How surprising was it that the Alleman Pioneers won their first Western Big Six girls’ track & field conference championship Friday night at Browning Field’s Gene Shipley Track?
Discus champion Ali VandeHeede, a senior, cupped her hands to her face in shock at the end of the meet when informed that the Pioneers won their first-ever title in the last year of a six-team Big Six.
“We’ve been working toward this since the beginning of the season,” VandeHeede exclaimed. “For this to actually happen … I can’t even express it in words.”
Alleman coach Scott Stoll said that while a conference title has been a season-long goal, it couldn’t have been expected.
“I had Rock Island down as winning it, since it seems like they win it every year,” he said. The Rocks, who finished third (94 points) behind runner-up host Moline (114), had won the last five straight Big Six titles.
Alleman, with 137 points, won five individual golds compared to Moline’s six and Rocky’s two.
“The story tonight is that history was made,” Stoll said. “And I can tell you right now that Geneseo will be the story (when the conference goes to eight teams next year). They have such a great girls’ program.”
On this night, though, it was all about the path the Pioneers took to take the team title.
Alexandra Cajigal, who has dominated the distances throughout the season, won the 1600 and 3200. The other three golds came in field events — Kiah O’Neal in the high jump, VandeHeede in the discus and Tori Thomas in the pole vault.
“But we had important points elsewhere,” Stoll said. “Grace Moore took fourth in the 1600 and fifth in the 3200. And Kiah had a big night, taking second in the 400 and second in the 4x100 and 4x200.”
with a digital subscription.
Just as big of a surprise, it seemed, was Moline’s runner-up finish and several of its golds.
“I was a three-seed in the 200 and a four-seed in the 100,” said Moline senior Megan Pittington, who won gold in those events, as well as the 400 and as part of the 400 relay. Her come-from-behind win in the 200 came in 26.24 seconds, a personal best. The relay, too, was seeded fourth.
“I wanted to win the relay more than anything,” said Pittington. “I had never won a conference relay.
“Definitely the home track helped because we practice here every day.”
Another big Maroon performer was sophomore Audrey Lamphier, who won three golds — in the 100 hurdles, long jump and in the 400 relay — and a silver, in the 300 hurdles.
“I have been trying for that 100 (hurdles) title for so long,” Lamphier said. “And for the relay, I didn’t know I was going to run in that until today. I’m glad we could be there for each other.”
The Rocks picked up two conference golds, winning the 800 relay with a team of Mar’Cha Woodson, Najah Vesey, Marielle Kelley and Jayla Hathorn, as well as the 300 hurdles, with Woodson topping Lamphier by a little over a second.
United Township, which placed fifth behind Galesburg and ahead of Quincy, had one conference champion in Adzo Koumedi, in the triple jump.