There are some folks who think relays are for the fans, as if the coaches that put together fast units are doing it for fun or to supplement their egos. Yes, it is true that some schools pride themselves in being termed a “relay school.” But by and large relays serve a greater purpose of scoring points that help teams score crucial points. In Texas, relays actually count as 20-points in the state championship as to not let a superstar athlete go on a rampage. The relays in Illinois may be the deciding outcome of the three trophies in May.
2012 State Champion: Monticello 8:01.08
Key returning teams: Elmwood, Macon (Meridian), Pittsfield, Newton.
Outlook: Elmwood may be the team to beat at the end of the season on the strength of three returning legs that led to a second place finish in last year’s state final that produced an 8:04.14 clocking. The Trojans could use Noah Isbell (Sr.) as a possible fourth leg; he placed 11th in the cross country championship. However, the team to watch may be cross country champion Champaign St. More with Nick Hess in tow.
2012 State Champion: Chicago (Leo) 42.76
Key returning teams: Leo, Erie, Oregon, Eureka.
Outlook: Leo will be the prohibitive favorite all season long despite losing one of their top guns in Keith Harris to graduation. The loaded Lions will have Theo Hopkins (Jr.) and Marlon Britton (Sr.) to power their unit. Aside from runner-up Newton, the other seven finalists return at least two legs.
2012 State Champion: Tuscola 1:28.79
Key returning teams: Sterling (Newman Catholic), Chicago (Hales Franciscan), Chicago (Leo).
Outlook: Look for Newman Catholic to be among the top players next year because they bring back their entire quartet that finished third last year that features Nick Rude (Sr.). Hales is good too- the Spartans placed fourth in the state meet. But the team that most will fear is Leo. The Lions rolled into last year’s state prelims with the top time in the state (1:28.94), but only could muster 1:34.94 due to several bad exchanges. Joshua Wright (Sr.), Hopkins, and Britton return in hopes of atonement.
2012 State Champion: Aurora (Christian) 3:24.15
Key returning teams: Aurora Christian, Monmouth-Roseville, Lena-Winslow, Eureka, Newton, Cambridge.
Outlook: six of the nine finalists from a year ago return at least two key legs. Lena-Winslow appears to be the team to beat with 3/4ths of their quartet back including speedy anchor Tevin Sellers (Sr.). Eureka, Newton, and Cambridge will all be strong foes come May.