Morgan Park Dethrones Tigerettes

Article excerpt

The Lincoln Tigerettes heard Morgan Park's ominous footsteps. The Lady Mustangs from Chicago kept coming, and ultimately, they conquered.

Morgan Park toppled defending champion East St. Louis Lincoln 71-64 for the Illinois Class AA high school girls track and field championship Saturday.

The girls state track title was Morgan Park's first. In 1992, Morgan Park was second to Lincoln 71-41.

Saturday, Morgan Park matched strides with Lincoln, undoing the Tigerettes' impressive reign. Lincoln had won 14 of the previous 16 Class AA titles.

"We worked to do the best that we could do," Lincoln coach Nino Fennoy said. "To walk away with the (championship) is the ultimate, but that doesn't mean you can't respect the effort of a Morgan Park. You want to learn from it."

Morgan Park was paced by senior Nicole Keys, who scored 25 points. She won the 100-meter high hurdles and the long jump and was fourth in the 200.

Morgan Park coach Derek Calhoun was elated.

"It was a great day for Morgan Park and the Chicago Public League," he said.

Indeed it was. The girls title was the first for a CPL team since 1981, when South Shore won. After that, Lincoln won nine successive championships until Evanston Township snapped the Tigerettes' string in 1991. Lincoln had not lost since.

"A lot of times people take it for granted and say, `Well, it's going to be another sweep,' " Fennoy said. "Not so. Illinois is just a track and field power."

Even so, Lincoln had opportunities, although its margin for error was slim. The Tigerettes had faltered in Friday's field preliminaries, failing to advance in the discus throw, shot put or high jump.

"If I looked for all the negatives, it's no longer a high school program," Fennoy said. "Mistakes are going to happen, and we learn from them."

What Lincoln learned was that Morgan Park is relentless. From the go, the Lady Mustangs were on a mission at O'Brien Stadium on the Eastern Illinois University campus.

Morgan Park scored quickly, opening with Keys' long-jump triumph with a leap of 18 feet 5 1/2 inches. Lincoln's Marsha Cash went 17-10 1/4 for sixth.

Morgan Park won the 800-meter medley relay, and after eight events had 33 points to Lincoln's 19.

Lincoln's 4x100-meter relay team sped to an impressive victory, but Morgan Park wouldn't go away. After 11 events, it trailed Lincoln 44-41. …

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