BY CHAD DARE
There was only one goal for Danville’s Alexus Jimson-Miller this year.
The senior set her sights on the state title in the 100-meter hurdles.
On Saturday afternoon at O’Brien Stadium in the IHSA Class 3A State Finals, it was mission accomplished.
With a career best time of 14.12 seconds, Jimson-Miller became just the fourth athlete in Danville girls track history to win a state title.
“I think it was definitely realistic,’’ she said after winning the title by .04 seconds over Emma Spagnola of West Aurora. “That’s all I’ve been thinking about forever — since my freshman year at least.
“I knew I could come out and do it.’’
And in true Jimson-Miller style, the senior didn’t jump up and down or scream out loud.
Instead, she talked about how she was looking forward to eating Italian on the way home and getting some sleep.
“I play basketball and people say that I don’t show any emotion on the court either,’’ she said. “It’s not really — no emotion. I’m just really calm when it comes to doing my thing.’’
But, as she was talking about doing her thing, Jimson-Miller finally showed some emotion as she reflected on her accomplishment.
“I’m just so proud of myself,’’ she said with a tear in her eye.
And if you ask the Danville coaches, there will be plenty of pride to go around on Saturday.
One of those coaches is Tiffany Johnson, a three-time place winner in the 100 hurdles and a three-time place winner in the 300 hurdles. Additionally, Johnson is one of three previous Danville girls to win a state title as she won the triple jump at the 2001 state meet.
“I’ve been after her records,’’ Jimson-Miller said. “She has been someone there to pushing me and it feels great to accomplish this achievement.’’
The last state champion for Danville came in 2009 when Destiny Carter won the 400. Jimson-Miller was a freshman teammate of Carter’s as she earned three state medals that day.
“It was exciting watching her that year,’’ Jimson-Miller said. “We were really close, and we are really good friends.
“Now, I know how she feels.’’
The bid to become a two-event state champion came up a little short for Jimson-Miller.
A uncharacteristic slow start hampered Jimson-Miller’s effort in the 300 hurdles. She still had a shot in the final 100 meters, but Jimson-Miller came home fourth as Brenna Detra of Peoria Richwoods won the title.
“I didn’t really get a good start and I didn’t hit all the hurdles in stride,’’ she said. “They challenged and I just couldn’t respond.
“Just getting to state is an accomplishment, but I think it feels even better to place and place pretty high in all my events.’’
In addition to an individual state title and a fourth place finish, Jimson-Miller also ran the second leg on the Vikings fourth-place 400-meter relay.
And for their third consecutive race, Danville’s team of Michaela Jones, Jimson-Miller, Ambrosia Williams and Emone Davis set a new school record.
“It was fun and fast,’’ said Davis, a sophomore. “Our handoffs were smooth today.
“We worked on them in the field house. And then we came out here and did it.’’
It was just the type of finish that Williams, a junior, was expecting when the year started.
“I’m really excited that we are making history,’’ she said. “Like I said before the year, this was going to be a record-breaking season.’’
The 400 relay team dedicated their finish to senior Jorriel Stewart, who had been the team’s leadoff runner until she suffered a hamstring injury at the Big 12 Conference meet.
It was the best finish for a Danville girls relay team in school history. The 3,200 relay team in 1997 and the 800 medley relay team in 2004 also brought home fourth-place medals.
The Vikings finished 11th in the team standings with 23 points, while Lincoln-Way East won the title with 79.
Danville freshman Sadie Elliott finished 34th out of 42 runners in the finals of the 3,200 on Saturday.