High-SchoolTrack-and-XC: Class 3A

FINAL RESULTS

PRELIM RESULTS

Charleston, Ill --- It wasn’t that the members of Dunbar’s team were in a rush to get back to Chicago to attend their prom on Saturday night. They are just naturally fast.

Coming into Friday’s preliminaries, the Chicago Public League School was not getting the attention that they justly deserved after a sectional where they set some eye popping times. More people took attention of these sprinters after their performances were leading the 4 x 100 Meter Relay, 4 x 200 Meter Relay, and 200 Meter Dash.

The Mightymen caught the state’s attention after going three for three in the finals winning those three events.

They would have hardware to wear at the prom. All of it gold.

The quartet of Claudis Dawson, Travon Harris, Dion Williams, and Darvell Harris got the baton safely around the track in the 4 x 100 Meter Relay to a 41.92, just holding off Oak Park-River Forest (42.19) and Edwardsville (42.23).

They returned to the track to run the 4 x 200 Meter Relay. In Friday’s preliminaries, Dunbar shocked the sundrenched O’Brien Field crowd by running 1:26.11, which was then the fifth fastest time ever in the state. They did one better in the finals. Pushed by a talented Belleville West squad, the Mightymen sizzled an incredible 1:26.01, just missing the state record set by Cahokia by three hundredths of a second in 2007. Belleville West finished second running 1:26.61.

“We think we run better in the 200 than the 100,” said relay member Travon Harris. “We were shooting for 1:25.6, but we did get the state championship.”

All that was left was for Darvell Harris to run the 200 Meter Dash. Harris had the fastest time in the prelims. He caught Calvin Edwards (West, Joliet Ill) as they came out of the turn, edged ahead and kept a lead on Edwards at the finish. Harris’ 21.44 brought home the third gold of the day for Dunbar.

“Nobody was talking about going to sectionals. We had to come here and prove ourselves,” said Darvell Harris. “Last year, we came down here and got disqualified in the relay. We had to make up for last year. We had a pretty strong relay this year.”

The Chicago Public League had one more relay win on the day and that was in the 4 x 800 Meter Relay. On paper, it looked like it could be any team’s race with 12 schools within seven seconds of each other. The race was tactical at the gun where Kendric Cornelius (Palatine, Ill) led a tight pack through the opening 400. Marc-Daniel Julien (Niles West, Skokie Ill) tried to force the pace through the back stretch. Coming to the first exchange, it was Micah Beller (Niles North, Skokie Ill) taking a slight lead over Julien and Kevin O’Flaherty (Sandburg, Orland Park, Ill).

The second leg was incredible and still anyone’s race. All 12 schools were together heading to the back stretch. Carlitos Rangel (Niles North, Skokie Ill) held the lead heading to the second exchange. All of a sudden, Neil Pedersen (Central, Hinsdale Ill) charged to the front and gave the Red Devils the lead as the handoffs occurred. Hinsdale Central and Niles North charged into the lead with Prospect, Sandburg, and Palatine still close, but it was still anyone’s race.

The third leg it finally stretched out but there were still 8 teams in contention to win the whole thing. Niles North, Hinsdale Central, Sandburg, Prospect, and then Lane Tech moved up into the top 5. With 200 Meters to go in the third leg, Lucas Beltran (Lane Tech, Chicago Ill) charged out in front but that did not last for long. Derek Hevel (Sandburg, Orland Park took over the lead going behind the scoreboard with Dan Troutman (Prospect, Mt. Prospect Ill) passing Beltran right after that. The final exchanges were made. The fun was just about to begin.

The fastest of the fast on these teams were anchoring. Pat McMahon (Sandburg, Orland Park Ill) had a monster anchor leg running 1:54.8 in the prelims was in the front. Josh Campos (Prospect, Mt. Prospect Ill), Aron Sebhat (Niles North, Skokie Ill), and David Timlin (Lane Tech, Chicago Ill) all were lurking behind. All had serious half mile speed. All were waiting to strike.

In the first 100 meters of the final leg, Timlin made the first and decisive move. Campos and Sebhat went chasing after the Lane Tech senior. Timlin opened up at 5 meter lead as the bell rung. In the last two hundred meters, Sebhat made one final move to go after Timlin. Behind the scoreboard, it looked like the gap was diminishing as Sebhat started to get closer. He got closer and closer but Timlin got to finish line before Sebhat. The margin of victory was only a half a second. That did not matter. Lane Tech captured its first 4x8 relay championship and the first for a Chicago Public League boy’s team in the state meet. Timlin’s split was 1:51.6, Sebhat’s 1:52.8…the margin of victory.

“It was my call not to run the 1600 prelims yesterday. I do not think I could have run what I did today if I would have run those four extra laps yesterday. At least I have the Gold medal,” an elated Timlin said. “I had dreams about this. Not reasonable thoughts. I’ve run against Sebhat before. I knew I had to make my move on the first lap. I can come in hard, but so can they. Crossing the line, it was not disappointment. It was not euphoria. It was something that we worked hard for. We did this for us.”

~~ Lake Park makes it three in a row ~~

This was not the typical Lake Park that we have seen the last few years. For the first two championships, it was Jeremy & Jermaine Kline along with Zach Ziemek carrying the load and scoring the majority of the points. This was a new year. Who would step up?

That is what Jay Ivory and his coaches asked the team on Friday night after the preliminaries. Lake Park had the most qualifiers left with eleven, but the places that his athletes were in would not get them another championship.

“We did a lot of work today. We told the kids last night that we still had a lot of work still to do. We asked them to step up and the kids did,” said Ivory. In the Long Jump, Scott Filip was sixth after the prelims; Marcus Jegede was 9th. In the finals, Jegede moved up to fourth, Filip to fifth.

The same thing happened in the Triple Jump. Shawn Koch and Filip were seventh and eighth respectively. In the finals, Koch moved up to second, Filip to seventh. All this extra effort to get the top trophy.

“The kids were phenomenal today. They picked each other up. We gained some points in some spots, lost them in other events. But as a team, we rose up,” said Ivory.

The Lancers also got points from Per Johnson in the Discus. Johnson improved his PR by nine feet. Kevin Spejcher placed fourth in the High Jump. Tim Ehrhardt and Derrick Smith placed fifth and seventh with Ehrhardt achieving two PR’s in the process.

On the track, both of Lake Park’s relays that qualified for the finals placed. The 4x1 relay finished sixth, the 4x8 relay finished eight.

Edwardsville and Oak Park-River Forest were not too far behind. Edwardsville finished six points behind Lake Park for second. Their girl’s team won the team championship the week prior. Oak Park was just a point behind Edwardsville and placed third. That was the first trophy for the Huskies since 1987.

~~ Freeman was double trouble in the Shot and Discus ~~

Josh Freeman (Cary Grove, Cary ill) had the lead in both the Shot and Discus as he entered the final round. He wanted to do something extra.

Freeman’s goal was to go after the Shot Put record set last year by Jermaine Kline. He came close with a performance of 66-0. He was not disappointed. He was elated. “It was the best day that I’ve had all year,” said Freeman. “I got within six inches of the state record so I can’t complain.”

He headed outside of the stadium to the Discus ring. There he still kept the lead but extended his best to 181-3. Brandon Lombardino (Grant, Fox Lake Ill) also improved in the finals to 170-4, but it was not enough to catch Freeman.

“My last throw was 181-3. I was the last thrower. The crowd got me pumped up. I let out a big yell,” Freeman continued. “It is a fantastic way to finish out four years.” His last throw gave him a PR by three feet.

~~ It was more for the team for Heinz ~~

Before he moved over to the High Jump pit, Carl Heinz (Oak Park-River Forest) had work to do if the Huskies were going to go home with a trophy. Heinz jumped up from ninth to fifth in the Triple Jump improving his PR to 46-8.5.

The final 3 jumpers came down to Heinz, Ben Bowers (Conant, Hoffman Estates Ill), and Peter Stefanski (Marmion Academy, Aurora Ill). All cleared 6-10. For Bowers, it was redemption for disaster earlier in the High Hurdles. Bowers was disqualified in the race for knocking over a hurdle and landing in the next lane. For a minute, Heinz could not be found. “I had no energy this morning. I was not feeling good. I did not have good confidence but seeing Malachy win the 3200, I got pumped up.”

He came back and cleared 6-11 where Bowers and Stefanski could not. His second championship in a row. He then went to throw up in the bushes.

The bar was raised to 7-1 and he saw his teammate Schrobilgen head to the starting line of the 1600. He stopped and started to yell at him. While the excitement of the 1600 was going on, Heinz hit his steps and popped over 7-1. The second time he in his career he had cleared that height. But hardly anyone noticed him clear it. “Today my steps were just on and it really made up for how crappy I was feeling. But seeing Mal run gave me the motivation.” Heinz missed at the state record 7-3.25, but it did not matter. He had the state title and important points to his team.

~~ The horizontal jumps ~~

Not much changed after the preliminaries of the Long Jump except for Filip and Jegede moving up. Zach Gordon (North, Wheaton, Ill) maintained his lead that he got on his first jump of the prelims to win the event. Matt Harris (Lyons Township, LaGrange Ill) finished second. Both are juniors which means one more year of excitement between these two great jumpers.

The triple jump had some more excitement. A.J. Scarborough (Barrington, Ill) held the lead up until the final round. On his last jump, Shawn Koch (Lake Park, Roselle Ill) hit the board perfectly with a leap 48-2.5. That left the last jump of the meet to Scarborough. It was a now or never moment for the senior and he responded. He flew 49-4.75 to win. It was wind aided like Koch’s. But that did not matter. It was the win, the first for a Barrington track athlete, that counted.

~~ The Pole Vault ~~

It took 14-9 to get to the finals of this event. 2012 had one of the deepest fields in the Pole Vault that this state had ever had. At the start of the state meet, ten vaulters had gone over 15-0. It looked to be a great competition. And it was.

Cirron Clark (Danville, Ill), Nick Sgarbossa (York, Elmhurst Ill), Luke Winder (Central, Plainfield Ill), and Eric Gordon (Community West, Normal Ill) were all left having cleared 15-6. Gordon and Sgarbossa were the only athletes to clear 16-0. Two of the top vaulters in the state were about to find out who was the best on this day.

Gordon missed on his first attempt at 16-3. Sgarbossa came down the runway with a good plant and cleared the bar with 3 inches to spare. The pressure fell on Gordon. He passed on his final two attempts at 16-3 and had the bar raised to 16-6. Neither vaulter cleared 16-6, giving the state championship to the York senior.

“The idea of winning the state championship has not sunk in yet. I am glad, but I wanted to make that last height also,” Sgarbossa said at the completion of the event. “It really did not bother me that Gordon missed at 16-3. I came here today to jump a PR. That was my plan all the time.”

~~ 3200 Meter Run: How would the heat change the race ~~

The scratches that were made on Friday in the 1600 Meter prelims showed that some of the runners did not want to risk running four extra laps on Friday to give up a chance to win the 3200 on Saturday. Only two runners, Malachy Schrobilgen (Oak Park-River Forest, Oak Park Ill) and Jack Keelan (St. Ignatius, Chicago Ill), opted to run both. Everyone else would be fresh, if you can call running in 95 degree heat fresh.

The pace went out honestly. This was going to be a war of attrition. Garrett Sweatt (Edwardsville, Ill) and Tyler Schnedier (Conant, Hoffman Estates Ill) took the pace out in 2:14 with all the pre-race favorites all still there including Schrobilgen and Keelan. The first action of the race was about to begin.

As the runners passed behind the scoreboard at the north curve of the track, Joe Stewart (Metea Valley, Aurora Ill) became impatient and wanted to get out of the pack. He went to lane two, but in the process clipped Pat Niyork (Willowbrook, Villa Park Ill) and sent him to the infield. The pack passed by. Niyork slammed his hand to the ground, got up and tried to catch up to the pack. In reality, his chances in the race were over. Yellow flags went up, but no foul was called.

Stewart took the lead and started to separate himself from the pack. No one would go with him. The pack bided their time and waited for the right moment to go after Stewart as the lead continued to grow. At the 1600, Stewart was at 4:28, Schrobilgen, Erik Peterson (Barrington, Ill), Mark Derrick (Neuqua Valley, Naperville Ill), Tyler Yunk (North, Belvidere Ill), and Keelan passed by the 1600 seven seconds back.

It was the same scenario that happened two years ago when Fenwick’s Martin Grady tried to steal the race. It was York’s Andrew Smith and Jack Driggs that chased him down in the last 400. Schrobilgen was a sophomore at the time and was in that race.

“I thought it was going to be a little surge, but it was a bigger one. I was hoping to sit back and wait. I wasn’t too comfortable with that. I remember sophomore year I went back to the pack and that didn’t work so well.”

With about 900 meters to go, Stewart was not coming back and Schrobilgen began the surge to go after Stewart. Keelan, Derrick, and Sweatt followed suit with Yunk starting to drop off the pace. The packs next quarter was 68 seconds, Stewart was struggling running a 75. “I definitely planned on go around the half way point. I usually don’t have a strong kick and I can’t finish up as strong as I want to. I was just trying to take as much out of the other runners as possible,” said Stewart.

At 400 to go, Schrobilgen made one more move. Derrick followed but the distance was growing between the two. Keelan caught Derrick at the line for second. Sweatt was a second back in fourth. But the moment belonged to the Oak Park senior.

“I knew from last year, I could go off of a fast pace and close in a 60,” said Schrobilgen. “Today I realized what it was like to run your own race. I don’t remember going past guys. I just remember sheer focus. I crossed the finish line and I thought this was it. It is unbelievable. Pure ecstasy.”

~~ The hurdle races ~~

How close could it get? That is what Derrick Willies (Rock Island, Ill) and Rashad Hulbert (Crete-Monee, Crete Ill) thought as they waited at the finish line after the two came across together. Jonathan Goins (Lockport, Ill) actually got a great start and had the lead after 3 hurdles. Rashad and Willies were even the rest of the way after they passed Goins. The verdict was in after 2 minutes. The win went to Willies, only one ten thousandths ahead of Hulbert.

Hulbert made sure that would not happen again in the intermediates. He charged out in his trademark fashion having picked up the stagger before half way through the curve. He was not going to let this one get away. Hulbert win over Willies was close to a second.

“The high hurdle race motivated for the intermediates because I knew I should have won that race,” said Hulbert. “I felt pretty good. I just wanted to get through the race.”

~~ Binion wins 100 for relay teammates~~

He came out of the blocks at the gun in a flash. It looked like Tavaris Binion (Hinsdale South, Darien Ill) had jumped the gun, but it was just a great start by the junior. Aided by the 3.7 wind at his back, Binion stormed to the 100 Meter Dash crown (10.53), just ahead of Calvin Edwards (West, Joliet, Ill) and the 10.62 that he ran.

This wasn't only a win for himself. He did it for the teammates that he ran with in the two highly rated relays that did not get out of sectionals.

"It was an unbelievable start," said Binion after his race. "What happened at sectionals motivated me. My teammates worked so hard this year. Those guys are great sprinters. If we cannot be here collectively, then I was there for all of us."

~~ Filipczak not passive in this race ~~

Michal Filipczak (Maine South, Park Ridge Ill) learned his lesson a year ago at the state meet. In that race, he felt he could win. However, he went out to slow which cost him the win. He was bound and determined not to let that happen again.

He took the lead immediately at the cutline. Filipczak was at the 400 at 53.8, almost a second ahead of Peter Archibald (Geneva, Ill) and Jake Mazanke (East, St. Charles Ill). The lead grew over the next 200. Archibald made a move but seemed like he was slowing down and had nothing left in his legs. Meanwhile, Filipczak was looking for a way to cross the finish line. He began to lose his balance 5 meters from the finish. He started to go sideways into lane 3 as he crossed the finish line. He won by over a half a second over Archibald. The thing was that Filipczak left everything on the track.

“The strategy was to get out fast. My coach thought I could run 1:50.88 off of what I ran the 400 split which was 47.6. I tried yesterday but the false start kind of threw me off. He told me to try again today but I did not think it would be that possible because of the heat and the wind,” said Filipczak. “On the last straightaway, the wind took away all of my energy. I was slowing down. I didn’t know what to do. I was almost certain someone was going to pass me. I told myself this is what I was training for my whole year. I had to do everything I could to win. I was thinking I can’t let someone else win. I just wanted it so bad.”

~~~ Farley’s finish in the 400 ~~

Antonio Farley (Round Lake, Ill) ran from the front in the preliminary round on Friday. On Saturday, it was the opposite.

“As I came around the turn, I thought I made it this far, I couldn’t stop now,” said Farley. The Round Lake senior was feeling pressure from both Kenneth Allen (Thornwood, South Holland Ill) and Kaleb Williams (Bloom Township, Chicago Heights, ill). Farley was able to hold off Allen and Williams to win the first track individual championship for Round Lake. Farley’s time was 48.29 compared to 48.33 of Allen.

What was amazing was 20 minutes earlier Allen ran anchor on Thornwood’s fifth place 4 x 200 Meter Relay team.

~~ Later’s rush comes up golden in the 1600 ~~



This was going to be a race of who was going to make a move first. The heat was still strong on the O’Brien Field track, but it was not going to affect the pace of the race.

The pace started out slow compared to the past 1600 finals that we have seen. Leland Later (New Trier, Winnetka Ill) reluctantly took the early pace through the first 400 in 62.5 with the rest of the pack led by Mike Lederhouse (Glenbard West, Glen Ellyn, Ill) close behind.

Over the next 400, the pace slowed down with Malachy Schrobilgen (Oak Park-River Forest, Oak Park Ill) and Pat Juras (Lake Zurich, ill) joined Later and Lederhouse towards the front. All twelve runners in the field were within contact of each other. The pace slowed down even more setting this race up for kickers like Later and Juras. They went by in 2:10 for the 800 Meters. The question would be who would go first?

Lederhouse was the first to go. In past 1600 Meter races, he would start his move with about 700 meters to go down the backstretch. This state meet was no exception. Lederhouse charged down the backstretch looking for as much space between him and the rest of the pack. Later tried to stay in contact with Juras and Billy Bund (Lake Forest, ill) on Later’s shoulder. Coming down the home stretch, Lederhouse’s head started bobbing down looking for one more burst. As he crossed the line in 3:12.2, it looked like he was struggling to keep the pace with Later just waiting a second back.

With 300 meters to go, Later caught and passed the struggling Lederhouse. In the next one hundred meters, the gap became bigger and bigger. The New Trier senior shifted into another gear that no one in this race had on this day.

Later’s closing 800 meters was an amazing 1:59.5, the 400 was a sonic 56.3 that made the rest of field look like they were standing still. Later had a state championship to compliment his cross country title in the fall. Juras made a burst to nail down second place, nearly four seconds behind. Schrobilgen, who was seventh with 200 meters to go, used the last ounce of energy to catch and pass Todd Ford (Loyola Academy, Wilmette Ill) at the line for third and grab valuable points for the Huskies.

“The plan was right after the sectional was just run the 1600. That is what my coach (David Wisner) told me. With all the heat, I think I would not have been able to double. Today, I was just going for the win. I knew that Lederhouse would go with about 700 meters to go and I was prepared for that. I figured I could not let more than a few steps separate us when he went,” Later said. “If I stayed close, I knew I would be able to close it down there. I figured if I was going to pass him, I was going to pass him really hard. The last 200 meters I was really going. This race was the only goal I had this year. This feels great. I am going to let it sink in. I think able to win in such hot weather and kick it in strong; I think I proved something to myself and my coach. I am really satisfied.”

~~ What a way to end an era on the blue oval ~~

The 3A 4 x 400 Meter Relay would be the last race to be run on the existing blue oval. The following week, the old surface would be torn up and replace along with a new football field. There was a lot of history that had happened on that track, so it was fitting of what happened in this race was the way that this track should be closed down.

The first two legs followed suit according to the race seedings after the preliminaries. Belleville West charged to the lead with Plainfield North and Minooka close behind. At the half way point, it was still Belleville West with Minooka and Plainfield North close than a second back.

James Cole had the baton for Belleville West, Tevin Hopkins for Minooka, and Derrick Suss for Plainfield North. Coming around the first turn, Suss made a move to try to take the lead. All of a sudden he slowed down and popped into the air. In 2011, he was out all season with a hamstring injury. That injury hit him again. He crumpled to the ground in pain.

The announcer called for a trainer as the rest of the race moved by Suss. The young man got up and waved everyone away from him. This was the senior’s last race and he was going to finish it. “I was going to finish that race. In my mind, no one was going to stop me,” Suss said while he received medical attention.

The race was still going on, but it seemed that all the attention of the remaining crowd had their eyes on Suss. Bloom Townships Kaleb Williams made a move on the outside to get his team into contention. The final leg had Tevin Suggs of Belleville West holding off Chris Wilson of Minooka and Micah Frasier of Bloom Township for the win. It was the first win in this relay for Belleville West. It was also the first for Belleville West coach Patton Seagraves. When he ran at Harrisburg, he anchored their 4 x 4 relays all 4 years, but could never win the title. On this day, Suss delivered to give Seagraves that winning satisfaction.

Suss was still trying to make it around the track as the rest of the runners finished. And he was going to finish. He was moving slowly. But he was getting encouragement. Man he was getting encouragement. All the athletes on the infield waiting to get their medals from previous races were lining the infield cheering for their fellow athlete. The crowd was standing giving him encouragement to get that final exchange off. If he got the exchange off, his squad still would receive a medal and attain all-state recognition.

I do not think there was a dry eye in that stadium as Suss approached his teammate Evan Flagg with the baton. I think it was a requirement of those who were still in that stadium that there was not a dry eye. Who could not be moved by this?

Suss finally made the exchange to his teammate and fell to the track. His teammates and his coach Tony Holler rushed around him. His coach gave him a tearful embrace. Plainfield North finished the race with a time of 5:47.44, perhaps the slowest final time ever for the 4 x 400 Meter Relay. That time did not matter. It was a matter of perseverance and desire to do something for his teammates that kept Suss going.

“He has been accepted to the Air Force Academy. He has a 32 ACT. He pulled a hamstring last year and missed his entire junior year,” Holler said after the race was over. “He did not get to run at the state meet. He made it through his entire senior year because he worked so hard. It was really eerie when he went down and pulled that same hamstring. In our pre meeting of today, I told them a story. The most heart wrenching story that I have ever seen about Derek Redmond in the 1992 Olympics. He pulled a hamstring and his father came along side and helped him across the finish line. I told our men that was the type of team that we wanted to be. And it happened. I am so proud of that kid.”

The effort of Suss should serve as an example of what athletics should be. There is glory in doing your best and winning the competition, but there is more glory in persevering and completing the goal that you set out to achieve.

For those who left the Stadium of that day, I am sure that vision of Suss limping around the track to finish will stay in their minds hopefully forever. It was a forever moment for Suss. It was a forever moment for Holler and the Plainfield North track team. It was a forever moment for this blue oval and the legacy of great moments in Illinois high school track history.
The milder than normal winter weather has been a benefit to the Illinois high school track and field athletes this season. Performances that we have not seen in close to 30 years have been evident in the distances. There is more depth in all of the events this year. It leads us to the possibilities of a great state meet this weekend in Charleston.

I am so much looking forward to the relays. Last week in sectional competition, we saw the times drop dramatically. The times will continue to drop this weekend and we could see some national class times in the 4 relays.

The temperatures at O’Brien Stadium should be oppressively hot with temperatures climbing towards the triple digits by the time we get to the finals on Saturday. It could affect some of the distance performances but I hope not. There is quality in all 4 of those events that could make this weekend extra special.

Here is a look at each of the individual events and what you can look for on Friday and Saturday at the big blue oval.

FIELD EVENTS



LONG JUMP

Outlook: Should be a great jumping competition with some great athletes in this event. Zach Gordon (North, Wheaton Ill) took the season lead in the Long Jump (24-2.5) at the sectional and will be the guy to beat this weekend. He has been over 23 feet three times this year and the only jumper over 24. Matt Harris (Lyons Township, LaGrange Ill) has been the list leader most of the season and jumped 23-8 last week at Concordia University. The one flaw on Harris is that he fouled out at his conference meet and fouled on his first two attempts at Prospect before he hit it. He will need to have his steps down this weekend..

Scott Filip & Marcus Jegede (Lake Park, Roselle Ill) will provide big points for this school in the Long Jump this weekend. Filip placed in this event last year with a fifth place finish. He will look to go higher and longer. Jegede is in his first big meet, but is a big meet performer.

Other horizontal jumpers to watch include Antwon James (Glenbard East, Lombard Ill), Thomas Taylor (Thornton, Harvey Ill), Ethan Cane (Minooka, Ill), Ose Ilenikhena (Glenbrook South, Glenview Ill), and Jamal Payton (Proviso West, Hillside Ill). Could Mid 24’s win this event this weekend?

TRIPLE JUMP

Outlook: This is a fascinating event to analyze. It could even better in person this weekend. We could see some epic jumps on the blue runways of O’Brien Stadium. Shawn Koch (Lake Park, Roselle Ill) had the longest performance at sectional competition last week. Koch’s performances have improved by every meet this summer. He has gone from 44 feet at the beginning of April to the 47-8 that he jumped in sectionals. This junior could be tough to beat.

Josh White (Edwardsville, Ill) had a PR of 43-4.5 that he jumped when he was a sophomore two years ago. The senior has stepped up in a big way for the Tigers jumping 46-10.5 and will be a factor in this event. Jamion Nash (West, Belleville Ill) was behind White at sectionals but jumped 47-1.25 at Collinsville three weeks ago. Scott Filip (Lake Park, Roselle Ill) is in the mid 46’s right now and could also win this event.

A deep event with so much potential. Keep an eye also on Thomas Taylor (Thornton, Harvey, Ill), Carl Heinz (Oak Park-River Forest, Oak Park Ill), A.J. Scarborough (Barrington, Ill), James Shields (Maine East, Park Ridge Ill), and Jalen Woods (Thornton Fractional South, Lansing Ill). 48 feet or better could win this on Saturday.

HIGH JUMP

Outlook: Danielle Dobias-Wagner, the High Jump coach at Oak Park-River Forest High School, told me in February that it is so hard to get a PR in the High Jump at the state meet because there is so much action going around and the pressure of the situation. Yet, the potential for some great jumps could happen on Saturday with the high quality in this event.

Carl Heinz (Oak Park-River Forest, Oak Park Ill) is the defending champion in this event. So far this year, he jumped 7-1 at an invitational at Darien. He has one loss this season, that to Kevin Spejcher (Lake Park, Roselle Il) at the IPTT Indoor Classic in March. Spejcher jumped 6-11 two weeks ago and is ready to go higher on Saturday. It was a great competition in March. It should be great between the two this weekend.

Do not forget about Peter Stefanski (Marmion Academy, Aurora Ill). Last week at St. Charles, he cleared 7-0 for the first time. He is entering this event with a big confidence boost, He could be the big surprise in this event.

Other jumpers that may threaten this trio include Oshay Hodges (North, St. Charles Ill), Ben Bowers (Conant, Hoffman Estates Ill), Kurtis Zumbahlen (Minooka, Ill), and Matt Wilson (Granite City, Ill). It would be fun to see these guys go over 7-0 for the win.

POLE VAULT

Outlook: This year, the Pole Vault in this class has produced 10 vaulters over 15 feet which is quite amazing for Illinois. This will make this event fun to watch on Saturday.

Nick Sgarbossa (York, Elmhurst Ill) is the only vaulter to go over 16 feet this spring. He has been over 15 feet four times this year with one slip up, a fourth place finish at the DuPage County Meet. He will need to be on his game this weekend. The same can be said about Eric Gordon (Community West, Normal Ill). He was the overwhelming favorite at the IPTT Indoor Classic, yet he finished fourth in what he called a bit of over confidence. Gordon went over 16 feet twice indoors, and he is undefeated outdoors going over 15 feet at every major invitational. He is primed to go higher this weekend.

Luke Winder (Central, Plainfield Ill) may be the surprise of them all. Coming from a great vaulting family, this sophomore may be the best of all his brothers. Last week at the Naperville North Sectional, he cleared 15-9 for the first time. He is on a hot streak that may continue on Saturday.

This event is loaded. Others that will contend include Nick Bednarek (Fremd, Palatine Ill), Derrick Smith (Lake Park, Roselle Ill), Joe Ward (Jefferson, Rockford Ill), Cirron Clark (Danville, Ill), Shawn John (York, Elmhurst Ill), Tom Schuette (Edwardsville, Ill), and Brandon Clabough (Batavia, Ill).

It will take at least 16 feet or higher to win this event. And we may have more than one vaulter over that height.

SHOT PUT

Outlook: Josh Freeman (Cary-Grove, Cary Ill) has been the man in the spotlight in this event all year. It started at the beginning of March where he went 60 feet and it just grew from there. He did not have his best performance at sectionals (60-11.75), but he has more performances (10 ) than any other athlete this season in this event. It makes him a huge favorite.

Freeman cannot afford to keep his guard down this weekend. Mark Balmes (Hersey, Arlington Heights Ill) has been coming on strong the last few weeks and could be Freeman’s biggest threat. Balmes best this year is 60-0 three weeks ago. Riley Kittridge (Waubonsie Valley, Aurora Ill) has improved seven feet at the beginning of the outdoor season. He could go farther this weekend.

Other athletes to watch include Kyrin Tucker (Community West, Normal Ill), Vincent Valentine (Edwardsville Ill), Christian Hollinger (North, Wheaton Ill), Paul Golen (York, Elmhurst Ill) and Kevin Bauers (Bartlett, Ill).

DISCUS

Outlook: This perhaps could be the most wide open field event in 3A. Brandon Lombardino (Grant, Fox Lake Ill) has quietly climbed his way up the 3A leaderboard in this event. The junior’s best performance this year was 190 feet at a home dual meet. His best invitational performance was last week at his sectional meet at Hononegah. He only has one loss this year, that to Josh Freeman (Cary-Grove, Cary Ill) in April. Freeman could push Lombardino to the limit.

Max Leonard (Glenbrook South, Glenview Ill) went 178-7 at his conference meet two weeks ago. He could be a big surprise this weekend. Christian Hollinger (North, Wheaton Ill) popped an eleven foot PR last week at his sectional. He could surprise like Leonard on Saturday. Paul Golen (York, Elmhurst Ill) threw 171-7 at his conference meet two weeks ago. He could be part of the championship discussion here.

Other throwers to watch include Mark Balmes (Hersey, Arlington Heights Ill), Nick Barrett (O’Fallon, Ill), Scott Karlis (lake Park, Roselle Ill), Riley Kittridge (Waubonsie Valley, Aurora Ill), and Alex Hansen (Oak Forest, Ill).

TRACK EVENTS

4 x 800 METER RELAY

Outlook: Mouths dropped after seeing the results of the Loyola Sectional results last Thursday. 8 teams under qualifying standards, 4 under 7:50. Let the fun begin on Friday. We could see some more major drops in this event.

New Trier had the fastest time in that Loyola meet and could go lower this weekend. Of course they have cross country champ Leland Later anchoring them, but watch for Peter Cotsirlos, a sophomore, that could drop his split into then 1:55’s or lower. Niles North could be the team to beat. The Vikings were only two tenths behind New Trier. They have a strong quartet led by Aron Sebhat. It could go close to 7:40 on Saturday.

Lane Tech won comfortably at the Oak Park Sectional last Thursday. Will this team step up this weekend? They have the talent to contend led by David Timlin, but in the big relays that they have been in during this season, they have fallen a little short with their best finish being second at Prospect. They could surprise this weekend.

Prospect was part of that fast Loyola Sectional. With their quartet only in this event and their past history at state, do not discount the Knights. Defending champion Minooka is back and could be part of the final top 3 on Saturday led by Dan Popek.

Other schools to watch in this relay include Wheaton-Warrenville South, Springfield, Jacobs, Neuqua Valley, Palatine, Sandburg, Belvidere North, and Lake Zurich. It should take 7:52 or better to make the finals on Saturday.

4 x 100 METER RELAY

Outlook: The schools from down south should control this event, but it may be two schools near Chicago that could pull the big surprise. Belleville West always steps up in this event when state meet time comes around. Last year, they won running 41.87. Last week at sectionals, the Maroons ran 41.79 behind a talented Edwardsville team. Both schools will go faster this weekend.

The schools to watch from Chicago are Oak Park-River Forest and Chicago Dunbar. The Huskies dropped under 42 seconds two weeks ago at their conference meet using an all underclassmen lineup. They will use the same quartet this weekend and could go lower. Dunbar is the surprise of the 3A sprint scene. They made a one second drop from the Chicago Public League Meet and their sectional. You cannot dismiss this team.

Other schools to keep a watch on include Wheaton North, Thornton, Peoria Richwoods, Thornton Fractional North, Plainfield North, Downers Grove South, and Rock Island. Do not surprised if it takes 42.2 or faster to make the finals.

3200 METER RUN

Outlook: The common theory when the weather gets hot about this event is that it will be a tactical race. Looking at the weather forecast and what it will be like on the floor of that stadium, I had the same idea. But looking at the runners that will be in this race, I am tending to think that we are not looking at a kicker’s fest.

It could be a fast pace. So much fast that the race may be in the low 8:50’s, even faster. There are several runners that could insure of this. The first is Jack Keelan (St. Ignatius, Chicago Ill), who ran 8:55 at Arcadia in April. He has been running with a purpose all spring trying to exorcise the demons of past state competitions. Saturday may be his day.

The second is Malachy Schrobilgen (Oak Park-River Forest, Oak Park, Ill). He showed that he was ready for this race by running 8:57 solo last week at his sectional. The question will be for this senior is will he save himself for the 1600 that he is planning on doubling this weekend?

Garrett Sweatt (Edwardsville, Ill) would be the third runner. Sweatt has been consistently been in the low 9 minute range all year. He has been experiencing problems with his knee but reports are that he is ready to go. He is not doubling. He will want a fast pace.

The last runner to watch is Tyler Yunk (North, Belvidere Ill). He likes the fast pace and will not shy away from pushing it.

I think the pace may lag early, but start to rev up on the second or third lap. How many will go with the fast pace will be interesting. At the same time, how many will wait and pick off those who can’t take the pace? Look at this also. If people start falling all over the place in Section 2, we could have a couple of runners from the first section that will place.

Others that I would keep an eye on include Erik Peterson (Barrington, Ill), Pat Niyork (Willowbrook, Villa Park Ill), Mark Derrick and Taylor Soltys (Neuqua Valley, Naperville Ill), Tyler Schneider (Conant, Hoffman Estates Ill), and Joe Stewart (Metea Valley, Ill).

110 METER HIGH HURDLES

Outlook: It could come down to a three hurdler affair with times under 14 seconds happening. Rashad Hulbert (Crete-Monee, Crete Ill) has run some hand timed races in the 13’s this season. Last week at his sectional he recorded a 13.99 time that will put the bull’s eye on his back.

Derrick Willies (Rock Island, Ill) made a big drop by four tenths of a second in winning his sectional last week. The transfer from Iowa could defeat Hulbert in this meet. Christian Herring (East, Belleville Ill) was right behind Willies in that sectional meet. He could surprise at this state meet.

Other hurdlers to watch include Marcus Greer (Senior HS, East St. Louis Ill), Sean Wells (Grant, Fox Lake Ill), Billy Reed and Jonathan Goins (Lockport, Ill), and Jonathan Anderson (Thornton, Harvey Ill).

100 METER DASH

Outlook: The hot temperatures + hot runners will equal some fast performances this weekend. Kennedy Mayweather (Collinsville, Ill) won that fast Belleville West sectional and could be one of the favorites here. The same could be said with Bennett Gray (Edwardsville, Ill) and Chris Wiggins (O’Fallon, Ill). They could win at this race.

Also keep an eye on Tavaris Binion (Hinsdale South, Darien Ill). He won the Lockport Sectional. He could challenge for the championship this weekend.

Other sprinters to keep an eye on include Damon Timm (Springfield, Ill), Demitri Smith (Thornton, Harvey Ill), Tyrone Echols (Collinsville, Ill), Perez Ford (Romeoville, Ill), and Cameron James (Edwardsville, Ill).

800 METER RUN

Outlook: Michal Filipczak (Maine South, Park Ridge Ill) reflected after his first outdoor 800 this spring that he ran too conservatively at the 2011 state meet, a race where he finished second. He’s had a full year to analyze and think of how he will want to run this. Last week at his sectional, he dropped a 1:51.93, the best in the state. The main thing for this senior is that he will get out fast and make his competition come and get him.

A duo that could be chasing after Filipczak are future college roommates , Jake Mazanke (East, St. Charles Ill) and Peter Archibald (Geneva, Ill). Both have been pushing each other faster and faster the last couple of weeks, They could be going for the state championship on Saturday. Also watch for Will Crocker (North, Belvidere Ill), who could be coming back from the 4 x 8. Crocker ran 1:52.66 in April in California. He will be seeking a faster time on Saturday.

Other runners to watch for include Neal Omar (Niles West, Skokie Ill), Chris Alvarez (Central, Crystal Lake Ill), Mike Fahey (Glenbard East, Lombard Ill), Dan Popek (Minooka, Ill), and Sam Stanek (Glenbrook South, Glenview Ill).

Low 1:51’s may win this race on Saturday.

4 x 200 METER RELAY

Outlook: The question for this race will either Belleville West or Collinsville (or both) will go under 1:26 in either the prelims or the finals. Collinsville cranked out a 1:26.29 time last week at the Belleville West Sectional. Belleville West was only twelve hundredths back.

After that, unless the above two schools run sub-par races, I do not see any other school getting close to them. Watch for Dunbar, Elgin, Edwardsville, Wheaton North, Thornwood, and Downers Grove North to run after the championship along with Collinsville and Belleville West.

400 METER DASH

Outlook: This could be the most wide open event on the track on Saturday. Jacob Bender (Neuqua Valley, Naperville Ill) placed second at the Naperville North Sectional after he activated a hamstring injury on the final curve of his race. He finished second behind Stephan Thelemaque (East, Plainfield Ill). Both runners have the fastest two times. Bender has the fastest 3A time this year running 48.75 two weeks ago. He’s had a week to rest his leg. With Neuqua not qualifying in the 4x4, he will want this win very badly.

Other 400 runners to watch to challenge Bender and Thelemaque include Dalton Timm & Malik Harrison (Springfield, Ill), Antonio Farley (Round Lake, Ill), Jeff Broger (South Elgin, Ill), and Tommy Rohn (Cary-Grove, Cary Ill).

300 INTERMEDIATATE HURDLES

Outlook: Rashad Hulbert (Crete-Monee, Crete, Ill) is the defending state champ in this event. In this race, he could have company. Hulbert has run 37.78 In April, but he has been around 38 seconds the last couple of weeks. He is a tough competitor that will not want to give up his title.

Derrick Willies (Rock Island, Ill) will be right with Hulbert like he will be in the short hurdle race. Willies ran 38.04 two weeks ago at his conference meet. Two other hurdlers that will be up to the challenge are Brett Kohler (North, Wheaton Ill) and Kyle Schafer (Waubonsie Valley, Aurora Ill). Kohler has run 38.35 & 38.41 the last two weeks. Schafer’s run was impressive when he won his sectional running 38.20 and winning by more than a second. He could get Willies or Hulbert.

Other hurdlers to watch include Ben Bowers (Conant, Hoffman Estates Ill), Lino Mogorovic (Lyons Township, LaGrange Ill), Marcus Greer (Senior, East St. Louis Ill), Dom Blake (Jacobs, Algonquin Ill), Bryant Lewis (Bloomington, Ill), and Conor Dunham (St. Ignatius, Chicago Ill).

1600 METER RUN

Outlook: If someone doubles back from the 3200 to win in such hot temperatures on Saturday, it could be an incredible story. I just can’t see that happen. It will be someone who is coming off of the 4x8 relay or running fresh that will take command of this race.

The last 3 weeks Mike Lederhouse (Glenbard West, Glen Ellyn Ill) has pushed the pace from the beginning resulting in three races between 4:12 and 4:13. With the weather, watch for Lederhouse to push the pace from the get go. It will be come with me kind of race. Anyone who wants a fast time will follow.

Leland Later (New Trier, Winnetka Ill) has run 4:10.7 three weeks ago fresh. If he is with the leaders in the last 400 meters, he may be the one that runs away with the title. Last week, Todd Ford (Loyola Academy, Wilmette Ill) outkicked Later to win the sectional race. Could the same thing happen this weekend?

Patrick Perrier & Alex Riba (O’Fallon, Ill) could be factors in this race if they run fresh. We could see team tactics from them where they could push along with Lederhouse the pace that could take this race under 4:10.

Other milers to watch include Patrick Juras (Lake Zurich, Ill), Easton Huch (Libertyville, Ill), Garrett Lee (North, Belvidere Ill), Malachy Schrobilgen (Oak Park-River Forest, Oak Park Ill), Jack Keelan (St. Ignatius, Chicago Ill), William Hennessy (Jacobs, Algonquin Ill), and David Timlin (Lane Tech, Chicago Ill).

200 METER DASH

Outlook: Kennedy Mayweather (Collinsville, Ill) has been the hot 200 runner all year. Last week, he had a convincing win in his sectional running 21.60. He has run under 22 seconds in four finals this year. Tough to pick against him.

The one sprinter to watch is Darvell Harris (Dunbar, Chicago Ill). In his last two meets, he has run 21.33 & 21.41. He has improved his PR by more than a second in the last year. He could be the one guy that could get Mayweather.

Other sprinters that I would watch include Calvin Edwards (West, Joliet Ill), Keontay Williams (Zion-Benton, Zion Ill), Zach Gordon (North, Wheaton Ill), and Demetri Smith (Thornton, Harvey Ill).

4 x 400 METER RELAY

Outlook: This is going to be a great finale of a great meet. Belleville West has the fastest time in the state run last week at their own sectional. They have the potential to run much faster led by their anchor Jeremy Randolph. St. Charles East ran a great sectional time as well. Jake Mazanke ran a open 400 in the 48’s this spring and could split 47’s in this meet for the Saints.

Waubonsie Valley has been in the front of the pack most of the season. Last week at their sectional, they did not run a great second leg, but still ended up running 3:19.07 behind a great anchor from Kyle Schafer.

Other teams to watch in this race include Minooka, Belleville East, Springfield, Evanston, Cary-Grove, Metea Valley, and Wheaton North. It will take under 3:21 to make the finals. It will take 3:16 to win this race.

GOOD LUCK TO ALL ATHLETES AND COACHES THIS WEEKEND!!!
Quantity could be the deciding factor this weekend in the 3A state meet at O’Brien Field. With the weather supposed to be oppressively hot, it will come down to the schools that are deep to get the state championship. There is some good quality in this field with any number of five schools in the hunt to replace Lake Park as the state champion. The question will be whether or not Lake Park will be replaced? They bring into the meet 12 qualifiers that could bring the top trophy back to Roselle.

Here is a look what to watch for in the team battles this Friday and Saturday. The schools are listed by number of total qualifiers with the highest number going first.

Oak Park-River Forest

Qualifiers: 13 Individuals, 4 Relays – 17 Total

Outlook: The Huskies have gone after three goals this season. In the last two weeks, they have accomplished two of them by winning conference and sectional titles. Now on to goal #3: the state title. This team put themselves in a good position by qualifying 17 to Charleston. Some of you may say the numbers are high because of the sectional they were in. There is quality within those numbers.

Carl Heinz is the defending champion in the high Jump and will look to go after another on Saturday. He could also score in the Triple Jump. Malachy Schrobilgen is one of the elite distance runners in the state. He will be out for a championship in either the 3200 or 1600. Evan Fisher could score some major points in the 800 and will be a part of a couple of their relays.

The short sprint relays are comprised of all underclassmen. How will they stand up to the state meet pressure? They have looked good so far. Coach Tim Hasso’s team has been pointing for this moment. If they come out of Friday with 9 qualifiers to Saturday, this team will be in great shape to win a championship.

Wheaton North

Qualifiers: 11 Individuals, 4 Relays – 15 Total

Outlook: Don Helberg’s team was not in the team title discussion at the beginning of the year. In the last 3 weeks, this team has emerged as one of the elite squads in the state. Last Friday at Wheaton-Warrenville South, they backed up that claim qualifying 15 to Charleston.

The Falcons can score in many ways. They will get points in both the weight events from Christian Hollinger and Mac Spaulding. Zach Gordon popped a Long Jump that is longest in the state. He will look to go after the title this weekend. Gordon also could score points in the 200 Meter Dash and will be part of their 4 x1 and 4x2 relays.

Wheaton North could get points from Brett Kohler in the 300 Intermediates. The same can be said from Aidan Askin in the 1600. This squad could be towards the top if they can get 3 of their relays to Saturday. This is a team with deceptively good quality. They could show that this weekend.

Roselle Lake Park

Qualifiers: 10 Individuals, 2 Relays – 12 Total

Outlook: Those of you that are saying “Here we go again with Lake Park and their field events”…stop it! Last year the Lancers did it scoring points with basically three athletes. This year is a different team. And this squad could repeat through the field events, but it will be totally different than last year. At the Wheaton-Warrenville South Sectional, they qualified both of their individuals in 5 out of the 6 field events. Shot Put was the only event they did not get through. There is more depth on this team than last year and it could show this weekend.

Scott Filip has qualified in three events. He could place high in both horizontal jump events. It would be a bonus if he scored in the High Jump. Kevin Spejcher has been on the last couple of weeks. He won the IPTT Indoor State championship. He would like to get the one that has eluded him the last couple of years.

Shawn Koch enters the Triple Jump with the longest effort in 3A. He could score big points in this event. Marcus Jegede will be a favorite in the Long Jump. The talented sophomore was also anchor their 4 x 1 relay. The Lancers could get points in the Pole Vault from either Derrick Smith or Tim Ehrhardt.

Lake Park qualified 2 relays as well. Both the 4x8 and the 4x1 could make it to the Saturday finals. Coach Jay Ivory is smiling because the majority of the squad that qualified for the state meet are underclassmen. They are a young and talented squad that could bring back another championship trophy.

Edwardsville

Qualifiers: 9 Individuals, 2 Relays – 11 Total

Outlook: The Tigers have the parts to stop Lake Park’s title express. They qualified 11 from the ultra tough Belleville West sectional last Friday. They will combine speed and strength to go after the state title and duplicate what the girl’s team did one week prior.

It may have been a blessing in disguise that star sprinter Cameron James hurt his hamstring during the indoor season. It gave Bennett Gray a chance to step into the sprint spotlight. The junior has the second fastest time in the 100 and could be one of the favorites. James also qualified in the 100. Put those two sprinters together and you have a dangerous 1-2 punch. That showed in the 4x1 where the Tigers have the fastest time in the state.

Edwardsville is strong in the field events. So much that it may neutralize Lake Park’s strength. Josh White will be one of the favorites in the Triple Jump. Tom Schuette will score some good points in the Pole Vault. Julian Harvey could get some bonus points in the High Jump. Vincent Valentine has been the big surprise for coach Chad Lakatos in the Shot Put. This is Valentine’s first year in the event, yet he will be one of the favorites.

Garrett Sweatt opted out of the 3200 /1600 double due to a sore knee. He will only run the 3200, but will be a big threat to win it.

Edwardsville will know where they stand after the 4 x 2 when they are done competing for the day. It will be a sit and wait proposition for them. But the waiting is the hardest part and the waiting could get them a state trophy.

Harvey Thornton

Qualifiers: 9 Individuals, 2 Relays – 11 Total

Outlook: Last year the Wildcats tied for third place in the team race due to the strength of Timothy Faust who won the 100 & 200. It could have been higher if it were not for a phantom dq in the 4x2. The makeup of this year’s Thornton team is different where it does not rely on one individual for points. It is more of a well rounded team that could surprise.

Jonathan Anderson has the possibility of scoring points in both of the hurdle races. Demetri Smith has taken over the role that Timothy Faust had in 2011 and will be a factor in both the 100 & 200.

Thomas Taylor will compete in both the Long and Triple Jump. He could score some big points in both those events. Thornton has 2 good sprint relays. Both could place high even win on Saturday.

There is not much room for mistakes from this team this weekend. But it is a team that has flown under the radar most of the season and could come away with a trophy on Saturday.

Elmhurst York

Qualifiers: 9 Individuals, 1 Relay – 10 Total

Outlook: This is not your typical York state meet team where they will score points in either the relays or the distance events. This Duke team is powered by a couple of field events that if they score high in them, York could sneak away with a trophy.

Nick Sgarbossa and Shawn John have been towards the top of the boards in the Pole Vault most of the season. Sgarbossa has the highest clearance in the event (16-0) and will be the favorite. They will need big points in this event. Paul Golen has qualified in both the Shot and Discus. He could score big points in the Discus. He needs to find the consistency that he had indoors to score high in the Shot Put. The big surprise in the field events for York could be High Jumper Adam Kosecki. Two weeks ago, his PR was 5-11. It is now 6-5 and he could sneak in a couple of points.

York will have its normal entrants in the distances and could get a couple of points from either Chris May & Billy Clink in the 1600 or Nathan Mroz in the 3200. The Dukes do have a 4x8 relay that qualified. Hard to say if they will make it to Saturday. They have the talent but whether they will run to the potential or run scared will be the big question. It could score points that this team could use to get into the top 3 by the end of the day.

Naperville Neuqua Valley

Qualifiers: 6 Individuals, 3 Relays – 9 Total

Outlook: Not much wiggle room for errors for the Wildcats if they want to place in the top 3 at state. Neuqua will score big points in the 3200 with Mark Derrick and Taylor Soltys. Derrick could even get points in the 1600. Their 4 x 8 is the big story for this team. The quartet ran 7:52 last week at Naperville North. It has the potential to run faster this weekend and place high.

Jacob Bender tweaked his hamstring towards the end of the 400 last week at sectionals. He still placed second and has the second fastest sectional time in the state. He has had all week to rest. He will be the man to watch in that event and will score big points. Bender will also be part of the 4x1 that could make the finals and score bonus points.

Andrew Peterson vaulted to a PR last week. He could score some points in the Pole Vault. Carlos Varela-Hernandez is another athlete that could score points in the Discus.

Evanston Township

Qualifiers: 5 Individuals, 4 Relays – 9 Total

Outlook: This team is running with a heavy heart with the passing of long time Coach Willie May last month. This team used the same formula that Coach May used in the past in putting emphasis on teamwork within the relays. All 4 relays could score on Saturday putting them in shape to score some major points. The 4x 4 surprised by running 3:20 last Thursday and will be in the mix for the crown.

Xavier Levy has not been in the spotlight in the 100 & 200 Meter Dashes. He could score in both of those. Adonis Jones and Demonte Hill are entered in the Triple Jump and Long Jump respectively. It would be bonus points for the Wildkits if either could score in those.

Aurora Waubonsie Valley

Qualifiers: 6 Individuals, 2 Relays – 8 Total

Outlook: Kevin Rafferty’s team has been overshadowed most of the season by Lake Park and Neuqua Valley within their conference. Now with state meet this weekend, the Warriors have enough quality in their qualifiers that they could place in the top 3.

Waubonsie have two qualifiers in both the Shot and Discus with Riley Kittridge and Jamal Bearden. Both weight men have the potential to score big points in both events. James Travis was a surprise qualifier in the Triple Jump. If this sophomore scores in the event this weekend, it would be a bonus.

Kyle Schafer has been among the elite in the 300 Intermediates all season. He gets his chance to score big points as he will be one of the favorites. He is also a part of a 4x4 relay that has been towards the top of the leaderboard all season. They will be in the top 3 in this event on Saturday.

O’Fallon

Qualifiers: 7 Individuals, 1 Relay – 8 Total

Outlook: Could be among the top at the end of the meet, but the Panthers will need no mistakes. O’Fallon could score some big points in the 1600 Meter Run with Alex Riba and Patrick Perrier. O’Fallon could score points in the 4x8 if either two of these guys run. At this time, it looks doubtful that either will on Friday. If the relay makes it to Saturday, we may see both.

O’Fallon could get some points in the Pole Vault with Jack Klopfenstein. Senior Discus thrower Nick Barrett is among the top 5 sectional performances in that event. He could go higher this weekend.

Chris Wiggins is peaking at the right time in the 100 meter Dash. He could score some points there as well.

Minooka

Qualifiers: 5 Individuals, 3 Relays – 8 Total

Outlook: With only 8 qualifiers, this team does not have much room for mistakes. But the quality that they have is strong and could be in the mix for a trophy on Saturday. Their 4 x 4 relay has been tough all season. It will be in the hunt for a top finish on Saturday if they can stay away from the mishaps that haunted them in the indoor season.

Minooka’s 4x8 relay is back to defend the title that they won last year. It could. They have great senior leadership in Dan Popek and Joey Santillo. Popek also qualified in the 800 and could place in the top 5 in that race. Look for points from Ethan Cane as well in the Long Jump.

Belleville West

Qualifiers: 3 Individuals, 4 Relays – 7 Total

Outlook: Not much room for mistakes for the Maroons, but Patton Seagraves came into this meet last year in the same position and left with a top 3 finish.

All 4 relays are quality relays. The sprint relays at Belleville West have the tradition of stepping up big at the state meet. Don’t expect anything less than that. Do not be surprised if they win all three. The 4x8 relay is rated 20th on the leaderboard and could get bonus points if they make the finals.

Jamion Nash will need a good meet to place in the Triple Jump. Taron Johnson could get bonus points in the Shot Put.
It is very fitting that the Illinois High School Association has dubbed the three-day track weekend as "The Spring Spectacular."

The 40th edition of the IHSA Girls State Championships were filled with awesome performances throughout all three classes, but as is customary, Class 3A would cap off things off in style with unpredictable team scores as well as most of the weekend's best marks.

Edwardsville won their first state championship, scoring 51 points. The Tigers had to sweat things out after the 4x400 because they didn't have a team entered. However, the high jump results weren't final and they had a scoring performance not yet tallied. Sophomore Deborrah Blackburn would finish fourth in the event and the seven points were enough to topple rival Belleville West (48.5) and Evanston (47) for the victory.

Junior Emmonnie Henderson provided the foundation for Edwardsville's victory, sweeping the throwing events, as anticipated. She is now three-for-three in the shot put after a second-day performance in which she improved to US#14 with a monster 48-2.5. She smiled for the interviews afterwards and uttered a few choice words: "I wanted to come out here and help my team win first... but next year I plan on hitting [the 50-foot mark]."

Henderson would later claim the discus title. She actually sewed up the 157-11 winning performance in Friday's prelim.

4x800 was epic

Sometimes the best races turn out to be those with little advance hype. Earlier in the season, one might not necessarily have picked an event like the 4x800 to make history at state or produce a nation-leading mark, but maybe coaches Paul Haas of Glen Ellyn Glenbard West and Rob Harvey of Wheaton Warrenville-South knew something others didn't. But certainly when Glenbard West produced an eye-popping 9:06.69 in their conference meet, and Wheaton South did one slightly better at the Lake Park Sectional with a sensational 9:06.25, the stage was set for greatness. There have never been two teams with season bests under 9:10 before the state preliminaries.

The two powerhouses advanced to Saturday’s final with ease. In fact, Wheaton South’s anchor McKenna Kiple jogged home with a 2:23 split to win the heat for the Tigers in 9:13.56. Glenbard West and Elmhurst York also did the same with their heat winners.

The final started out fast as Mt. Prospect (Prospect) decided to take matters in their own hand. Lead leg Christina Santiago paced the field through a solid 65.6 first 400 split and came around first in 2:14.7. Glenbard West rolled the dice with Maddie Nagle and she did well, but came home to a cluttered transition zone.

Palatine used their best runner, Tess Wasowicz, on the second leg and she opened up a sizable lead on the field. Palatine had a four-second lead going into the third leg. The Lady Pirates know a little bit about competing in the 4x8, having won state five titles in their glorious history. But things would soon change.

Glenbard West and Wheaton South came to life on the third leg. The Hilltoppers had their diminutive, but super aggressive Madeline Perez to get things going. The Tigers deployed Hope Schmelzle.

It would be all Hilltoppers and Tigers from this point on. Schmelzle ran her best ever race in a Wheaton South uniform, producing a scorching 2:11.2 split and putting her team in the lead for the final exchange.

It was dually noted the time just after the two anchors got the sticks: 6:50. This meant something around 2:10 would break the mythical 9:00 barrier.

Wheaton South’s Kiple pushed hard on her first lap, but could not shake the Hilltoppers' Emma Reifel. They both worked hard in tandem through the first 500, and then 600. The trailing pack, aside from Prospect, was running well but completely in the rearview mirror.

Finally, Kiple got a little a bit of separation from Reifel as they entered the homestretch, with the entire stadium abuzz and on its feet.

The announcer, Billy Poole-Harris, shouted, “8:56, 8:57, 8:58, 8:59” as Kiple desperately sprinted home with her teeth clinched. Reifel followed just a few strides back and obviously also under the former meet record of 9:04.14. The official time on the scoreboard displayed 8:59.03, a new all-time state best mark, IHSA meet record, and made WWS the first under 9:00 in Illinois history -- as well as a national leader.

Glenbard West, which really got the sub-9:00 talk started, ran an amazing 9:00.72 -- good for the second-fastest in state history and the fourth-best time in the country.

Wheaton South splits: 2:16.3, 2:19.7, 2:11.2, 2:10.5
Glenbard West splits: 2:15.8, 2:17.4, 2:15.0, 2:12.7

Prospect set a school record as well as a Mid-Suburban League mark, placing third in 9:06.18 -- also good for US#8. Anchor Lauren Poplawski left her best effort the track with a solid 2:15 leg.

It was also the deepest 4x8 in state history -- all twelve finalists were among the 75 squads in the country. Lagrange Lyons Township had the distinction of taking the caboose spot in 9:22.95, but their time would have finished first in Class A and second in 2A.

“We wanted to just come here and run our best… run our best for each other,” said the second leg Erin Herrmann after the awards.

“We didn’t have a goal to break 9:00… it just happened,” added lead off runner Amy Yong.

Akinosun vs. Brown: Split decision

There was some concern that the Aaliyah Brown (Jr., Frankfort Lincoln-Way East) vs. Morolake Akinosun (Sr., Aurora Waubonsie Valley) 100 dash duel would be a dud.

Well, not exactly.

Both superstar sprinters won their respective prelim heats easily. The stage was now set for a showdown that featured a true all-star cast with the likes of Cessily Jones (Sr., Plainfield North), Kim Azie (Sr., Bolingbrook), Savannah Carson (Jr., Naperville Neuqua Valley), and Cherise Porter (Sr., Villa Park Willowbrook). Seven of the nine finalists ran sub-12.00 to make it to the big stage. By all accounts, it was the best girls 100 field ever assembled in Illinois.

The meet officials decided it was best turn the races around to avoid a headwind. They would also be taking a chance that the wind would pick up and go over the allowable 2.0. The 2A race had been 3.8.

Akinosun tweeted that all she wanted for her birthday was an Illinois state title. “I’m not leaving here without one,” she would add.

The race was a blur as Akinosun got out of the blocks fast. She already had a few meters on Brown and the field before the halfway mark. It became a complete blowout for Akinosun as she displayed the dominance she put on her foes during the indoor season.

Akinosun tied the all-time state best of 11.41 with the immortal Alexandria Anderson (Chicago Morgan Park) set in 2005. The wind reading was +1.7. She could now rejoice in the one record that she wanted.

Brown finished well back in second with a 11.67 clocking. In fairness to her, she had to wait in the infield for the 4x100 medal ceremonies. The wait was a ridiculously long 40 minutes. This is something that meet officials should consider altering - having finalists in subsequent races not wait and sit for mandatory medal sessions.

Six of the nine finalists broke 12.00; another record for the books.

Brown came back in the 200 trying even the score. The race was contested into a slight head wind (-0.9), but no match for the “Brown Franchise.” She won easily in 24.18.

Redemption time for Bamgbose

In last year’s 300H, she tried to carry the weight of the team’s trophy chances on her back. The result was Margaret Bamgbose (Sr., Evanston) never finishing the race. This year she has simply gone out and done whatever the coaching staff has asked of her. She earned medals in the 100H, 200 and 4x100. But the 300H is the race that she most adores.

There would be no doubt this year, despite the defending champion Markita Rush (Jr., East St. Louis Sr.) in the field. Bamgbose got a safe and conservative start over the first few hurdles before turning it on late in the contest. She hit the tape in 41.11, the fourth fastest time in state history and only the third fastest in her team annals. The legendary Shalina Clarke has the other three previous bests. Bamgbose will now take her talents to the University of Notre Dame.

Tomorrow’s stars get their start today

Brittny Ellis (Fr., Gurnee Warren) is no stranger to big time track. She was a celebrated athlete in the youth ranks for several years. In her first state final, she was one of the favorites in the 400. Ellis took the challenge from Cameron Pettigrew (Jr., Chicago Peyton) and matched her stride for stride before pulling away late to win in 54.08. The IHSA doesn’t keep class records, but if it did, Ellis would hold it. She would later return to the 200 and place sixth in 24.88 despite a painful blister on her foot.

Maya Neal is also a talented freshman who hails from Naperville Neuqua Valley. It has been said that she fits the mold of former Waubonsie Valley legend Shakeia Pinnick in her multi-event talents. Neal placed third in the long jump with a great jump of 19-1. She also placed eighth in the 300H and 4x100 relay. The future is definitely bright for Neal.

Distance races were as hot as the track

Kaylee Flanagan (Jr., Roselle Lake Park) has admitted on numerous occasions that she likes to run fast (sometimes too fast) from the beginning of the races. She has often times crossed the first mile of a deuce in a blazing 5:05. Her coach, on the other hand, prefers that she sits back and run more of a controlled and even race.

Flanagan showed Saturday she's coming around a little to the idea: She started the race under relative control, leading the first four laps with splits of 73.9, 2:30.0, 3:50.1, 5:12.4. Ariel Michalek (Sr., Oswego East) and Amanda Fox (Sr.,Naperville Central) were right on her hip.

Flanagan entered the fifth lap running her style. She picked up the cadence and that seemed to drop Fox back a few meters. It appeared to be over for Michalek, too, when the bell lap rung. Flanagan would hit the finish line in 10:30.47, while Michalek raced hard to the very end and held off Fox 10:33.53-10:35.17. The top 12 finishers would go on to break 11:00.

Courtney Clayton (Jr.,Rockton Hononegah) and Lindsey Rakosnik (Sr., Lombard Glenbard East) decided the best way to running fast in the 800 is to get out and do it. Rakosnik took advantage of her speed, strength, and endurance to lead the first 400 in 62.3. Clayton, who is also blessed with tremendous leg speed, remained patient until just after the 600 mark. She began to move on Rakosnik and actually passed her with ease. The end result was Clayton winning in a personal best of 2:08.48. As a consolation prize, Rakosnik also recorded a PB 2:09.23.

All 12 finishers broke 2:19 - a first in Illinois meet history.

Michalek returned several hours later to contest the 1600. Although she won in 4:53.37, it would not be an easy affair. The victory was set up by a tactical pace for the first three laps with as many as a half-dozen runners battling for the win. It was only 3:44.1 at the bell when Michalek asserted herself. She pulled away from a tiring Rakosnik to win her first title.
It’s amazing how different the pre-season outlook compares to what may happen inside O’Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University this weekend.

It was four months ago that the returning state champion East St. Louis looked to be the heavy favorite. However, the Flyerettes could not put it all together at the Normal West Sectional. Now, it appears as though there will be a new champion to crown early Saturday evening.

Belleville West, Evanston, Frankfort Lincoln-Way East, and Wheaton-Warrenville South appear to be at the top of the class. These squads have the most key qualifiers in position to score quick points in the finals.

There are several teams on the outside that could earn a trophy if things fall their way: Bolingbrook, Edwardsville, Naperville Neuqua Valley, and Plainfield North

Event-by-event breakdown

Sprints

100m
All-time best: 11.41; Alexandria Anderson (Chicago Morgan Park)-IHSA 2A Final, 2005
State Meet record: 11.41; Anderson- 2005
Top 5 sectional performers:
11.72 Aaliyah Brown (Jr.) Frankfort (Lincoln-Way East)
11.75 Cessily Jones (Sr.) Plainfield (North)
11.91 Morolake Akinosun (Sr.) Aurora (Waubonsie Valley)
12.06 Cherise Porter (Sr.) Villa Park (Willowbrook)
12.14 Savannah Carson (Jr.) Naperville (Neuqua Valley)
Outlook: If Brown (current US#2 at 100) and Akinosun (US#1 at 55 indoors, Illinois Prep Top Times champ) are at their best, and can overcome leg injury issues they've battled this year, this could be one of the top matchups of the meet. Hopefully, the warmer weather over the past two weeks will keep the top stars loose and able to make it through the finals. The field is potentially the best ever assembled with Jones added in. She has quietly had a solid outdoor campaign, but she will gunning for much more than second place when she touches down in Charleston. On top of that, she's been healthy all season. That could play into her favor. Porter has made her intentions very clear that she wants top honors in the event. Not listed among the top five qualifiers is Mystique Thompson (So., Rock Island). She ran a blistering 12.01 during the regular season. All ten girls who were projected as the top returners advanced to Charleston.

400m
All-time best: 52.63; Alexandria Anderson (Chicago Morgan Park)- IHSA 2A Final, 2005
State Meet record: 52.63; Anderson- 2005
Top 5 sectional performers:
55.99 Brittny Ellis (Fr.) Gurnee (Warren)
56.26 Courtney Clayton (Jr.) Rockton (Hononegah)
56.47 Brenna Detra (Jr.) Peoria (Richwoods)
56.65 Parker English (So.) Evanston (Twp.)
56.77 Jordan Shead (So.) St. Charles (East)
Outlook: This event will be strong with the influx of new blood and classification additions. Ellis is one of the nation’s best freshman sprinters; she has met all expectations thrown upon her. There are many out there who feel the deep sprint fields led by Brown and Akinosun will keep the pressure off of Ellis. Clayton will take a crack at the rare 800/400 double. English could give her team the boost it needs in the title chase if she can make the final and score big points. Detra passed up an opportunity to score well in the 300H to run the quarter-mile.

200m-
All-time best: 22.96; Alexandria Anderson (Chicago Morgan Park)- Jr. Nats; Carson CA, 2005
State Meet record: 23.32; Anderson- 2005
Top 5 sectional performers:
24.46 Morolake Akinosun (Sr.) Aurora (Waubonsie Valley)
24.49 Cessily Jones (Sr.) Plainfield (North)
24.51 Margaret Bamgbose (Sr.) Evanston (Twp.)
24.51 Cherise Porter (Sr.) Villa Park (Willowbrook)
24.89 Aaliyah Brown (Jr.) Frankfort (Lincoln-Way East)
Outlook: The half-lapper is not as strong as the century but it will be strong led by the US#13 Brown. Brown easily cruised in her sectional qualifier and should be the favorite. This is Jones’ best event and she a major threat to Brown, having topped her during the indoor season once, and Akinosun, the IPTT Champion and meet record holder. Bamgbose enters for team points for the Wildkits while also being a great long hurdler. Bolingbrook’s senior standout Kim Azie will put pressure on the already crowded field. She has run 24.99 twice this season. Don’t forget about 400 favorite Brittny Ellis. She is entered, too.

100H
All-time best: 13.32w/13.51; Shalina Clarke (Evanston)- Jr. Nats & Jr. Olympics, 2006
State Meet record: 13.54; Dawn Harper (E. St. Louis Sr.), 2001
Top 5 sectional performers:
14.21 LaDonna Caston (Sr.) Harvey (Thornton)
14.41 Jessica McCaskill (Sr.) Belleville (East)
14.45 Alexus Jimson-Miller (Jr.) Danville (H.S.)
14.51 Margaret Bamgbose (Sr.) Evanston (Twp.)
14.52 Emma Spagnola (So.) Aurora (West)
Outlook: Caston is the top seed from regionals and brings in 12.2 flat 100 speed. She has second best mark overall in 3A behind a surprising Jimson-Miller. Riley Vann (Sr., Oswego) is the top state meet returner after finishing second last year. However, she has spent more time in the field, pole vaulting. Bamgbose is entered in the short hurdles, but it’s not certain that she will compete as the team’s overall needs may trump individual ones.

300H
All-time best: 40.24+; Shalina Clarke (Evanston)- Palatine Sectional, 2005
State Meet record: 40.61; Clarke, 2005
Top 5 sectional performances:
42.18 Margaret Bamgbose (Sr.) Evanston (Twp.)
43.71 Kristen Dowell (So.) Edwardsville (H.S.)
43.86 Emma Spagnola (So.) Aurora (West)
44.48 Kathie Wollney (Sr.) Cary (C.-Grove)
44.62 Markita Rush (Jr.) East St. Louis (Sr.)
Outlook: Many will say that Bamgbose was the best long hurdler in the entire state last year. That theory never came to fruition as she tripped over the first hurdle in the final and did not finish the race. Rush went on to take the spoils and led her team to the state title. Once again, Bamgbose is one of the nation’s best long hurdlers with added flat speed gained over the past year. If it is a clean race, it will be Bamgbose in a breeze. `

Distances

3200m
All-time best: 9:56.96; Kayla Beattie (Woodstock)- IHSA 2A State Final, 2011
State Meet record: 10:17.28; Maria Cicero (Elmhurst York)- 2001
Top 5 sectional performances:
10:25.98 Kaylee Flanagan (Jr.) Roselle (Lake Park)
10:37.55 Ariel Michalek (Sr.) Oswego (East)
10:39.05 Courtney Ackerman (Jr.) Winnetka (New Trier)
10:45.76 Jessica Ackerman (Jr.) Winnetka (New Trier)
10:46.28 Sami Staples (Fr.) Crystal Lake (Central)
Outlook: Flanagan knows only one way to race. It is coming out of the gate fast and daring anyone to compete with her. It's not a formula that the other top contenders utilize. It wasn’t until late in the cross country season last fall that she was worn day from the perpetual breakneck racing. So has she learned anything from coming up short to Amanda Fox (Sr., Naperville Central) and Michalek? Well, she isn’t going to attempt the 1600/3200 double in possible searing heat. That may be the smartest decision she and her coaches will make if all the eggs are put in the 3200 basket. Courtney and Jessica Ackerman traded off the runners up spot in each of the last two seasons, Courtney in 2010, and Jessica in 2011. Both sisters took the runner up spot by less than a second. Expect them to be in it the last 200 meters. It may take a kick of sun 30 for 200 meters to win it.As far as the field itself, it is very deep - perhaps the deepest ever on paper. There are 20 runners who have run 11:00 or better. Could it be as good as the 2010 field in which all 36 runners broke 12:00? Or when 13 runners eclipsed the 11:00 mark? Only time will tell.

800m-
All-time best: 2:07.39+; Shelly McBride (Crete-Monee)- IHSA 2A State Final, 1984
State meet record: 2:07.39+; McBride- 1984
Top 5 sectional performances:
2:12.78 Lindsey Rakosnik (Sr.), Lombard (Glenbard East)
2:12.94 Courtney Clayton (Jr.), Rockton (Hononegah)
2:13.79 Kaylee Schmitz (Sr.), O'Fallon (H.S.)
2:14.03 Jahnell Horton (Sr.), Evanston (Twp.)
2:14.55 Lauren Poplawski (Jr.), Mt. Prospect (Prospect)
Outlook: The event is waiting for a breakout performance and Rakosnik appears to be the athlete ready to bust out and get in the sub-2:10 range. Clayton will be doubling like most of the top entrants, but she has the 400 to negotiate during the two-day journey. Horton will be an important piece to her team’s title fortune. She led a big portion of the race last May before fading to 11th. Dhia Dean (Sr., Chicago Kenwood) likes fast paced races; she may be the runner to push the pace and alter her opponents' strategic plans.

1600m-
All-time best: 4:43.65; Kayla Beattie (Woodstock)- IHSA 2A State Final, 2011
State Meet record: 4:49.34+; Shelly McBride (Crete-Monee), 1985
Top 5 sectional performances:
4:57.79 Lindsey Rakosnik (Sr.), Lombard (Glenbard East)
4:59.00 Hope Schmelzle (Jr.), Wheaton (W. Warrenville South)
4:59.98 Brooke Wolfe (Jr.), Mt. Prospect (Prospect)
5:01.17 Madeline Perez (So.), Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West)
5:01.31 Courtney Ackerman (Jr.), Winnetka (New Trier)
Outlook: The thing that makes the 1600 the perfect event for Rakosnik is her speed, endurance, and strength. The University of Illinois signee was a former all-state 400 sprinter, as well as one of the best cross country runners in the state, and she is the defending 800 champion. Ackerman could possibly take Rakosnik if she can run on the offensive and make her uncomfortable. But few girls have done that. Rakosnik is undefeated on the track in races that matter since 2010.

Relays

4x800m-
All-time best: 9:03.19+; Barrington; St. Charles North Sectional, 2008
State Meet record: 9:04.14; Barrington, 2008
Top 5 sectional performances:
9:06.25 Wheaton (W. Warrenville South)
9:13.67 Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West)
9:18.87 Mt. Prospect (Prospect)
9:21.63 Downers Grove (North)
9:22.70 Yorkville
Outlook: The fields may be so competitive here that the prelims may be faster than the final. Last year, it took 9:29.4 to make the final; this year, it may take 9:25 or 9:26. Powerhouse Glenbard West was beaten by Wheaton-Warrenville South in the sectional, but the winning coach Rob Harvey tried to keep things in perspective: “They will be better than what you saw… [Glenbard West] has another leg they didn’t show.” He may be right because Glenbard West coach Paul Haas used his normal leadoff leg Katie Born in the 3200. Born qualified but may not make the championship heat. He will need to decide in a hurry to re-insert her or move on to his other five runners in a tight rotation. We could see the first 9:00 time in state history if everything unfolds well. MSL rivals Palatine and Mt. Prospect (Prospect) will be in the mix and ready to challenge for a top five spot. Yorkville makes their debut run in 3A after dominating the 2A classification. O’Fallon will lead the southern Illinois charge. Watch for LaGrange (Lyons Twp.) to move up among the leaders. Also, Downers Grove North and South, along with Winnetka (New Trier), have a few surprises up their sleeves.

4x100m
All-time best: 46.23; E. St. Louis Sr.- IHSA 2A final, 2008
State Meet record: 46.23; E. St. Louis Sr., 2008
Top 5 sectional performances:
47.14 Flossmoor (Homewood-F.)
47.28 Frankfort (Lincoln-Way East)
47.48 Rock Island (H.S.)
47.64 Bolingbrook
47.99 Naperville (Neuqua Valley)
Outlook: It’s pretty good stuff when all of the top sectional performers are under 48.00. Homewood-Flossmoor has had pretty good success in this event, but has never won a relay title. This may be the year. However, there are some pretty solid units standing in the way. Defending champion Lincoln-Way East is back and they have Aaliyah Brown as the trump card. Bolingbrook will be strong if they run their four best legs. Evanston and Belleville East didn’t produce top five marks in their sectional meet, but they are very dangerous teams.

4x200m
All-time best: 1:37.87; Evanston- Bulldog Classic; Louisville KY, 2004
State Meet record: 1:37.97; Evanston- 2003
Top 5 sectional performances:
1:41.36 Belleville (East)
1:41.61 Rock Island (H.S.)
1:42.48 Belleville (West)
1:42.87 O'Fallon (H.S.)
1:42.90 Romeoville (H.S.)
Outlook: Evanston had the state’s best time of 1:42.06 during the season, but at the sectional round they ran a team that barely did enough to get into the prelim round. They may decide to run a secondary team and concentrate on other events. Belleville East and Rock Island appear as the teams to beat until further notice.

4x400m
All-time best: 3:45.14+; E. St. Louis Lincoln- 2A State final, 1984
State Meet record: 3:45.14+; E. St. Louis Lincoln, 1984
Top 5 sectional performances:
3:55.70 Belleville (West)
3:55.85 Evanston (Twp.)
3:56.47 East St. Louis (Sr.)
3:57.61 St. Charles (East)
3:57.87 Elmhurst (York)
Outlook: Evanston is the state’s best team in this event and should have no trouble making the final. It will depend how the team battle is going as to whether they decide to put together a super team - like the one ran 3:49 in a winning effort at the Kansas Relays. If they slip up, a fleet of schools will be ready to pounce. Lincoln-Way East will have Aaliyah Brown waiting should they need to deploy her. In the meantime, watch for Belleville West to assert themselves into the leadership role. Also, look for a now-depleted E. St. Louis team to run for pride and upset a few teams.

Field events

Discus Throw-
All-time best: 167-4; Kelsey Card (Carlinville)- IHSA 1A State Final, 2010
State Meet record: 167-4; Card, 2010
Top 5 sectional performances:
156-7 Emmonnie Henderson (Jr.), Edwardsville (H.S.)
140-4 Morgan Keller (Jr.), Rolling Meadows
139-2 Melissa Dunham (Jr.), Fox Lake (Grant)
135-4 Shayna Clark (Sr.), Roselle (Lake Park)
131-3 Desirae Ranberg (Sr.), Wheaton (W. Warrenville South)
Outlook: Henderson takes on the challenge of being Illinois’ next great thrower after Card’s graduation. But she is already a two-time winner and has the US#4/IL#1 best of 160-5. This may be the best field in terms of high marks and depth: 14 girls have exceeded the state standard. Keller has improved mightily over the past year. Dunham comes from a throws-rich program and it could be her turn to follow predecessors Bailey Wagner and Tori Ziegler.

Shot Put
All-time best: 51-0.75; Daniella “Dani” Bunch (Mahomet-Seymour)- Cornbelt Conf. meet, 2008
Top 5 sectional performances:
47-2.5 Emmonnie Henderson (Jr.), Edwardsville (H.S.)
44-6 Banke Oginni (So.), Hoffman Estates (H.S.)
41-10 Morgan Keller (Jr.), Rolling Meadows
41-8 Shayna Clark (Sr.), Roselle (Lake Park)
40-7 Melissa Dunham (Jr.), Fox Lake (Grant)
Outlook: Henderson is once again the one to beat as she is within two inches of her personal best state winner from a year ago. Oginni and Keller are conference foes who appear ready to take their battle to a bigger stage. Add in Clark, Dunham, and Sam Voegtle (Sr., Belleville West) for good measure.

Pole Vault
All-time best: 13-5; Emily Grove (Pontiac)- AAU qualifier, 2011
State Meet record: 13-3; Sarah Landau (Geneva)- 2004
Top 5 sectional performances:
12-3 Carolina Carmichael (Sr.), Lake Forest (H.S.)
12-0 Riley Vann (Sr.), Oswego (H.S.)
11-9 Brittany Hull (Jr.), Normal (Community)
11-9 McKenzee Kroeschell (Jr.), Oak Park (O.P.-River Forest)
11-9 Carly Schmidt (Jr.), Lake Forest (H.S.)
Outlook: Hull was on a tremendous roll when she earned the co-US#1 mark of 13-0.25 during the latter stages of the indoor season. But ever since finishing second at IPTT, she hasn’t had the same success outdoors. Hull has yet to clear 12-0 this spring. Now would the perfect time to get back on track. Hull’s peers have stolen her spotlight. Carmichael is one athlete sitting in the catbird seat. She and teammate Schmidt share the state’s top outdoor jump of 12-6. Vann has the distinction of being top-ranked in the 100H, and will see Charmichael there as well.

High Jump
All-time best: 6-1.25; Denise Daebelliehn (Moline)- USA age group nats; Dayton OH, 1980
State Meet record: 5-11; Melinda Morris (Buffalo Tri-City), 1980
Top 5 sectional performances:
5-7 Kelsey Shannon (So.), Belleville (West)
5-5 Jaclyn Aremka (Sr.), Plainfield (North)
5-5 Deborrah Blackburn (So.), Edwardsville (H.S.)
5-5 Darcy Cadman (Sr.), Lisle (Benet Academy)
5-5 Kasey Gassensmith (Sr.), Wheaton (W. Warrenville South)
Outlook: Aremka has done everything that her coaches have asked, including running on various relays and open running events, but the high jump is her signature event. After placing third at state last year, it was pretty evident that the goal would be to step up and shoot for a state title. Aremka has the US#2 mark of 5-10. If she duplicates that feat this weekend, she will win hands down.

Long Jump
All-time best: 20-9.5; Jackie Joyner (E. St. Louis Lincoln)- AAU Nats; Lincoln NB- 1980
State Meet record: 20-9; Alexandria Anderson (Chicago Morgan Park)- 2005 prelims
Top 5 sectional performances:
18-8.25 Aliyah Harmon (Jr.), Olympia Fields (Rich Central)
18-5.5 Jasmine Brown (Jr.), DeKalb
18-5 Savannah Carson (Jr.), Naperville (Neuqua Valley)
18-1.75 Micayla Collins (Jr.), East St. Louis (Sr.)
18-0 Claudette Day (So.), Belleville (West)
Outlook: Carson is back to her winning ways after recovering from a back injury that hampered her indoor season. She jumped a state-leading 19-5.5 nwi outdoors. Day is the state’s other jumper to surpass the 19-0 mark. Harmon has been quiet since jumping mid-18s during January. She may be coming around at the right time. Parker English (So.,Evanston) is one of the state’s most talented athletes, but has been inconsistent in the jump arena. If she can get it together, she will be a threat to place in the top three or so.

Triple Jump
All-time best: 42-2.75; Deanna Simmons (Decatur MacArthur)- USATF Regionals, 1996
State Meet Record: 41-5; Simmons, 1996
Top 5 sectional performances:
39-11.5 Chardae Greenlee (Jr.), Calumet City (Thornton Fractional North)
39-1.25 Allie Virgilio (Sr.), Algonquin (Jacobs)
38-7.75 Aliyah Harmon (Jr.), Olympia Fields (Rich Central)
37-7.5 Chaz Duson (Sr.), Olympia Fields (Rich Central)
37-4.25 Hannah Davison (Fr.), Geneva
Outlook: There are several notables to watch out for, like Anne Yahiro (Sr., Lisle Benet Academy), Uzo Okoro (Sr., Darien Hinsdale South), Harmon, and Virgilio. The aforementioned are returning all-state leapers, but for the list-leading Greenlee, competing in Charleston will be her first trip to state. Hopefully, the nerves will subside quickly; all she has to worry about is jumping 40-feet.
The list of superstar athletes that will be unleashed this Saturday is long -- even without injured sprint star Aaliyah Brown -- but pay attention to these specific athletes who have made major noise during the undercover season:

Morolake Akinosun (Sr., Aurora Waubonsie Valley) -- The University of Illinois-bound standout has put up Wonder Woman-type numbers in the short sprints. She is on pace to smash her IPTT 55 (6.90) and 200 (24.37) meet records and finished the campaign undefeated.

Lindsey Rakosnik (Sr., Lombard Glenbard East) -- She will be joining Akinosun down I-57 this fall for college, but in the meantime this phenomenal middle-distance runner has been busy putting up solid numbers on the oval. By the time the weekend is over at the Shirk, the fandom could witness a bit of history in either the 800 or the 1600.

Brittny Ellis (Fr., Gurnee Warren) could be a simmering story in the making. She has been bubbling under the high school surface for over three years now. The freshman sensation spent recent years slaying the youth track competition coast-to-coast. She will be stationed in Bloomington this weekend and we all will see if that can continue.

Of course, it would be remiss if the field events weren’t captured. Three ladies have stolen the hearts of the fans that follow them closely: 1) Brittany Hull (Jr., Normal Community) -- Already US#1 in the PV at 13-0.25, she keeps soaring for more and will assuredly go after the all-time best this weekend; 2) Emmonie Henderson (Jr., Edwardsville) is the 3A record holder in the SP and DT and has already thrown over 44-feet, less than a week removed from playing in the state basketball title game; 3) Savannah Carson (Jr., Naperville Neuqua Valley) -- She has been bringing back visions of Alex “the Great” after several top level 19-foot long jumps. Carson’s top 10 status among her national peers is just the start of what should be a wonderful weekend.

Event-by-Event profile

55m
Class record: Morolake Akinosun (Aurora Waubonsie Valley) 6.90, 2011
Who to watch for: Akinosun, Alexis Hyshaw (So., Naperville North), Cessily Jones (Sr., Plainfield North), Anita Saffa (Jr., West Aurora), Savannah Carson, Kimberly Azie (Sr., Bolingbrook)
Outlook: What was supposed to be billed as the Illinois race of all-time, indoors or out, took a big hit with the loss to injury of Frankfort Lincoln-Way East junior Aaliyah Brown. It appears as though her sore hamstring hasn’t improved enough to take on a cast that will still include six girls ranked nationally -- five of them in the top 20. Akinosun was the early favorite, regardless. She will now have to turn her attention towards Hyshaw and Jones. In looking at the entrants, it is very impressive with 15 girls posting times under 7.40! It is possible that some of them will not make the two-heat final despite being among the best in the nation.
Tony J’s picks: 1) Akinosun; 2) Hyshaw; 3) Jones

400m
Class record: Adia McKinnon (Homewood-Flossmoor) 55.09, 2000
Who to watch for: Cameron Pettigrew (Jr., Chicago Payton), Simone Carr (So., Carol Stream Glenbard North), Brittny Ellis (Fr., Gurnee Warren), Britney Williams (Jr., St. Charles East), Jaylaan Slaughter (Sr., Dekalb)
Outlook: A lightly raced Pettigrew is coming on strong at the right time after defeating the multi-talented Shamier Little of Chicago Lindblom at the CPS Championship. Pettigrew will now try and inflict more pain on a tough field. The cheerful Ellis may show the least amount of concern, though. But she is going to need a big personal best in order to beat Pettigrew.
Tony J’s picks: 1) Pettigrew, 2) Ellis, 3) Carr

200m
Class record: Morolake Akinosun 24.37, 2011
Who to watch for: Akinosun, Jones, Ellis, Maya Neal (Fr., Naperville Neuqua Valley), Hyshaw, Carson
Outlook: Akinosun is once again at the head of the class without Brown in the field. The senior standout sports a sizzling 24.60 season best that is sure to dazzle those in attendance. Jones comes in with an impressive resume, too. She handed Brown her only defeat at the Proviso East Invite earlier in the month. The 24.81 clocking speaks well enough on its own. Watch out for the newcomer Neal. She is a very multi-faceted athlete similar to the legendary Shakeia Pinnick -- ranking tall in four events -- destined to be an absolute superstar.

55HH
Class record: Shalina Clark (Evanston) 7.96, 2006
Who to watch for: Riley Vann (Sr., Oswego), Jayla Stewart (Fr., Homewood-Flossmoor), Madlen Karnatz (Jr., Chicago St. Ignatius), Imani Haynes (Jr., Chicago Heights Marian Catholic), Claire Keiger (Sr., Chicago Whitney Young), Maya Neal
Outlook: It could be up to the veteran Vann vs. the freshmen Stewart and Neal. The difference in time isn’t far off. Vann’s season best is 8.41 to Stewart at 8.44. Neal has run 8.58 -- but usually performing as a hepthathlete in meets. Haynes has all the talent in the world, but hasn’t as yet snuck into the elite category like she is capable of. Maybe she will drop a serious jewel this weekend and show her competitors the real deal.
Tony J’s picks: 1) Vann, 2) Stewart, 3) Neal

Distance

3200m
Class record: Maria Cicero (Elmhurst York) 10:17.85, 2001
Who to watch out for: Kaylee Flanagan (Jr., Roselle Lake Park), Ariel Michalek (Sr., Oswego East), Madeline Perez (So., Glen Ellyn Glenbard West), Emily Leonard (So., Park Ridge Maine South), Lisa Luczak (Fr., Glen Ellyn Glenbard West).
Outlook: This event is so deep that one could mistake it for the outdoor state championship or cross country title match. Flanagan will lead the charge out of the gate with her typical fast pace. Keep in mind that she has run under 10:40 twice -- both solo ventures (10:36.40 PR). Michalek will be there with Flanagan and, if they work together, the fans could see a time somewhere in the 10:20s.
Tony J’s picks: 1) Flanagan, 2) Michalek, 3) Leonard

800m
Class record: McKinzie Schulz (Lisle Benet Academy) 2:12.36, 2009
Who to watch out for: Dhia Dean (Sr., Chicago Kenwood), Emma Reifel (Jr., Glen Ellyn Glenbard West), Jahnell Horton (Sr., Evanston), Lindsey Rakosnik, Kaylee Schmitz (Sr., O’Fallon), Shianne Baggett (Jr., Chicago Whitney Young)
Outlook: What initially looked like a possibly dud actually will be a bombshell. Rakosnik is the state’s best half-miler, regardless of the limited amount of racing here. She has superior speed and vastly improved aerobic system, thanks to cross country. The meet record is in serious danger if the opening pace is fast. It will need to go 62-63 to have a chance. Horton has excellent leg speed virtue of running on many Wildkat sprint relays. Don’t be surprised if the entire field is at the outdoor standard of 2:19.74 or better.
Tony J’s picks: 1) Rakosnik, 2) Horton, 3) Schmitz

1600m
Class record: Tera Moody (St. Charles) 4:54.0h, 1998
Who to watch for: Lindsey Rakosnik, Kaylee Flanagan, Ariel Michalek, Haley Goers (Sr., Hoffman Estates), Brooke Wolfe (Jr., Prospect), Lisa Luczak (Fr., Glen Ellyn Glenbard West), Megan Lemersal (Jr., Park Ridge Maine South)
Outlook: Once again, a superb field contains many big distance names that romped during the XC season. The question will be if Rakosnik and Flanagan have anything left in the tank after getting worked over in their earlier races. Goers could emerge the winner here if she isn’t spent from 4x8 relay duties. No matter what the race holds, it seems like Rakosnik will be there in the end.
Tony J’s picks: 1) Rakosnik, 2) Lemersal, 3) Wolfe

Relays

4x800
Class record: Schaumburg 9:20.59, 2011
Teams to watch: Glenbard West, Mt. Prospect (Prospect), Roselle Lake Park, Downers Grove North, Downers Grove South, Yorkville.
Outlook: Illinois is historically deep in this even,t but IPTT has never really drawn a field as strong as this one. It will be interesting to see how fast the opening pace will go out. Glenbard West potentially could have two or three sub-2:20 legs to push the chasers. A quality guestimate could see a time in the 9:15 range. Finally, welcome Yorkville to the 3A ranks. The Lady Foxes have dominated in the 2A division for a few years and will have something to say to their new neighbors.
Tony J’s picks: 1) Glenbard West, 2) Prospect, 3) Yorkville

4x200
Class record: Evanston 1:40.68, 2006
Teams to watch: Bolingbrook, Plainfield North, Homewood-Flossmoor
Outlook: Certainly the meet record is completely off-limits, but a good and competitive effort by the top teams could see some great times. Plainfield North will be seeking the top spot with Cessily Jones leading off. The Tigers must get the stick around the track safely. Homewood-Flossmoor has a nice mix of youth and maturity and will be near the top. Lincoln-Way East will have to enjoy its reserves pushing forward without Brown.
Tony J’s picks: Plainfield North, 2) Bolingbrook, 3) Homewood-Flossmoor

4x400
Class record: Chicago Morgan Park 3:53.68, 2006
Teams to watch: Lincoln-Way East, Whitney Young, Downers Grove South, Plainfield North
Outlook: While the record is probably out of reach, expect a competitive race with a few teams getting a few ticks under 4:00 to satisfy themselves and the fans.
Tony J’s picks: 1) Downers Grove South, 2) Whitney Young, 3) Lincoln-Way East

Field events

Long jump
Class record: Jasmine Jackson (Hillside Proviso West) 19-3.75, 1997
Who to watch out for: Savannah Carson, Maya Neal, Emma Spagnola (So., West Aurora), Tyshau Freeman (Roselle Lake Park)
Outlook: Carson has brought this event to the forefront during the indoor season with some wonderful performances. How about her US#8 19-8 leap in a USATF meet back in early March that put the entire jumping community on notice? Let’s hope her recent leg strain is remote, and that the rest this week leading up to the date with Jackson’s ancient record is the remedy.

Triple jump
Class record: Lyshaya Stokes (South Holland Thornwood) 40-2, 1999
Who to watch: Uzo Okoro (Sr., Darien Hinsdale South), Mariah Harris (Sr., Chicago St. Ignatius), Kyla Price (Oswego East)
Outlook: The TJ will feature a more even playing field with the consistent Okoro leading the way. Harris is a newcomer who has stepped up this season.
Tony J’s picks: 1) Okoro, 2) Harris, 3) Price

Shot put
Class record: Dani Bunch (Mahomet-Seymour) 47-2, 2008
Who to watch: Emmonnie Henderson, Banki Oginni (So., Hoffman Estates), Haleigh Theuerkauf (Sr., Batavia), Katie Dovenmuehle (Belvidere North)
Outlook: Henderson returns as a two-time winner and is one of the best to ever throw the metal ball in Illinois. She returned from her team’s basketball state championship and heaved a US#12/IL#1 44-5.75. She now has the state to herself after the graduation of the legendary Kelsey Card (Carlinville)
Tony J’s picks: 1) Henderson, 2) Oginni, 3) Theuerkauf

High jump
Class record: Nora Weber (Canton) 5-10, 1993
Who to watch: Stephanie Ulrich (Sr., Palatine Fremd), Kailey James (Glenbard North), Bridget Bodee (Hinsdale South), Jacklyn Aremka (Plainfield North)
Outlook: a lean HJ field should perk up once a fleet of 5-5 jumpers take on each other. Ulrich is the one to watch. James and Arema are ready to step up.
Tony J’s picks: Ulrich, James, Aremka

Pole vault
Class record: Taylor Kirby (Normal West) 12-8, 2011
Who to watch: Brittany Hull, Carly Schmidt (Lake Forest), Carolina Carmichael (Sr., Lake Forest), Riley Vann (Oswego), Lexi Dahl (Crystal Lake South), Maya Golliday (Lake Park), Brooke Catherine (Normal Community)
Outlook: The top 6 pole vaulters will be in attendance on Saturday including the US#1 Hull at a sensational 13-0.25 mark. The all-time record of 12-8 will be seriously tested. Watch for Carmichael, Schmidt, and several others to do extremely well.
Tony J’s picks: Hull, Carmichael, Vann
When you look at the entries for Saturday afternoon’s 3A IPTT Classic some obvious omissions will stand out. Instead of complaining of what is not there, let's embrace what is there. There will be some great competition going into the evening at the Shirk Center and surely some state leading performances.

Without some of the top athletes in this field others have an opportunity to step into the spotlight. This meet could be a stepping stone to bigger things in May.

Here is a look what to watch for in the 3A meet Saturday afternoon.

FIELD EVENTS

LONG JUMP

Outlook: A small field where any of the six athletes registered to compete can win this event. The one jumper to keep an eye on is Scott Filip of Lake Park. The junior is No. 2 in the state in this event. He jumped 23-4 at the Proviso West Invitational last month. Looking at the past history of the Lake Park jumpers, look for a longer mark from Fillip on Saturday.

Any of the six could win. If anyone is going to go past Filip, it may be his teammate Marcus Jegede. He is a sophomore and this is his first competition. He has the ability to go past Filip.

Also watch for Ardian Asani of Dundee-Crown. He placed third last year at the state meet and has jumped close to 23 feet. If Filip has an off day, Asani may step up.

TRIPLE JUMP

Outlook: This event is wide open. The two top jumpers entered in the competition, Shawn Koch and Marcus Jegede, have jumped 46-0 or better this season. Neither of them have competed in a month. Both should be ready to go on Saturday.

Carl Heinz of Oak Park-River Forest is primarily a high jumper, but he does the triple jump also to help his team score points. Heinz has jumped over 45-0 this year. His focus will be on the high jump. It will be interesting to see what he has left for the triple.

Scott Filip of Lake Park has not gone over 45 but could be dangerous in this event as well. He wants a PR every time out and could pop one on the fast Shirk Center runway. Also keep an eye on Danny Katz of Deerfield, James Shields of Maine East, and Femi Osisanya of Thornwood.

HIGH JUMP

Outlook: This should be the top event out of all of the field events in the meet. The majority of the top guns are and a meet record is possible.

Carl Heinz of Oak Park-River Forest is the defending state champion in this event and will be the favorite in this meet. Heinz has been the only jumper this year that has been consistent at the higher heights. He does have an official clearance of 6-11 and an unofficial clearance of 7-0. If he is on, he could go after Major Clay’s record.

There are four jumpers to keep an eye on. The first is Kevin Spejcher of Lake Park. He is No. 2 in the state having cleared 6-10 in an early season meet. He did not have his best meet last week at his conference meet clearing 6-4, but Spejcher is a big meet jumper. He should be up for the challenge.

The second is Oshay Hodges of St. Charles North. He defeated Spejcher last week at Upstate Eight. His PR in this event is 6-8 and he placed second at state last year. He rises to the competition. He should be in the hunt.

The last two jumpers are Peter Stefanski of Marmion Academy and Matt Wilson of Granite City. Both have been good pressure jumpers in big meet competitions and we should expect them to step up.

There are 20 jumpers registered for this event. Expect the unexpected in this competition.

POLE VAULT

Outlook: All eyes will be on Eric Gordon in this event. The Normal Community West senior has been untouchable in this event. Last Saturday at Charleston, he cleared a state best of 16-2.75, which is currently US#6. He is the hot vaulter right now. It is hard to see anyone getting close to him as he is vaulting with an increased confidence. It would not surprise for him to go past his Charleston height.

There is a young group that could have one or two of them going past 15-0. Keep an eye on Luke Winder of Plainfield Central, Joe Ward of Rockford Jefferson, and Tim Ehrhardt of Lake Park.

SHOT PUT

Outlook: Josh Freeman of Cary-Grove has been the dominant athlete in this event so far this season. He is not here, leaving this competition open.

The weight man most likely to step up is Mark Balmes of Hersey. At the York Invitational he lost the lead and then rallied late and hammered the winning put. If it comes down to a final attempt, look for a similar effort from Balmes. He has a PR established this year of 55-6.

Perez Ford of Romeoville could be one of Balmes' chief competition on Saturday. Ford has gone 54-8.5 this season. Also keep an eye on Kyrin Tucker of Normal Community West and Jamaal Bearden of Waubonsie Valley.

SPRINTS / HURDLES

55 METER DASH

Outlook: The top sprinter of the state, Cameron James of Edwardsville, will not be competing this weekend because of a hamstring injury. That gives someone else to step up in the spotlight for this event.

There are three sprinters to watch for and the first is Julian Hylton of Lincoln-Way North. The relatively unknown sophomore from the south suburbs is no longer unknown after he won at Champaign last week in 6.48, which is Illinois#3.

Perez Ford of Romeoville is the second to watch. The versatile senior will also place in the shot put and the 200 on Saturday. His 6.49 is right behind Hylton, but his experience in the big meet may give him the edge.

Kendrick Foster of Peoria Richwoods is the third sprinter to keep an eye on. His 6.51 is Illinois#7. Only a junior, but he still has a ton of big meet experience.

55 METER HIGH HURDLES

Outlook: This should be a dynamite final. The meet record may be surpassed. Rashad Hulbert of Crete-Monee, the defending 300 IH champion from last year, currently has the best time in the state. With the competition around him, he could get Reggie Torian’s 7.38 meet record.

Sean Wells of Grant and Clayton Glasper of Peoria Richwoods are the two primary challengers. Also keep an eye on Ben Bowers of Conant. He could surprise in this event.

400 METER DASH

Outlook: A wide, wide open event. There are 18 runners that are entered in this event. Honestly any of these young men could walk away with the win in this race.

Jeremy Randolph of Belleville West merits singling out mainly due to his big-meet experience. He has the best PR out of all of the entrants (48.55). Along with the numerous relays that he runs for his school, he will respond to anything that happens in this race.

Also watch for Ryan Gundersen of Rolling Meadows. He had a great race last week at the MSL Invitational and could put the pressure on Randolph in this race.

Several others in contention include: Pat Klamm of Evanston, Peter Bremhorst of Springfield and Tevin Hopkins of Minooka.

200 METER DASH

Outlook: Jeremy Randolph of Belleville West comes back after running the 400 and could be the favorite here. He could be challenged by Jordan Atwater of East Moline United. Atwater enters the event with the fastest time in 22.75, fifth-best in the state.

DISTANCES

3,200 METER RUN

Outlook: Some were hoping for a Schrobilgen-Sweatt matchup, but that is not happening. Sweatt chose an invitational that his school is hosting, a meet he has never run in before. Being that he is a senior, that was the choice he had to make.

The field of six is small and it could be a tactical race. Malachy Schrobilgen of Oak Park-River Forest is the strongest runner in this field and can run off of any pace. The key will be who if anyone will push it. My guess would be either Tyler Yunk of Belvidere North or William Hague of Loyola Academy will be the ones that will be doing the work.

800 METER RUN

Outlook: Will Crocker of Belvidere North has the second best time in the state (1:56.53) and will be the favorite in this race.

There are two runners that could make it interesting for Crocker. The first is Jake Mazanke of St. Charles East. Mazanke ran an impressive 1:22.4 at the York Invitational at the beginning of the month. He could take the pace out fast. The second is Evan Fisher of Oak Park-River Forest. Fisher runs the same way as Mazanke. Crocker could have company with 300 to go.

Also watch for Chris Alvarez of Crystal Lake Central and Brendan Thielsen of Rolling Meadows to surprise in this race.

1,600 METER RUN

Outlook: Tyler Schneider of Conant likes to take the pace out fast. I don’t think that will change in this race. The Conant senior has the fifth-fastest 1,600 time in the nation and he could lower his PR a little more.

Two WSC-Silver rivals should be close to Schneider. Mike Lederhouse of Glenbard West, who placed sixth outdoors at state last year, has the strength to withstand the Schneider. Malachy Schrobilgen of Oak Park-River Forest will be doubling off of the 3,200, so we will see how the wear and tear of that race will take effect on this senior.

Other factors in this race could include Garrett Lee of Belvidere North, Nolan Dickson of Marmion Academy, and Aron Sebhat of Niles North.

RELAYS

4 x 800 METER RELAY

Outlook: There is anticipation of a rematch of what happened at the Mustang Relays at the beginning of March. Niles North pulled away from Minooka in the final leg for the win. There could be more of the same in this race.

Niles North has a good quartet led by Aron Sebhat ran 8:01.97 in that race and is currently ranked No. 2 in the state. Minooka has Dan Popek, a sub-2:00 800 meter run in the mix. Last time they met, he led off. Will Minooka use the same strategy this time?

Conant could be the dark horse in this field led by Tyler Schneider and James Weaver. Even though they have run only 8:11.24, they are capable of going under eight minutes. Also watch for Crystal Lake Central led by Chris Alvarez. That group always seems to show up big in the big meets.

Do not dismiss Lane Tech or Oak Park-River Forest. Both have great quartets and could steal the race on Saturday.

4 x 200 METER RELAY

Outlook: This will be a tight race between Hinsdale South and Thornwood. Both met at the Mustang Relays with Thornwood edging South by .08 seconds. The key to the 4 x 2 is getting the lead by the first exchange. The team with the lead most likely will be the team that wins.

Waubonsie Valley is the dark horse in the field. Last week at their conference meet at Batavia, the Warriors dropped a 1:32.38 to win the race. They are peaking at the right time.

Also watch for North Lawndale Prep and Plainfield North in this race.

4 x 400 METER RELAY

Outlook: The last race of the evening should be a thriller. Thornwood has the fastest time in the state so far this year (3:24.84) and will be in the hunt for the win here. Waubonsie Valley came on the map at their first invitational this year at Plainfield South where they ran 3:28 by themselves. Last week at their conference meet, they lowered their time to 3:25.62. They can definitely go faster here.

Keep an eye on Minooka in this race. At the Mustang Relays, Minooka was right with Thornwood with 50 meters to go when the Daniel Ingram lost the baton. Hopefully it will not happen this time. Watch for Minooka to be in the mix.

Also watch for city rivals St. Charles East and St. Charles North in this race. Both could steal the title here.

(Good luck to all athletes this weekend!!)

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