by Tony Jones
This is what we do know about the sprint and hurdling talents of Shamier Little (Sr., Chicago Lindblom) and Charday Crawford (Sr., Springfield Southeast: 1) They both are at the top of the food chain in the 2A ranks as far as the universe stretches; 2) They both will have a say in who wins the two of the three state team titles in May; 3) Regardless of what happens elsewhere in the state of Illinois, these two young women will be among the first names that fans will discuss on the topic of track and field.
This is what we don’t know about Little and Crawford: 1) No one truly knows what impact they will have with their respective schools and in the 2A ranks until the season is over; 2) No one knows what events they will actually concentrate until the post-season arrives; 3) No one knows if these two superstars are friends or foes. All of this and more will be handled over the course of several months beginning in late February.
2012 State Champion: Charday Crawford (Sr., Springfield Southeast) 11.48 [+3.8]
Key returners: Crawford, Ryan Preacely (Jr., Chicago Noble Street Charter), Ebony McClendon (Jr., Chicago Brooks), Ladaisha Steen-Yates (Jr., Peoria), Tyiuana Eason (So., Kankakee), Jazmin Jackson (Sr., Chatham-Glenwood), Elexis Fairley (Sr., Chicago Morgan Park).
Outlook: The speed queen torch was passed from the former three-time champion Dominique Kimpel (Kankakee) to Crawford. Crawford did not waste a second as she ran one of the fastest IHSA times ever under all-conditions to win her first title. Crawford probably realizes that she doesn’t have the same brand name as the superstar talented Aaliyah Brown (Sr., Frankfort Lincoln-Way East), but there is no doubt she belongs in her class. Now only if somehow Crawford can find a way to duel against Brown before moving on to college.
2012 State Champion: Shamier Little (Sr., Chicago Lindblom 54.19
Key returners: Little, Anna Strong (Sr., Melrose Park Walther Lutheran), Jessica Melchi (Sr., Mahomet Seymour), Chelsea Hill (Jr., Freeburg), Cierra Garrett (Sr., Richton Park Rich South), DeAsia Garrett (Sr., Richton Park Rich South), Jazmin Jackson (Sr., Chatham-Glenwood).
Outlook: Little completed overshadowed a quality field that featured one of state’s best long sprinter’s in Megan Paul (Mundelein Carmel Catholic). Paul wasn’t mince meat either; she just didn’t have the same finishing drive as Little. This event may not be as strong with several key faces moving on and Little possibly concentrating more on the long hurdles. Strong, who placed third in last year’s final, has the top returning mark of 56.83. She would be the best in this event if Little vacates her title. The Garrett twins Cierra and DeAsia, who placed sixth and seventh last year, will provide some excitement for fans throughout the year.
2012 State Champion: Charday Crawford (Sr., Springfield Southeast) 24.14 [-1.6]
Key returners: Crawford, Shamier Little (Chicago Lindblom), Ashley Fouch (Sr., Hampshire), Ladaisha Steen-Yates (Jr., Peoria), Tyiuana Eason (So., Kankakee), Ryan Preachley (Jr., Chicago Noble Street Charter), Elexis Fairley (Sr., Chicago Morgan Park).
Outlook: Everyone seems to forget that Crawford ran the fastest wind legal time in the state last year, and in the process she ended Little’s title run at three. This season there should not be any surprises as the two best sprinters return. Crawford will more than likely be in a title chase for her team, and Little could go for another “team title” as well if she chooses. There are several other key figures to watch for in Fouch, Steen-Yates, and Eason. They placed fourth, fifth, and sixth last year. Also, look for 100/400 specialist Jazmin Jackson (Sr., Chathan-Glenwood) to possibly to participate in the state series this year.
2012 State Champion: Shamier Little (Sr., Chicago Lindblom) 14.02 [+1.5]
Key returners: Little, Natasha Seymour (Sr., Richton Park Rich South), Srah Goodale (Sr., Carbondale), Logan Tilmon (Sr., Rockford East), Shaneice Bufford (Sr., Carbondale).
Outlook: This event should see some amazing performances all season from Little who returns as one of the best in the country. Look for the future Aggie to dip into the high 13s for this event and supplant herself among some former greats such as 2008 Olympic gold medalist Dawn Harper (East St. Louis Sr.) and Shalina Clarke (Evanston). The all-time record of 13.51 by Clarke might be safe, but it will get a scare some time during the season calendar.
2012 State Champion: Shamier Little 42.80
Key returners: Little, Tyra Buss (Jr., Mt. Carmel), Sarah Goodale (Sr., Carbondale), Emily Bartlett (Sr., Chillicothe Illinois Valley Central), Allison Peacock (Sr., Vernon Hills), Amanda Nelson (Jr., Rochester), Markita Rush (Sr., E. St. Louis Sr).
Outlook: This event will be very lean with only two state finalists returning. So, look for Little to concentrate her future Olympic aspirations on the 400H hurdles during the off-season. It is a foregone conclusion who is the best long hurdler in the United States after the wonder kid produced the US#1 mark for a high school athlete by winning the US Junior National title last June in an eye-popping 57.44! Little advanced to the World Jr. final and was poised to become the champion until she tripped over the final barrier. It was an agonizing and unfortunate incident, but this is the exact type of situation that will light an even more intense fire inside the superstar.