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Shahara Mitchell uncorked a personal best throw in the discus Saturday at the Spartan Invitational girls track meet hosted by Springfield Southeast.
But the Evanston senior’s efforts went unrewarded — and that’s what cost the Wildkit girls the team championship ultimately.
An omission in the scoring by meet officials — Mitchell should have placed fifth instead of failing to score in the event — allowed East St. Louis Senior to outscore Evanston by one and one-half points. East St. Louis finished with 110.5 points to 109 for ETHS, with Edwardsville third in the 16-team field at 101.
Mitchell’s discus toss of 92 feet, 9 inches was farther than the 92-2.5 effort by the fifth place finisher listed on the official results, a competitor from East St. Louis. But the results stood and Evanston settled for second place behind three individual wins from Parker English, one by Remy Amarteifio, and a victory by the 400-meter relay team of English, Amarteifio, Miranda Dangerfield and Alexia Harvey.
ETHS head coach Fenton Gunter took the “loss” in stride and wasn’t about to demand a recount.
“That’s no biggie,” said the veteran Wildkit coach. “We’ll just take what we get. In our eyes, we know that Shahara did a good job for us, and that’s the most important thing.
“To come so close was a real good lesson for them, I think, especially for our young girls. We always tell them that we want to be in the top three (team standings) at any big meet we go to, and we accomplished that today. They’re learning that, in a big meet, everyone has to do their part and no one can take a step back. They’re young and they just have to get used to being competitive for the ENTIRE competition.”
On a windy and warm afternoon in Central Illinois — wind gusts reached 30 miles-per-hour or more — English showed the competition outside the Chicago area that she’ll again be a force to be reckoned with at the Class 3A state finals.
The Evanston senior skipped the long jump Saturday, but scored first place finishes at 100 meters (12.08 seconds), 200 meters (24.59) and 400 meters (57.54). She also helped the winning ETHS team to a first place time of 49.54, just off the Illinois High School Association state qualifying standard, in the 400 relay.
Amarteifio contributed a winning time of 48.03 in the 300 hurdles, with teammate Harvey second in that race.
Gunter’s long talk with English after the race focused on the fact that he was concerned that the senior standout had extended herself too much in the 400, particularly down the straightaway against the wind.
He urged caution — and sticking to the plan devised by the Wildkit coaching staff to prepare English for a big finish to her high school career.
“The conditions were not all that great today, and Parker got a little hard-headed on that backstretch,” Gunter said. “She still had a 200 to run after that against a couple of good girls and we didn’t want her to over-extend herself in the 400. That was a real good time, especially because we had worked mostly on technique with her this week in practice.
“We wanted to keep her under control today. She needs to be a little more zeroed in on what she needs to do so she’ll stay fresh and doesn’t drag into the last couple of weeks of the season. You can’t go crazy, you have to be conservative and pick your spots.”
After settling for third and fourth, respectively, in the 100 hurdles, both Amarteifio and Harvey bounced back with stronger efforts in the longer race. They were the only two competitors under 49 seconds, and Amarteifio’s ability to handle the significant wind despite her small stature was another plus for the Kits.
“I thought Remy ran a fabulous race in that 300,” Gunter praised. “I know she had to be a little upset after that 100, and in the 300 she was really aggressive. I felt that was the difference in the race. She’s also getting more comfortable with her step pattern in the 300. But the most important thing was that she didn’t run tentative, and the other girls did. By the time they came out of the (first) turn, Remy was gone.”
Also earning individual top 5 finishes — and the points that went with them — were Ashley Vesotsky, 3rd in the 800 (2:27.90) and 4th in the 1600 (5:36.70); Mitchell, 4th in the shot put (37 feet even); Latalee Lawrence, 2nd in the triple jump (34 feet, 7 inches); and Dangerfield, 5th in the 100 (12.64).
Evanston was nosed out in the final race of the day, the 1600 relay, as East St. Louis clinched the team title with a third place clocking of 4:12.18 to 4:12.54 for the ETHS foursome of Crea Taylor, Grace Sarkor, Harvey and Amarteifio.