by Tony Jones
The key to winning any championship is doing well in the often overlooked field events. This season will be key for a number of teams vying for crucial state points after the exodus of many top athletes. Just ask schools like Moweaqua (Central A&M) or the Roselle (Lake Park) boys team. They racked up a ton of points before the track finals started last year. The feeling of whipping the opponent upside the head without them knowing is very gratifying.
Events: long jump, pole vault, high jump, shot put, triple jump, discus throw.
2012 state champion: Amelia Glueck (Jr., Tremont) 17-8.25.
Key returners: Glueck, Lindsey Hoffert (So., Bureau Valley), Amanda McClain (So., Sullivan), Carli Clifton (Sr., Fisher), Ariel Gibbs (Sr., Momence).
Outlook: this season should be exceptionally strong as the top four state placers return. Glueck should be the marked jumper again after going wire to wire winning indoors (unofficial state) and outdoor titles. After jumping 18-feet last year, it could be the time to elevate and push past the 19-feet barrier. However, that will defend on the competition, health, weather, and growth.
’12 state champion: Alyssa Applebee (Seneca) 11-9.
Key returners: Morgan Zacharias (So., Reed-Custer), Zoe Gossmeyer (Jr., Tremont), Morgan Mahnesmith (Sr., Kewanee Wethersfield), Kacy Murphy (Sr., Dwight), Bailey Reifsteck (Jr., Tolono).
Outlook: Gone is two-time defending champion and class record holder Applebee, who is now performing at the University of Missouri. Now, it could be last year’s state’s runner-up Zacharias who can develop into event’s next star. If you recall, it was the heat that Zacharias put on Applebee in Charleston when both vaulters cleared 11-3 and 11-6. Zacharias missed on all three attempts at 11-9, but the pressure was squarely on Applebee to clear the height to win the state championship. She did and the rest is history. Maybe new history in 2013 will be made by Zacharias.
’12 state champion: Kandie Bloch (Sr., Argenta-Oreana) 5-10.
Key returners: Bloch, Rachel Rhodes (Jr., Williamsville), Brooke Holloway (Sr., Byron), Tessa Holland (So., Fieldcrest).
Outlook: “Thank Goodness” is probably the thought of the competitors from the larger classifications. Bloch was US#2 at the time of her state leading 5-10 effort. The University of Illinois-Champaign bound multi-sport star returns as the 5th best returner in the nation and will do so with a renewed sense of furvor. For those that don’t know, Bloch wasn’t even an all year performer of the high jump. So, the naturally gifted one has never spent the summers working on her jumping craft. She initially had thoughts of playing basketball at the next level. After almost clearing 6-0 at state last year, that mark could be an after thought this season. How about going after the un-thinkable all-time state best of 6-1.25 by Denise Daebelliehn (Moline) from 1980? Only time will tell if Bloch can emerge as the state’s best ever high-jumper.
’12 state champion: Megan Lauzon (Sr., Rushville-Industry) 43-9.5
Key returners: Lauzon, Mattie Buchanan (Sr., El Paso-Gridley), Karly Goodman (Jr., Arthur), Madison Benson (Sr., Bushnell-Prairie City), Shannon Cullen (Jr., Oregon).
Outlook: defending champion Lauzon returns but there will be a tremendous loss of depth because state placers 2-6 have graduated. In fact, only 5 of 12 finalists are on the docket which means there could be a clear sailing for Lauzon who should push into the mid-40’s on her throws.
’12 state champion: Rachel Ballard (St. Joe-Ogden) 37-1.5.
Key returners: Sophie Fairman (Sr., Staunton), Paige Rus (Sr., Erie), Carli Clifton (Sr., Fisher), Jenny Bullock (Sr., Windsor).
Outlook: Ballard was the face of the TJ last year but she graduated. It will be interesting to see who can step up in this lean event that has never produced a 40-foot jumper. The classification rules have changed for Mackenzie Bollinger (Sr., Aurora Christian). Her school drops down from 2A. In theory, she would become the favorite if one considers her second place (38-2.25) performance superior to the winner Ballard. If not, Fairman returns as the state’s leader (37-2) and top returner (3rd).
’12 state champion: Janie Howse (Central A&M) 140-7.
Key returners: Genny Rose Stringer (Sr., Central A&M), Molly Hill (Jr., St. Elmo), Ariana Kuhn (Sr., Marshall), Megan Lauzon (Rushville-Industry).
Outlook: Stringer won’t have her partner in crime Howse to chase anymore as she will inherit the top returner spot. The extra motivation to help her team retain the state title will come in handy. Also, it doesn’t hurt that her 137-9 personal best is more than 20-feet clear of the nearest competitor.