Carlinville won IHSA state track title 25 years
By Tom Emery
The best coaches and athletes always want to go out on top. Some do it better than others. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Carlinville High School’s boys track state title, as the Cavaliers rolled to the championship in 1996 with some of the elite names in Carlinville sports, many of whom closed their careers at the pinnacle.
Tunde Ridley, who was brilliant not only in track but in football, captured four individual state titles, tying an Illinois record in his final appearance in a Carlinville uniform. Meanwhile, the head coach, Dave Jokisch, chose to step down, concluding a career that saw him earn a spot in the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Carlinville’s state title of 1996 was no surprise. The Cavaliers had finished as state runners-up the previous year, missing the title by only six points. Ridley led a 1-2 finish with Steve Car in the triple jump in 1995, and was so far ahead in the long jump after Friday’s preliminaries that his mark stood up as the eventual winner.
The next spring, Carlinville was loaded, and everyone knew they were capable of winning a state title. With names like John Genta, Dan Wills, Matt Link, Shane Boland, Bryan Lusk, Amit Chopra, Mitch Wagner, Kevin Sanson, Dee Roller, Luke Smith and Robert Pollard, Carlinville boasted depth, talent, and desire, and the results followed.
The Cavaliers contended in every big meet in 1996, especially at the Rochester Invitational, where Carlinville edged three-time defending champion Rushville. Carlinville scored an impressive 109 points at Rochester, including 58 in field events. The Cavaliers then rolled to a 109-48 win over Virden at the Macoupin County meet, where Ridley snapped meet records in the 100, 200, and triple jump, leading 1-2 Carlinville finishes in two of those events. Carlinville also claimed the sectional title for the third consecutive season.
Those triumphs, though, are overshadowed by the IHSA state meet in Charleston, where Ridley’s performance remains one of the greatest in the history of Illinois high school track. With hundreds of Carlinville fans looking on, Ridley won the 100, 200, triple jump, and long jump, becoming only the second athlete in the 102-year history of the meet to win four titles.
For the complete story, see the August 19th edition of the Macoupin County Enquirer~Democrat.