CARBONDALE — The race in the South Seven Conference girls track meet figured to be for runner-up behind a powerful Cahokia team.
That’s the way the event played out with the Comanches easily outdistancing second place Centralia 151-114. Carbondale finished third, followed by Mount Vernon, Marion and Althoff.
Cahokia won seven of 17 events, including Mariya Hudson’s sweep of the sprints. Cahokia’s Raynesha Lewis also claimed the 100 meter hurdles and the high jump.
In the meantime, Centralia grabbed second place overall despite winning just the pole vault. Drew Britton claimed first with a vault of 8-foot-3.
“I am super, super pleased with them,” said Centralia coach Katrina Watry. “We came in knowing it was going to be real tight for second, third and fourth between us, Mount Vernon and Carbondale. Everybody just did what they needed to do. We had lots of PR’s and lots of good races.”
Mount Vernon won five events. Senior Charde Golliday won the long jump (18-8) and triple jump (37-5) and ran the anchor leg on the 800-meter relay team.
The Illinois State-bound senior had also planned to run the open 200, but sat out the race to protect a slightly tweaked hamstring.
“I did pretty well in the long jump,” Golliday said. “I felt I could have done better in the triple jump, but I was kind of feeling the little leg thing. The 800 meter relay, we finished, but I really wish I could have gotten into the 200. I don’t know if I could have won it, but …”
And, while Marion finished near the bottom of the pack, the South Seven meet was something of a triumphant return for junior Maddie Bruce. Bruce tore the ACL in her right knee playing soccer one year ago, the day before the conference meet.
She picked up Marion’s only first place finishes Tuesday, winning both the 800 (2:22.86) and the 1,600 meters (5:29.44).
“It’s been difficult, but I’ve had a great support group along the way,” Bruce said. “I feel like I’ve made the most of it. I’ve really tried to stay positive through the whole thing, work as hard as I can every day to get back in shape and focus on the future.
“I’m not where I think I could have been, but I’m surely getting there. I think by the end of this year and for sure by next year I’ll be fully back.”
Bruce had stiff competition on both races, edging Mount Vernon’s Bria Moore by three seconds in the 800. She also claimed a three-second win over Mount Vernon’s Kate Bushue in the 1,600.
“It means a lot, more than I think people can even understand,” Bruce said. “There were days when I was surely down and out. Days like the conference track meet and sectionals where I know I could have done my best. To be here today means a lot.”
Carbondale took third with two first place finishes. Sian Person took first in the shot put and the 3,200 meter relay team claimed first.