Eau Claire enters the Class 2A girls track state finals on Saturday at Harry Parone Stadium with the pressure on.
The defending state champion Shamrocks have four individuals qualified in nine events plus top top-rated relay teams, and are considered the team to beat again. But EC will have to held off serious challenges by the likes of Pendleton, Hanahan and even Bishop England to land their second straight 2A title and the six in all classifications in program history.
Spring Valley is the only Midlands program with more hardware – 10 state championships.
The big names on Saturday figure to be Shameka McCaskill, Shaketa Belton, and Yvette Jenkins. McCaskill is the defending 400 meter champion, and she and Belton were part of two EC relay wins – the 400 and the 1600. Jenkins is qualified in three events and one of the favorites to strike gold in the 100 hurdles.
Elsewhere, Batesburg-Leesville and Gilbert have shots at cracking the Top 10. B-L last made the cut in 2007, Gilbert in 1997.
Seventh-grader Teresa Morris is a newcomer to watch after she won the Upper State title in the 400 last weekend. Sophomore Megan Goodson was the US champ in the pole vault.
Gilbert’s headliner is freshman Victoria Rivera who finished first in the shot put, second in the triple jump and third in the long jump at the Upper State finals. A year ago, Rivera earned a silver medal at state in the long jump.
Pelion had a good showing at the Lower State finals. Patricia Garcia is qualified for state in the 1600 and the 3200 and on the 4x800 relay team. Crystal Cain was the only Panther LS champion, winning the pole vault competition.