Calm, focused Wilson breezes to 100, 200, long jump finals

Calm, focused Wilson breezes to 100, 200, long jump finals

CHARLESTON — Ameia Wilson didn’t have long to think about gaining retribution for her devastating finish a year ago at the IHSA girls’ state track and field meet, when she missed the Class 3A’s 100-meter dash finals cut by three-hundredths of a second.

Nor could she think long about how much time she had put into improving this offseason, when a mix of yoga, distance training and speed work built the sophomore into one of the fastest sprinters in Illinois.

Instead, she relaxed. And for Wilson on Friday, relaxation came in the form of long jump.

“Long jump is kind of my relaxation event,” Wilson said. “I could think about the 100 but not focus on it too much.”

Wilson, who rarely long jumps outside of meets, let loose a leap of 18 feet, 1 inch, to head into Saturday’s finals with the third-longest jump at O’Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.

Then, she won her heat in 100 in 11.88 seconds to comfortably qualify with the second seed.

“I felt so happy,” she said. “I finally broke this milestone I’ve been waiting for all year and have been preparing for. And that makes me say that all that training in the offseason was actually worth it.”

Wilson wasn’t done. She qualified for the finals in the 200, clocking 24.54 seconds to finish with the third-fastest preliminary time.

Wilson still found ways to pick apart her performance.

“I wish I could have been a bit better so I could at least PR, but I’m happy I won both of my heats so I could get to the finals,” she said. “I’m not really used to these blocks, so I could practice in these blocks to suit my foot more. I could practice my arm movements. My arms need to be more closed in. Just my form, just the minor tweaks.”

Wilson said she’d watch her races Friday night to dissect her start, running form and finish. Unlike last year, she’ll use that dissection in the finals.

“I felt so bad (a year ago), like I could have done better,” Wilson said. “This year, I still could have done better, but I made it to the finals, so I’m satisfied.

“My starts weren’t good. I didn’t have the stamina to finish my races. But this year, I actually had the stamina to finish my race. I could start thinking about other things like my starts, my arm movements, my speed.”

The field for both sprint races Saturday will be tight. The top seven 100 runners completed the preliminaries between 11.86 and 11.92 seconds. In the 200, the top four finished between 24.47 and 25.56.

Vikings coach BJ Luke thinks that’ll only help his competitive sophomore.

“When she’s racing with somebody right by her side, I think she finds that extra gear,” Luke said. “She’s much better when you’ve got a race out there.”

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