The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 11, 2014

Danville girls dominate Big 12 track

The Commercial-News

---- — BLOOMINGTON — The Danville girls track team wasn’t supposed to win its third straight Big 12 Conference indoor track meet on Monday.

According to the seed times and distances, head coach B.J. Luke figured his team should finish third in the meet at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Only one problem with projections — they are not always right.

Danville scored in every event and won seven of the 15 varsity events as the Lady Vikings crushed the competition, scoring 132 points to win their third straight conference indoor title. Their nearest competition was the Normal West Wildcats, who were second with 83 points.

“The kids ran hard, they really raced hard and competed hard today,’’ said Luke. “That’s the nice thing about our girls, they will go out and race.’’

And while Danville has been successful in this indoor meet the past three years, this might have been the most complete win of the three as the Vikings did score in every event and they double scored in six of the 12 individual events.

“This was definitely an overall team effort,’’ Luke said. “We got points and great efforts from all different places and all different people.’’

Leading the way for the Vikings was junior Emone Davis, who won the 60-meter and 200 individual events, while also anchoring Danville’s winning 800 relay team.

“This was exciting and fun,’’ Davis said. “On the heat sheets, I supposedly wasn’t the fastest in either race based on the seed times. So, I just wanted to go other and get it done.

“I wound up getting personal bests in both races, so I’m really pleased with both of them.’’

The aspect of her races that Davis thought made the biggest difference was her starts.

“I came out really fast and ran really well,’’ she said. “Now, that I’ve done this well inside, it tells me that I’m going to be even faster when we get outside.’’

While Davis is one of the known elite runners from Danville, along with seniors Ambrosia Williams, Aariona Graham and sophomore distance runner Sadie Elliott. The Vikings had a few surprises for the Big 12 Conference. One of those was Caylin Smith in the 800.

Her winning time of 2 minutes, 30.94 seconds was more than a second faster than Champaign Centennial’s Rebecca Kaefring and that was with Smith, a junior, basically jogging the final 50 meters.

“She probably surprised the people here in the Big 12 Conference, but it didn’t surprise us,’’ Luke said. “We’ve seen what she’s been doing in workout and she is going to keep getting better.’’

Another one in that category on Monday was senior Lashay Grubbs, who beat teammate Michaela Jones in the triple jump, and she finished third in the 400 along with running a leg on Danville’s second-place 1,600 relay team.

“With the kind of depth that we have right now, I think we are going to have a very good long sprint group and our short sprint group can compete with anybody,’’ Luke said. “Really, we are a team that has some strength across the board. We have good distance kids. Our field events are strong. And, we’ve always been pretty good in the sprint events.’’

And what did Luke like the best about Monday’s meet?

“This sets the tone for the rest of the season,’’ he said. “Our young kids got to see how our veterans attack a meet and how they work to get ready for it. This was a great learning experience for our younger kids.’’

And one of those veteran runners had a reminder for her teammates.

“Winning this indoor title just means that we need to keep going, so that we can also win the outdoor title,’’ she said.

Elliott had an intense battle in the 3,200 with Champaign Central’s Hannah Wright. The two basically ran side-by-side for most of the 16-lap race, but Elliott pulled away in the final 200 meters to win the race by almost six seconds.

Up next is the boys Big 12 Conference indoor track meet today at Illinois Wesleyan. Danville senior Johnny Leverenz, the defending Class 3A state champion in the 800, will lead the Vikings into the meet along with senior Trent Sherfield, who currently holds one of the top times in the 200.