By PAUL HINES
---- — MT. VERNON – A pair of Lady Rams track athletes will start state final competition today.
Aaliyah Palmer and Charde Golliday qualified for today's state final after finishing among the top athletes at the Troy Triad sectional last week.“It's just really valuable to be able to go up to the Illinois state track meet,” Mt. Vernon coach Connie Harre-Blair said.Today starts the two-day state final competition where competitors will try to qualify for Saturday's final round.Palmer is making her second straight appearance at state. The senior will compete in the shot put and discus. Palmer needs a top 12 finish in the events to qualify for Saturday's final round.“She definitely wants to make it to the finals,” Harre-Blair said. “She wants to make it to that second day, and she would love to place in both events.”Golliday, a freshman, runs in the 400 meters. A top nine placing will qualify Golliday for Saturday.Palmer won the sectional title in discus with a throw of 123 feet, nine inches. The school record is 127 feet, four inches. She finished fourth in the sectional with a shot put throw of 39 feet, three inches. Her personal record is tied with the school record at 39 feet, six inches.“She has thrown well before so she knows it's there,” Harre-Blair said. “So she can go in with that confidence.“I think that year of experience of being up there and competing will be very helpful to her.”Golliday enters the state final after running the state qualifying standard time in the 400 meters. She finished the event fifth in a time of 59.68 seconds. Typically, Golliday competes in multiple events during the course of a meet. Today she will only focus on the 400 meters.“She'll have to go through and be doing a little bit longer warmup because she's going to not have gotten some of those experiences before,” Harre-Blair said. “She's scheduled for around 11 (a.m.), but at the same time she's going to be fresh.”Palmer starts the state finals at 9 a.m. this morning in the shot put. She will throw the discus at about 11 a.m. Golliday's event starts at about 11 a.m. as well.