CHARLESTON -- The Du Quoin Lady Indians are the 2019 IHSA Class A State Champions in Track & Field after closing out Saturday's State Finals meet with a dominant performance in the 4x400-meter relay at O'Brien Field at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
DHS entered the final event just three points ahead of Chicago (Latin), which was also part of the 4x400 relay. The foursome of Indian freshmen Olivia Phillips and Grace Alongi, junior Gabby Alongi, and senior Madison Davis pulled away to win by over four seconds, wrapping up the team state championship trophy.
DHS girls track and field head coach Shane Boyett praised his team and the community following the event.
"The community has been behind us, our school, our administrators, Coach Beard, Coach Riggio. We all work together, they're right there with us. (Athletic trainer) Tim Davis drives up two and a half hours to get our kids ready to run. John Alongi is at practice every day helping us out. We've got some awesome parents that support us, and we've got great kids. It couldn't have been a better season."
The string of successes for Du Quoin began with a second-place finish in the 4x800-meter relay, where the Alongi sisters, Phillips, and Jacqueline Crain scored silver medals by narrowly beating out Chicago (Latin) in third with a time of 9:51.09.
A gold medal performance in the 4x100-meter relay followed as Davis, Bailey Harsy, Cyerrah Harris, and Ayanna Dunklin covered the field by nearly a full second at 48.99 seconds.
"I saw Ayanna coming in and as soon as it (the baton) hit my hand, I knew we had it from that point on," Davis said. "I knew we just had to get the perfect handoff, and that's what we did. Everything went perfectly, it was great."
Harsy added, "I'm glad we could do this for Madison, being her senior year. It feels amazing. We have a freshman, a sophomore, a junior and a senior on the (4x100 team). We couldn't have worked harder for this accomplishment."
Jaylynn Wood, another freshman, then cleared 10 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault and collected a medal for seventh place, and Davis followed with another seventh place for DHS in the 100-meter dash.
Gabby Alongi earned a silver in the 800 meters after a duel down the homestretch with Gibson City's Delanie Dykes, whom she slipped past for second with a time of 2:19.50.
In another bang-bang finish, Du Quoin just missed a gold in the 4x200-meter relay, as Davis crossed the line 0.01 seconds behind St. Joseph-Ogden's Maclayne Taylor (1:44.81 to 1:44.82). Another silver medal came next as Gabby Alongi collected her second second-place showing of the day in the 400 meters.
After Chicago (Latin) runners finished 1-2 in the 1600-meter run, there were two events remaining and the Lady Indians were clinging to a three-point lead over the Romans. It was at that point Du Quoin would find out whether or not a decision it made at the Sectional the previous week would pay off -- Davis was taken out of the 200-meter dash and placed into the 4x400 relay.
"We thought Madison could place probably seventh or eighth in the 200, but we knew if we put her in the 4x400, we had a really good chance of winning it, and the 10 points that come with that," Boyett said. "We knew if all four of them ran their best, we'd run a time that would be hard to beat."
He was correct.
Du Quoin dominated the day's final event with a time of 4:01.38, over four seconds faster than second-place St. Joseph-Ogden while Chicago (Latin) crossed the line in ninth.
"We have four studs in that 4x4, we were going to take care of it, no doubt," said Davis, who skipped out on her high school graduation ceremony to make the trip to the State Finals. "It's the best possible way to finish off my senior year, it's awesome. Anybody can get a diploma and attend their high school graduation, not everyone gets a chance at a state championship."
Davis started the race, followed by Grace Alongi, Phillips, and Gabby Alongi, who collapsed right after crossing the finish line before steadying herself to begin the celebration.
"I've gotten second all day, I really wanted this gold medal (4x400), I would have done anything to cross that line first," said Gabby Alongi, who ran alongside her sister as they have all season. "It's really fun when the announcers say 'the Alongi sisters,' because I love her, she's my family. You have a family atmosphere with your team, so to actually have your family there means a lot to me."
Grace Alongi added, "She's my big sister, I've always looked up to her. To be able to run with her is special. We knew it was close with Latin, we knew if we got this win, we'd secure it, so we just really busted it out and tried our best, I'm so proud."
The state championship is the first in any girls sport for Du Quoin High School.