PREP GIRLS TRACK: Vikings, Nickiya Shields overcome chaotic Big 12 Meet

May 6—CHAMPAIGN — Whether it was pronunciation of her name by the announcer or the schedule of events, Danville junior Nickiya Shields dealt with a lot of adversity Friday night in the Big 12 Conference meet at Harold Jester Track at Champaign Centennial.

Shields, whose first name is correctly pronounced nik-KEY-a, won both the 100 and 300 hurdles races along with the triple jump as she led the Vikings to a third-place finish. Normal Community won the Big 12 title behind senior superstar Ali Ince, while Champaign Centennial was second.

"They always seem to get it wrong," said Shields of her first name. "I've gotten used to it."

But, it was the chaotic schedule which saw Shields bouncing from long jump to 100 hurdles back to triple jump and then into the 300 hurdles and back again to the triple jump that really tested her patience.

"Meets like tonight should prepare you, because you have to be ready for anything," she said. "Sometimes, things don't go as planned or they are not on time schedule wise. You just have to deal with them and do your best."

Danville coach Carl Long was very happy to hear that from his two-time state qualifier.

"Learning how to deal with things that are outside of your control and dealing with adverse conditions are all a great part about sports," he said. "I think all of our girls, but especially Nickiya, did a great job of adjusting and staying focused.

"We can still learn and improve upon where we are tonight."

Shields acknowledged that Friday's conditions, cool with a stiff wind out of the North, was less than ideal for fast times.

Her winning time in the 100 hurdles of 15.15 seconds is well off our personal best of 14.75 while her 300 hurdles time of 46.36 is nearly a second slower than her personal best of 45.76.

"The 100s could have definitely been better. I was up too high. I wasn't getting my legs down fast enough after clearing the hurdle and it resulted in a bad time," she said. "And in the 300s, the girl in the lane next to me, kept crossing into my lane. Those things are going to happen, but it's all about how you react and run your own race.

"There are plenty of things that I need to clean up before next week's sectional meet."

That's the most important goal for Shields.

"My mindset is all about getting back to state and doing better than I have in the past," she said.

Long added that Shields had been dealing with an illness.

"Nickiya is a competitor, she ran solid races today," he said. "Her best is still to come."

The Lady Vikings also got event victories from sophomore Gabriela Huerta in the high jump with a winning jump of 1.55 meters (5 feet, 1 inch) and the 800-meter relay team of sophomore Taniyah Reynolds, sophomore Da'Sani Lewis, freshman Jhe'Nyi Parker and Ashanti Conaway claimed the conference title with a time of 1 minute, 44.02 seconds. That group was also second in the 400-meter relay behind Peoria Richwoods.

"Very solid performances from that relay team," Long said. "It was just off our best in the 4-by-1. Clean some stuff up, get a little warmer weather and that group will go even faster.

"The 4-by-2 was a little faster than I anticipated while watching them. We had some really good legs and the time showed that."

It was especially impressive considering there wasn't an upperclassmen among the four runners.

"We are a lot better than we were last year," said Lewis. "We are perfecting our technique and we have grown a lot as a team."

Lewis credited some of that growth to new assistant coach Emone' Davis, a four-year state qualifier for the Vikings from 2012-15.

"We have gotten better with our form and she has really pushed us to get a lot better this season," Lewis said. "We are not focused on our placement in races, we are focused on our times.

"By focusing on time and focusing on our lane and race, it helps us work well together."

Danville also got a third-place finish from Samantha Brown in the pole vault, while senior Abby Decker was fourth in the long jump.

Up next for the Vikings is the IHSA Class 3A sectional meet this Thursday in O'Fallon.

At Harold Jester Track, Champaign Big 12 Championships

Team scores — 1. Normal Community 131, 2. Champaign Centennial 92, 3. Danville 80, 4. Peoria Richwoods 62, 5. Champaign Central 59, 6. Normal West 54, 7. Bloomington 33, 8. Urbana 24, 9. Peoria High 15, 10. Peoria Notre Dame 6, Peoria Manual 2.

Individual results

100 meters — 1. Lena Jackson (Richwoods) 12.50, 5. Taniyah Reynolds (Danville) 12.90, 10. Ashanti Conaway (Danville) 13.32.

200 — 1. Lena Jackson (Richwoods) 25.50, 5. Ashanti Conaway (Danville) 27.25, 6. Taniyah Reynolds (Danville) 27.44.

400 — 1. Ali Ince (Normal) 57.76, 8. Stephanie Sykes (Danville) 1:04.21, 11. Nadia Gamble (Danville) 1:07.97.

800 — 1. Lily Cavanaugh (Normal) 2:18.66, 14. Neveah Smith (Danville) 2:49.91, 15. Rosa Vasquez (Danville) 2:50.99.

1,600 — 1. Ali Ince (Normal) 4:52.86.

3,200 — 1. Julie Bach (Normal West) 11:17.07.

100 hurdles — 1. Nickiya Shields (Danville) 15.15, 9. Makhiya Gibson (Danville) 18.51.

300 hurdles — 1. Nickiya Shields (Danville) 46.36, 10. Makhiya Gibson (Danville) 51.91.

400 relay — 1. Peoria Richwoods 48.73, 2. Danville (Taniyah Reynolds, Jhe'Nyi Parker, Da'Sani Lewis, Ashanti Conaway) 48.97.

800 relay — 1. Danville (Taniyah Reynolds, Da'Sani Lewis, Jhe'Nyi Parker, Ashanti Conaway) 1:44.02, 2. Centennial 1:44.33.

1,600 relay — 1. Normal 3:57.95, 7. Danville (Da'Sani Lewis, Gabriela Huerta, Serenity Reed, Presence Reed) 4:36.88.

3,200 relay — 1. Normal 9:57.49.

Shot put — 1. Marco Reynolds (Normal) 12.12 meters, 6. Ja'Lorrian Stewart (Danville) 9.37.

Discus — 1. Marco Reynolds (Normal) 35.61 meters, 6. Ja'Lorrian Stewart (Danville) 27.20, 13. Aajaelia Darnell (Danville) 22.40.

High jump — 1. Gabriela Huerta (Danville) 1.55 meters, 2. Aubri Moore (Richwoods) 1.52.

Pole vault — 1. Claudia Ifft (Bloomington) 3.42 meters, 3. Samantha Brown (Danville) 2.82.

Long jump — 1. Noelle Hunt (Centennial) 5.50 meters, 3. Nickiya Shields (Danville) 5.11, 4. Abby Decker (Danville) 5.02.

Triple jump — 1. Nickiya Shields (Danville) 10.91 meters, 2. Julia Bilsbury (Central) 10.61.