BY AARON PATTERSON
The day was supposed to belong to the guys. Six boys track and field teams participated in Saturday’s Danville High Open, and only two girls squads made it to the field house. But while the boys might have dominated in numbers, the girls ultimately stole the show.
For the second time in as many meets, the Vikings broke girls track and field records. They make no apologies, though, in stealing the boys’ thunder. In fact, they believe they are only scratching the surface of what could become a memorable year.
“It’s a record-breaking season for us,” Danville junior Ambrosia Williams said. “It feels really good. I feel like we are a team. We are a team, and that’s what it means. We love each other, and we want to break records. We have the will and determination to break records. I just feel like we do it because we want to. We see the goals up there, so we break them.”
For the third consecutive meet, Williams cleared 9 feet in the pole vault, a school record she set in her first meet of the season at the Illini Scholastic Open at the U of I Armory.
It was a goal she set for herself before the season began, and now that she has accomplished it at such a rapid pace, she has bigger goals in mind — first, clear 9-3, and then work toward the state qualifying standard which is over 10-feet.
“We’re excited about that because I think she’s got 10-foot or 10-6 in her when we get outdoors,” Danville girls track and field coach B.J. Luke said. “A lot of times, it’s just like other things that you do. You’re breaking barriers, and once you break a barrier, you’ll pop up a foot.
“It’s like a guy doing his bench press. He can’t get over 300, and all of the sudden he’s at 325 because he broke the 300. Breaking barriers. We’re looking forward to her doing some big things with that. Then, she’s a very nice relay runner for us, too, and an experienced veteran at that. She gives us some points in places where historically we haven’t got points. One of them is the pole vault. That’s big for us.”
Williams teamed up with Alexus Jimson-Miller, Jorriel Stewart, and Emone Davis in the 4 by 160 relay, which set a new school and field house record of 1:23.87. The previous school record was 1:29, and Morgan Park held the field house record of 1:27.09.
Jimson-Miller also broke the field house record (8.35) in the 55-meter hurdles, before completely shattering the field house and school records (8.19) in the 50 meter hurdles. Both were previously held by Danville coach Tiffany Johnson.
“I told her I’m going to take them down one-by-one,” Jimson-Miller said. “She knows those are good things.”
Johnson might take credit for watching her records fall, but the Vikings’ early-season success could also simply be a result of the camaraderie .built among the team.
“They’ve invested work,” Luke said. “They worked in the fall in the weight room. They’ve been working out for six weeks together. I think a lot of it is the way that we run the program. We kind of co-ed it up a little bit, and they get a lot of coaching from different people. When we’re at a good meet like at Purdue, you can see them pulling for each other. It’s a real healthy atmosphere, and one that they feel comfortable working in.”
Danville’s Trent Sherfield gave his teammates plenty to cheer about, picking up four first-place finishes including the 55-meter dash, 200, long jump, and triple jump.
There was little dispute in the times posted at Saturday’s meet as the Vikings were using new FAT equipment for the first time. The equipment was given to Danville, according to Luke, as part of a package donated to the high school by an anonymous donor.
Not only did it make Saturday’s meet go much more smoothly, it will now allow Danville the opportunity to further capitalize on its indoor track, as well as the new outdoor track and field complex.
“It’s kind of nice to jump into the 21st century and have some fun doing it,” Luke said. “It made the meet a lot classier, and the times are now a lot more legit.
“Just this year now, we’re hosting a big invite on April 27,” he added. “Then we have the Big 12 boys meet here in Danville. Next year, we’ve got the Big 12 girls meet, and we’re hoping to have sectionals and things like that in the future. That’s a real important piece for us.”
The Danville girls team is scheduled to participate in Monday’s Big 12 Indoor Meet at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, while the boys will have their conference meet on Tuesday.
If Williams, Jimson-Miller, and Co. stay on pace, more records are likely to drop as the season progresses. But they realize it won’t come without continued hard work.
“We know that we’re really talented, but it’s very early in the season, and we know there is a lot of work to do in front of us,” Luke said. “I think the girls know that, too. That’s the neat thing. They understand that there is a lot of work in front of us to reach our goals. The goals that they have set are pretty lofty goals. They want to be as good as anybody around in the state. Right now, early, we are right up there in that rare air. But we want to be there at the end of the season.”