H-F girls track and field brings home first place trophy

  It's all smiles for members of the Homewood-Flossmoor
  High School girls track and field team who with their
  coach, Zontavius Johnson, show off their first place
  trophy won at the IHSA state meet.
 (Provided photo)
 

It’s a first place state title for the Homewood-Flossmoor girls track and field. 
 
The victory fulfills a dream to bring the first-place trophy to H-F after the team won second place at the Illinois High School Association’s state meet in 2017 and 2018.
 

  H-F High senior Madison Myrick
  clears the bar at the opening
  of the high jump competition,
  part of the IHSA girls track and
  field meet. 
(Provided photo)
 

“It was one of those things where the girls understood from (the start of the season) Jan. 15 that it could be a special season if we could put it all together,” said head coach Zontavius Johnson. “Everything just clicked for us.”
 
H-F had an outstanding season, including traveling to California for the Arcadia Invitational where the girls placed at several events and won an invitation to return in 2020.
 
To get to state, H-F qualified 16 individuals and three relay teams at the 3A state meet. It was the third year H-F took first at qualifiers, Johnson said.
 
The IHSA two-day statewide meet at Eastern Illinois University Friday and Saturday, May 17 and 18, had 18 events. H-F athletes qualified to participate in 15 of those.
 

  H-F High senior Trinity Daniels
  prepares to land a triple jump
  at the IHSA state track and field
  competition. She took second
  place with a jump of 40.7.
 
  (Provided photo)
 

On Friday, a school record was broken and team members won individual honors. Johnson called it “a near perfect day for us. We had top times in 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400.”
 
The 4x400-meter relay team of juniors Ashanti Denton and Amaya Barnes, with sophomore Ayah Mustafa and freshman Alexandria Edison broke an H-F record in a preliminary race on Friday with a time of 3 minute, 48 seconds shattering the pervious record by two seconds.
 
On Saturday, however, H-F’s team dropped in the standings after a missed baton pass in the 4x100 and two long jumpers failed to qualify. 
 
“We hit some adversity within the first hour of the meet. It was one of those things where we called the girls in and said it was going to go one of two ways: By how we let the mistakes of the day define our season, or by how we overcome adversity and win the title,” Johnson said he told the team.
 
The pep talk helped get the team back in the winners’ ranks.
 

  Freshman Alexandria Edison
  brought the baton home in the
  4x400 race as H-F High School
  won the event and went on to
  win first place in the IHSA
  track and field competition
  May 18. 
(Provided photo)
 

Junior Kayla McCall came in second in 100-meter hurdles “to get us back on track,” Johnson explained. She went on to place seventh in the 100 dash.
 
Senior Trinity Daniels came in second in the triple jump with a distance of 40 feet, 7 inches.
 
At the track, H-F’s 4x200 relay team won the state title. Team members Kayla McCall, Akela White and Alicia Adams, all juniors, paired with senior Trelyn Newkirk to win in 1.40.18.   
 
Junior Ashanti Denton followed with an upset victory over the previous champion in the 400 dash timed at 54.45.   
 
“That was a huge pickup for her,” Johnson said.  Those four wins “wrapped up the title for us.”
 
But H-F wasn’t done yet. In what Johnson called “the icing on the cake,” Akila White and Trelyn Newkirk won in the 200M dash, and the 4x400 team of Ashanti Denton, Alexandra Edison, Ayah Mustafa and Amaya Barnes won that race.
 
Johnson is saying good-bye to three seniors, all who won sports scholarships. Madison Myrick and Trelyn Newkirk will compete for Eastern Illinois University and Trinity Daniels will be at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
 
The H-F team has a bright future because it has so many interested freshmen and sophomores who will join the current junior squad as the team backbone.
 
“The future looks bright for us. The talent will be here, I’m just going to keep it rolling,” Johnson said.
 
He knows the girls put in an extraordinary amount of time to win first place. He also credits his staff that he says “works extremely hard to achieve the vision I put out for the program” over the three years he’s been coaching at H-F.
 
When Johnson came to H-F, he was able to hire Marcel Morgan to coach the long jump and triple jumpers. He said in Morgan’s three years at H-F, he has helped develop seven all-state athletes.
 
Also on the coaching staff are Robert Jones, who works with sprinters; Jeremiah Thompson, with the 400 and 4x400 team; Sherron Mustafa with hurdlers and high jumpers; Amelia Tulua and Fernando Matthews, throwers; Sydney Banks and Steve Shelley take care of middle distance and distance runners.
 
“It is an unusually large staff for a high school, but each person brings something to the table,” Johnson said.

  The Homewood-Flossmoor High School girls track and
  field team, their coaches and supporters gather
  around the first place trophy they won at the IHSA
  state meet May 18. 
(Provided photo)

 

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