Athletes to watch: Pat Barton, So., 1,600, 3,200, relays; Mitch Darabaris, So., 1,600, 3,200, relays; T.J. Gibbons, So., 1,600, 3,200, relays; Grant Nykaza, Sr., 1,600, relays; Nathan Swanson, Fr., 1,600, 3,200, relays; Tyler Swanson, Fr., 400.
Outlook: Nykaza is ranked second in the U.S. in the indoor 3,200 and fifth in the indoor 1,600. He won the Class 1A 1,600-meter run last spring and followed that with the 1A cross-country title in the fall. A repeat in the 1,600 would make him the sixth double champion at that distance in Class A/1A since 1980. Kevin Pavesic is coaching his first year of track.
Quote: “The strength of our team is going to be distance and distance relays.” !~ Pavesic.
Athletes to watch: Ezekiel Clerk, Sr., triple jump; Charles DeLoach, Sr., pole vault; Micah Frazier, Sr., 400; James Harriel, Jr., 400, relays, long jump; Ontonio Jackson-Lucas, Sr., high jump; Dorian Simmons, Sr., 3,200; Jonah Wiley, Jr., hurdles.
Outlook: The Blazing Trojans are building on the strength of last year’s third-place in Class 3A. Coach Andrew Schmitt has a pair of 400 speedsters in junior James Harriel and senior Micah Frazier, plus senior Charles DeLoach in the pole vault and as a relay specialist. Add Ezekiel Clerk in the triple jump, and Bloom could bloom once again.
Quote: “Our strength is lots of experience. We have some really good runners (including Harriel, Frazier) from last year’s 3A third place 4x400 team.” !~ Schmitt.
Athletes to watch: Elijah Douglas, So., hurdles, LJ; Chris Gossett, Sr., TJ; Quenton Hardaway, Sr., 100, 200, relays; Quinten Nash, Jr., 200, 400, relays; Taris Simmons, Jr., 100, 200, relays; Cristian Stewart, Jr., 800; Marcus Terrell, Sr., 100, 200, 400, relays; Tyler Whittler, Sr., 200, 400, relays.
Outlook: The Warriors took fifth in the 1,600-meter relay last year. The arrival of junior Quinten Nash, a transfer from Rich Central, will boost their sprint relays and their potential in the 400. The Ron Towner Classic at Hillcrest will be Crete-Monee’s first big outdoor test.
Quote: “I believe we have the sprint talent to challenge our school records in all three of the sprint relays and would like to send each of these relays to the state meet.” !~ Coach Brian O’Donnell.
Athletes to watch: Matt Anyiwo, Jr., 400, 800, 1,600 relay, 3,200 relay; Prestunn Bolton, Sr., 200, 400 relay, 800 relay, 1,600 relay; Jordan Culpepper, Jr., 100, 200, 400 relay, 800 relay, LJ; Aaron Gooch, Jr., 100, 200, 400 relay, 800 relay; Wes Stewart, Sr., 100, 400 relay, 800 relay.
Outlook: Nate Beebe’s crew has a national standout in 800 runner Matt Anyiwo – a 1:54.94 at last summer’s U.S. National Junior is his best time – and sever others who could knock on the door of the 3A finals, and perhaps burst through. Jordan Culpepper’s career best long jump is 21 feet, 6 inches, and he’s already mustered a 20-3.5 indoors.
Quote: “Our greatest strength is the depth we have in many events. Our sectional has been one of the toughest every year so we never have a shortage of competition to go against.” !~ Beebe.
Athletes to watch: Nick Fiene, So., 1,600, 3,200, relays; Nick Wondaal, Fr., 1,600, 3,200, relays; Tony Wondaal, Jr., 1,600, relays.
Outlook: With Tony Wondaal and Nick Fiene leading the way, Illiana has a chance to make an impact in the Metro Suburban Conference, and some noise in Class 2A. Wondaal should challenge in every 1,600 he runs in, while younger brother Nick runs in both the 1,600 and 3,200.
Quote: “Our team chemistry is great, and that carries over when you’re running with the same group of guys all year around. You get to know them like brothers.” !~ junior Kevin Vroegh.
Athletes to watch: Dillon Burns, Jr., 200, hurdles; Matthew Martinson, So., 1,600 relay, high jump, long jump; Taylor Walker, Jr., hurdles.
Outlook: Coach LaVon Burks believes the strength of the Spartans is in the class of 2016. They’re freshmen now, but Burks is thinking long term. For now, juniors Dillon Burns and Taylor Walker may make some noise in the hurdles, and not by hitting them.
Quote: “We should be able to use (our youth) to get downstate in a few relays and field events.” !~ Burks.
Athletes to watch: Lamar Colon, Jr., 400, LJ, TJ; Matt Domer, Jr., 100, 200, relays; Vincent Speller, Sr., 400, 1,600 relay, HJ.
Outlook: Domer's 6.57 clocking in the Catholic League indoor 55 (and a nifty 23 flat in the 200) shows the junior should lead the Caravan charge, aided by high jumper Vincent Speller.
Athletes to watch: Darius Caffey, Sr., 400; Kelvin Fouch, Sr., 100; Deonte Gardner, Sr., 100, 200, 400 relay; Kameron Marshbanks, Jr., SP; Brandon Rogers, Jr., 200, 400 relay.
Outlook: The Sting will go as far as Deonte Gardner takes them. While Brandon Rogers and Kameron Marshbanks represent the future, Gardner’s the present. Expect him to anchor the 400 relay for the second straight year.
Athletes to watch: Nick Fizer, Jr., 100, 200, 400, relays, hurdles; Kiente Geiger, Sr., 400, 800, relays; Chad Hupp, Sr., 400, 800, relays; Deonta Moses, Jr., 100, 200, 400, relays; Yemi Ogunbameru, Sr., 200, 400, hurdles, relays; Phillip Thompson, Sr., 100, 200, LJ, TJ.
Outlook: Derek Augustynowicz takes over for the late T.J. Shirley, and with a team that Shirley would have been proud of. The Falcons have been moved to Class 2A, and could impress downstate. A quartet of seniors led by sprinters and relay man Yemi Ogunabmeru will get help from junior Nick Fizer.
Quote: “We’re interested to see how things are in a different sectional and in a different class at the state meet.” – !~ Augustynowicz.
Athletes to watch: Levi Adams, Sr., 800, 3,200 relay; Jalen Banks, Sr., 100; Maurice Buchanan, Sr., HJ, TJ; Joseph Moore, Jr., 100, 200; Adonis Johnson, Jr., TJ; Ti’Fonte Hunt, Jr., hurdles; Jauan Wesley, Jr., 100, LJ.
Outlook: The Wildcats are loaded, with sprinters Jauan Wesley and Jalen Banks, jumper Maurice Buchanan and hurdler Ti’Fonte Hunt. Adams could score points at distances. Thornton tied for third in 3A two years ago and will be chasing its third straight sectional title.
Quote: “We’re real good in some events, but the rest we need some people to step up and contribute. There will be a lot of growing pains.” !~ Coach Vince McAuliffe
Athletes to watch: Myles Barbee, Jr., 400, HJ; Adonis Barnes, Jr., 100, 200, hurdles, relays; Nolan Dyer, Jr., 100, 200, relays; Antoine Lane, Sr., LJ, TJ; Nikita Smith, Jr., 200, hurdles; Chris Szablewski, Sr., 800; Marvell Thompson, Sr., 100, 200, relays, LJ.
Outlook: With returning Class 2A state qualifiers Nolan Dyer, Marvell Thompson and Adonis Barnes, the Meteors have a shot at contending not only in the South Suburban Blue, but in the sectional, traditionally ruled by Hillcrest, as well.
Athletes to watch: Jordon Beemon, Sr., 100, 200, 400 relay, 800 relay; Byron Leach, Sr., discus, SP; Anthony Morgan, Sr., 400, 1,600 relay, 3,200 relay; Efe Ovie, Jr., 200, 800 relay, LJ; Josh Reed, Sr., 800, 1,600, 3,200 relay.
Outlook: Jordan Beemon’s already made some noise as the key man in the 800-meter relay, but the Rebels may have more than a relay or two making noise by conference time. Coach George Carter is high on Anthony Morgan in the 400 and the distance relays, Josh Reed in the 800 and 1,600, and can see Byron Leach making heads spin in the discus.
Quote: “We always have high hopes for each track season, and this year more, with the number of underclassmen we have.” !~ Carter
Athletes to watch: Kenneth Allen, Sr., 100, relays; Demetrius Banks, Jr., HJ; Wole Daramola, Sr., 800, 1,600, 3,200, relays; Charles Howell, 100, 200, hurdles; Khalil Lightbourne, Jr., 800, 1,600, relays; Jesse Unzueta, Sr., 800, 3,200, relays.
Outlook: The distance relays, as well as the 1,600 and 3,200 individual runs, may be the key this season. That’s the springboard from last year’s success in cross country. Khalil Lightbourne and Jesse Unzueta are the distance leaders. Look for Demetrius Banks to come on at high jump.
!~ Compiled by Tim Cronin