CHARLESTON — The Class 1A girls preliminaries at Eastern Illinois University turned into the Du Quoin Showcase.

Not only did the Indians qualify for today’s finals in eight events, they looked dominant doing it. The Indians won their heat in all four relays. Madison Davis won her heat in the 100 meters while Gabby Alongi won her heats in the 400 and 800 meters.

And, Jaylnn Wood qualified for the finals in the pole vault.

Davis, the lone senior on the team, anchored the winning 400 and 800 relay teams and ran the first leg in the 1,600 meter relay.

I am beyond proud, I can’t even express … I am so honored to be the only senior leader on such an amazing team,” Davis said following Du Quoin’s winning heat in the 1,600 meter relay. “They are so dedicated. It’s made my senior year for sure.

“We were expecting some big wins, that’s what we got today. We’re hopefully going to continue that Saturday. I think we’re kind of where we want to be. We’re where we’re at, but I think we can do better. We’ll see that Saturday.”

Davis gave up a chance to qualify in the open 200 in order to run in the 1,600-meter relay.

“I knew we needed the points,” she said. “And, in the past, if you look, I have not done well in the 200. I think I would have done well this year, but just to play it safe, scratch that and put me in the 4x400 and hope we win a trophy with that. It was a big sacrifice, but I’m good with it. It was actually mostly my decision. I think I realized what I wanted to do for my team and the 4x400 is what it was.”

Du Quoin’s day started on the right foot with the Indians taking back-to-back wins in the 3,200 (Jacqueline Crain, Olivia Phillips, Grace Alongi and Gabby Alongi) and 400 (Bailey Harsy, Cyerrah Harris, Ayanna Dunklin and Davis) meter relays. The Indians fell behind on the first leg of the 3,200 meters, but roared back to win easily.

“It went great,” said anchor runner Gabby Alongi. “Our lead runner is great, she had some injuries, but she’s pushed through and ran great. Olivia Phillips made up like five places and got us in good position. Then, my little sister got us in first and she tried to get me a lead because I have three other things to do today.”

And, although it was the best time of the day, it was five seconds off Du Quoin’s best time this season. But, Alongi said there was more in the tank if she had needed it.

“We were just worried about getting to finals,” she said. “We wanted to make it a definite, get out there and win so we could be in there for sure.”

Just a few minutes later, Davis carried the baton to victory in the 400-meter relay.

“It’s really nice, honestly, just crossing the finish line, knowing our team worked really hard … it’s really relieving,” Davis said. “Our talk has been just get to the finals, win your heat. We’re competing hard today so we can get as many points into the finals and hopefully winning.”

Wood was Du Quoin’s only athlete to advance to the finals in the pole vault. She was one of 11 vaulters to clear 10-0.

Pinckneyville’s Dakota Krone also had an impressive day.

The junior long jumper went 17-6, 17-10 and 18-4.75 in her three long jump attempts. She stands in second place going to today’s finals. St. Joe-Ogden’s Atleigh Hamilton leads at 18-7.75. Distances carry over to the finals in the long jump.

Her last jump was a PR.

She followed that with another PR, advancing in the triple jump with a 37-11 effort. Both personal bests were by an inch.

“It was kind of nerve-racking at first,” she said. “I usually just jump once and be done. I took all three today to see where I would go. The weather was good, so that helped a lot. I just had confidence in myself and I just went for it.”

The only other Southern Illinois qualifiers were Jacklynn Simms of Fairfield and Lauren Friess of Johnston City in the high jump. They both cleared 5-2.

Nashville’s 800-meter relay team of Destyn Herrington, Jadah Heidel, Talanie Kozuszek and Halle Rueter qualified with a time of 1:45.79.

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On Twitter: @LesWinkeler​


Sports editor

Les Winkeler is sports editor and outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan.

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