Even a three-toed sloth would only need one paw to count the number of Lake County girls who’ve won state titles in individual events at the state tournament.
The short list currently stands at two, starting with Shakedia Jones, who won the 100- and 200-meter dashes at state four times — 1994-1997 — winning as a freshman in 1994 while at Warren and the other three years while attending Waukegan.
The other is Grant thrower Bailey Wagner, who won the shot put in 2006 and 2007, and then won the discus in 2008.
This weekend at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Warren junior Brittny Ellis will attempt to join that elite group when she tries for her third consecutive state title in the 400 dash.
Her quest will be the top area storyline on Friday and Saturday, but it won’t be the only one.
Lakes has never had a state champ in an individual event in girls track, and junior twins Brittani and Danielle Griesbaum both have a chance at becoming the school’s first.
Brittani won the long jump at the sectional meet last week with an 18-4 effort. The best jump in sectional play around the state was 19-1.75. Most likely, Brittani has had 19-foot jumps in the past, but they were voided because of a foul.
Who’s to say her magical moment won’t come on Friday (preliminaries) or Saturday (finals).
Danielle is whiz of a runner in the 800 (half-mile run). Her sectional time was 2.8 seconds slower than the fastest time, which is a lifetime in the 800. But the fact is, Danielle has not been pushed down the stretch in the 800 during this weather-challenged spring, and she also hasn’t been pulled around the track by faster runners.
Here’s one way to look at it. Danielle used to run the 400, and her fastest time in that event always came when she was chasing Warren’s Ellis across the finish line. Speedy competition brings out the best in her, and perhaps the best will be good enough to win state.
Back to Ellis.
She is, by no means, a stone-cold lock to win the 400 on Saturday.
At the sectional level, she ran 56.08, which was slower than Briyahna DesRosiers of North Lawndale in Chicago (55.69) and Parker English of Evanston (55.5).
English is definitely a danger to Ellis, as the Evanston girl has beaten Ellis this year in the shorter 200 dash.
At the sectional, English had the fastest 200 time last week and Ellis had the sixth-fastest.
If you’re looking for dark horse candidates to win state, you have Highland Park 100-meter sprinter Nyjah Lane, and Wauconda discus thrower Christina Meinhardt (Class 2A/smaller schools).