The 3 class system has been a success regardless of what some say. It has given a chance for the schools in the middle a chance to shine and succeed. The performances that have been achieved in this four year time period are not too shabby either. Friday morning will begin another chapter in the story of this new class 2A. Some of the bigger schools have moved up to 3A and have given some other athletes a chance to enter the spotlight.
New stars will be born under the hot sun baking the O’Brien Stadium blue oval.
Here is a look at each event and what we see happening this weekend.
Outlook: Travon Diggins (Galesburg) enters into this event with the longest jumps in the sectional competition and overall in Class 2A this spring. The junior is undefeated this year in 2A competition outdoors. His only two losses in this event came from 3A jumper Derrick Ellis (Rock Island). He placed sixth last year at state. He would like to go five better this time around.
This is a good field with any number of jumpers with the possibility of winning this event. Chris Moore (Cahokia) has come on strong the last couple of weeks. At the Collinsville Invitational, he jumped 22-8.5, showing that he will be a chief challenger to Diggins. The same can be said of Dion Starnes (Bremen, Midlothian Ill). He has improved 2 feet over the last month jumping 22-7 last week at sectionals. If he is on, he could go over 23’.
Other jumpers that I would keep an eye on include Glynn Chatmon (Walther Lutheran, Melrose Park Ill), Steven Eldridge and Pierre House (Murphysboro, Ill), Delano Samuels (Bishop McNamara, Kankakee Ill), and Bradley Wright (Central, Champaign Ill). With the hot conditions, I think it will take well over 23 feet to win this event.
Outlook: Cahokia wants a 1-2 finish in this event and they just might get it. Chris Moore (Cahokia, Ill) popped a 47-8 last week at the Mascoutah Sectional and will be the big favorite in this event. In fact, he has the best jump in the sectional by over two feet. His teammate Jalon Monigan needs to get in the 46’ foot range in this meet. His last two meets he has been in the upper 44 foot range. His PR is 46-2.25.
The one jumper that could break up the 1-2 is Devin Valentine (Freeport, Ill). The sophomore has come on strong the last few weeks where he is now consistently close to 46 feet. Maybe this will be the meet where Valentine goes over that barrier. Also watch for D’armond Lee (Hillcrest, Country Club Hills Ill) to be in the mix for the championship. Lee has been in the upper 45’s like Valentine and is ripe for a PR in this meet.
Other jumpers that I would watch are Carlos Harris (MacArthur, Decatur Ill), Cody Leach (St. Rita, Chicago Ill), Chiko Zintambila (University, Normal Ill), and Tra Mond Lewis (Southeast, Springield Ill).
If Moore is off his game, it will take in the mid 46-s to win. If he is on, Moore has the ability to go over 48 feet in this meet.
Outlook: Out of all the field events, there are any one of 6 jumpers that could pull of the win. Justin Kretchmer (Waterloo, Ill) has the best height in this event in 2A (6-9). Last week, he was defeated by event newcomer Alex King (Massac County, Metropolis Ill). He will look to rebound this week.
Mike Monroe (Providence Catholic, New Lenox Ill) enters the event undefeated competing against mainly 3A jumpers. His best was early in the season (6-8). The sophomore is capable of going higher and just might on Saturday. Another sophomore, Devante King (Jacksonville, Ill) cleared 6-6 last week at his sectional and could threaten for the championship.
Other vertical jumpers to watch for in this event include Ian Briscoe (Prairie Central, Fairbury Ill), Scott Goad (Dixon, Ill), Chris Williams (Rochelle, Ill), and Dwight Snowden (Hillcrest, Country Club Hills Ill).
Monroe is the hot jumper and could win this event. It will take at least 6-9 to win on Saturday.
Outlook: This event could be incredible. Six vaulters have cleared 15 feet or better this outdoor season. The one that has been hot as of recently is Tyler Ginger (Olympia, Stanford Ill). He has gone over 15 feet in four meets this outdoor season with his best (15-9) two weeks ago at the Mahomet-Seymour Invitational. His only loss came last week at the Dunlap sectional where he was defeated by Charles Fenner (Metamora, Ill) who went 15-3.
Jon Walsh (North, Woodstock Ill) has been the biggest surprise of this outdoor season. He entered the season with a PR of 12-9. Three weeks ago at an invitational at Rockford East, he defeated 3A indoor champ Joe Ward (Jefferson, Rockford Ill) by clearing a PR of 15-6. Last week at sectionals ,he cleared 15-3. He will be among the vaulters chasing for the championship. Andrew Roney (Mahomet-Seymour, Mahomet Ill) has been hot as of late. He has been over 15-3 twice this season, the latest was at a win at his own sectional.
Chad Weaver (Providence Catholic, New Lenox Ill) was over 15-3 indoors. Outdoors he has cleared 15-0 the last two weeks. He is very competitive. He will be in the mix for the top prize. Brandon Carrel (Urbana, Ill) has also been over 15-3 twice this season. Count him also into the mix of competitors.
It is very hard to chart this event to see who the favorite is. It will take at least 15-9 to win on the blue runway Saturday afternoon, but which vaulter will it be?
Outlook: Last year, Joshua Augusta (Peoria, Ill) made this meet his coming out party by pushing defending state champion Kevin Farley (Lanphier, Springfield Ill) to the limit. He set the 2A record and held it for 45 seconds. Farley entered the ring and took it right back. This year, this event could be Augusta’s. His PR was in April at Dunlap where he went 61-0. His next closest challenger is nearly three feet behind him (57-11 – Derek Bunch of Mahomet-Seymour).
If Augusta falters, there are a number of athletes that could jump in. Watch for Bunch, Joel Valdivia (Central, Grayslake Ill), Rashad Campbell (Centralia, Ill), Brendan Duncan (Waterloo, Ill), Torey Fobbs (Glenbard South, Glen Ellyn Ill), and Luke Vaughn (Centennial, Champaign Ill).
Farley set the record last year going 62-4.5…Augusta could surpass that this weekend.
Outlook: This looks to be the best field event in 2A. It pits the defending 2A champion , Brendan Duncan (Waterloo, Ill),against last year’s 1A runner up Caleb Fricke (PORTA, Petersburg Ill). Fricke currently has the 10th best effort in the country in the Discus throwing 195-0 last week at the Dunlap Sectional. Duncan threw 192-7 two weeks ago at his conference meet which is currently ranked #13 nationally.
There are two other throwers that could threaten the above two athletes. Jacob Armbrust (Metamora, Ill) threw 188-5 two weeks ago at his conference meet. Last week at the Mahomet-Seymour Sectional , Luke Vaughn (Centennial, Champaign Ill) went 184-7 for the win. Do not dismiss these two throwers.
The field is deep. Other quality throwers include Patrick Long (Herscher, Ill), Coleman Nelson (Christian, Rockford Ill), and Michael Jean (Mattoon, Ill). These three will be in contention for an all state finish, but I do not think they can touch the first four.
I think we could see a throw of epic proportions to win this event, perhaps over 200 feet. Fricke and Duncan will push each other to the limit. Wish the event was inside of the stadium, but it would be worth it to venture outside of the walls to see the competition.
4 x 800 METER RELAY
Outlook: Cahokia enters the event with the fastest sectional times by over six seconds. It could make them the favorite, but we have to look back at past history. In recent years they have had the fastest time coming into the meet, but have not performed at that level. This year could be the exception. Darren Payton will be a part of this quartet. If he is anchoring and with the lead, it may be tough to catch him.
There are two schools that I think could chase Cahokia. The first is Burlington Central. The Rockets have a great tandem leading them in Clint Kliem and Michael Gulik. Both are capable of running sub 1:55. If their other two can get under 2 minutes for their split, they will challenge Cahokia. The other school to watch is Glenbard South. They have a swift anchor in Sophomore John Wold. Even though they have run only 8:04, this team could drop their time at least 10 seconds this weekend.
Plenty of quality teams in this event. Watch for Normal University, Galesburg, Mahomet-Seymour, Dunlap, Riverside-Brookfield, and Aurora Central Catholic to challenge. It could take the winning team to go under 7:50 to win the final race.
4 x 100 METER RELAY
Outlook: Jacksonville has took this 2A event by storm the last couple of weeks. At their conference meet two weeks ago, they ran 42.27. Last week at their own sectional, they ran a sectional best of 41.91. Led by Reggie Bratton and Nick Schippel, this team could run in the 41.6 range.
This relay is the high wire event on the track. One slip up and you are done, the action moves so quickly. If Jacksonville does slip up, watch for Midlothian Bremen, Country Club Hills Hillcrest, Chicago Fenger, Glen Ellyn Glenbard South, Melrose Park Walther Lutheran, New Lenox Providence, and Cahokia could all be good enough to get the win.
3200 METER RUN
Outlook: With the temperatures expected to be in the mid 90’s by race time Saturday afternoon, it would be safe to say that this race could be a tactical affair. Not so fast on that prediction. There could be many factors to could go into that with that to be determined after the prelims on Friday. Several of the favorites will be racing in the 1600 prelims. If they make it to the Saturday finals, the strategy could change.
Michael Clevenger (MacArthur, Decatur Ill) is the defending champ in this race and will be the big favorite on Saturday. Clevenger ran 8:54.12 in California in April. Last week, he ran a controlled 9:18 to win at Jacksonville. Will Brewster (Central, Grayslake Ill) has been one of the most consistent runners in 2A, Brewster has run 9:17 outdoors, two weeks ago at his conference meet, and could be one of the runners to push him.
There are two others that I think that could also force the pace. The first is Jamison Dale (Jones College Prep, Chicago Ill). Dale has only run 9:28 this year, but he has the ability to push this race in adverse conditions, The second is hometown favorite Riley McInerney (Charleston, Ill). He ran 9:22 at the beginning of the month at his conference meet.
Other runners that I would watch are Marc Maton (Glenwood, Chatham, Ill), Joe Singleton (Glenbard South, Glen Ellyn Ill), Jonathan Schaap (Mahomet-Seymour, Mahomet Ill), and Tyler Morse (Limestone, Bartonville Ill).
Brewster may be the only runner that could match Clevenger’s 4:13 mile speed in this race. At the same time, no one is as strong as Clevenger. I do not know if there is a strategy in this field that can beat this three time state champ. The only thing that could beat him is the heat, but I think he is smart enough to weather that.
110 METER HIGH HURDLES
Outlook: Joseph Jones (Plano, Ill) is the defending champ in this event in 1A. Plano moves up a class and so must he. Jones came into this event with the fastest time in 2A, running 14.07 at the Seneca Sectional. The only other hurdler close to him in time this year is Spencer Allen (Mt. Vernon, Ill), who ran 14.12 at Edwardsville in April. They are in a class by themselves in this event.
Other hurdlers that could come up on these two include Elven Walker (Glenbard South, Glen Ellyn Ill), D.J. Duncan (Harrisburg, Ill), Dion Starnes (Bremen, Midlothian Ill), and Andrew Helmin (Providence Catholic, New Lenox Ill).
Jones will be running the 100 right after this race. He has been doing this his whole career. He is used to the time frame. He will take business in the hurdles first and that could take him under 14 seconds with Allen’s help.
100 METER DASH
Outlook: In the Dyestat TFX leaderboard, there are eight sprinters that are within 3 hundredths of a second between each other. You could sneeze and miss a runner going across. They will be moving that fast. Wesley Sanders (Glenbard South, Glen Ellyn Ill) has the fastest time from the sectionals running 10.81. The two sprinters I would watch are Jamal McNeeley and Brian Carter (Kelvyn Park, Chicago Ill). The two pitted against each other at the Chicago Public League Championship with McNeeley winning. The junior McNeeley came back at the Marshall Sectional and only defeated Carter by one hundredths of a second. This kind of follows the theme I was describing.
Like I said, this will be close, close, close. Other sprinters that I would definitely keep an eye on include Joseph Jones (Plano, Ill), Reggie Bratton & Nick Schippel (Jacksonville, Ill), Jonathan Boey (MacArthur, Decatur Ill), Troy Sheppard (Providence Catholic, New Lenox Ill), and Anthony Taylor (Montini, Lombard Ill).
This will be a fast final. That is to be certain of. I can see the winning time between 10.65 to 10.70, but it is anyone’s guess who will sprint away with the win. Let’s go to the photo….
800 METER RUN
Outlook: Darren Payton (Cahokia, Ill) enters this event as the prohibitive favorite. He has the fastest time in 2A running 1:54.72 three weeks ago at Collinsville. He is undefeated against Illinois competition this spring. His only loss of the season came at the Marion Freeman Invitational against Missouri super soph Charles Jones (Cardinal Ritter, St. Louis MO). He has 50 second 400 speed and the desire not to lose.
Two runners that I would keep a close watch on are Grant Inskeep (Notre Dame, Peoria Ill) and Darius Thomas (Macomb Ill). Last week, Inskeep bested Thomas by two tenths of a second at Dunlap. Cale McCormick (Mahomet-Seymour, Mahomet Ill) ran 1:55.20 at a home invitational two weeks ago. He could be chasing Payton.
Other runners that I would keep a close eye on include Luke Zygmunt (Central, Grayslake Ill), Mark Pedziwiatr (Lincoln-Way West, New Lenox Ill), John Wold (Glenbard South, Glen Ellyn Ill), and Luke Horton (Harrisburg, Ill).
It will take 1:54 or under to win this race. It depends what Payton runs on Friday, but he could be the favorite here if he survives the races he runs in with the heat. Otherwise, it could be any of the above runners.
4 x 200 METER RELAY
Outlook: Hillcrest enters the meet with the fastest time in this race by over a half a second. In this relay, that is not a safe cushion. There are a number of teams that could go just as fast as Hillcrest.
Keep watch for Cahokia, Glenbard South, Murphysboro, Walther Lutheran, Kaneland, Fenger, and Chatham-Glenwood. All could best Hillcrest in this race. Can any of these quartets run in the low 1:28’s? If so, they could win this race.
400 METER DASH
Outlook: Remember last year the great race we had with Garret Payne (Glenbard South, Glen Ellyn Ill) besting D.J Zahn (Morton, Ill) 47.31-47.45 in a record race? Fans walked away thinking that it would be a long time before we see that again. One year is not a long time. But we could see the same type of race on Saturday.
In that same race last year, Brandon Penrod (Triad, Troy Ill) false started. He’s had a year to think about that. Rewind to last week at the Mascoutah Sectional. Penrod dueled Marlin Brady (Cahokia, Ill) down to the last meters with Penrod nipping Brady 48.11 to 48.25 seconds. With Mac Melto (Northside Prep, Chicago Ill) no longer running this season and the only other runner that would be able to challenge, it will come down to these two southern Illinois runners to challenge for the championship.
Runners to watch also in this event include Demetrius Shelton (Bremen, Midlothian Ill), Deandre Law (Galesburg, Ill), Kevin Ward (Providence Catholic, New Lenox Ill), and Leroy Chapman (Antoich, Ill). The record we thought would not be touched could get a sniff on Saturday.
300 INTERMEDIATE HURDLES
Outlook: Could be a close battle in this final race. Andrew Helmin (Providence Catholic, New Lenox Ill) has the fastest time in 2A this year (38.16). He could be the slight favorite. He has lost only to Rashad Hulbert (Crete-Monee, Crete Ill) and Dion Starnes (Bremen, Midlothian Ill). Those happened early in the year. In May, he is undefeated. D.J. Duncan (Harrisburg, Ill) is one of the hurdlers that could get Helmin. Duncan finished third in the 1A finals last year. Starnes also is on Helmin’s radar.
Other hurdlers to watch include Chris Cheatham (Evergreen Park, Ill), Elven Walker (Glenbard South, Glen Ellyn Ill), Brandon Lindley (Peoria, Ill) and Donte Arnold (Woodstock, Ill).
It will take a sub 38 to win this race. Duncan could surprise in this race.
1600 METER RUN
Outlook: The weather will definitely have an effect on this race with temperatures being in the upper 90’s by that point and some of the runners coming off of earlier races. The favorite is going to be Michael Clevenger (MacArthur, Decatur Ill) regardless of the weather. Clevenger has been under 4:20 six times this season, 3 outdoors and 3 under the roof. His best is 4:13.34.
William Brewster & Luke Zygmunt (Central, Grayslake Ill) will both be coming off of doubles, Brewster the 3200 and Zygmunt the 800. Brewster has been running off of doubles well this season. The question will be if he has enough left in the tank. The same can be said with Riley McInerney (Charleston, Ill) and Jamison Dale (Jones College Prep, Chicago Ill). Both will be racing earlier in the 3200. How much will they have left?
The one runner who will be fresh and could be a threat is Murphy Affolder (Mascoutah, Ill). His best this season is 4:24.83, which he ran at the beginning of April at Belleville West. In that race, he was leading Garrett Sweatt (Edwardsville, Ill) and Patrick Perrier (O’Fallon, Ill) until the last 100 meters. The sophomore has not been in a fast race situation since that point. He is capable of going well under 4:20.
Other runners to watch include Scott Wurtz (Glenbard South, Glen Ellyn, Ill), Marc Maton (Glenwood, Chatham Ill), and Shawn Milhauser (Pontiac, Ill).
Like I said earlier in the 3200 preview, it is hard to think of a strategy that Clevenger could not beat. This race is a different animal, though, and it could work to the advantage of either Brewster or Zygmunt in this race. Both have killer kicks. So does Clevenger as he showed with the final 200 at the IPTT indoors where he let loose a 26 second last lap.
The probability of doubling in nearly adverse conditions will work against Clevenger in this race. He does have a heart of a champion and that could prevail in this race. He wins and he could cement himself as one of the all-time distance greats to run at the state meet.
200 METER DASH
Outlook: Just like the 100, this race could be that tight. Jamal McNeeley (Kelvyn Park, Chicago Ill) has run only 21.95 this season, but he would be my pick for the one sprinter to watch in this race. Brandon Penrod (Triad, Troy Ill) is another hot runner that could push and pass McNeeley in this 200.
Nick Schippel & James Jackson (Jacksonville, Ill) have come on strong the last couple of weeks and will do some damage in this event as well. Other runners to keep an eye on include Joseph Jones (Plano, Ill), Joey Giovannelli (Glenwood, Chatham Ill), Wesley Sanders (Glenbard South, Glen Ellyn Ill), Jonathan Boey (MacArthur, Decatur Ill), and Trey Story (Cahokia, Ill).
It will probably take 21.8 or better to win this class race.
4 x 400 METER RELAY
Outlook: It will be Cahokia in this race. Need I say more? Unless something happens during the meet where their quartet cannot get to the line, this team will be the favorite. Their sectional time of 3:18.74 is the best in Class 2A by nearly three seconds.
Burlington Central, Galesburg, Hillcrest, and Lincoln-Way West could all challenge the Comanches in this race. But when you head into battle and you have all the generals, like Cahokia does, it will be hard to defeat this defending champion.
GOOD LUCK TO ALL ATHLETES AND COACHES THIS WEEKEND!!!