2012 State Champion: Tavon Diggins (Sr., Galesburg) 22-3 [+0.9]
Key returners: Diggins, Chris Moore (Sr., Cahokia), Gary Hickman (Jr., Cahokia), Mitch Kimble (Sr., Jerseyville Jersey), Devin Valentine (Jr., Freeport).
Outlook: Diggins is the returning champion but he should not count himself as a huge favorite. Moore placed fifth last year but he did jump over 22-0 feet and will be a more determined jumper with experience behind him. Hickman is the only other all-state jumper returning after placing ninth. But there is one athlete that everyone better watch out for. Cahokia coaches are going to have a difficult decision in replacing one of their all-state jumpers with the introduction of freshman Jamari Ward. The pre- high school phenomenon has a personal best of 22-11 which he achieved during the USATF Junior Olympics. Ward also connected on several 22-0 plus jumps in winning the youth division of summer AAU. Even if he doesn’t improve another inch, he would have to be included among the classification favorites, and of course one of the best in the state. As a bonus, his older brother happens to be 2009 state champion Laderrick Ward (now competing for SIU-E).
2012 State Champion: Jon Walsh (Woodstock North) 15-6
Key returners: Tyler Ginger (Sr., Stanford-Olympia), Chase Black (Jr., Charleston), Andrew Roney (Sr., Mahomet-Seymour), Blake Pasley (Sr., Rochester).
Outlook: Before Ginger goes high flying for the Air Force Academy next season, he has some unfinished business to take care of. He was runner-up in 1A in 2011 and the same followed when he moved to the 2A ranks. This season he should be a noticeable favorite now that third placer Chad Weaver (Sr., New Lenox Providence Catholic) has moved on to Class 3A. So expect Black to be the top challenger after finishing fourth last May in Charleston.
2012 State Champion: Justin Kretchmer (Sr., Waterloo) 6-8
Key returners: Kretchmer, Alex King (Jr., Massac County), Antonio Pierce (Sr., Cahokia), Devante Clark (Jr., Jacksonville), Chris Weber (Sr., Sycamore), Logan Zeman (Jr., Lasalle-Peru), Troy Swindel (Sr., Lake Villa Lakes).
Outlook: Kretchmer slid past King by just a foot to win his first state title last year. It will be a tight battle again even without the third place finisher Mike Monroe (Jr., New Lenox Providence Catholic) who moves up to Class 3A. There will be a total of seven state finalist returners to watch for.
2012 State Champion: Josh Augusta (Sr., Peoria) 61-5.75
Key returners: Augusta, Brendan Duncan (Sr., Waterloo), Ty Summers (Sr., Lake Villa Lakes), Luke Vaughn (Sr., Champaign Centennial).
Outlook: University of Missouri football signee Augusta who enjoyed a great season last year, will return as the only thrower who eclipsed the 60-foot mark. He has visions of throwing in the mid-60s this season- with or without competition. Augusta will be a heavy favorite to repeat as champion. The rest of the lean returning field led by Duncan will more than likely fight it out for the second position.
2012 State Champion: Devin Valentine (Jr., Freeport) 48-5.25 [+1.9]
Key returners: Valentine, Chris Moore (Sr., Cahokia), Tra Mond Lewis (Jr., Springfield Southeast), Jon McDermott (Jr., Plano), Jalon Monigan (Jr., Cahokia).
Outlook: Last year’s suprise champion Valentine was the only athlete above the 48-foot mark. But it doesn’t exactly guarantee him the favorite role this year. He should expect to have several Cahokia jumpers on his heels when it all goes down in May. The Comanches have a history of producing dominating performances in this event at the state level. It will not be any different this season. Moore was the regular season leader in 2012 but he placed second at state last year. However, he may not even be his team’s best leaper this season. Jamari Ward, who is a freshman, has already jumped 46-9 indoors (in early January at the University of Arkansas HS Invite). If he isn’t in the running for the team’s second slot, the jumping task will fall upon Monigan.
2012 State Champion: Caleb Fricke (Petersburg-Porta) 188-2
Key returners: Brendan Duncan (Sr., Waterloo), Scott Schilb (Jr., Rock Island Alleman), Ryan Njegovan (Sr., Sandwich), Coleman Nelson (Sr., Rockford Christian), Luke Vaughn (Sr., Champaign Centennial), A.J. Marmion (Jr., Geneseo).
Outlook: Now that Fricke has graduated this event is wide open. Duncan becomes one of the favorites along with Schilb. They were only separated by two-feet and one place at state. There could be as many as four hurlers pushing past the 175-foot mark this season.