Can Lady Indians repeat as state track champs? They are sure gonna try

It's been a record-setting three years for Du Quoin Lady Indians track and field team, winning its first Class 1A state title last year along with its third of three straight sectional and SIRR Mississippi Division conference titles.

Du Quoin won the state title by 12 points (58-46) over Chicago Latin. The nearest local team was Pinckneyville in 15th place, 42 points behind.

The Lady Indians won no individual events, but came away as the talk of the meet winning the 4x100 and 4x400 relays and coming in second in the 4x200 and 4x800 relays with one speedy senior, two jackrabbit juniors, two sophomore phenoms and three freshmen flashes on those four teams.

Senior Madison Davis anchored the 4x100 and 4x200 and led off the 4x800 relay. She also finished seventh in the 100-meter dash and qualified in the 200, but didn't advance to the finals. Davis was a four-time state qualifier in the 200-meter dash and the 4x100 relay and a two-timer in the 100 as well as qualifier in the 4x200 and 4x400 relays for the first time.

Then-junior Gabby Alongi anchored the 4x800 and the 4x400 relay teams and finished second in the 800-meter run and in the 400-meter dash. She is a three-time state qualifier in the 800, a two-time qualifier in the 400 and a one-timer in the 1600 as well as the two relays.

Junior Bailey Harsy led off the 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams and was also a state qualifier for the first time in the long jump and the 100-meter hurdles. She is a three-time state qualifier in the 4x100.

Sophomore Jacqueline Crain led off the 4x800 relay team and ran the second leg of the 4x400 in the preliminaries, but not in the finals. Crain qualified for state her freshman year in the 800 and as the lead runner of the 4x800.

Sophomore Cyerrah Harris ran the second leg of the 4x100 relay team in her first state appearance.

The three freshmen were Gabby's little sister Grace, Olivia Phillips and Ayanna Dunklin. Grace ran the second leg of the 4x400 and the third leg 4x800 as well as qualifying in the 800-run. Phillips ran second leg of the 4x800 and the 4x200 and the third leg of the 4x400 as well as qualifying in the 400. Dunklin ran the third legs of the 4x100 and 4x200 relays as well as qualifying in the 100-meter dash.

In addition a fourth freshman Jaylnn Wood finished seventh in the pole vault as well as qualifying in both the 100 and 300 hurdles. Sophomore Madeline Robison qualified in the pole vault and junior Elizabeth Bird in the high jump.

We talked with Coach Shane Boyett about his championship season and the prospects for 2019-20.

<b>Q. Were you surprised to win state?</b>

Boyett: We knew we had a shot, but things had to fall right for us.

<b>Q. Did you expect the relays to finish first and second?</b>

Boyett: I knew the 4x400 and the 4x800 would probably win. The 4x100 and the 4x200 I was hoping to get top five, so that was a surprise. We ran a second better in the 4x100 and two seconds better in the 4x200 to break the school records as well as breaking the 4x400 record. In the 4x800 if we had broke the record we would have won. We had broke that record during the season.

<b>Q. Were any other records broken last year?</b>

Boyett: Gabby broke every record she had. I think we broke 13 school records last year.

<b>Q. Have you ever freshmen contribute like they did last year?</b>

Boyett: Never. The good thing about that is they are now sophomores. They were a once in a lifetime group - to have that many be that good and contribute that soon is unique and I'm glad that happened. I think we got a couple good freshmen this year, but will they be as good as the ones last year? I don't know.

<b>Q. What were feeling at the beginning of last season, and how are you feeling going into this season.</b>

Boyett: Beginning of last year I knew we were going to be good. We knew we had talent and the potential to get a trophy at state. As it turned out we were a dominate team because we were solid throughout, distance, sprints, relays and we had pretty good field events. It was an amazing experience we'll never forget.

This year we're kind of in the same boat. We're very talented and I think we have a shot at trophy again. But there's a lot of ifs. So I'm looking forward to having a good season. I think it's going to be an exciting year. I can't guarantee a championship, but we're going to try.

<b>Q. How many kids did you lose off last year's team?</b>

Boyett: Madison Davis graduated and that's a big hole to fill in the relays and the 100 and 200 sprints. We got some really good girls back and they will be really good in the sprints and relays. The question is will we be as good, but we will be competitive. We also lost Elizabeth Bird, a state high jumper, who didn't come out this year. And that hurts.

<b>Q. Who do you have back?</b>

Boyett: The 4x800 relay team is back. Everybody from the 4x100, the 4x200 and the 4x400 is back except Davis. Runners like her don't come around very often. She's running at McKendree and is running well. Our field events pretty much stayed the same.

<b>Q. Will your relays be as strong or stronger this year?</b>

A: I think the 4x800 and the 4x400 could be as stronger or stronger. We have some options, but whether they are as good as Davis remains to be seen. We may take a little step back, but hopefully not that much. Last year we won every running event at conference. We just have to see what combinations give us the best chance at conference, sectional and state.

<b>Q. Do you know who is going to replace Davis on the 4x400?</b>

A: We have a pretty good idea. The 4x400 is in pretty good shape because we'll have some options. Sophomore Lauren Heape is playing softball, but she is doing both sports. She has a good shot, but when she's not we got Jacqueline Crain. She filled in last year and got us into the finals. We also have Jalynn Wood who can fill in. We actually ran a faster time in indoors this year.

<b>Q. Who will replace Davis on the other relay teams?</b>

Boyett: We will look at Jalynn Wood in 4x100 and 4x200. She can fill in in any of those. She also returns in the 100 and 300 hurdles. In the 4x200 the question is what will Phillips and Grace Alongi do in the 800 and 400? Maybe they make a big jump and place individually. Grace may be the one to replace Davis in the 4x200. We may also throw Phillips in the 200. In addition junior Delaynie Dearmond will run the 100 hurdles and in the 300 it will be junior Reagan Whitley.

<b>Q. What other events will Crain run?</b>

Boyett: We'll put her in the 800 sometimes and throw her in the mile sometimes. It just depends on the meet. She also will be in the 4x800 and occasionally the 4x400.

<b>Q. What will Dunklin run?</b>

Boyett: Dunklin will probably run the 4x100, 4x200 and the 100.

<b>Q. Wood placed at state last year at the pole vault.</b>

Boyett: She set the record last year at 10-6 and has already cleared 10-6 this year. She has the potential to go pretty high this year. I would be surprised if she doesn't clear 11 in the near future. She was a pole vaulter in junior high and took a big step last year. Her first meet she cleared 7-6 and this year she started out at 10-foot, so hopefully she'll make another big jump this year. Junior Madeline Robison will also pole vault.

<b>Q. What will Gabby Alongi run?</b>

Boyett: She will continue to run the same events she's run the last two years, the 400 and 800 and the 4x400 and 4x800. She's won the two mile the last two years at conference, but that's the only time she runs that event since her freshman year.

<b>Q. What will Harsy do?</b>

Boyett: Eventually she is going to do some long jump. She will be in the 4x100 and 4x200 and probably the 100.

<b>Q. And Harris?</b>

Boyett: Harris is probably looking at the 4x100, 4x200 and the 200.

<b>Q. How do the field events look?</b>

Boyett: We didn't lose anybody, so hopefully we'll be a little stronger. As far as points are concerned statewise I'm not sure, but meetwise I'm hoping they will place consistently. We'll have junior Aubrey Barwick and sophomore Addi Darnell in the discus with sophomore Adriana Stewart, sophomore Marcie Dunmyer, and Barwick in the shot put.

<b>Q. How about the jumps?</b>

Boyett: Freshman Sophie Hill will probably do the high jump. The long jump will be junior Ella Hirsch and maybe Hill. Triple jump will have Harsy and Dearmond and Hill will jump there too.

  Gabby Alongi carries the baton for her team in the 3,200-meter relay at the 2019 girls state track finals. Joe Lewnard/
The Carbondale Indoor meet in February got the 2020 season started off right. Gabby Alongi, Grace Alongi, Olivia Phillips and Lauren Heape won the 4x8 relay over the #1-ranked 2A team in Illinois. Jalynn Wood took 4th in the pole vault at 10 feet. The 4x2 relay of Grace Alongi, Cyerrah Harris, Olivia Phillips and Gabby Alongi took first. Olivia Philips won the 400-meter dash in 1:02.8. Courtesy of Guy Alongi/Facebook