The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

April 18, 2013

Vikings track makes progress


DANVILLE —  The progress of the Danville High track facility is only be surpassed by the progress of the team’s that call it home.

On Wednesday afternoon, Danville hosted the Champaign Central Maroons in a boy-girl dual meet.

Only eight events were completed in both divisions with Central holding a 33-28 lead in the girls’ division, while Danville led 33-30 in the boys.

“This is frustrating for the kids because this was their first chance to run in front of the home crowd during the outdoor season,’’ said Danville boys coach Steve Luke.

And girls coach B.J. Luke pointed out that he wanted to see how his kids did in the 400 and 800-meter events.

“We were looking forward to those times,’’ he said.

But, the best news for both coaches is that Wednesday wasn’t their only meet at the upgraded track facility and both teams are performing very well in the opening month of the outdoor season.

“We’ve been pretty pleased,’’ B.J. Luke said. “We’re about where we thought we could be at this point, but we’re not where we want to be at the end.

“We’ve got some growth area and we should be pretty good by the end of the year.’’

The Lady Vikings took second to Edwardsville, last year’s state champions, at Springfield Southeast, and last Friday, they claimed the title at the Bloomington Invitational.

“This season has started out great,’’ said Danville’s Ambrosia Williams, who ran the leadoff leg on the Vikings victorious 400-meter relay and she was second in the pole vault. “We’ve been competing against quality opponents and we won the meet at Bloomington.

“The key is that we have to keep working hard to achieve our goals.’’

This Saturday, the Danville girls travel to Champaign for the Central Invitational.

Senior Alexus Jimson-Miller, who has already signed to run track at Miami of Ohio, has been the leader for the Lady Vikings, running some of the state’s top times in the 100 and 300 hurdle events.

On the boys side, the Vikings were fifth last Saturday at the Urbana Open after cruising to a triangular win over Mattoon and Urbana and a solid showing in first outdoor meet at Springfield Lanphier.

“It’s been a little up and down for us,’’ said Steve Luke. “We suffered a few losses that are going to hurt us down the stretch.

“But, we’ve also got some guys that are stepping up and doing some really good things.’’

Junior Johnny Leverenz led the Vikings as he has one of the state’s top times in the 800 with his winning time of 2 minutes, 4.51 seconds in a meet in Springfield.

“Well, Johnny has been something else,’’ Steve Luke said. “No one really knows how fast he can be and no one knows which one of the three races that he will excel the most.

“I had a pretty good 800 runner in Durrell Williams (2nd in the state at Waubonsie Valley) in 2005. Johnny is right there where Durrell was at this point in the season.’’

Steve Luke also pointed out that he has gotten some big contributions from seniors Lonnie Buggs and Maurice Jeter along with junior Dakota Gash.

And he has been pleasantly surprised with the efforts of Jon Huff and Jelani Day.

This Saturday, Danville travels to the West Lafayette (Ind.) Invitational.

Both the Danville girls and the Danville boys will be back on their home track on Saturday, April 27th for the John Eakle Classic.

The boy/girl invitational will begin at 10 a.m.