Athletes to watch: Taylor Adams, Fr., 1,600; Joanna Banasiak, So., SP; Jordan Behrens, Sr., 400, HJ; Kristin Martinez, Soph., 400, 800.
Outlook: Melanie Livesay is trying to do the impossible, build a track team – in her first year coaching the sport – as a school that doesn’t have a track. Successes so far include a second at the Reed-Custer indoor meet, with Joanna Banasiak winning the shot put, and her taking eighth at the prestigious Eastern Illinois Invitational. Don’t count the Ladycats out in the River Valley Conference.
Athletes to watch: Ivory Cassell, Jr., 100, LJ, TJ; Angela Cates, Sr., HJ, LJ; Justice Howard, Sr., hurdles, HJ, LJ; Gina Narcisi, Jr., 3,200; Jazzmin Ruiz, Jr., 400; Brittany Thomas, Jr., 200.
Outlook: Cassell could capture the Southland Conference 100 and chase the long jump and triple jump titles, while Thomas is a major threat in the 200, and Narcisi took the Southland cross country title in the fall. Howard is a jumping specialist with enough speed to threaten in both hurdle races.
Athletes to watch: Simone Brown, Sr., HJ, TJ; Rhonda Doss, Sr., 100; Tineja Foy, So., 400, hurdles; Chastity Powell, Jr., 800.
Outlook: Brown could score plenty of points in the field this spring. She’s in the Illinois indoor top 80 in high jump, triple jump and shot put, a rare combination. Expect her to run in a relay as well. Young Foy, previously in middle distance, has opened eyes with quick hurdle times. Coach Willie Cole usually has a conference title contender – the Warriors have won 17 of 19 and two in a row – and this year should be no exception.
Quote: “Instead of a cakewalk in conference, it’s going to be a struggle. We don’t have a blow ’em away sprinter.” – Cole
Athletes to watch: Chardae Greenlee, Sr., 100, 200, relays, LJ, TJ; Shayna Nwokenkwo, Sr., 100, LJ; Christin Salley, Soph., 100, 400; Courtney Salley, Sr., 100, 200, hurdles; Jayla Stewart, So., 100, 200, hurdles.
Outlook: Greenlee’s second stint at Homewood-Flossmoor – she was on the Vikings’ squad as a sophomore before returning to T.F. North for her junior year – could be her best. She’s already long jumped 17 feet, 2 inches and triple-jumped 38-10. Coach Rob Assise was happy to see her return. That partly makes up for the graduation of the two Taylors, Lynch and Farley. Shayna Nwokenkwo and Christin Salley return from last year’s Class 3A third place 400-meter relay team. Salley also ran on the 800-relay squad, which took fifth in Charleston. Greenlee is penciled in for both those squads.
Quote: “It probably sounds cliche, but everything we do is geared toward conference, sectionals and state.” – Assise.
Athletes to watch: Victoria Archie, Sr., 100, 200; Alexa Beezhold, Jr., 800, 3,200 relay; Kristen Brink, Sr., 3,200 relay; Lauren Brink, Sr., 3,200 relay; Anna Krygsheld, Sr., SP; Monica Smits, Jr., 3,200 relay.
Outlook: Illiana Christian always improves markedly as the season goes on, partly because of the school’s lack of facilities. This year, Alexa Beezhold and the Brink twins figure to carry on their cross country success – they were the keys to Illiana’s 10th place finish in Class 2A at Detweiller Park – on the track.
Athletes to watch: Imani Haynes, Sr., 200, hurdles; Nia Oliver, Jr., 100; relays, LJ; Sydney Sewell, Sr., 400, 800, relays; Stella Udoetuk, Soph., SP; Taylor Walker, Jr., 100, relays, hurdles, LJ.
Outlook: Haynes has been the beacon for the Spartans since she stepped onto the campus, and this year should be no different. Haynes’ 9.23-second clocking in the 60-yard hurdles is the sixth best in the state this indoor season. She could run the 200 and both hurdle races, along with a relay.
Athletes to watch: Mykel Adams, Sr., 100, 200, relays; Nancy Jeanty, Sr., 100, 200, relays; Kyla Mays, Jr., 100, 400, relays.
Outlook: With DeJaene Terry gone, it’s up to seniors Mykel Adams and Nancy Jeanty, and junior Kyla Mays, to carry the torch for the Sting. Adams has the most experience in big meets, but Mays has impressed this spring, running a 1:42.06 in the indoor 600 at Bloom. That’s fifth-best in the state.
Athletes to watch: Tatayana Groom, Jr., hurdles; Quishanna Johnson- White, Jr., 400; Rayven Wise, Jr., TJ; Destiny Wesley, So., 100, 200, 400.
Outlook: A team with no seniors will look for leadership from hurdler Tatayana Groom and her fellow juniors. Coach Tashanna Gillenwater- Catron is optimistic, but the Falcons compete in one of the toughest track conferences in the state.
Athletes to watch: Shavonne Faust, Jr., 100; Yashena James, So., SP; Laurice McNeal, Fr., 100, relays; Justine Richmond, Sr., hurdles, HJ; Dreemmalyn Smith, Jr., 100, 400 relay.
Outlook: The stars from the third place finish in Class 3A three years ago are long gone, but the Wildcats, conference champions since 2007, are building another solid team. Junior Dreemmalyn Smith could become a force by season’s end, along with freshman Laurice McNeal.
Quote: “This year’s team is very young and inexperienced, but very focused on keeping the standard set by the Lady Wildcats of the past. This will be by far the hardest (conference title to win) because of their youth and some quality teams in the conference.” – coach Vince McAuliffe
Athletes to watch: Julianne Adegoriolu, Sr., 800, 1,600 ; Jermeia Avery, Sr., 100, 200; Dasia Blackmon, Jr., 200; Charlene Horton, Fr., 200; Emani James, Fr., TJ; Mekayla James, Jr., SP; Erica Levine, Sr., 400.
Outlook: Avery will be a force in the 200, placing high in the Eastern Illinois Invitational, and likely anchor the 200-meter relay. Freshman James has shown early foot in the triple jump, which can be difficult to master. Erica Levine could surprise in the 400 and aid the sprint relays.
Quote: “Our strength is in the sprint relays. We’re young with a talented group of freshmen that are developing fast.” – coach Omari Garrett.
Athletes to watch: Amber Bell, Jr., 100, 400 relay, TJ; Kadesha Ellison, Sr., 200, hurdles, LJ; Isis Johnson, Sr., 400, 800; Lily Leopardo, Fr., 800, 3,200 relay; Kierston Parks, Fr., HJ.
Outlook: The area trend to youth is true of the Rebels, where coach Steve Nelson is expecting a pair of freshmen to score points by season’s end. Among the older set, senior Kadesha Ellison is improved from earlier years, and Isis Johnson is poised to chase local standout Alexa Beezhold once more in the 800.
Quote: “We have two very strong senior leaders in Johnson and Ellison. The freshmen group are extremely hard workers.” – Nelson
Athletes to watch: Andrea Fulgiam, Sr., pole vault; Breana Holmes, Jr., HJ; Chineze Okosi, Sr., pole vault; Misty Rogers, So., 400, 800, TJ; Janeah Stewart, Jr., SP.
Outlook: Aside from relays, the Thunderbirds have shown better at field than track indoors, led by pole vaulters Andrea Fulgiam and Chineze Okosi, and Janeah Stewart’s career-best 39-foot 4-inch heave in the shot put. Additionally, Briena Holmes is closing in on 5 feet in the high jump. Sophomore Misty Rogers may be Thornwood’s best pure runner.
— Compiled by Tim Cronin