by Tony Jones
2012 State Champion: Dontae Pryor (Kewanee) 23-3.75
Key returners: Kyle Landon (Sr., Chester), Austin Wenskunas (Jr., Argenta-Oreana), Jacob Segrest (Sr., Piasa [Southwestern]), Devin Johnson (Sr., Erie).
Outlook: the top three performers from last year’s state final have graduated. Thus, the stage has been set for last year’s fourth place finisher Landon, who may be in line to fill the void. However, the edge will be slim over the pressure-free Wenskunas. Landon is the defending state high jump champion and will most likely have to decide how to approach the additional events that put him in a lead position. Better yet the questions beg: how will he exert himself in an event that only netted 21-10.5- just a few inches better than Wenskunas. Or how much will Segrest improve from a solid performer at 21-8, but has the ability to jump into the mid-22’s.
2012 State Champion: Mitch Mammoser (Newton) 15-11
Key returners: Josh Blome (Sr., Casey-Westfield), Jack Denby (Jr., Carlinville), Brandon Tolliver (Jr., Newton), Matt McCoy (Jr., Lewistown), Matt McMullen (Sr., Byron).
Outlook: one streak comes to an end and another one will surely live on. The Mammoser family grip on state titles ended with the younger sibling supplanting big bro Scott 2-1. Mitch is now vaulting for the University of Illinois. The streak of 15-foot state winning efforts could continue with Blome. He placed second at state with a huge personal best of 14-9- up from 13-5 in 2011. Plumer is the only other returner with a best above 14-feet (14-6).
2012 State Champion: Kyle Landon (Chester) 6-10
Key returners: Landon, Oumari Abdulani (Sr., Mooseheart), Matt McDonald (Sr., Dupo)
Outlook: if all goes well for Landon this season there will be plenty for him to celebrate. First, he would like to repeat as champion over Abdulani who also jumped 6-10, but was awarded the silver medal because of more misses. Secondly, Landon would like to eclipse the magical 7-foot barrier. His personal best of 6-11 ranked among the nation’s elite. “My goal is 7-2 for my senior year,” Landon said shortly after receiving his state gold medal. “That was the goal when I first got to high school. If I can get that, I’m good.” Abdulani is not an imposing figure standing at just 5-8, but he has displayed natural talent by leaping 6-8 as a freshman. It’s a no-brainer to say that Landon is going to have his hands full again in May.
2012 State Champion: Adam Weidner (Manlius Bureau Valley) 57-10.75
Key returners: Ryan Pearce (Sr., Villa Grove), O’Shay Smith (Sr., Lena-Winslow), Ethan Oleson (Sr., Erie), Jay Stinauer (Sr., Havana), Jonah Walker (Jr., Aurora [Christian]).
Outlook: the multi-talented Pearce let one get away in finishing second to Weidner by 10.25-inches. He could not improve on his 57-0.25 state preliminary effort. Weidner achieved his winning mark in the same prelim flight. Now, Weidner will be more focused as the marked man, but don’t expect a solid cast of returners to bow down. Smith will be one of those worthy opponents looking to win the crown.
2012 State Champion: Heath Byom (Knoxville) 43-10.75
Key returners: Kyle Landon (Sr., Chester), Mason McEvers (Sr., Greenfield), Jacob Segrest (Sr., Southwestern), Kyle Kleeman (Sr., Carlinville), Nolan McGinn (So., Sterling [Newman Central Catholic]), Nick Hundley (Sr., Momence).
Outlook: Landon returns as the heir to the throne after finishing second to Byom who graduated. The senior standout will probably have more difficulty choosing what events to give full attention to. Landon can also sprint as he is one of the fastest speedsters on his team.
2012 State Champion: Ryan Pearce (Villa Grove) 166-11
Key returners: Pearce, Alec Dutton (Catlin), Dawson Hills (Jr., Carrollton), Jason Fry (Jr., Strasburg-Stewardson).
Outlook: there are only two returners from last year’s field of 12. This will probably mean that Pearce’s run at another title will be easier than he planned. The nearest opponent is nearly 13-feet clear of Pearce and will better suited to fight among a land of silver medalists.