by Tony Jones
Don’t expect a great deal of change from some of the key teams this spring. Yes, the likes of Gibson-City-Melvin-Sibley and St. Joe Ogden will surely fade out of medal contention, but the usual suspects will be there. Moweaqua Central A&M, South Holland (Seton Academy), Sullivan, and Decatur (St. Teresa) are teams that fans should keep a keen eye on. Of course, there will be teams that get overlook but don’t forget about Eureka, Edwardsville (Metro-East Lutheran), and Sherrard.
Moweaqua (Central A & M)-
Head Coach: Todd Rork
2012 State finish: State champions 59 points
Key returning athletes: Taylor Adcock (Sr.), Sarah Bailey (Sr.), Mikaela Cole (Jr.), Kaitlin Corzine (Sr.), Genny Rose Stringer (Sr.), Megan Zindel (So.).
Key events: DT, SP, 100H, 300H, 100, 200, 4×1, 4×2, 4×8.
Outlook: Every team will eventually see key losses that determine the status of their program in the short and long term. For the Raiders, losing long standing stalwarts like discus champion Janie Howse and hurdles guru Madison Renfo could be one of those long-term program effects. However, coach Rork and his staff have done a great job over the past few years in keeping the cupboard stocked. For starters, watch for Stringer, Adcock, and Corzine to lead the team to big stats this season. Stringer placed third in the discus last year and should be the heavy favorite this time around. She also may be picking up the shot put as well to fill the void left by Howse. Adcock will be in line to repeat as 300H champion this spring. Look for her to burn a time well under 44.00 this season. In addition, she will improve in the 100H with teammate Corzine. Corzine will play a central role in the sprint relays and in the hurdle events. The rest of the roster returners will add depth in the relays fueling the Raiders roll to another title.
South Holland (Seton Academy)-
Head Coach: Damani Shakoor
2012 State finish: 4th- 30 pts
Key returning athletes: Mykel Adams (Sr.), Nancy Jeanty (Sr.), Kyla Mays (Jr.), DeJa Parker (Jr.).
Key events: 4×1, 4×2, 4×4, 100, 200, 400.
Outlook: Coach Shakoor doesn’t have a deep team to choose from. He rarely does considering the student body is a miniscule 200 pupils. But what Shakoor has is athletes. Even if only 12 student-athletes come out for the team, they are all expected to contribute mightily in whatever event they are told. This season will not be any exception. Adams is going to have to be the central piece in the Sting’s title hopes. She may have to vacate the 400 in order to stretch her talents around in the relays because of DeJanae Terry’s graduation. Jeanty is another name that will see increased time in spikes this year. She only competed in the 4×2 last season, but Shakoor has hinted that the open 200 will be in her plans this spring as well as two relays. The small but talented Sting bunch will be packing a lot of “sting” this spring. So, don’t forget the bug repellent!
Other teams to watch: Decatur St. Teresa will be trying to muscle their way around with their distance power. The state runner-up 4x800r unit will remain intact and ready for another run at the gold medal with or without state cross country champion Ivy Handley (Sr.). Handley has tremendous choices to choose from. She could go 800, 1600, 3200 in a state series. Teammate Rachel Devereux (Jr.) will assist in 3200/1600 and could possibly add another open event if needed… Sullivan will have to find a way to surround their team with Amanda McClain (S0). She is the star that the Lady Redskins will depend on this spring. How about Aurora Christian? Will the loss of Mackenzie Bollinger (Sr.) to Yorkville and the drop to 1A help or hurt the team’s chances of winning a state title or trophy? The sprints will be the focal point of the team this season as the 4×1 and 4×2 relays return four experienced legs: Alyssa Anderson (Jr.), Peyton Wade (Jr.), Maddie Saloga (So.), and Natasha Brown (So.) all have state relay experience and medals. Now, if the quartet can come up with some field points, will the Eagles be in line to challenge for a top three spot in Charleston.