Post-state note book-
Wow, what a weekend it was in Charleston for the girls state championship. The 40th edition was perhaps the best meet top to bottom in IHSA history. There were over a half-dozen meet or all-time records set to further cement any argument.
So what’s in the water?
There could be several factors as to why the girls have gotten mighty good over the last several years. 1) Better coaching of girls- coaches are using the latest coaching techniques as well as modern technology in dealing with girls. Some examples include nutrition, training, and female health concerns; 2) media- there is no longer a “Berlin Wall” up. Today’s athletes can hop on Dyestat/ESPN HS or some other medium to find out what their counterparts are doing. It’s that easy and instant inspiration is born.
There is no doubt that Illinois sprinters, field event, and distance athletes are at the top of the national food chain. Of course, talent rich states California, Pennsylvania, and New York have yet to have their state championships meets. Regardless, the land of Lincoln should be looking pretty when it’s all said and done.
Lots of all-time bests/hits to the national elite list-
The Wheaton-Warrenville South Class 3A 4x800 meter relay became the first Illinois team to break 9:00 with their sick 8:59.04 clocking. Aside from it being the freshly crowned US#1 mark in the country, the top three finishers put a serious hurting on the all-time state leaderboard. Second place Glenbard Ellyn (Glenbard West) 9:00.72 and third place finisher Mt. Prospect (Prospect) 9:06.18 move up to IL#2 and IL#5.
Evanston super senior hurdler Margaret Bamgbose showed that she was a true team player maxing out in four events that enabled her mates to earn a third place trophy. However, she dazzled the crowd in the Class 3A 300H with a US#1 41.11. Bamgbose made up for not finishing last year’s final when she tripped over the first hurdle. It’s also quite interesting that no-one outside of Shalina Clarke has ever run faster. The legendary Evanston great Clarke holds the top five times (40.24+, 40.40, 40.53, 40.61, 40.68).
Morolake Akinosun (Sr., Aurora Waubonsie Valley) finally got what she wanted, a state championship medal. She also got a bonus in the name of an all-time record. Akinosun tied the immortal Alexandria Anderson’s (Chicago Morgan Park) sizzling 100 mark at 11.41. It was just two weeks prior that doubts were setting in from the Akinosun camp because of a sore hamstring. But divine faith and great trainers lent a hand and the rest is history. Oh, by the way, the mark is US#2.
Kandie Bloch (Jr., Areana-Orgenta) kind of crept up on her competition if one considers that she placed second in the Class A high jump two years ago before slipping to fourth last year. Bloch rebounded during this past indoor season by winning the IPTT title and copping the US#8 mark of 5-8. But she peaked at the right time in the state championship. After winning the title at 5-8, Bloch cleared 5-10 on her second attempt. She asked for the bar to be moved to 6-0 instead of the IHSA all-time record of 5-11. She missed heartily on her three attempts and settled for the consolation prize: US#2.
Newcomer Brittny Ellis (Fr., Gurnee Warren) quietly introduced herself to the Illinois high school fans. Sort of. She kindly kicked the door in with several good performances and especially in the 3A 400 with a US#14 time blistering the track and shutting down Cameron Pettigrew (Jr., Chicago Payton) 54.08- 54.41. Ellis produced the fastest time of all the three classes. She will be the next Illini superstar if she can stay focused, hungry, and injury-free.
There have been several great 3A 800 battles in recent years but none as great as the Courtney Clayton (Jr., Rockton Hononegah) and Lindsey Rakosnik (Sr., Lombard Glenbard East) showdown. These two young ladies may have produced the prototype of what an elite half-miler in this state need to be. It is going to take someone with great speed, endurance, and strength to get into 2:08-2:09 range on the regular. On this occasion, Rakosnik and Clayton set a blazing opening pace that left the field off guard. After hitting the 400 in 62.3, they closed out a hard fought battle lifting both runners under 2:10. Clayton 2:08.48 and Rakosnik 2:09.23- IL#4 and IL#7 marks all-time respectively. It was only the second time in state history that two girls have gone under 2:10 in the state championship. Also, consider the fact that 12th place (last) was 2:18.21. How about Jahnell Horton (Sr., Evanston) running 2:14.86 and only getting 10th? It’s not hard to say that this was the deepest race in state history.
If there was any race that was scary to qualify in, it was the 3A 1600 preliminaries. Of the 12 finalists, seven of them broke 5:00. Haley Goers (Sr., Hoffman Estates) was the final qualifier at 5:00.97! She would go on to finish seventh in the final at 4:58.68. It is easy to say that the “mile” is no longer the IHSA doormat event.