by Tony Jones
There is no doubt that 3A girls sprints have been hotter than a stove over the past four years. But things could be cooling down a bit after the 2013 season. The main reason will be that the Aaliyah Brown legacy is finally coming to a peak. The megastar’s premier goal will be to set a few all-time records and burn the competition like rubber. More importantly, though, Brown would like to have her legacy known as a gracious champion who is as fierce on the track as she is graceful off of it.
2012 State Champion: Morolake Akinosun (Aurora Waubonsie Valley) 11.41R [+1.7]
Key returners: Aaliyah Brown (Sr., Frankfort Lincoln-Way East), Mystique Thompson (Jr., Rock Island), Savannah Carson (Sr., Naperville Neuqua Valley), Anita Saffa (Sr., West Aurora), Alexis Hyshaw (Jr., Frankfort Lincoln-Way East).
Outlook: Let’s talk some revisionist history before moving forward. On the onset of last season it was supposed to Brown’s time to shine in this event. But instead it was the rival Akinosun who came in the back door and stole the show. And she stole it from day one. She only produced the #10 time ever for 55m (6.76) in turning one of the deepest Illinois Prep Times Indoor Classic fields to shreds. Oh, and for more perspective, that mark converts to a sickening 7.25 over 60m- WORLD CLASS! Did we talk about the fabled 100m mark that she tied with the legendary Alexandria Anderson (Chicago Morgan Park)? Well, it’s a new year now, and Brown is completely healthy and ready to go. The ‘Franchise’ has goals of taking down every state all-time record she enters: 100, 200, 4x1r. It will be interesting to see how everything plays out. The supporting cast is not as deep as in recent years, but it’s still formable. Thompson is now in position to emerge from the Rocs all-time great Genesis Johnson’s shadow. It is definitely in the cards for Thompson to improve greatly from last year’s fifth place finish at state if she can remain hungry and injury-free. Carson will continue to make her bread and butter in the long jump, but let’s not forget that she can sprint too as her seventh place effort in the Century proved last year. It also doesn’t hurt to obtain a little more runway speed via the track events… in a somewhat low-key but perhaps controversial move is Alexis Hyshaw transferring from Naperville North to Lincoln-Way East. Alexis’ father Damon Hyshaw recently commented to Illinois Prep Harrier’s Mike Newman about the situation. “Let’s just say, Alexis is very happy and focused,” her father said. “It can’t get any better than this, Champions training with Champions, whether it’s on a High School, AAU or USATF level, they are the best of friends and the girls will sincerely enjoy being around each other.” … stay tuned to the drama that sprints create this season.
2012 State Champion: Brittny Ellis (So., Gurnee Warren) 54.08
Key returners: Ellis, Cameron Pettigrew (Sr., Chicago Payton Prep), Parker English (Jr., Evanston), Brenna Detra (Sr., Peoria Richwoods), Jenna Moody (Sr., Plainfield Central), Jordan Shedd (Jr., St. Charles East), Courtney Clayton (Sr., Rockton Hononegah), Anthonia Moore (Sr., Huntley)
Outlook: The classic final 100m stretch battle between Ellis and Pettigrew in last year’s state championship was unfairly overshadowed by the great Shamier Little (Chicago Lindblom) and her historical exploits. It was at that moment the crowd was abuzz and waiting for Little to complete her 400m/300H double sweep. It was almost as if the crowd said, ‘hurry and run this 3A race so we can see Shamier.’ This year should be a lot different with the overall talent here. There could be as many as five girls running in the 54-second range- something that has never occurred in one season with all classes combined. It could happen in the 3A ranks this year. There also could be some moving parts at the end of the year in this event as well. Detra could make her return to the 300H full-time now that she is 100% healthy. She endured a lower leg injury the entire season last year that ultimately turned into a stress fracture. The prospect of more success awaits her in the long hurdles, but the University of Wisconsin signee may stay in the more glamorous event when May rolls around… Clayton has already indicated that she is shooting for the stars in the 800m. But she also said that any serious attempts in the longer races will have to wait until she gets to Vanderbilt University. So, that means she will remain a 400/800 specialist this season. Clayton’s personal best of 55.71 should be taken down a notch or two along the way. It will make for great excitement for the track fans.
2012 State Champion: Aaliyah Brown (Sr., Frankfort Lincoln-Way East) 24.18 [-0.9]
Key returners: Brown, Brittny Ellis (So., Gurnee Warren6), Alexis Hyshaw (Jr., Frankfort Lincoln-Way East), Mystique Thompson (Jr., Rock Island), Tatyana Lewis (So., Belleville West).
Outlook: On the surface this event appears less appetizing than in past years- only Brown and Ellis return from the finals field of nine. Ironically, this may be what the half-lap event needs to keep the fans focus. Brown is the two-time defending champion who will be gunning for Alexandria Anderson’s magical state championship mark of 23.32. Ellis is the up and coming superstar who already has a state title and numerous youth records on her resume. So, the elder schooling the pupil applies well here and she will be schooled on the track before taking over in 2014. The all-time mark of 22.96 is Brinks truck safe (in my humble opinion). Brown will get to 23.4 sometime during the season and perhaps 23.2 if she extends her prep career into the summer. High school marks achieved during an athlete’s senior year count until August according to Track & Field News.
2012 State Champion: LaDonna Caston (Harvey Thornton) 14.18 [+3.0]
Key returners: Emma Spagnola (Jr., West Aurora), Jasmine Berry (Jr., Belleville West), Kristen Dowell (Jr., Edwardsville), Claudette Day (Jr., Belleville West) Madlen Karnatz (Sr., Chicago St. Ignatius).
Outlook: Spagnola is the pre-season #1 choice here again after dominating this event most of the 2012 regular season. Unfortunately, she caught a well peaked Caston at the wrong time at state and had settle for second place. Spagnola’s personal best of 14.20 (wind-aided) set in last year’s prelims will be hard for any returner to match. Berry and a host of pack level hurdlers will give it a try. Dowell was sixth, Day-eighth, and Karnatz-ninth in last year’s final. Look for newcomer freshman Alexis Jordan Pierre-Antoine of Frankfort Lincoln-Way East. She comes from the Illinois Elite camp coached by the fiery Angelo Brown. She set the pee wee ranks on fire before exiting to high school.
2012 State Champion: Margaret Bamgbose (Evanston) 41.11
Key returners: Kristen Dowdell (Jr., Edwardsville3), Emma Spagnola (Jr., West Aurora5), Lauren White (Sr., Edwardsville6), Maya Neal (So., Naperville Neuqua Valley), Madlen Katz (Sr., Chicago St. Ignatius), Claudette Day (Jr., Belleville West)
Outlook: Evanston has ruled this event and everyone knows that. The master behind the madness is hurdles/assistant coach Jesse Sibert. He has produced a legacy with the likes of Shalina Clarke and Margaret Bambose. Now, there might be another one in the works. Watch out for the name Parker English (Jr.)- she may be move out of the 400 and into this event. She is as diversified as any athlete in the state with her long jumping and flat running exploits- placing well in state competition. Keep in mind that nothing has been released officially (not yet), but there is serious talk regarding changes behind closed doors. In the mean time, let’s give the key returners Dowdell, Spanola, White, and Neal their just due. Dowdell placed third in a school record 42.77. This is a solid time well that was ahead of the fifth place Spagnola. Neal is being touted as the next Shakeia Pinnick (Aurora Waubonsie Valley). She has a long way to go to catch Illinois’ best ever multi-event athlete though. But placing in two events at state as a freshman is a great start toward stardom. Alexis Jordan Pierre-Antoine (Fr., Lincoln-Way East) enters the fray as one of the nation’s best 200H. Pre-high schoolers run the shorter distance in the youth track ranks. Her mark of 27.3 is hard to translate into 300m, but if one can imagine running 27-seconds on a flat oval without hurdles, it would easier to comprehend that Pierre is fast and talented. If Brenna Detra (Sr., Peoria Richwoods) returns to her premier event, then all previous bets will be off. Detra won the 2A title in 2011.