After a great season overall and a solid showing at the Class 1A Girls State Meet in Charleston a year ago, the Du Quoin track and field team hopes to do more damage this weekend.
The Indians enjoyed plenty of success this season, despite losing its do-everything star, Tarynn Mays, to graduation.
Mays won the triple jump at state last season and helped score 21 out of Du Quoin's 23 points, which helped the squad finish seventh overall.
But Shane Boyett's team has plenty of returning talent as well as some newcomers who are making noise.
"I was a little worried at the beginning of the year," Boyett said. "I knew we'd be pretty good, but I didn't know how good we would be. We've had a solid group of freshmen come in to help out. They're not Tarynn Mays, but they sure helped with her going away."
Mays competes in track and field for the Illini at the University of Illinois. She was The Southern's Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year in 2017.
At the Du Quoin Sectional, the Indians amassed 168 points to win the event by a wide margin over Pinckneyville (83) and Christopher (81).
Du Quoin won six events at the sectional. Andrea Lopez claimed titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 running events.
"She was really big for us this year, and she's a senior," Boyett said of Lopez. "Andrea had a real strong sophomore year, and last year was solid but maybe a little down for her. This season, she is the best she's ever been. She just works all the time."
Gabrielle Alongi, a sophomore, won the 800 run at the sectional and took second in the 400. She is also a part of Du Quoin's 3,200-relay team, which advanced to state as well.
"Gabby has been our stud this year, and she will do well in almost anything we put her in," Boyett said. "She has been our Tarynn this year, and we're happy she's still got two more years and a sister coming up, too."
Boyett will bring 14 girls to compete at the state meet in Charleston, which begins on Thursday for Class 1A.
"That is encouraging, and I've been coaching track for 20 years, and everyone forgets the first 10 or 15 years where I never came close. It's been a lot more fun the last two or three years to have the success we've had. It means a lot to me."
Du Quoin qualified for state in 13 events at its own sectional, which was the second straight championship for the program.
"It's a good experience for them, and we have some great girls," Boyett said. "Just getting up there and taking that many kids is fun. We are really looking forward to it."
Madison Davis (100-meter dash) and Delainie Dearmond (pole vault) also earned first-place finishes in individual events at the sectional.
The IHSA state finals take place on Saturday.