with 73 points and Madison took third with 66 points. Carlinville won six events, including a pair of relays. Madison sophomore James Scott finished first in the 100-meters at 11.68 and freshman teammate Kendall Kennedy took the 110-meter high hurdles title in 16.06.