Superlatives are sometimes fun… well, the Illinois track and field season is finally in full swing with March Madness type fervor, it will indeed be termed “The Super weekend” with a ton of top flight action around the state.
The featured 2nd Annual Charger Invitational promises to be one of the most exciting and fun filled meets of the weekend. Champaign Centennial will play the host inside the friendly University of Illinois Armory Track and Floor. Southwestern Conference foes Edwardsville and Belleville will bring their hotly contested feud to Champaign in the first of many season battles. Both teams finished in the top 10 of the state meet last year: Edwardsville earned runner-up honors and Belleville West copped the sixth position.
Edwardsville may be the first to strike with a strong mix of speed, middle-distance, and relays. The Tigers will roll the dice with speedster Bennett Gray (Sr.) in the 60m and 4x200m relay. Gray will challenge foe and IL#1 Jonathan Boey (Sr.) of Decatur MacArthur.
Belleville West will have to deploy some serious arsenal if they hope to overthrow Edwardsville. The Maroons are expected to unveil their tough lineups in all three relays: 4×2, 4×4, 4×8- they potentially could win all three. Individually, Romello Hatter (So.) will contest the 55/200m, Miercoles Bell (Sr.)- 55HH, and Jamion Nash (Sr.)-TJ are expected to score serious points.
Sprints/hurdles: Boey leads the state in both dashes and will be the heavy favorite in attempting to garnish 20 points. The host Centennial’s Jonah Peoples (Sr.) is the state’s second ranked 60HH. He will look to improve on his already solid 8.28 clocking. People’s also holds the IL#8 mark in the 200m.
Distance: all-state cross country runner Caleb Beck (Sr., Oswego) will be the center of attention in the 1600m and 3200m. Beck has run 4:29 in the 1600m this season, but will make his debut in the longer distance event. Johnny Leverenz (Jr., Danville) and Michael Bianchina (Sr., Geneva) will add depth to the 1600m. Lane Tech’s Marcelo Burbano (Sr.) and Edwardsville Chad Maxwell (Sr.) will duel in a battle that could take both runners under 2:00.
Field: Tony Walker (Sr., Hillcrest) has already jumped 6-8 (US#12) in the early portion of the season. Julian Harvey (Sr., Edwardsville) is the top seeded long jumper at 22-5 and just ahead of Alain Dixon (Sr., Oswego) 22-1. Luke Vaughn (Sr., Centennial) enters as the third ranked shot putter with a tremendous mark of 57-11.25.
Other teams to watch are Plainfield North, Plainfield South, Centennial, and Lane Tech.
Southern Illinois University will host the girls and boys high school invitationals Friday evening and Saturday morning. For the girls, Edwardsville will begin their state title defense led by depth in the sprints, relays, hurdles, and field events. The main force to watch will be throws queen Emmonnie Henderson (Sr.). Henderson is already one of the best ever shot putters this state has seen. Coming into this season, she didn’t appear to have much competition or motivation. However, several factors may have changed that. Henderson is also known for her basketball prowess as her signing with the University of Louisville proves. But she and her mates were ousted earlier than expected in the sectional round. Henderson had been upset about losing the basketball for several days. In addition, she may have a competitor to challenger her in the name of Banki Oginni (Jr., Hoffman Estates). Oginni surprised many observers with a US#5 46-7.5. Henderson now has some motivation and fuel for the season.
Cahokia boys will oppose their arch rival E. St. Louis Sr. at SIU. It will be interesting to see the results of the affair
Other competitions to watch: Illinois State Co-Ed Invitational will feature sprint heavy Chicago North Lawndale Prep; Hononogah Girls Invite – Courtney Clayton (Sr.) is coming off of her wonderful 800m performance at the Brooks PR Invitational in which she ran the fastest ever time indoor for an Illinois girl (2:11.45). In her home invite, Clayton will carry a heavy load: 400, 800, 1600, DMR; York Boys Invitational: Scott Milling (Sr.) will be running the 3200 with teammate Jack Libert (Sr.). Both runners will be searching for top marks in the state. His teammates will load up a pretty solid 4x8r as well. Watch for Alex Bashqawi (Jr.) and Chris May (Sr.) in the mile.
2013 Windy City Pole Vault Summit hosted by Rolling Meadows H.S.
This year marks the 12th year for one of Illinois’ most unique meets, The Windy City Pole Vault Summit hosted by Rolling Meadows High School. This year’s Summit will take place on March 2nd and action will get under way at 4pm. Some of the best pole vaulters in state will be there to compete against one another.
On the girls side you will have U.S. ranked #9 Sarah Bell (Bloomington Central Catholic) leading the field. She is the returning AA State Champion in pole vault and looks to make a strong push to repeat. Bell will be challenged by a slew of AAA vaulters; most likely Mckenzee Kroeschell of Oak Park-River Forest, Carly Schmidt of Lake Forest, and Maya Golliday of Lake Park. Golliday is currently ranked in the top 50 in the U.S. Also look for Hannah Swift (top 50 U.S. ranking (Clinton H.S.), Brook Catherine (Normal Comm. West), and Taylor Knauf (Aurora Christian) to jump high! Single A schools will also be represented with the likes Reed-Custer’s Morgan Zacharias. The rest of the field will be looking to improve on their early season marks as well.
The boy’s side of the competition will be host to an interesting contest. Can anyone stop junior Luke Winder (Plainfield Central), ranked in the top 20 nationally from running away with the Summit Championship? He has already cleared 15’6” this season! Would be challenges could come from Chad Weaver (Providence Catholic) or Tim Ehrhardt (Lake Park). We also have Central Illinois studs like Tyler Ginger (Olympia) and super frosh Adam Coulon (Tri-Valley) pushing the bar higher! Adam has big plans as the indoor season comes to an end. The rest of the field is filled with returning All-Staters and those looking to be in Charleston at the end of May.
Rolling Meadows High School is located at 2901 Central Rd. in Rolling Meadows, IL. The vaulting will begin at 4pm. Past winners include the likes of NCAA Champion, Melissa Gergel, as well State Champs like Jake Winder and Mick Viken. Special thanks to The Athletic Equipment Source for sponsoring this awesome event! Don’t forget, admission is free and the vaulting is outstanding, so hope to see you there!