by Tony Jones & Carina Coss
There is a lot of emphasis put on indoor track on the east coast… and rightfully so. The Midwest is also strong in the undercover stuff.
Indoor track is extremely strong in the land of Lincoln. So, it should not be any surprise to see meet performances improve greatly from the first weekend of March, until the Illinois Top Times Championship near the end of the month.
The first weekend of really hot track performances here statewide ended Sunday 3/3 under the moniker “Super weekend” because it generally has more deep performances and quality of meets. Let’s take a quick look at some of the action that dotted this past weekend.
York Invitational: This meet has turned out some great distance performances since its inception a few years ago. Friday evening inside the Joe Newton Field House was no exception. The Dukes kicked off the affair with a dominating performance in the 4x800r 8:04.45. They won comfortably by 11 seconds. It didn’t stop there because Scott Milling turned in a season best 9:17.28. It appears as if Milling and his mates are on track to break the one year state scoring drought. Palatine’s Christian Zambrano showed his competitors that the Pirates are alive and well by winning the 1600 in 4:23.07.
SIU Girls Invite: The defending state champion Edwardsville Lady Tigers used this meet as a rust buster. But it still didn’t stop superstar and shot put legend Emmonnie Henderson from performing in mid-season form. All she did was go out and executed a winning 47-0 effort- good for the state’s best and US#5. Her series of throws here: 40-0.50, 44-9, 45-4, 47-00.
Hononegah Girls Invitational: The deepest girls invitational took place at Hononegah HS’s unique indoor bubble dome. The huge meet featured many quality teams from the Chicago area such as Downers Grove North, Roselle Lake Park, West Aurora, Lakes, and Cary-Grove. Among the many good performances were standout efforts from Hononegah’s Courtney Clayton and Emma Spagnola of West Aurora. Clayton stole the middle-distance show with four rocking performances. It is usually against conventional wisdom to run a thoroughbred athlete in a full slate of events this early in the season, but Clayton probably could use the fitness aspect more than all out racing. Her first event would be the anchor leg of the 4x8r where she put it down nicely in 2:21- putting a momentary scare into Downers North anchor Stephanie Urbancik. Clayton eased off near the end to make sure her team earned second place. Then it was off to the open 800 a bit later with virtually the same effort but collecting a victory in 2:19.63. Clayton went on to later win the 400 before completing a long day with a leg on the DMR. The middle-distance queen logged the final leg in 5:30… Spagnola had a similar workday in that she competed in four events- setting two field house records in the 55HH (8.59) and 200H (29.52). She added two field event victories to her trophy case: LJ (17-5.5) and HJ (5-4). It was another day at the job to say the least for the two stalwarts.- [report by junior editor Carina Coss].
Champaign Charger Invitational: The University of Illinois Armory Track and Floor has hosted many top invitationals over the years. It will need to add the Charger Invite that list. The un-scored meet featured top teams from the state including southern Illinois powers Edwardsville and Belleville West. Also in the house were Chicago Lane Tech, Plainfield North, and Centennial. But the day belonged to Edwardsville and Belleville West. They dueled on the track and in the field. Julian Harvey (Edwardsville) assisted his team with a victory in the long jump (22-3.5) and second place in the high jump (6-6j). Edwardsville got quality efforts in the sprints with star Bennett Gray (55 and 4x200r). Belleville West got wins from hurdler Miercoles Bell (8.31) and Jamion Nash’s IL#2 performance in the TJ (46-11). The Maroons collected top finishes in all three relays to show their versatility. Individually, Caleb Beck (Oswego) 9:26.57 winning effort in the 3200 cannot be ignored. Not after going out rather conservative in the first half in 4:48. He turned on the jets during the second half to an empowering victory.
SIU Boys Invite: This meet usually portrays the exploits of Cahokia and E. St. Louis Sr. sprint might. Cahokia quickly showed the Flyers the doors even at 80% effort. But the big story inside the Saluki field house was the high jump. Kyle Landon (Chester) and Alex King (Massac County) both leaped to an astounding US#1 mark of 6-10 in the high jump. Landon actually beat his co-#1 competitor in a jump off despite both achieving the top mark in the country!!! Imaging telling your friends that you have the top jump in the country but you didn’t win!
The Windy City Pole Vault Summit: This is always a great meet for the fans to watch and surely a smorgasboarg for vaulting fans. The official results were not in at publishing time but congratulations to the boys and girls winner: Tim Ehrhardt (Roselle Lake Park) 15-7; Carly Schmidt (Lake Forest) 12-9.
A special shout out to goes to the St. Charles East Girls 4×400 relay on their fine achievement at the Batavia Invitational. The Lady Saints ran a blazing 3:58.73. They are the first team under 4:00 in Illinois as well. Here are the splits: Allison Chmelik 60.8, Jordan Shead 58.3, Elizabeth Chmelik 60.2, Britney Williams 59.3.
ICOPS: This meet is always a quality meet among the catholic school brethren. Sunday did not change matters. If anything, the new mondo surface inside the Lewis University field house probably enhanced the overall quality of track performances. St. Ignatius easily won the team title with 120 pts. A huge chunk of the points came via the distance unit route. The great Jack Keelan won the 1600m in a meet and indoor personal best 4:16.29. His mark is also the top time in the state. His teammates Dan Santino, Chris Korabik, Andy Weber, Andrew Reardon, and Taylor Dugas chipped in by scoring high in 800, 1600, and 3200. In the field, Mike Monroe (Providence Catholic) had the infield performance of the meet by setting the HJ meet record leaping 6-7. Providence enjoyed another great stat sheet performance from PV specialist Chad Weaver who won by over a foot in 15-0. Weaver had competed in the Windy City Pole Vault Summit the previous evening.