Jaliyah Shepherd helps Kenwood win first team state trophy in school history

By Mike Clark

CHARLESTON — Jaliyah Shepherd won a race and won a wager at the same time on Saturday.

Shepherd blazed to victory Saturday in the Class 3A 100 meters in the IHSA state finals at Eastern Illinois’ O’Brien Field, running 11.70 seconds. 

That’s not only a personal best, but the best time in the state this season.

One of the runners she had to beat was teammate and Public League champ Asia Thomas, who was fourth in 11.91.

“Of course the talk has been on Asia — Asia has been great for years,” Shepherd said, “But we trained together, she pushes me every day. Every day I want to get faster.

“I made a bet before this — Asia Thomas is now going to be at prom. I said if I win, she’s got to go. I won.”

Shepherd said her job was “not finished” after the 100, and it wasn’t.

She wrapped up her prep career by winning four medals, including a pair of firsts. The other came in the 400 relay, where she teamed with Harmony Brown, Kee’Lani Whitlock and Thomas to run 47.13.

Shepherd also was sixth in the 200 (24.84) and joined Whitlock, Chyna Parker and Brown to take fifth in the 800 relay at 1:42.46.

Thomas finished with three medals, adding a second in the 200 (24.56).

The Broncos also finished eighth in the 1,600 relay at 4:01.60 with the team of Parker, Whitlock, Carly Wiggins and Brown.It all added up to 45 points, good enough for third place and the first team state trophy in any sport for Kenwood.

Afterward, Broncos coach Crystal Lindsey talked about the impact of earning state hardware.

“It helps us to continue to have kids vested and interested when we walk in the building … with a trophy that no one’s ever had,” she said. “Everybody’s going to want to join this team.”

Shepherd was one of two Public League athletes to win four medals, joining Lindblom’s Kennedy Ross.

In Class 2A, Ross was runner-up in the 300 hurdles (43.63), third in the 100 hurdles (14.36), sixth in the triple jump (35-11) and part of the seventh-place 1,600 relay team with Symone Frison, Brooklyn Brown and Kayla Homes. They ran 4:06.26.

“The (triple) jump didn’t go how I wanted it to go but I had to move on because I had more stuff to do,” Ross said. “But the 300 hurdles, they went the way I wanted it to go. …

“I just knew that I had to stay strong mentally and just keep pushing. The 100 hurdles, didn’t get the best start that I wanted to. But I knew that my speed could make up for it.”

Ross had no complaints about her busy day, shuttling back and forth from the track to the jumps area.

“It’s tough, but whatever my team needs, I’ll do it,” she said. “It takes a lot out of my legs. I’m definitely tired and a little fatigued but I’m used to it at this point.”

Ross, who finished her career with 10 state medals, is aware of Lindblom’s legacy of standout hurdlers. The best was Shamier Little, who won a remarkable 14 state medals from 2010-13. That includes four state hurdles titles.

“I got to have a conversation with her,” Ross said. “She’s a mentor. She’s somebody I really look up to.”

With Frison adding a third in the 100, Lindblom finished sixth in 2A with 29 points.

Simeon’s Mariyah Robinson and Young’s Simone Bernard each won a pair of medals in Class 3A. Robinson took seventh in the 200 (24.92) and eighth in the 100 (12.08). Bernard finished seventh in the 100 hurdles (15.00) and joined Claudia Ouimet, Mia Seaton and Ella Sweatt to take eighth in the 400 relay at 48.92.

Two other Public Leaguers won a pair of medals in Class 2A. Westinghouse’s Angelena Bullocks was fourth in the 100 (12.08) and ninth in the 200, while Phillips’ Vionche Terry finished sixth in both the 100 (12.27) and 200 (25.08).

Also earning medals in 2A were Northside’s Lulu Ton-That in the 800 (fifth, 2:16.48) and Tessa Myatt in the 100 hurdles (ninth, 15.80) along with Payton’s Josephine Dziedzic in the 1,600 (ninth, 5:13.29).

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