Girls Track: Class 3A sprints shaping up to be sensational(From left to right) Belleville West's Tatyana Lewis, Lincoln-Way East's Aaliyah Brown, Willowbrook's Cherise Porter, and Young's Claire Kieger muscle into the finish of the 200 meter. Patrick Gleason ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 18, 2012 9:10PM
CHARLESTON, Ill. — When Aaliyah Brown goes after two more state titles in the sprints Saturday, she knows what to expect.
Lined up along side the Lincoln-Way East junior will be some familiar foes, national-caliber competitors whom she hopes will give her the extra nudge she needs to make history.
“It’s all fun in the game of track and field,” said Brown, who has won the last two 100-meter titles in Class 3A and also is the defending 200 champ. “We all run summer track, so I’m running against them all year long. It’s a frenemies type of atmosphere out there.”
Brown won her heats in both sprints Friday at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium and is the No. 2 qualifier in each at 11.70 seconds in the 100 and 24.24 in the 200.
“My goal is to get the [state meet] records in the 100 and 200 and I feel like having those good competitors will [enable] me to be running that,” Brown said.
There’s not much separating Brown and other top seeds in the sprints. Plainfield North senior Cessily Jones, a six-time state medalist, is No. 1 in the 100 (11.66) and No. 4 in the 200 (24.37). Also very much in the mix are Waubonsie Valley’s Morolake Akinosun (11.71 and 24.40), Willowbrook’s Cherise Porter (11.85 and 24.33) and 200 top qualifier Margaret Bamgbose of Evanston (24.17).
Jones also helped Plainfield North reach the 800 relay final, a feat she was as proud of as her individual races.
“I’m not happy about my 100 time,” she said. “My 200, it was a difficult race but I [was] tired.”
Now her high school track and field career has come down to one day and she wants to make the most of it.
“I’ll do better tomorrow,” she said. “I’m excited for what comes tomorrow. This is my senior year. I want to do well.”
She expects do so and she expects the same from her rivals. “Illinois was never known for track,” Jones said. “This year I think we’re making history.”
Akinosun is shooting to break her personal bests (11.42 in the 100, 23.49 in the 200) Saturday. She’s been bothered by a hamstring injury this spring, but said, “I feel 98 percent.”
The busiest of the sprint contenders could be Bamgbose and Brown, both of whom advanced in four events. Bamgbose also qualified third in the 100 and 300 hurdles and on the Wildkits’ third-place 400 relay team. Brown anchored the Griffins’ 400 and 1,600 relay teams, which qualified fifth and second respectively.