DECATUR — Alyssa Baltimore already had the high jump won.
She cleared 5-foot-1, but she wanted more.
Baltimore, an Eisenhower senior, lined up to attempt a jump at 5-3 and cleared it on Thursday at Eisenhower to win first place at the Central State 8 Conference girls track and field meet.
The Panthers also got a win in the 200-meter dash by Tina Martin, who set a new meet record with a time of :24.32. The Panthers finished eighth as a team, one spot in front of MacArthur. Springfield won the meet, followed by Normal U-High.
Baltimore was happy to have cleared 5-1, but was happier in mid-air on her 5-3 jump.
"I knew as soon as I kicked my feet over that I had it," she said. "I didn’t touch the bar at all and I was like, ‘Yeah!’"
The win came with an extra caveat: It was the first time Eisenhower hosted a Central State 8 meet.
Girls track coach Tracey Barnes was nervous in the days and weeks leading up to it, wanting to make sure everything went off without a hitch.
Baltimore wanted to do anything she could to ease the nerves of her coach.
“It means a lot, honestly, especially for conference because we have never had a (CS8) meet here," Baltimore said. "Coach was really stressed out. I wanted to give her a little bit of a break and say, ‘Hey, we won something.’"
There was something special for Barnes about seeing Baltimore, a two-time state qualifier, win at home.
“She works really hard," Barnes said. "She’s one of those young ladies that pay it forward. She motivates the young kids. … She’s my leader. I can leave everything in her hands and I know it’s going to be taken care of."
Baltimore, who will play volleyball at Culver-Stockton College next season, was tied with Mary Gegan of Rochester with a 5-4 seed entering Thursday.
So Baltimore rationalized the height and considered the options.
"I was like, ‘Either she’s really consistent at 5-4, or she’s just jumped it once like me,'" Baltimore said. "I was kind of ready for it, but it’s just me and the bar at the end of the day."
Eisenhower boys track coach Bryson Taylor, who is also an assistant on the girls team, has helped Baltimore with her high jump growth.
Baltimore admitted things have been a bit up-and-down recently, but Thursday was an up day, and Taylor took notice.
"It means a lot," Taylor said. "We want to protect our own. This is our home place. We want to win at home, we don't want to lose. She was very confident."
Baltimore isn't done.
Though her track career will end this year, she knows she can advance to state for a third consecutive year, reaching the 5-1 qualifying mark.
"I can do 5-1 in my sleep if it’s a good day — even if it’s a bad day," Baltimore said. "I’m not really nervous. I know I’m probably going to be a little emotional at state when I’m taking my last jump, being at it for so long."
Tina Martin gets back on track
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It's been a tough year for Tina Martin.
She's been sidelined with a stress fracture in her left foot for the better part of the season.
Martin ran in the city meet last week, but Thursday's CS8 meet was the true test.
Martin, who will run at Harvard next season, breezed through the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.32 seconds to surpass the meet record of 24.53 set by Charday Crawford of Springfield Southeast in 2012.
She also finished third place in the 100-meter dash with an 11.99.
"This was the first meet that I actually got to run my true events, my 100 and 200," Martin said. "This was just a test to see where I am. I have some work to do for state, but I’m in a better position that I thought I was."
Martin had watched Barnes, her mother, fret about the meet for a whole year.
To win on her home track was special, especially to notch a win for her mother.
"We actually have the track and actually have the facilities to do these cool things, so that’s a great thing," Martin said.
Strong day in triple jump
On Tuesday, MacArthur's Sabrie Strong changed her triple jump preparation.
She implemented a build-up to increase her speed before she started her jump.
The early results were positive.
Strong finished fourth in the triple jump with a 34 foot, 9.5 inch jump.
MacArthur coach Shawn Thomas thinks she could reach the state qualifying standard of 34-11 at next week's Class 2A sectional.
Reaching state has been on Strong's mind for a while.
“I’ve been thinking about it the whole time since I hit 30," Strong said. "I knew I needed to get here and push myself to get better and get that 34-11 or 35."
Thomas also circled the efforts of Tierra Cook and Roneisha Wilder in the high jump, both tied for seventh place with a 4-7 jump.
He thinks each could reach the 5-1 threshold for state qualifying next week.
MacArthur's 4x100-meter relay team of Amari Dennis, Zxyauna Thomas, Strong and Kyyawana Johnson took fifth and also caught Thomas' eye.
The Generals are young, but Thomas said he doesn't think they're far off.
"We work hard. We didn’t get the point total that I wanted, but we at least got the effort, which is what you’re looking for when you’re an up-and-coming team," Thomas said.
“It’s just a matter of time. We’re going to turn the corner."
Contact Joey Wagner at (217) 421-6970. Follow him on Twitter: @mrwagner25