URBANA — Wherever they go, Centennial’s girls find themselves on the fast track. It happens at home. It happens elsewhere. It happens so often, it must not be the track. It must be the runners.
Four of the Chargers’ best teamed up to help the school win the 400- and 800-meter relays in Friday’s 38th running of the Urbana Invitational. The sprint relay broke the school record and posted a time (48.91 seconds) that ranks second on the all-time Area Honor Roll.
“Awesome,” said leadoff runner Avona Greene, who missed the first part of the outdoor season with a leg injury. “We were three-hundredths off the record last week. We knew Danville would bring good competition, and we had to have perfection (on the handoffs).”
Greene is followed by Dominique Lewis, LaToyah Mason and Bertha Frazier. The same runners are in the same order in the 800 relay, which narrowly missed the meet record (1 minute, 43.62 seconds). Centennial was timed in 1:43.67. Among the state’s Class 2A teams, the Chargers’ time ranks first.
“It shouldn’t be a surprise,” coach Laura Koterba-Buss said. “When they were sophomores, with Dominique as a freshman, they won three state medals.”
The four — all of whom plan to run in college — haven’t slowed down yet. Koterba-Buss lets her athletes pick the relay order. “They have to do it, and they have to be comfortable,” she said. “Chemistry and comfort are a huge part. When they have ownership, they’re more vested.”
The lone junior on relay foursomes comprised of seniors, Lewis doesn’t feel extra pressure. “It makes me push harder to contribute to the team,” she said.
Mason, Frazier and Lewis left the Gene Armer Track with one meet record. They joined Adrianna Williams for a 4:00.22 time in the meet-ending 1,600 relay.
Central’s Ranija Turner was the runner-up in the shot put (37 feet, 10 inches). She’s part of a deep group of throwers for the Maroons. Throws coach Cale Kuester has enough competitors to choose from that “the last time someone did both the shot and discus in the same meet was 2012,” he said.
Turner started in track in 2012. “After cheerleading, I had nothing else to do,” the National Honor Society student said.
A quick learner, she has eclipsed the 40-foot mark, either indoors or outdoors, as a junior and senior. She’s a two-time state qualifier who has her sights set reaching the finals in three weeks.
“As it’s getting closer to conference, I’m getting better,” she said.
What Kuester likes is the consistency.
“She has been over 38 feet in almost every meet,” he said, “and she has scored in every meet and medaled in all but one.”
Other area winners at Urbana: Central’s Sharon Mainor (200), Mahomet-Seymour’s Lauren Whitehouse (1,600), Rantoul’s Mercedes Porter (triple jump) and M-S’ Becky Tollakson (pole vault).
M-S placed third in the team standings.
Urbana’s top placer, Hannah King (fourth, discus), was one of two Tigers honored during a Senior Night ceremony.
At Monticello. Becca Anderson anchored a record-setting 400-meter relay that dropped nearly three-fourths of a second off the previous meet mark. Erin West, Kaitlin Hayden, Morgan Witzke and Anderson shared the baton in 50.69 seconds. The same foursome — but in a different order — helped break the 800 relay mark as well. Anderson and West finished first and fourth in the 100 meters.
A meet mark fell in the 300 hurdles. Salt Fork’s Jenny Kimbro stopped the clock in 45.41. She also doubled up with a win in the 100 hurdles by a half-second. Sullivan/Okaw Valley’s Amanda McClain broke her own 400 meet record with a 57.73 clocking. She also won the long jump.
Monticello’s winning 3,200-meter relay posted a season-best (10:13.57). Madison Tutich, Maggie Utgaard, Meggie Schroeder and Hannah Houska (the 800 winner) were the relay runners.
St. Joseph-Ogden’s Alyssa Pridemore (1,600) and Uni High’s Annemarie Michael (3,200) were the distance winners. Unity’s Nicole Bagwell won the pole vault and Salt Fork’s Abby Nicholson the shot put.
At Champaign. Centennial teammates Allen Terry and Davion Foster had runner-up finishes individually to lead the Chargers, who placed third as a team in the 16-team Gene Ward Invitational at the Unit 4 track.
Terry ran an area-best 39.42 in the 300 hurdles. He placed second in the 100 hurdles, also with the area’s top time this spring (14.99). Foster was an inch behind the winner in the triple jump (43-0).
The Chargers’ 800 relay foursome of Phillip Hassell, Rob Spalding, Jeremiah Peoples and James Williams finished second to Chicago Phillips (1:32.01).
Mahomet-Seymour’s Alex Keeble won the 1,600 meters with a time that’s second in the area (4:28.79). Teammate Sam Hohlfelder was the 400-meter runner-up 51.64.
At St. Joseph. Tuscola’s Broc Smith won the 100 and 200 and meet champion Paxton-Buckley-Loda had double wins from Vaughn Gentzler (hurdles) and Tyler Rubarts (jumps) in the Spartan Classic. St. Thomas More’s Nick Hess won the 3,200 with the fifth-best time in area history (9:19.70).