BY CHAD DARE
Danville senior Alexus Jimson-Miller wasn’t leaving any doubts about her ranking in the 100- and 300-meter hurdle races.
Jimson-Miller came out of the starting blocks flying and she cruised to sectional titles in both events. Ironically, a year ago, a bad start in the 200-meter dash cost her the opportunity of advancing to state in four events.
“I just prepared really well and warmed up really well,” said Jimson-Miller, who ran a 14.25 seconds in the 100 event and 44.89 in the 300 hurdles. “Just being in this atmosphere with all of these fast runners, I really had to get out quickly and I did.
“With coach Steve (Luke), that’s always the plan and I knew it was important to do that in the sectional meet.”
Was that because of what happened last year in the sectional finals of the 200?
“No, not at all,” she said. “I didn’t think about that until right now, after the meet.
“But, I was pretty upset with how it ended last year. I knew what I could do this year and I just had to trust my ability and trust my coaches.”
Danville head coach B.J. Luke said he keeps seeing Jimson-Miller getting better.
“I can’t wait for us to have a warm day to see what she can really do,” he said.
Considering that Thursday’s IHSA Class 3A Sectional Meet at Homewood-Flossmoor was ran with a light ran and fairly strong headwind, Jimson-Miller’s times in both hurdle events were quite impressive to Luke.
“I also think she got out in front so far, there was no one with her to push her,” Luke said. “We want to see how she does when she gets pushed next week at state.”
Jimson-Miller’s time of 14.25 in the 100 hurdles is just a tenth of a second off her best time this year of 14.15, but she feels the weather could make a difference.
“I think that’s pretty good,” said Jimson-Miller, who has already signed to run track next year at Miami of Ohio. “I’ve been running like 14.5 lately. With this type of weather and running a good time without too many people around me is a really good.”
But she knows there are still things to work on this week.
“I know I need to finish stronger,” she said.
Jimson-Miller also qualified for state with teammates Michael Jones, Ambrosia Williams and Emone Davis in the 400 relay. That team set a new school record of 48.27 seconds, taking second in the event behind Lincoln-Way East.
“That was fun and really fast,” said Davis, who also part of Danville’s state qualifying relay team last year. “We were determined to run faster – we had to do it for the school and we had to do it for our senior teammate Jorriel Stewart.”
Stewart, who had been on both Danville’s 400 and 800 relay teams this season, sustained a hamstring injury at the Big 12 Championships last week. Jones replaced Stewart in the 400 lineup.
“Switching up that relay was difficult, but our girls are just getting faster and faster every meet,” said Jimson-Miller, noting that Vikings had just two practices to work on their handoffs.
In addition to Jimson-Miller and the 400 relay, the Vikings also had a pair of freshmen qualify for state on Thursday night.
Sadie Elliott, who also qualified for state in cross country, claimed the section title in the 3,200 with a time of 11 minutes, 46.88 seconds.
“It was a pretty easy race,” said Elliott, who won by more than 3 seconds. “My coach (Todd Orvis) told me ‘to go and win — don’t worry about your time.’
“There were a couple of times that I thought the girl behind me (Mallory Johnson of Lincoln-Way Central) was going to pass me, but I just kept her behind me.”
Elliott admitted that advancing to state in track is a little surprising.
“I don’t really like running on a track,” she said. “You just run around in circles, I really like cross country running.”
The other freshman making a trip to next week’s state track and field meet will be Brittney Issac in the discus as she finished second with a toss of 109 feet, 6.5 inches.
“I was confident all day that I could do it,” Issac said. “I got a good throw out there and then I was freaking out when I found out that I made state.”
That’s because Isaac has heard from her coaches all season that freshmen don’t typically make state.
“It’s an accomplishment,” Isaac said. “When I’m doing poorly, my coaches tell me that just because I’m a freshman, it doesn’t mean that I had to throw like one.
“I’m trying to raise my bar higher for myself and by making state, I’ve given myself something more to shoot for.”
And Issac just missed making it to state in the shot put as she finished third with a toss of 33-10 and senior Lynette Buggs was fourth with a throw of 32-5.
In addition to those two, freshman Alexis Hoskins just missed qualifying with a third in the 400 and she was a part of the Danville 1,600 relay team was fourth, just a little over a second off of state qualifying.
“I’m very pleased with the kids that we got out of the sectional, and we had a number of girls that almost made it,” Luke said.
The Vikings also enjoyed a great deal of team success as they finished second to Lincoln-Way East for the sectional title.
“Finishing second in the sectional is a nice accomplishment,” Luke said.