URBANA — Alexus Jimson-Miller completed a fancy three-step on the Gene Armer Track on Friday night.
The Danville High School senior won individual races covering 100 meters, 200 meters and 300 meters during the girls’ Big 12 Conference track and field meet at Urbana High School.
For good measure, the Miami (Ohio)-bound athlete captured the triple jump to conclude her performance as the meet’s most dominant athlete. Four events is the maximum a person can enter in one meet.
Onlookers were hard-pressed to pick Jimson-Miller’s most impressive event.
Was it the triple jump — which she had done just once all season before Friday — where she didn’t need to take any jumps in the finals after sailing 35 feet, 81/4 inches in the prelims?
Was it the 200 meters — which she had run just twice outdoors before Friday — but won going away by more than three-fourths of a second (25.72)?
Was it the 300 hurdles — an event she wasn’t running by the end of her junior year — in which her 44.69 time is the third best ever by an area athlete, a fraction of a second off Danville’s school record (44.6) and the second best all season in Class 3A?
Or was it the 100 hurdles — her bread- and-butter event — in which she is the state leader in 3A? Her winning time was 14.53.
For Jimson-Miller, the 300 hurdles provided her a big mental lift six days before the Class 3A sectionals.
“At the beginning of the year I wasn’t believing I could be among the top in the state (in the 300s),” Jimson-Miller said.
In an effort to reach her peak, she practices primarily with Danville’s boy hurdlers.
“I’ve spent more time on the 300s,” she said. “Being stronger helps and so does believing I can do it.”
Jimson-Miller led a 1-2 Danville sweep in the triple jump. She beat teammate Michaela Jones, who was the long jump winner (17-11/2). Jimson-Miller wasn’t the only area athlete to make a statement at the Big 12 meet.
In the shot put, Champaign Central junior Ranija Turner followed up on her indoor conference title by winning the event outdoors with a toss (40-101/2) that is within 4 inches of the school record established in 1999.
Turner is in just her second year participating in track.
“Freshman year, I wanted to do track, but I was nervous about it and didn’t,” Turner said. “I don’t like doing new things. Sophomore year, I started in the middle of the season.”
Central throws coach Cale Kuester remembers early meets last year where Turner’s tosses were in the 26-foot range.
“She has a natural knack for it, and we’ve worked with her techniquewise,” Kuester said. “By the end of last season, she was at 37-2.”
Her career best before Friday was 38-5. In her first throw of finals, she eclipsed that by more than 2 feet. With improvement of another half-inch, Turner will move into the all-time area top 20.
“She has gotten some letters (from college coaches), and I think they’ll start pouring in,” Kuester said. “The sky’s the limit for her.”
Centennial’s Bertha Frazier — who doesn’t use starting blocks — ran an area-best time this spring in winning the 400 meters in 58.40.
“I love that race,” Frazier said. “I can pace myself well.”
Danville’s Emone Davis won the 100 meters (12.65) by a quarter of a second and anchored the triumphant 400 relay, which won a photo finish with Centennial. Danville was timed in 49.17. The runner-up Chargers — with Frazier as the anchor — crossed in 49.18.
Danville’s bid to become the fifth Big 12 team to sweep the indoor and outdoor league titles in the same meet was derailed when Jorriel Stewart — who led off the winning 400 relay — suffered a hamstring injury before she could hand off in the 800 relay. Stewart was also one of the top-seeded 200 runners.
Without the likely 14 points the Vikings would have earned, based on seed times, Normal Community edged Danville 130-119 for team supremacy. Centennial was fourth and Central fifth in the eight-school meet.
In the 800 relay, Danville and Centennial were running stride for stride with 300 meters left. The Chargers, who have the state’s top time in 2A in the event, won by more than 21/2 seconds. Dominique Lewis, Avona Greene, LaToyah Mason and anchor Jewel Goodly were the runners.
“It was our second time with this lineup,” said Goodly, a senior. “Usually I’m first (runner). It’s a lot more nerve-racking to be last.”
The lofty state ranking, she said, “makes us confident. We’re all talented and work hard, and we keep improving.”
In the 18 years that the Big 12 Conference has sanctioned an indoor track and field meet, just four of the winning schools have followed up with a first-place team finish in the outdoor league meet the same year. The list:
2011 Normal West