EDWARDSVILLE – LaJarvia Brown and Greg Cross gave the Alton High track teams something to rally around Saturday.
Both fared well for the Redbirds in the annual Southwestern Illinois Co-Ed Track Relays on Winston Brown Track at Edwardsville High. Brown snared a first place and Cross snagged a third.
Brown, a sophomore, won the girls long jump by leaping 36 feet, 4 ½ inches. She also anchored the 4x20-meter relay team that took sixth. AHS grabbed a sixth in the 4x100-meter shuttle hurdle race and nabbed a seventh in the distance medley.
“It was the highlight of the day for me, even though it was a little nippy out here,” Brown said of the windy, chilly weather. “It was hard to get anything done.”
Yet Brown did what she needed to do in posting a win during her first outdoor meet of the spring.
“I’m hoping for a big year,” she said. “My goal is to get on the podium – first, second or third place - at state in the triple jump.
She added, “I know I’ll have to push myself in practice every day. You never know how much you can do until you push yourself out of your comfort zone.”
Alton coach Terry Mitchell foresees big things for Brown and figures the Redbirds will show improvement.
“We are counting on LaJarvia, Rebecca Adney and Cheron Buckingham to be among our team leaders,” he said. “I think we can build some good relay teams and overall, we will get better as the year goes by.”
Cross, a senior, took third in the boys 100-meters at 11.35 seconds. Tae’Mon Franklin of O’Fallon won it in 11.23 and Jabrille Lewis of Rockwood, Mo., Summit placed second in 11.31.
In addition, Cross anchored the Redbirds 4x200-meter team, fourth in 1:36.0. Darue Smith, Mark Muhummad and Javier Ammonette joined him on that relay unit. Zach Edwards and Zac Llewellyn will boost the Birds in field events.
“Our overall numbers are up. We have 40 guys out for track and 22 of them are freshmen and sophomores,” Alton coach Eric Dickerson said. “Greg is one of our three seniors and we are counting on him in the sprints and sprint relays.
Dickerson said, “Those events should be our strengths. With our numbers, we should have good competition in all areas and that’s a key for us.”
Defending champion O’Fallon scored 110.5 points to repeat as boys’ team champion. Host Edwardsville finished a close second with 103 points. Belleville West (90 points), Rock Island (66) and CBC of St. Louis (49) were next in the 17-school meet. Alton was 10th with 22 points.
Rock Island claimed the girls title by one point. The Rocks scored 97.5 points, while O’Fallon tabulated 96.5 points. Defending champion Belleville West was third with 68 points.
Edwardsville (63) and Cahokia (54) followed the Maroons. Alton was 12th with 23 points.
Next up for the boys are the Alton Relays, scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday on Wigger Track in Public School Stadium. The projected seven-team competition will feature defending champion East St. Louis, which has dominated the meet since it was resuscitated in 1998.
“We want to score some points in our meets and we have the potential to do that,” Dickerson said.
Some boys teams, including Edwardsville, are participating in Friday’s O’Fallon Relays.The AHS girls will run Friday in the Belleville West Invitational.
“We’re looking for a big season,” Brown said, “and the team is working on it.”