EDWARDSVILLE — Four events, four wins. LaJarvia Brown of Alton hummed in four-part harmony Thursday during the Madison County Meet at the Winston Brown Track and Field Complex.
Brown won the 100-meter low hurdles in a county-record 14.40 seconds. The Texas A&M-bound senior also finished first in the 300-meter low hurdles at 38.68, the long jump at 17 feet, 3.5 inches and the triple jump at 39-11.
“I did what I wanted to do,” Brown said. “My goal was to win in all four events. And the 100-meter hurdles were my best event today. That’s the fastest time I’ve run in them. I came out of the blocks hard.”
Edwardsville’s girls withstood Brown’s four wins and outscored Alton, 177-120, for the team title, the Tigers’ 16th consecutive MadCo one. Granite City (79 points), Triad (76), Highland (51) and Collinsville (46) rounded out the girls’ team scoring in the large-school competition
“That’s Sweet 16,” quipped Edwardsville coach MiKaya Thompkins. “Our depth paid off. Our goal was to spread around the points and we were solid. We performed well.”
She knew Brown would get her points, so the Tigers had to keep scoring. Brown broke Kristen Dowell’s meet mark in the high hurdles. Dowell’s previous record of 14.75 was set in 2012.
“LaJarvia is a talented athlete and girls like her are rare,” Thompkins said.
The Tigers made it a county sweep again by amassing 161 points for the boys’ title, their eighth in succession. Collinsville placed second with 111 points and Alton took third with 92 points. Granite City (77 points), Triad (75) and Highland (35) completed the point totals.
“You never know what people are going to do, but our kids performed well,” Tigers’ coach Chad Lakatos said. “A.J. Epenesa has been consistent and Travis Anderson continues to bring that edge to our team.”
Epenesa won the discus with a county-record toss of 191-5, or 10 feet, 6 inches better than his record throw in 2015. He also finished first in the shot at 56-4. Anderson prevailed in the 110-meter high hurdles with a record-time of 13.94. Rodney McMullen of Edwardsville had the county best clocking of 14.16 in 1984.
“It was a good day for me,” Epenesa said. “I tried a different style in the shot so that I’m spinning when I throw it now. We brought it out today and I like it because it gives me more momentum in the ring. I can get some more oomph.”
Edwardsville assistant coach Matt Martin said, “It’s an aggressive move to change A.J.’s style this late in the season, but he likes it and I’m not a doubter. It’s high risk, but high reward.”
Levon Hendricks of Edwardsville won the triple jump (43-4) and Devonte Fincher snared first in the 200-meters (22.4). The Tigers also finished first in 4x800-meter relay (8:46.59) and the 4x100-meter relay (42.40).
Alton’s 4x200-meter relay group of Tony Dobbins, Harrison Henderson, Simeon Brown and Keenan Stegall won its race in 1:30.55. The Redbirds snagged second in the 4x100-meter relay (43.28) and third in the 4x400-meter relay (3:27.89).
Arie Macias was runner-up in the 800-meters (2:02.39). Zack Llewellyn grabbed third in both the shot (51-11.5) and the discus (145-6).
“We’re thrilled about that win in 4x2,” AHS coach Jeffrey White said. “It was a great race for us and our relays are continuing to improve. We had some season-best times.”
Brothers Will and Andrew O’Keefe guided Granite City. Will, a junior, won the 3,200-meters (9:47.59). Andrew, a freshman, prevailed in the 1,600-meters (4:36.51). And Will anchored the Warriors’ 4x400-meter relay (3:26.71).
“I was supposed to run a little faster,” Will said of his 3,200-meter victory, “but when I got out there alone, I felt it was a little boring.
“I’m not exactly where I want to be, though my training has been perfect.”
The Edwardsville girls pushed toward perfection with their high-scoring ways. They won six events, including Jaydi Swanson in the 400-meters (1:01.54), Lorie Cashdollar in the 800-meters (2:18.69), Payton Flowers in the 1,600-meters (5:34.09), Julianna Determan in the 3,200-meters (12:13.21), the 4x400-meter relay (4:05.3) and 4x800-meter relay (9:53.76).
“We had a lot of solid finishes,” Thompkins said.
Katie Mans of Alton finished first in the high jump (5-4) to complement Brown’s four wins. Teammates Jewel Wagner (39-2) and Chayvon Buckingham (38-1.5) took second and third, respectively, in the shot.
“It always feels good to win, especially at the county meet,” Mans said. “I feel good about what I’m doing coming into the home stretch of the season. The big thing I’m working on is getting my lower body over the bar.”
Alton head coach Terry Mitchell senses the Redbirds are getting primed for the Southwestern Conference Meet on May 4 at Edwardsville. “We did about what we figured we'd do today, but Edwardsville was too deep for us," he noted.
Andrea Hyde spurred the Granite City girls. The 5-foot senior won the 100-meters (12.47), the 200-meters (26.12) and ran on the victorious 4x100-meter relay (48.49) and 4x200-meter relay (1:43.07) teams. Niya Wilson, TyKiaza Jones and Robyn Pointer joined her on those relays. Pointer also was runner-up in the 200-meters (26.32).
“It’s the best day I’ve had in track,” Hyde said. “This was the final time I was running in the county meet, so I wanted to go out with a boom. Winning the 100-meters really got me going today.”
Tom Miller, the Warriors’ head coach, is seeing plenty of progress from his sprint corps.
“Overall, this was the best meet of the season for them,” he said. “Freddie Layne, our sprint coach, really is doing a good job and that has made a big difference with our sprinters.”
Miller added, “Andrea had a very good day and she keeps improving. She does all of the little things it takes to succeed.”
Triad’s Allison Richter doubled her fun with wins in the discus (128-11) and the shot (42-2.5). She was runner-up to Brown in the long jump (16-7.5).