Excitement was in the air as Lanphier High School girls track athletes arrived at Memorial Stadium for practice Wednesday afternoon.
They were eager to begin focusing on handoffs and getting in some block work as part of their preparation for the Class 2A Girls State Track and Field Meet that begins Friday.
Lanphier has come a long way under coach Tony Daniel since he took over the program in 2010.
“One year we went to (Central State Eight Conference Meet) and we had five kids,” he said. “We literally showed up at Rochester High School for conference with five kids.”
The Lions are now enjoying success with a roster of nearly 40. They have the second-fastest sectional time of the 27 teams entered in the Class 2A 4x200-meter relay preliminaries Friday at Eastern Illinois University. Lanphier has the third-fastest sectional time among 28 4x100 entries.
“That gives us confidence going into the state meet,” Daniel said. “My girls have been working hard all year long. I told them we like to be ready toward the end of the year for three meets: conference, sectionals and state, and we want to be at our best. I think our girls are peaking at the right time and gelling going into the state meet.”
Lanphier will have six entries at state.
“I know now this year that we can actually place and go on to the finals,” junior sprinter Ashley Farmer said. “Last year we got just a little taste of it and just went to the prelims, but this year honestly I believe we can make it to the finals in the 4x100 and 4x200.”
A core of young athletes has Lanphier thinking big.
“We have a young group and what I like about this group is they came from a winning program at Washington (Middle School),” Daniel said.
Washington won the Class 8AA state track championship in 2016 and the Class 7AA championship in 2015.
“I knew when they (the freshmen) were coming in that it was going to be some great talent,” Farmer said.
It showed at last week’s sectional at Southeast, the Lions’ athletes and coaches were giddy. They were jumping and hugging out of excitement when the 4x100 and 4x200 relays broke school records dating back to 1999.
The 4x200 foursome of freshman Jaylen Muldrow, Farmer, freshman Tylliyah Lane and freshman Martrice Brooks won in 1:44.01. The previous record was 1:45.4.
Muldrow, Farmer, sophomore N’Dia Jackson and Brooks placed second in the 4x100 in 48.47 seconds, erasing the previous mark of 48.9.
The entire team celebrated after the meet.
“We all had a conversation and cried,” Muldrow said. “We were all proud of ourselves because we’ve accomplished a lot this year.”
An all-freshman 4x400 relay of Muldrow, Brooks, Lane and Jada Redding also qualified.
“They’ve been running good times all year,” Daniel said. “Our 4x100 has been consistent. Our 4x200 has been consistent. A couple of times we couldn’t get the 4x400 together because of weather or a couple meets we had a couple kids out of town. For the sectional meet, we finally got a chance to run that team.”
Lanphier also is entered in individual events. Farmer and Brooks advanced individually in the 100 dash with Farmer clocking a personal record 12.7 at sectionals. Brooks ran a career-best 12.58 at the Thomas McBride Invitational in early April.
Jackson is a state qualifier in the 100 high hurdles for the second straight year. She set a personal record in the event at the sectional with a time of 15.56.
Although the Lions are a young squad, they’re not backing down from the challenges they’ll encounter at the state meet.
“We’re not scared of anybody,” Brooks said. “We’ve been going against Springfield, and that’s a 3A school. We’ve been going against them. Why should we be scared of anybody else?
“We are confident in ourselves. We know we’re going to make the finals.”
Taken from sj-r.com