High-SchoolTrack-and-XC: class 2A



Charleston, Ill --- Michael Clevenger (MacArthur, Decatur Ill) was a soccer play his freshman year. He decided to go out for track that spring season.

“It’s hard to believe how far I have come in these four years. I had a decent junior high career, but it was never like training. I was just going to meets. I didn’t know what training was,” Clevenger said. “I thought other runners were playing other sports like I was. When I came to the state meet my freshman year, I was blown away how big track & field is in Illinois. I was oblivious to that.”

Clevenger entered the annuals of other Illinois distance greats that won the triple crown (cross country, 3200, 1600) in the same school year by winning both 3200 & 1600 in the 2A Boys state meet.

The extremely hot weather in Charleston may have contributed to Clevenger’s success in both races. The 3200 went out slow with Clevenger in a pack led by Jamison Dale (Jones College Prep), Will Brewster (Central, Grayslake Ill), and Marc Maton (Glenwood, Chatham Ill) through a slow 4:48.8 first 1600.

Michael Kouri (Notre Dame, Peoria Ill) took the lead for the next 400 but the paced slowed down to a 72 second lap. Clevenger and Dale started pushing on lap 7 with Brewster and Maton close in tow breaking away from the other runners. The bell went off and so did Clevenger. Brewster chased after him in the 200 but with no avail. Clevenger’s last 800 was 2:06.1, his last 400 58.9.

“The times were not great. The heat had something to do with that. What was I supposed to do? It was a matter at the end of who could run the fastest last 400,” he said. “When we went through the mile, it felt like tempo running and I was feeling really good. When I crossed the finish line, it was like phew, I got through that one.”

It set him up with not exerting a lot of energy for the 1600 three hours later. But the heat would not matter in this race. The pace was extremely slow with the lead pack of Sam Welbourne (Jerseyville, Jersey Ill), Clevenger, Dale, Brewster, 800 champ Luke Zygmunt (Central, Grayslake Ill), and Maton close by. Once again, the best runner with the closing 400 was going to win. And again, it was Clevenger. The MacArthur senior closed in a 56.4 400 meters with the Grayslake Central pair Brewster and Zygmunt next in line.

“I thought that if the 3200 was tougher, it would have made the 1600 much harder to come back in especially with the heat. The first half was so slow in the 1600. I felt pretty controlled until I started letting it go the last 300,” Clevenger said. “It’s unexplainable how I felt getting the 1600 for the first time. It felt like the first time all over again when I won my first state championship. It felt like it was the best conclusion to my high school career.”

Clevenger can now stand alongside Tom Graves, Donald Sage, Matt Withrow, and Sean McNamara as the only runners in Illinois to complete the triple crown in a single season.


The team completion was a little too close for comfort for Cahokia. The Comanches had clinched the title heading into an event they were heavily favored to win, the 4 x 400 Meter Relay. The lead was only one point over a competitive Glenbard South squad that gave Cahokia everything they had. Cahokia had two winners on this day.

Marlin Brady avenged last week’s sectional loss to Brandon Penrod (Triad, Troy Ill) to win the 400 Meter Dash by eleven hundredths of a second (48.67 – 48.78). Last year, Brady as a freshman finished fourth. “I’ve worked very hard over the last year. I deserve to win this,” the sophomore said. “I just couldn’t let my team down.”

Brady also led off Cahokia’s 4x4 team which held off a tough Burlington Central team to win by a second. Earlier in the meet, Burlington Central pulled off a surprise by winning the 4 x 800 Meter Relay over the favorite Comanches. In that, Central’s Clint Kliem received the baton from Joe Gannon with a two second lead. Kliem held off the charge from Cahokia’s Darren Payton to win by 3 seconds. Kliem’s split was 1:54.7.

“Everyone did their part. It was a nice effort,” Said Kliem. We knew they were going to be tough. Yesterday in the prelims, all of their (Cahokia’s) first quarters were in the 55 / 56 range. I knew I had to get out fast. When I got the baton, I thought don’t screw this up.”

Glenbard South also had two first place finishes. Wesley Sanders passed Cahokia’s Trey Story in the final 30 meters to capture the championship for the Raiders. 30 minutes later, Elven Walker took advantage of the misfortune of William Lindley (Peoria, Ill) to win the 300 Meter Intermediate Hurdles. Lindley had the lead heading over the final hurdle when he clipped it with his trail leg and hit the track. Walker took advantage for the win.

“My coach told me today to stay clean. To try to hit as less hurdles as possible,” Walker said. “When I was going over the ninth hurdle, I told myself to relax. I could see that his stride was starting to break down. A win is a win. I don’t care how I get it.”

The Jacksonville sprint crew may have been one of the surprises in the 2A meet. The sprinters accounted for 39 out of their 44 total points to nip Grayslake Central for the final trophy. The Crimsons started off their day lowering the record they set in the preliminaries running 41.67 for the win, more than a half a second ahead of Bremen.

Reggie Bratton got a great start and nipped Jamal McNeeley and Brian Carter (Kelvyn Park, Chicago Ill) with a 10.63 win. The first three places were only separated by six hundredths of a second. “This win is so good. It is so hard to explain,” Bratton said after his race.

McNeeley and Carter avenged their loss in the 200 Meter Dash running 1-2 with McNeeley’s 22.00 winning by three tenths over Carter and the Jacksonville duo of James Jackson and Nick Schippel.

Other news and notes:
  • When asking the competitors of the 2A Triple Jump if they knew who Devin Valentine (Freeport, Ill), everyone was honest and said, “No”. Valentine was thought to be a fluke even though he had the second longest jump in the event. By the time the event was over, everyone knew who the diminutive sophomore was. Pre meet favorite Chris Moore (Cahokia, Ill) took the lead in the finals with a jump of 47-4. Right after that came Valentine to retake the lead with a winning jump of 48-5.25. “My freshman year, I did not think I was going to be this good,” Valentine said. His best jump last year was only 41-6. “I came out here and it just happened. I really can’t explain it.”
  • The pace was just right for Luke Zygmunt (Central, Grayslake Ill). “I knew going into the 800 that some of the guys already had run the 4x8, so I think I had an advantage,” Zygmunt said. The Grayslake senior hung back and took over in the last 150 meters to hold off Darius Thomas (Macomb, Ill) for a 1:55.24 win. Darren Payton (Cahokia, Ill), who set the 2A record in the prelims, finished fifth. “Doing this is an amazing feeling because I’m the first runner from my school to bring home a state championship and score my team a lot of points.”
  • Spencer Allen (Mt. Vernon, Ill) took the lead over the third hurdle and charged ahead to a big win in the 100 Meter High Hurdles. Allen’s wind-aided time of 13.97 was the fastest final time of all three classes and was almost an amazing 3 quarters of a second ahead of Dion Starnes (Bremen, Midlothian Ill) and Elven Walker (Glenbard South, Glen Ellyn Ill).
  • Jon Walsh (North, Woodstock Ill) ended an improbable season by winning the Pole Vault clearing 15-6 and beating pre-meet favorites Tyler Ginger (Olympia, Stanford Ill) and Chad Weaver (Providence Catholic, New Lenox Ill). Defending champion Branden Carrel (Urbana, Ill) did not place not clearing his opening height of 14-3. A big step up for Walsh, who had a PR of 12-9 at the end of last season. “Today I felt great. Actually I did not and I barely made the finals clearing 14-0,” said Walsh. “I do not have words to explain how I feel right now.”
  • Jacob Kretchmer (Waterloo, Ill) had just cleared 6-8 on his first jump. He waited patiently as the two final athletes tried to clear the same height. After Alex King (Massac County, Metropolis Ill) and Mike Monroe (Providence Catholic, New Lenox Ill) missed on their third attempt, there was a shriek from beyond the fence by the high jump pit by Kretchmer’s mother. It was a scream of joy as her son captured the state title in 2A.
  • In the weight events, preliminary leaders Josh Augusta (Peoria, Ill) and Caleb Fricke (PORTA, Petersburg, Ill) held their leads to win state championships. Augusta, second last year in the Shot Put, won the event with an effort of 61-5 , nearly 5 feet ahead of Tyler Roche (Triad, Troy Ill). Fricke, who was the 1A runner up last year, stepped up a class and won with a throw of 188-2, the longest effort out of all three classes and setting a new 2A record. Jake Armbrust (Metamora, Ill) finished second. Defending champion Brendan Duncan (Waterloo, Ill) finished fourth.
  • Travon Diggins (Galesburg, Ill) held the lead that he had after the prelims to win the Long Jump (22-3) by one inch over Glynn Chatmon (Walther Lutheran, Melrose Park Ill).
Jamison DaleBob Geiger/ESPNHSJamison Dale (2) sets an AA record in the 1,600 prelims.

Charleston, Ill --- Jamison Dale (Jones College Prep, Chicago Ill) used an old school approach to get himself ready for the balmy weather at O’Brien Field Friday morning. All during the week, Dale and his teammates trained in full sweats to get themselves acclimated to weather that they would be running in this weekend at the state meet.

“We were running up and down the lake front in Chicago and people were giving us weird looks,” Dale said. “We are pretty happy with the way we prepared for this heat.”

And it worked.

In his qualifying heat of the 1600 Meter run, Dale led Will Brewster (Central, Grayslake ill) take the pace through the first 800 meters. Right after that point, Dale took over and with Brewster, opened up a 5 second led approaching the bell lap. With about 450 meters to go, Dale made a surge. Brewster at that point looked back to see what kind of gap he had. It was big and decided to fight the battle on Saturday. Dale’s final 63 second lap brought him home in 4:15.97 and a new 2A record. Brewster broke the record in that heat running 4:18.13.

“I went out in perfect pace, exactly as we wanted,” Dale continued. “We ran negative splits. It worked out phenomenal. It was a great race.”

It sets up a great matchup in this race tomorrow with two time cross country champion Michael Clevenger (MacArthur, Decatur Ill), who ran 4:19.77 to win his heat. “I am looking forward tomorrow. It is going to be one of the biggest days in my running career at MacArthur.”

The two will meet up early in the day on Saturday in the 3200 Meter Run.

~~ The team battle ~~

Cahokia led all schools with most qualifiers advanced to Saturday’s final with 12. Glenbard South is the next closest with 9, five schools are tied with six qualifiers.

Cahokia does have some work to do if they want to repeat their team title. Chris Moore and Gary Hickman are currently in fourth and ninth in the Long Jump. Moore is currently in second in the Triple Jump with teammate Jalon Monigan eleventh. The Comanches did one other setback in their 4 x 100 Meter Relay just missed qualifying for the finals.

Cahokia did have some great things happen for them. Darren Payton broke the 800 Meter 2A record set by Michael Simon (Springfield Ill) last year. Payton just edged out Mark Pedziwiatr (Lincoln-Way West, New Lenox Ill) 1:54.84 – 1:54.95. Cahokia had the fastest qualifying time in the 4 x 800 Meter Relay (7:49.76), 4 x 400 Meter Relay (3:20.15), and second in the 4 x 200 Meter Relay (1:29.19).

Glenbard South will make things interesting for Cahokia. The Raiders have the fastest qualifying time in the 4 x 200 Meter Relay (1:29.09), along with qualifying their 4x1 (42.56) and their 4x8 (7:53.74). Elven Walker qualified in both hurdle races. Nick Boesso qualified in the shot. South did have some close calls. John Wold missed qualifying in the 800 Meter Run by 2 hundredths of a second. Torey Fobbs missed making the Shot Put final by one inch.

~~ One more record ~~

There was one more record set in the 2A morning session on the track. Jacksonville smashed the 2A record of Rock Island (42.27) running a 41.91 to have the top qualifying time. Jacksonville may sneak up on the trophy stand. They have the top 2 times in the 100 Meter Dash ( Reggie Bratton – 10.85, Nick Schippel – 10.93) along with qualifying two to the 200 Meter final.

~~ It just was not meant to be ~~

Joseph Jones (Plano, Ill) settled into the blocks of the third heat of the 110 Meter Hurdles having the fastest sectional time. The gun went immediately followed by another. Jones stood by the first hurdle with his head leaned down on it. He knew what was going to happen. After a three minute officials deliberation, they determined that his leg twitched before the gun went off. He was disqualified from the race.

He walked back to the tent, shaking his head while he looked at the ground and then immediately came back to the blocks for the first heat of the 100 Meter Dash. He ran 11.41 to place sixth in his heat. His day ended when he was the tenth qualifier in the 200 Meter Dash just missing qualifying by one place.

“I kind of hurt my leg during a workout on the track on Tuesday. But that is not an excuse for what happened today,” Jones said after his 200. “It did not effect the DQ. And when I ran the 100, my head was still thinking about the DQ.”

~~ Other news and notes ~~

  • Caleb Fricke (PORTA, Petersburg Ill) had the longest throw in the preliminary competition of the Discus. His throw of 188-2 set a new 2A record previously held by Brendan Duncan (Waterloo, Ill) at last year’s state meet. Duncan is currently third in the event, almost 16 feet behind Fricke

  • The pack is bunched up in the Long Jump. The first four places are separated by three inches which will make Saturday’s final fun to watch. Travon Diggins (Galesburg, Ill) jumped 22-3 for the lead.

  • It will be a dog fight in the Shot Put. Sectional leader Joshua Augusta (Peoria, Ill) hold a one foot lead over Tyler Roche (Triad, Troy Ill). Joel Valdivia (Central, Grayslake Ill) is one half inch behind Roche.

  • Devin Valentine (Freeport, Ill) has the lead heading into the finals of the Triple Jump. The sophomore jumped 46-8 for a half foot lead over pre meet favorite Chris Moore (Cahokia, Ill).
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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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….


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Cahokia left O’Brien Stadium last year at Eastern Illinois with the state championship and ambitions of repeating that in 2012. Flash forward one year and we have almost the same scenario. Cahokia comes into this meet as the favorite with fourteen qualifiers. They have quality and quantity within their numbers.

Here is a look at the teams that will contend for the 2A title this weekend in Charleston. They are listed by number of total qualifiers.

Glen Ellyn Glenbard South

Qualifiers: 12 Individuals, 3 Relays – 15 Total

Outlook: If there is any school that could take down Cahokia, it could be this school in the west suburbs of Chicago. What a way for Coach Andy Preuss, who is retiring after this meet, to go out. The Raiders have 15 qualifiers in 13 events. Most of the qualifiers have a chance to place on Saturday. Wesley Sanders will lead the way in qualifying in the sprints and also the 4x1 and 4x2 relays.

South has a strong distance squad led by Sophomores John Wold (800) and Joe Singleton (3200) that could score as well. Nick Boesso will be in the mix of scoring in the Shot and Discus. Elven Walker will be in contention for points in both hurdle races. It’s a deep team that can afford to make a few mistakes. But not that many to leave with another trophy. Last year it was third. They would like to go higher in 2012.


Qualifiers: 10 Individuals, 4 Relays – 14 Total

Outlook: It is going to be hard to refuse the Comanches a return trip to the top of the podium for the state championship trophy. Coach Leroy Millsap has 14 qualifiers ready for Friday. Their 4x4 & 4 x 8 relays have the fastest times in 2A this year. Chris Moore has the longest distance in the Triple Jump this year along with Darren Payton having the fastest time in the 800.

Also expect big points from Sophomore Marlin Brady in the 400 and also Gary Hickman in either of the hurdle races and the Long Jump. The one thing that Cahokia will need is their big guys getting to the finals on Saturday and no mistakes in the relays. If that happens, it will be tough for this team to be stopped.

New Lenox Providence Catholic

Qualifiers: 10 Individuals, 3 Relays – 13 Total

Outlook: Another team that could challenge Cahokia. They have the numbers that could match them, but will they advance to Saturday’s final? The Celtics dove have quality athletes that could score big points. Start with Andrew Helmin in the 300 Intermediate Hurdles. He has the fastest time in that event. Also Mike Monroe in the High Jump and Chad Weaver in the Pole Vault. Both of these athletes could score big on Saturday.

Troy Sheppard will need to have a big day in qualifying in both the 100 and 200. Providence will also be strong in both of the short relays. It could be a bonus if Kevin Ward makes the finals in the 400 or Jesse Long places high in the Shot Put. If they get their big guns to the finals on Saturday, it could make things very interesting for the team crown.


Qualifiers: 9 Individuals, 4 Relays – 13 Total

Outlook: The Bulldogs could make it interesting for the above 3 schools With 13 qualifiers, this is a team that could score big in the finals. Look for big points in the Shot Put with Derek Bunch and Luke Roush. Mahomet could also get points in the Pole Vault from Andrew Roney and Austin Armetta.

On the track, this team could score points in a number of ways. All four relays have good chances of making it to Saturday’s final. Jonathan Schaap and Lucas Prather could score in the 3200 along with Cale McCormick in the 800. Marshall Graham getting in the 100 would be a huge plus.

Decatur MacArthur

Qualifiers: 9 Individuals 9, 1 Relay – 10 Total

Outlook: Even though they lost at the Jacksonville Sectional, this squad could place in the top 3 in this meet. Michael Clevenger will be the favorite in both the 3200 and 1600 Meter Runs. Jonathan Boey will challenge in both 100 & 200 Meter Dashes. Carlos Harris could play a big factor in the Generals’ success if he scores in the Triple Jump.

A big plus could be Nathan Allyn and if he can score in the 800. Also watch for Aquintis Williams in the 400 Meter Dash. He could surprise and make the finals. With both making the finals could mean a good chance a trophy returns to Decatur.

Grayslake Central

Qualifiers: 7 Individuals, 3 Relays – 10 Total

Outlook: Not much room for mistakes for this team this weekend. The main points will come from the distance races and from two athletes , Will Brewster & Luke Zygmunt. Both will be doubling. The big question is how will the adverse heat that is forecast for Charleston will affect the 2. Brewster will be one of the favorites in the 3200 and then he will come back later in the day in the 1600. Zygmunt will be up towards the front in the 800 and will return in the 1600, the tougher of the two doubles.

The Rams could also score points in the Shot Put and the Discus from Joel Valdivia. They could get a big bonus if either the 4 x 1 or the 4 x 2 make the finals.


Qualifiers: 7 Individuals, 3 Relays – 10 Total

Outlook: The Redbirds could get away from Charleston with a top 3 finish. A few things need to occur to make the trophy happen. Charles Fenner will be one of the favorites in the Pole Vault. Also watch Fenner to score points in the 300 Meter Intermediate Hurdles.

Metamora could score points from Jacob Armbrust in the Discus and maybe also the Shot Put. Eric Inman could get some points in the High Jump as well as long as the 4 x 4 relay team scoring points.

Midlothian Bremen

Qualifiers: 6 Individuals, 1 Relay – 7 Total

Outlook: A small number of qualifiers but could score some big points. Dion Starnes is the one that could possibly do that for the Braves. Starnes has the second longest mark in the Long Jump from the sectionals. He also will be in the mix in the 110 High Hurdles. He has the fifth fastest time in the 300 Intermediate Hurdles.

There is really no room for mistakes if this team wants to capture a trophy. Bremen has the second fastest time in 2A for the 4x1 relay and will need to place in the top 3. Demetrius Shelton will also need to score high in the 400 Meter Dash.


Qualifiers: 5 Individuals, 1 Relay – 6 Total

Outlook: Absolutely no room for mistakes. A small number of qualifiers but could score some big points in such low numbers. Reggie Bratton will be in the mix for the 100 Meter Dash. Nick Schippel has the fastest 2A time in the 200 and will be the favorite. Jacksonville’s 4 x 1 has the fastest sectional time and will be favored in that race also.

Devante Clark could surprise in the High Jump. Like I said, there is no room for mistakes for this team. No mistakes = a trophy heading back to Jacksonville.
The IHSA Class AA meet had two huge storylines: Chicago Lindblom junior Shamier Little's quest to win four individual golds and the quest for Charday Crawford-led Springfield Southeast to defend their team title for outgoing head coach Tom McBride (and in memory of the late assistant coach Dana Rountree).

The team vs. individual hype was fun while it lasted. Little got her hurdles titles (100 and 300) and 400 decisively enough, but Crawford had too much speed for her in the 200. In fact, with the 100 win as well and two winning relay anchors, Crawford's weekend could stand up pretty well with anyone's in the meet. She led a record-breaking day for Southeast, which tallied 63 points. Melrose Park Walther Lutheran, who moved up from Class A this year, outlasted Little's Lindblom team, 46-38 (all 38 by Little), to take the runner-up trophy.

The Spartans unleash full assault on the field

After Friday’s preliminary round, Coach McBride had to be pretty ecstatic with six total team entries into Saturday’s final. His group included two relays (4x100 and 4x200) and four individuals (Crawford, Brion Portis, Shawnise Stelivan, and Shaniera Wilson).

The team’s heavy hitters would be Crawford, Portis, Stelivan, and the relays.

Portis picked up big points when she won the triple jump with a fine effort of 39-2.5 nwi. She improved by over a foot from the prelims (38-1). Portis also picked up vital points in the long jump by placing 6th. Her teammate Stelivan did even better with a third place effort in 17-10.5.

The major fireworks though, would soon begin on the track.

The 4x100 began its defense against a solid field. The first two legs saw Walther Lutheran running hard and perhaps even slightly ahead. Stelivan moved incredibly hard on the final turn, and it was all Crawford on the anchor as she put to bed any thoughts of an upset. The Spartans replaced their own record with a new one in 47.53.

Crawford would go on to pick up three more victories in the 100 (11.48), 4x200 (1:40.38), and the 200 (24.14). As good as the 100 time was it was incredibly wind-aided (+3.8). Still, a great win is a great win.

Little was in the middle

Everyone knew this day was coming... but it was still unbelievable that it actually happened. Little accomplished a feat that no one other athlete in IHSA history has ever done. She competed in four pretty compressed events without any trepidation, winning the 100H, 400, 300H, and finishing second in the 200.

The arduous journey began in the 100H. At the sound of the gun, Little actually wasn’t the first one to the initial hurdle. Samone’ Thompson (Sr., Champaign Central) got there first. However, her lead would evaporate very quickly as Little turned on the rocket jets and left the field in setting a meet record 14.02. It would also be the best time of any athlete in the meet, legal wind or not.

The first real test would come in the 400 against foe and friend Megan Paul (Sr., Mundelein Carmel Catholic). Paul is having a great season and would love nothing more than to defeat her friend in her signature race.

The first half of the race Paul attacked the field while Little sat back and bided her time. Finally, with 150 left, Little pushed hard and ran even with Paul at the top of the homestretch. The pair wouldn’t stay together long as Little surged away to a comfortable win in 54.19. Paul ran a personal best 55.21 as a consolation prize. As well, it made Little two-for-two in the record department.

The third race would be actually be the defining moment of the four-event log. The 300H is arguably the most taxing event in high school track and field. It would be even tougher because it’s right after the 400, the events just 15 minutes apart!

One had to wonder if Little would finally break down after two days of non-stop competition. But according to her mother, their plan was already in motion and there was no time to think about failure.

Little settled in the blocks and ready… bang, the gun sounded the race and it was Thompson ahead of Little and the field again. She must have thought the only way to break Little would be to storm to a big lead. But that didn't work in the previous event, either, ultimately costing Paul a better time.

Thompson led the first four hurdles comfortably. Little began to move hard near the end of the final curve. It was the sound of the meet announcer that appeared to energize Little and the crowd more as she closed in on her goal of a third title. The final few hurdles were all Little as she stormed home in a fast 42.80 - her third consecutive win and record. The feat left the crowd buzzing in disbelief.

The final event of the day would the 200. This race was undoubtedly be Little’s biggest challenge in going up against Crawford. Crawford had enjoyed an awesome day as well up to that point. She bolted out fast and won the race easily in 24.17 to stop Little’s record-breaking win streak.

The aftermath was all smiles for Little and her family. Little’s mother and coach Tiffany Mayfield said an old family remedy of sucking on peanut butter with her finger or eating it on a spoon helped Little stay energized. Perhaps her competitors should pick up on this source of success.

Busch kept the faith in 3200 win

“Never give up, don’t ever give up,” were some very wise words bestowed by the late North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano in his regard to fighting cancer. Kristen Busch (Sr., Freeburg) may have heard these words somewhere before and applied it to racing. She admittedly was upset about being in the first section of the 3200 (slow heat). “I had one of the worst races of my life at sectionals,” she said after receiving her gold medal. “I was like I’m going to go out and run under 11:00; I just went out and ran against the clock.”

Busch set a high standard (about an hour before the championship heat) with a fine 10:54.74 - a huge improvement from her sectional mark of 11:49.

Busch said she didn’t know she know that she won the race overall until after the conclusion of the fast heat. It was unfortunate for Katie Adams (Jr., Marengo) and several other girls that they used the first half of the race as a tempo run. The opening mile was around 5:35 - pedestrian for a championship affair. By the time Adams decided to race hard with 600 to go, it was too late. A hard sprint over the final 200 would not be enough and she fell short in 10:57.48.

Quality performances all around

Adams would come back to win a kicker’s battle over Busch in the 1,600, 5:05.10-5:07.96. Adams pulled away with 200 to go to earn her first state championship.

MaShayla Kirksy (Jr., Melrose Park Walther Lutheran) continued the streak of a winner eclipsing the 19-foot mark in the long jump. It has been five straight years that the winner has accomplished this marvelous feat.

Sarah Bell (Jr., Bloomington Central Catholic) last won the pole vault title in 2010 as a Class A competitor. The one-time US#1 vaulter has gotten back to winning again, albeit it short of her personal best 13-0.25. Bell wasn’t satisfied with her 12-0 winner, but a gold medal looks the same whatever height was cleared to earn it.

The Lake Villa Lakes 4x800 would not be deterred by fast 2:17.9 lead off leg by Lombard Montini’s Brittany Fisher. The Eagles slowly chipped away at the deficit and used a strong 2:16.0 anchor carry by Danielle Griesbaum to seal the deal in 9:24.02. It’s the third-fastest time in the recently created 2A system.

Richton Park Rich South closed out the state meet winning the 4x400 in a record 3:52.64. The quartet of Cierra Garrett, Ninaa Edwards, Taylor Kriha, and DeAsia Garrett used splits of 58.3, 58.2, 59.2, and 56.9 to get the job done.

Little, Springfield Southeast Takes 2A Center Stage

May, 18, 2012
It’s a good bet that most of the of the competing athletes came to Charleston thinking about hot the weather would be. But after the morning session, it’s a good hypothesis they left thinking about Shamier Little (Jr., Chicago Lindbloom).

It has been well publicized that Little was going to run four events: 100H, 400, 300H, and 200- all in a day’s work. To a sprinter, it's like competing in an ultra-marathon.

Wow, did she compete.

Little’s day did not start out with peaches and cream. She spent the majority of the morning icing a sore knee that she banged on a hurdle during a drill earlier in the week.

Little showed no ill effects of any leg pain as she got out of the blocks well and smooth over the first hurdle. The result was a meet record 14.16 ran into a -2.1 head wind. Little quickly ushered herself off of the track and back to solace.

The next event of the day would be the first real test. The 400 seems to be a race that Little delights her fancy in. The question would be how would she go out and run it? It was just as many track jurists in the stands had predicted. Little got out reserved through the first curve and floated the backstretch; she didn’t pick up the stagger until the last 150 in the race. However, it was at that moment that she would begin to turn on the jets and pull away to a comfortable victory in 56.27.

As good as Little is in the short hurdles and flat events, she could perhaps be one of the best to ever run the 300H if she would take it more serious. But long hurdle race has been in decline in recent years and so goes the fanfare for that event. Still, it hasn’t stopped Little from clocking the US#2 mark of 57.83 for the 400 variety from last summer.

After just fifteen minutes, Little was back on the blocks and ready to go. If you blink, the race was over. Little won in a breeze and in record time too- 43.06. Her mark would be faster than girl in the mighty 3A would produce. It was simply amazing.

The final event of the day was just as thrilling as the first. Little was lined up in lonely lane nine and struck the competition like a rattle snake when she lit the home straightaway. It was then lights out all the way through the finish line in 24.57.

Little now heads into Saturday’s final with a realistic goal of winning four medals. If she can do that, she would most certainly win a team trophy all by herself. It would also mean she would take home memories of producing one of the best performances ever, girl or boy, in Charleston.

Springfield Southeast is ready to defend

While the fans eyes were on Little, the Springfield Southeast track team was quietly going about the business of defending their state championship for a third year in a row.

The results were solid enough to keep them in the picture but the Spartans are going to have to work for every point on Saturday.

The team’s workhorse junior Charday Crawford leads the 100 (12.13) and 200 (24.53) fields. In addition, she will anchor two strong relays (4x1 and 4x2) that have an opportunity to earn gold medals.

The supporting cast held its own as well. Junior Brion Portis leads the triple jump going into the final with a season best mark of 38-1. Although she is seated seventh in the long jump, her teammate senior Shawnise Stelvian has the fourth best mark in the long jump (17-9.5).

If every point counts, then the Spartans better hope that discus thrower sophomore Shaniera Wilson can move up from her 10th place seed from the prelims.
Believe it or not, it’s been four years since the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) implemented the three-class system for track and field. The system was supposed to balance equality throughout the class structure. Although it is too early to determine if having a third class was the right call, it’s not too soon to gauge the benefit of additional opportunities for quality athletes to compete in a state championship. Many of the supporters of the expansion are pleased with the outcomes.

Class 2A, formerly the biggest class and now the "middle" class, seems to be at full strength after four years. Sprint-rich schools Peoria Richwoods, Rock Island, and Springfield have added depth and talent. The distance powers had movement as well with Yorkville and Crystal Lake Central shoring up the division.

Springfield Southeast aims for another title through tragedy and triumph

The Spartans are in the midst of building a dynasty with two championships and a runner-up trophy in three attempts. This weekend at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium, it could be three plaques in a row.

Head coach Tom McBride is the patriarch of the program who will be retiring at the end of the season after a 31-year ride. He has seen some good and bad times in his program, but nothing could be worse than losing his assistant coach and long-time friend Dana Rountree, who passed away in February. “It was tough… I mean real rough not [having coach Rountree] around,” said a somber McBride during a meet in March.

Rountree was a revered coach among his peers and his athletes. He was a “lifer” in the sport. Rountree spent his entire teaching and coaching career in Springfield. Among the pupils he was most proud of was Alexandria Harden. She won four straight long jump and three triple jump titles under Rountree’s tutelage. She has earned a basketball scholarship to Wichita State University.

The Lady Spartans have taken no prisoners this season, despite the emotional downfall that engulfed the team. The team has won the city, conference, and sectional in dominating fashion. The final frontier would be the state championship.

The title chase will begin and end with emerging star junior Charday Crawford. Crawford, who cut her teeth under the guidance of Harden, now is the team leader. She also leads all sectional entrants in the 100 (12.03) and 200 (24.53).

The Spartans will also look to deploy their speed relays in which they posted the sectional best in the 4x200 (1:42.69). The 4x100 also qualified and produced a blistering 48.43 earlier in the season. The 4x400 will be a wildcard event should the Spartans need it at the end. The quartet has run 4:02 on several occasions.

In order to complete their task, the Spartans will need assistance from a strong supporting cast. Junior Brion Portis and senior Shawnise Stelivan will command the long jump. They both have competed well throughout the season and should make the final to score vital points. Portis will double back in the triple jump as one of the state’s top jumpers.

Senior K’Leesa Gilliam will look to duplicate her all-state performance from a year ago in the shot put. She has the third-best performance during the season. Gilliam doesn’t have to beat the favored Lena Giger (So., Highland); she just needs to score points. Her teammate Shauniera Wilson is a strong candidate to advance to the discus final in an evenly shaped field. The top 12 hurlers will advance to Saturday’s final.

The Shamier Little saga set for the weekend

Let the chase begin. It actually began at the beginning of the outdoor season when there was talk of junior superstar Shamier Little (Lindblom, Chicago) entering in four individual events for the state championship series. This is nothing innovative for top level track and field athletes. However, what is different is attempting four events featuring both hurdle races and with one of them back-to-back with a long sprint.

Little flew out to the prestigious Arcadia Invitational in California to test this theory. She competed in the 100H, 400, and 300H. The 400 and 300H were conducted within a 25-minute span that saw Little blaze 53.79 and 42.95 - both top ten marks in the country at the time. Those results proved to Little and her coaches that she had what it took.

Now, after easily qualifying for state in the four events, including the addition of the 200, Little has an opportunity to compete for a state title all by herself. It will be a very tall order but if anyone can garner 40 points solo, it is Little. The faithful of Charleston will have to wait until Saturday afternoon to see if history is made.

Paul focused on individual events

For the first time in her high school running career, University of Arkansas-bound senior Megan Paul of Mundelein Carmel Catholic will be entered only as an individual and free of relay duties. Paul now has the opportunity to settle matters in the 100, 200, and 400. The showdowns with Little and Crawford will be perhaps it will be the most intriguing part of the weekend on the track.

Distance running will have a new look

Last year, Kayla Beattie of Woodstock performed as Wonder Woman in the state tournament. It would be an understatement to say that she had the best performance of any athlete in the entire state meet, setting all-time records in the 3200 (9:56.96) and 1600 (4:43.65).

Junior Katie Adams of Marengo will be strangely chasing a title in the 3200 amongst strangers. None of the six girls who finished ahead of her in last fall’s cross country state championship will be competing either from moving up in class or running in other events. Even the Illinois Prep Top Times indoor champion Kristen Busch (Sr., Freeburg) has opted to run elsewhere in the meet program. Still, look for Stephanie Saey (Jr., Galesburg) to provide good company. Saey was the top sectional mark of 11:07.16 to Adam’s 11:10.20.
The 1600 will feature Adams, Sydney Billingsley (So., Normal University), Emma Preston (Sr., East Peoria), and Olivia Ryan (Fr., Oak Park Fenwick) as the prime targets- all five runners have run under 5:10. The state champion will more than likely run under 5:00.

Watch out for Sarah Bell
Sarah Bell (Jr., Bloomington Central Catholic) has quickly become of the best if not the best pole vaulter in the country. She concluded the indoor season as co- US#1 (13-0.25) with good friend Brittany Hull (Jr., Normal Community). That confidence has continued to produce great results as Bell is a big favorite win a title in a new classification. Last year her school competed in Class A.

The US#4 ranked Bell will take on all challengers and certainly the ones that Chelsea Bingham (Sr., Effingham) and from newcomer Hannah Swift (Fr., Canton) will provide. Both young ladies have vaulted 12-0 during the season.

Don’t sleep on the relays
The 4x100 will be an event to watch because of the thrill of speed as the well as the uncertainty of the unknown. If there are no mishaps in the prelims the battle between Melrose Park Walther Lutheran should duel for supremacy. Walther Lutheran has the top sectional and seasonal best of 48.37 compared to the Spartan’s 48.43 effort.

The 4x200 should be all Springfield Southeast. The Spartans are more than a second better than the nearest competitor.

Richton Park (Rich South) are the defending state champion; they also have the top mark of 4:00.74 heading into the 4x400 prelims.

Lake Villa (Lakes), Effingham, and Petersburg-Porta will challenge for the top spot in the 4x800 arena.
Mac Melto of Northside Prep made it look so easy as he navigated the gentle turns of the Shirk Center track. But inside, he was more of a nervous wreck.

“All I want to do right now is fall down,” he said holding his head after the race. “I don’t like to tell people this, but if I were a 100 or 200 runner, my life would be fantastic. The 400 is so stressful, but that is one of the thing that pushes it over the edge. I get that adrenaline. I think about that race and when I hit that breakline, I knew I was not going to let a single person pass me.”

Melto’s race was impressive. He won by over a second and a half over Brendon Penrod of Troy Triad. His 49.25 time is the best 400 time indoors in the state. With that effort, he was named the Class AA Boys Athlete of the Meet during Saturday morning's session of the Illinois Prep Top Times Classic.

“Every expectation I had I broke,” he continued. If I was not sweating so hard, I would cry. But that will come later.”

One of his expectations was running against Cahokia 400 standouts Kenny Ball and Marlin Brady. “I was looking forward to racing against the,m as well as dreading it.” But Ball finished 18th and Brady was disqualified because of a lane violation. These three runners will get a chance to run each other again at the end of May in Charleston.

Highly-anticipated eight-lapper

Probably the most anticipated race on the 2A boys schedule for this meet was the 1600. Will Brewster of Grayslake Central had run 4:14 solo last week and all eyes were on him. Michael Clevenger of Decatur MacArthur has run some fast 1600s in the last two weeks and was looking for one more. Luke Zygmunt of Grayslake Central had finished 2nd to Clevenger outdoors last spring and was looking for a chance to race. Expectations were high. A fast time was on the docket considering the participants involved in this race.

Those expectations hit the floor of the Shirk Center like a thud. Zygmunt took the lead immediately and slowed the pace down. “That was our plan,” Zygmunt said after the race. “We have done that before working together.”

Part of that had to do with the fact that this was Brewster’s third race of the day. He had earlier run the 3200 and the 4 x 800. The pack covered the first 2 laps in 69 seconds.

The pace picked up a little as they passed the 800 in 2:15.

Jamison Dale of Jones College Prep surprised the pack in taking off right after the halfway point. Clevenger, Zygmunt, and Brewster followed suit. The four passed the 1200 in 3:17, a 62 400. Zygmunt tried to pass before the finish line, but Dale refused to give up the lead. Meanwhile, Clevenger was waiting to make his move.

Right before the bell lap, Zygmunt made his move, which Clevenger followed. Down the back stretch, Clevenger tried to pass Zygmunt, but that was not happening. On the curve, Clevenger reached down and found another gear. Clevenger crossed the finish in 4:16.35. Zygmunt was a second back. Clevenger had covered his last 200 in 28.7.

“I think racing against Garrett (Sweat) the last couple of weeks has helped me,” he said. “With that race experience, it has given me the opportunity to adjust to every type of race.”

More Highlights
  • Speaking of Brewster, he had a busy day on the track. He opened up with the 3,200. With 600 to go in the race, Brewster took command, running the final 3 laps in 1:35.3 to win with a PR of 9:19.67. K.J. Matuszak of Carmel finished second in a PR of 9:25.64. Marc Maton of Chatham-Glenwood also ran a PR finishing third in 9:28.94.
  • Joseph Jones of Plano looked like he injured his leg as he finished the prelims of the 55 hurdles. He shook off the pain as he headed to the finals. He took the lead from Spencer Allen of Mt. Vernon on the second hurdle and won in a then-state leading time of 7.42.
  • Jonathan Boey of Decatur MacArthur showed that he would be the man to beat in the short sprints this spring. Saturday, he won the 55 in 6.45, just one hundredth of a second off of his PR and the fastest in all three classes.
  • The closest race of the afternoon was in the 800. Darren Payton of Cahokia ran down Burlington Central’s Mike Gulik in the last 20 meters. It looked like it would be a photo finish as they crossed the finish line. And it was. Both were given the same time of 1:57.40. When they looked at the photo, it was Payton winning by seven-thousandths of a second.
  • It was not all bad for Gulik. Earlier in the afternoon, he was a part of Burlington Central’s winning 4 x 800. His teammate Clint Kleim ran a brilliant 1:56 anchor to give the Rockets a six-second win over Aurora Central Catholic. In the last event in the Class 2A schedule, Gulik anchored Burlington Central to a second place finish in the 4 x 400.
  • Chad Weaver of Providence Catholic was given a strong challenge from Stanford Olympia’s Tyler Ginger in the pole vault. It was Weaver’s 15-0 clearance that was the difference as Ginger cleared 14-6.
  • Derek Bunch of Mahomet-Seymour had not competed so far this season. In his first meet on Saturday, Bunch stamped himself as the favorite outdoors by winning the shot in a PR of 56-5.
  • Cahokia captured the two other relays of the day. They took command early in both the 4 x 2 and 4 x 4 relays and ran away with wins in both. Their 1:32.27 was more than a second ahead of a surprising Princeton quartet. Two 51.5 opening legs in the mile relay broke the Comanches away from the pack early as they won in 3:25.18.

Class record
: Lake Kwaza (Sycamore) 7.05, 2011
Outlook: The expected leading entrants will include the event’s only three-time winner in Lake Kwaza (Sr.,Sycamore), Ebony McClendon (So., Chicago Brooks), and Charday Crawford (Jr., Springfield Southeast). Kwaza has the top mark of 7.07.
Tony’s pick: Kwaza

Class record
: Lake Kwaza (Sycamore) 25.39, 2010
Outlook: It could be a role reversal in the one lap derby with Crawford leading the way over standouts Shamier Little (Jr., Chicago Lindblom) and Kwaza. All three ladies have marks under 26.00.
Tony’s pick: Little

Class record: Amber Farrell (Aurora Illinois Math and Science) 57.82, 2010
Outlook: Perhaps the most exciting meet of the evening with Megan Paul (Sr. Mundelein Carmel Catholic) leading the way with an outstanding 56.07 time. Little isn’t terribly far back in 57.11. Kwaza is also entered in the field and should provide a valiant effort.
Tony’s pick: Paul

Class record: Ayana Scott (Springfield Lanphier) 8.32, 2010
Outlook: Little will be the heavy favorite in her dominant undercover race. She blazed an IL#1 8.19 at the recent CPS Indoor Championship. Also watch for Sarah Goodale (Carbondale), Kaci Storm (Geneseo), Logan Tillmon (Rockford East).
Tony’s pick: Little

Class record: Kayla Beattie (Woodstock) 10:15.06, 2011
Outlook: While the record-holder's sister will be part of the fray -- Maura Beattie (So., Woodstock) -- it will be the Katie Adams (Jr., Marengo) show until further notice. This is no disrespect to Sarah Curci (Jr., Chicago U High) or Kristen Busch (Sr., Freeburg), but Adams has enjoyed the finest indoor season of them all to date as her 11:05 suggests.
Tony’s pick: Adams

Class record: Emma Preston (E. Peoria) & Dhia Dean (Chicago Kenwood) 2:16.01, 2011
Outlook: Caitlin Busch and her twin sister Kristen are among the top contenders, with Caitlin pitting her 2:18 seed mark against Cassie Kruse (Sr., Hampshire), one of the state’s best 4x800 anchors. Michelle Dobbs (Jr., Rochelle) will also be a factor in the final tally. How could we forget the great Kelsey Cramsey (Sr., Effingham)? She is the outdoor runner-up with a personal best of 2:13 on her resume.
Tony’s pick: Cramsey

Class record: Kayla Beattie (Woodstock) 4:51.06
Outlook: Adams and Kristen Busch will lock horns in the 1600 for the final distance race of the day. Busch clocked 5:06 two weeks ago at the Charleston Invite to lead the entries. Meanwhile, Adams ran 4:50 for 1500 in a sanctioned USATF meet. Her time converts to 5:09 for 1600. Also watch for a second Busch to get in on the action. That would be Kristen’s twin sister Caitlin. She has run 5:17 this winter.
Tony’s pick: Kristen Busch

Field events:

Long jump
Class record: Kawanna Brooks (Kenwood) 18-3.5, 2009
If the name Brittani Griesbaum doesn’t ring a bell, don’t feel awkward. She is a freshman from Lakes HS up in the far northwest Chicago suburb of Lake County. She also has the top jump mark of 18-0.25 and well ahead of mainstays like Ellen Renk (Sr., LaSalle-Peru) and Lexy Duncan (So., Dixon).

Triple jump
Class record: Alexandria Harden (Springfield Southeast) 37-11.5, 2011
Outlook: Renk will be back leading the way in her prize event. Her 36-5.25 mark is best among all entrants. Jill Jachino (Sr., Taylorville) will look to thwart Renk’s bid to win her first IPTT championship.

Shot put
Class record: Dani Bunch (Mahome-Seymour) 46-11.5, 2009
Outlook: There are only 7 entrants but it doesn’t mean the competition is light. Lena Giger (So., Highland) has lead the boards all season to date at 42-7. There is no need to stop now. Kourtnee Hall (Sr., Jersey) will look to put an end to Giger’s winning ways. Gabi Jacobs (So., Normal U) is the third entrant with a seed mark over 40 feet.

High jump
Class record: Ceterina Simmons (Belvidere North) 5-6, 2011
Outlook: Abi Sowash (Jr., Triad) should be the favorite after winning the prestigious Gene Armer title a week ago. She will be looking for more accolades on Saturday.

Pole vault
Class record: Emily Grove (Pontiac) & Emily Clay (Normal University) 12-6.75, 2011
Outlook: Sarah Bell (Jr. Bloomington Central Catholic) is among the nation’s best (12-8 best) and will garner just as much attention as her great friend Brittany Hull (Class AAA). Jessica Melchi (Jr., Mahomet-Seymour) and Jessi Dryden (Sr. Carbondale) will move into the spotlight as well, and will look for personal bests.

There will be no clear cut favorite in the 4x800 as five schools have a shot to win it. Look out for Petersburg-Porta, Carmel Catholic, Mattoon, and several others to battle hard. It will come down to who has the top anchor leg… the 4x200 is always a dangerous event to predict success in because of the high flying suspense and recklessness involved. If Springfield Southeast can stay out of harm’s way, they should be the runaway winners… lock Springfield SE up for the 4x400 as well if they choose to stack the event on the last play of the game.
Every year, we wonder how strong Cahokia will be. Every year, they lose athletes due to graduation. Every year, someone else steps up to fill the void. Coach Leroy Milsap brings a strong squad to the Shirk Center Saturday morning and will use this meet as a mid-season check-up.

The Class AA meet is so deep with talent that it could be better than the AAA meet that follows.

Here is a look of what to watch for on Saturday.



Outlook: Delano Samuels of Kankakee Bishop McNamara was the surprise winner last week at the Charleston Invitational and will come into this meet as the favorite in a small field. A challenge could come from Chris Moore of Cahokia. He tweaked his foot at the end of February at the Normal West Invitational and has not competed since that.

Watch for Troy Sheppard of Providence Catholic and Scott Goad of Dixon to be in the mix as well.


Outlook: Carlos Harris has been one of the biggest surprises of the season. The Decatur MacArthur senior started off at the Normal West Invitational and surprised everyone with a 46-2.75 jump. His previous best last year was 44-6.

In this small field, Harris will challenge St. Rita’s Cody Leach for first. Leach won the Chicago Catholic League triple jump with a seasonal best of 45-6.25. If these two athletes are on their mark on Saturday, we could see a 47-foot jump from one of the two.


Outlook: A wide open event with any of five jumpers capable of winning. Brandon Newman of Troy Triad has improved his PR four inches so far this season. Last week at Champaign, he cleared 6-6 to win.

The other jumpers to keep an eye on include Austen Stewart of Princeton, Antonio Pierce of Cahokia, Justin Maskery and Michael Monroe of Providence Catholic.

There is a high probability that the Class AA record could fall this weekend.


Outlook: Chad Weaver of Providence Catholic has also been a big surprise in Illinois. He started out the season with his PR of 13-9. Last week at the Chicago Catholic League Meet, he upped it to 15-3.25. He is only a junior. We could see some great things from him on Saturday.

He is not a lock to win this event. Charles Fenner of Metamora, Trace Turner of Mt. Vernon, and Tyler Ginger of Stanford Olympia have all cleared 14-6 so far this season. It could take 15-3 at least to win.


Outlook: This is the strongest of all the field events this session. Any of the top four seeds could produce a throw over 57 feet. Carson Schumacher of Normal University has quietly had a good year putting the shot 54-2 at the ISU Invitational at the beginning of March. The junior has improved his PR by four feet this season so far. We could see some quality attempts on Saturday.

Derek Bunch of Mahomet-Seymour placed second in this event last year. He has not competed yet this year so it will be interesting to see what he has in him in this meet. Brendan Duncan of Waterloo is the defending 2A Discus champion from last year. Like Schumacher, Duncan is also a junior has improved his PR by four feet.

Also keep an eye out for Joel Valdivia of Grayslake Central and Joe Huffman of Geneseo. Both have the ability of surprising in this event.



Outlook: Jonathan Boey of Decatur MacArthur has one loss to his name this season and that was to Cameron James of Edwardsville at Normal West at the end of February. His time of 6.44 is second in the state. The MacArthur junior will look to take his time under 6.40 on Saturday and will have some quality sprinters to push him.

Two sprinters to keep an eye on are Brandon Penrod of Troy Triad and Troy Sheppard of Providence Catholic. Penrod has had a breakout season this year running 6.54 at Edwardsville at the beginning of the month. Sheppard placed second at the Chicago Catholic League running a 6.55 PR.

Other sprinters to watch include Blake Quiram of Princeton, Trey Story of Cahokia, and Joseph Fese of Aurora Central Catholic.


Outlook: Joseph Jones of Plano is the defending 1A 110-meter high hurdles champion. His school moved up to 2A this year. He will enter into the race as a co-favorite in this event. The one hurdler he should watch is Spencer Allen of Mt. Vernon. Allen ran 7.62 to win last weekend at Charleston and could pressure Jones for the win.

Other hurdlers to watch include Joshua Vaughn of Country Club Hills Hillcrest, Andrew Helmin of Providence Catholic, and Gary Hickman of Cahokia.


Outlook: Mac Melto of Chicago Northside Prep has the fastest seed time in this event where 24 runners are entered. There is plenty of quality with four other sprinters along with Melto that could win this race. The Cahokia duo of Marlin Brady and Kenny Ball could make it interesting. The indoor 400 is a tactical affair where getting to the front is key to winning so having teammates working together could make things tougher for Melto.

Leroy Chapman of Antioch, Brendan Penrod of Troy Triad, and Pierre Tuell of St. Thomas More will also be in the hunt for the win all having run under 52 seconds this season.


Outlook: Brandon Penrod of Troy Triad ran a great race last week at Champaign winning in 22.43. He enters the IPTT Classic as the favorite, even though this will be his third race of the day. Trey Story of Cahokia and Jonathan Boey of Decatur MacArthur are two sprinters that could finish ahead of Penrod.

Watch for Adonis Hill of Centralia. He has been in the shadow of graduated state champion Devantre Whitelow and is just starting coming into his own. Also watch for Troy Sheppard of Providence Catholic. He is a good curve runner.



Outlook: This race will be a tactical affair. The favorite in this race is Will Brewster of Grayslake Central. Brewster was eighth last fall at the state cross country meet. His 4:14 has opened eyes of fans and athletes alike. He will be running later in the day in the 1600 Meter Run. The question will be who will push the pace?

Ryan Clardy of Fenwick is a smart bet. Brewster has great finishing leg speed. The key will be a fast pace to take that out of him.

Marc Maton of Chatham-Glenwood could take the pace out fast. He is a runner that is up for the challenge. The other runner that can be a factor in this affair is K.J. Matuszak of Carmel Catholic. Matuszak tends to run a smart pace early on and push towards the middle. He will need to do that if he wants to win.

A slow pace early equals a win for Brewster on Saturday.


Outlook: Just like the 3,200, this race will also be very tactical. The one runner to watch is Darren Payton of Cahokia. The junior has run 49.78 in the open 400. His best time in this event is 1:58.10. The other runners in this race will need to make this a fast pace with hopes that Payton will have nothing left in the end.

Mike Gulik of Burlington Central is one runner capable of doing that. His PR is 1:58.66 last spring. He does not have the leg speed of Payton, but a fast pace could neutralize that.

Also keep an eye on the Mahomet-Seymour duo of Cale McCormick and Elijah Johnson, Darius Thomas of Macomb, and Matt Meyers of Aurora Central Catholic.


Outlook: With three runners that have run under the 2A meet record, this could be a special race. Will Brewster of Grayslake Central ran 4:14 solo last Saturday at a meet at UW-Parkside. In this meet, he will be coming back out of the 3,200. How much will he have left in this race?

Brewster’s teammate, Luke Zygmunt, has run 4:21.47 earlier this March. He did run 1:56.49 in the 800 last week. He is capable of running a fast pace and along with Brewster, the two could team up for a fast time.

Michael Clevenger of Decatur MacArthur has run two fast 1,600’s in the last couple of weeks. Last week at Charleston, Clevenger just edged Garrett Sweat running 4:16.81. To show that he wants to run a fast 1600, he was originally registered to run the 3,200 at this meet as well. He scratched out of that just to focus on this race.

Hopefully it does not get too tactical. This field could drive the time down to the 4:12s if it decides to go for fast times.



Outlook: It’s a small field with only eight teams. Just like on any other relay race in this class, all eyes will turn to Cahokia. The Comanches have the top seed time and have plenty of talent to choose from to get a fast time. They ran 8:08.74 two weeks ago at the Edwardsville Invitational.

It will depend on which lineup that they use. At the Normal West Invitational, they barely edged Mahomet-Seymour, who is also in this race. If their runners have an off day, Mahomet could take the win. Also keep an eye on Burlington Central, Grayslake Central, and Aurora Central Catholic.


Outlook: Here again, the focus on this event is the relays of Cahokia. The Comanches have the fastest time of all the entered teams by about 1.50 seconds. If Cahokia is off of their game, Centralia, Aurora Central Catholic, and Mattoon could cease the opportunity and take the win.


Outlook: Cahokia could sweep all 3 relays in this meet. This race could be almost a guarantee for this southern Illinois school. The Comanches have the fastest time out of all of the teams by almost seven seconds.

The question will be if they run their A squad in this race or make some substitutions. They ran their top runners last week at Charleston and they responded with a 3:25.33 win. The same effort will give them a Class AA meet record.

If they do falter, keep an eye on Troy Triad, Lincoln-Way West, and Providence Catholic to step up.

(Good luck to all athletes this weekend!!)