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Girls Track and Field: Lincoln-Way East back on top at state

Lincoln-Way East celebrates winning their second consecutive team title following Saturday's IHSA State Championships Eastern University's O'Brien Stadium CharlestMay 24

Lincoln-Way East celebrates winning their second consecutive team title following Saturday's IHSA State Championships at Eastern University's O'Brien Stadium in Charleston, May 24, 2014. | Brian O'Mahoney/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 26, 2014 6:46AM



CHARLESTON, Ill. — A jubilant Alexis Hyshaw ran across the field to celebrate with Meghan Marias, soon to be joined by Lincoln-Way East teammates Asia Brown and Ololade Ayoola.

Their record-setting finish in the 400-meter relay would be the first of many celebrations Saturday for Lincoln-Way East, which piled up 72 points to win its second straight Class 3A state championship on O’Brien Field at Eastern Illinois University.

Family and friends snapped assorted pictures of the medal-draped Griffins after the meet. Most of the girls took turns to pose with the state championship trophy atop the award stand.

“To have this moment and to repeat state again without Aaliyah Brown is just amazing,’’ Hyshaw said.

Aaliyah Brown led East to its 2013 state championship before moving on to Texas A&M, but the Griffins were able to reload this year and win the title by 33 points over runner-up West Aurora.

“Do you know how hard it is to go back-to-back after you lose a premier athlete and to not miss a step?’’ East coach Wendy Hegarty said. “All these girls, what they did from January to May. Those relays look like they’ve been running together all their lives.’’

“There’s not many kids in high school who get to experience this,’’ Marias said. “Now that my high school career is over, looking back on the past two years, it’s unbelievable.

“I’m so happy I got to be a part of this team. Everyone was a contributor.’’

It started Saturday with the 400 relay that clocked a state-record 46.04 seconds to win the short race by 1.3 seconds over Rock Island.

“We have such a great jell with the 4-by-100 team,’’ Marias said. “Handoffs are scary in the 4-by-100, but I knew we’d be able to get the baton around because everyone is so comfortable.’’

“They went for it, and then the momentum just kept going,’’ Hegarty said.

Marias (11.87) and Hyshaw (11.93) finished 1-2 in the 100, the foursome of Alexis Pierre-Antoine, Asia Brown, Sydney Barrera and Marias won the 800 relay (1:39.71), Hyshaw placed fourth (24.85) and Marias fifth (25.06) in the 200, and the 1,600 relay of Dana O’Grady, Barrera, Ayoola and Asia Brown placed second (3:50.16) to end the meet.

“I am so proud of Meghan Marias, for what she’s been doing,’’ Hegarty said of the Michigan recruit who overcame 2013 injuries.

Julia Junkroski was state runner-up in the pole vault (12 feet, 3 inches) and eighth in the high jump (5-4). Ayoola placed fifth (5-6).

“I’m really happy with second. It’s a step up from last year,’’ said Junkroski, third last year at 12-0. “It’s all the adrenalin that really going me going. That’s what did it for me.

“It’s exciting again for field events. Me and Ololade at high jump, it was nice having two of us in finals.’’

East totaled its 72 points with 20 in two first-place relays, 18 in the 100, 11 in the 200, eight each in the 1,600 relay and pole vault and seven in the high jump.

“We put the work in, came out here and did what we did all year,’’ Hyshaw said.

“It’s very special,’’ Marias said. “I’m sure looking back in 10 years, I’ll think it’s even more special.’’



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