Athletes to watch: Justice Howard, Jr., HJ, hurdles; Angela Cates, Jr., HJ, LJ; Ivory Cassell, So., sprints, jumps; LaCrisa Cool, Sr., sprints, relays; Romy Gay, Jr., sprints, relays; Angelique Hamilton, Fr., sprints, relays; Taylor Solomon, Fr., sprints, relays.
Outlook: Only two seniors are found among 43 track athletes at Bloom Township, so coach Huey Johnson may have to exercise some patience in the early going. However, he stated that his 19 freshmen "may be the best group in the past five years." Howard was 14th in last season's Class 3A high jump, Cates is developing rapidly in that same event, and Cassell produced good indoor efforts in the 55 dash and long and triple jumps. Thus, there is reason for Johnson to think positively right away.
Quote: "As you can see, we are young and inexperienced, but we are looking to find the best places for each of the young people on the team." ~! Johnson.
Athletes to watch: Breanna Young, Sr., hurdles; Tayler Whittler, Sr., sprints; Latris Daniels, So., 800, 1,600, relays; Teja Foy, Sr., sprints; Abriar Fields, Sr., SP; Grace Flowers, Sr., 1600, relays; Chasity Powell, So., sprints, relays; Loucreasha Smith, So., sprints, relays.
Outlook: The Warriors return plenty and should be in the running for the Southland Athletic Conference championship. Coach Willie Cole expects another fine season from his troops. Young returns after missing last year with a leg injury. She was the 2010 SAC and sectional 300-meter low hurdle champ. Whittler was a state qualifier in three sprints and was a conference and sectional champ. Daniels was a conference champ in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200.
Quote: "The 2012 Crete-Monee girls track team on paper appears to be in good hands. Everyone that competed in last springs conference meet returns for another season." ~! Cole
Athletes to watch: Taylor Lynch, Sr., sprints, hurdles, relays; Taylor Farley, Sr., sprints, relays; MicKayla Jones, Sr., middle distance, relays; Mandie Green, Sr., throws; Courtney Salley, Jr., sprints, hurdles, relays; Ebonee Stanton, Jr., sprints, relays; Ima Eno, Jr., sprints, middle distance, relays; Shayna Nwokenkwo, Jr., sprints, LJ, relays.
Outlook: The Vikings were one point away from a top-three team finish in Class 3A last spring, and they enter the current season with a sectional championship and three straight conference titles in their possession. Abie Ehimwenman, the primary force behind Homewood-Flossmoor's big season is gone, but coach Rob Assise likes what his core group of athletes has to offer. Freshmen Jayla Stewart, Antoinette Broughton and Christian Salley could make an immediate impact.
Quote: "This very well could be the deepest and most well-rounded group we have had on the track, but in order to continue the success we have had as a team, we need people to step up in the field." ~! Assise.
Athletes to watch: Emily Dykstra, Sr., jumps; Chloe Porter, Sr., distance; Lauren Brink, Jr., distance; Kristen Brink, Jr., middle distance, distance; Kristen Kemp, Jr., jumps; Victoria Archie, Jr., sprints, relays; Alexa Beezhold, So., sprints, middle distance.
Outlook: What should make the Vikings formidable in most meets is depth. No superstar is on the roster, but Illiana has enough skilled performers to adequately fill just about any event. Coach Deb Top sees Dykstra as a regular top-three placer in both the triple and long jumps, and also welcomes Porter back into the fold after the latter skipped track as a junior. Porter, Brink, Beezhold and Kristen Kemp were all part of the Vikings' state-qualifying cross country squad. Archie is Illiana's best sprinter.
Quote: "We graduated a lot of talent, but I see us placing second in the (Metro Suburban) conference behind Glenbard South and advancing a couple of individuals and a relay team to the state meet this season. A top-three finish in sectionals would be great." ~! Top.
Athletes to watch: Imani Haynes, Jr., hurdles, LJ; Taylor Walker, So., hurdles; Shammaree Allen, Sr., sprints; Tyler Walton, Sr., sprints; Sydney Sewell, Jr., sprints.
Outlook: Leading the way for the Spartans will be Haynes, Class 3A's eighth-place finisher in the 100-meter hurdles. She was also a state qualifier in the 300 lows. Marian Catholic coach LaVon Burks anticipates more good things for Haynes this spring and thinks Walker might also become someone to watch in the longer hurdles race. Allen and Walton provide experience in the sprints, and Sewell could also make her presence felt there.
Quote: "We should have a familiar face at state with Imani Haynes, and she should place higher than eighth (this time). I look to see Taylor Walker in her first appearance at state." ~! Burks.
Athletes to watch: DeJanae Terry, Sr., sprints, relays; Mykel Adams, Jr., sprints, relays; Jasmine Gardner, Sr., relays; Hunter Guy, Sr., relays; Nancy Jeanty, Jr., relays; Kyla Mays, So, relays; Deja Parker, So, relays.
Outlook: 2011 was a big year as the Sting dominated the Class A portion of the Prep Top Times indoor meet, then followed up with an 11th-place finish at the outdoor state meet. The Central Michigan-bound Terry, who was runner-up in the 100, fourth in the 200 and a member of Seton's third-place 400 relay team at Charleston, returns to anchor the current squad. Adams, Gardner and Guy comprised the other three-fourths of that relay unit, which bodes well for the Sting. Jeanty should also shine.
Quote: "Although our team consists of only nine members, I have high expectations for them. I believe that we are capable of winning a state title if we stay focused and continue to work hard for the duration of the season." ~! coach Damani Shakoor.
Athletes to watch: Dasia McCain, Jr., sprints; Tatayanna Groom, So., hurdles; Rayven Wise, So., sprints, jumps; Destiny Wesley, Fr., sprints, jumps; Nakita Fields, Jr., hurdles; Diamond Mance, Fr., sprints.
Outlook: Former coach Al Llorens didn't leave the Falcons' cupboard bare, but it's primarily stocked with youngsters. At least that's who new boss Tashanna Gillenwater-Catron is counting on heavily in her first season. Two individuals who will play key roles are McCain, who was less than a full second off a state-qualifying time in the 200, and hurdler Groom. Both girls ran cross country for Gillenwater-Catron in the fall. Wise and Wesley should help Thornridge's cause in field events.
Quote: "This season is our rebuilding season, but these are girls to watch. These girls are good now, but are improving and working hard to become great." ~! Gillenwater-Catron.
Athletes to watch: Ladonna Caston, hurdles; Naomi Fuller, TJ, hurdles; Mariah Joe, sprints; Marquita Oliviel, sprints, jumps; Asia Stevens, sprints; Dreamalynn Smith, sprints.
Outlook: Excellence in 2011 wasn't only limited to Thornton's boys track team. While the female Wildcats couldn't match the guys' trophy-earning effort at state, they did place themselves among the top 25 schools in what was considered a transition year. A string of five straight conference titles was snapped, but Thornton did capture a fifth consecutive conference crown. State placers Caston (seventh in the 100 high hurdles) and Fuller (eighth in the triple jump) are the 'Cats' headliners.
Quote: "We have some girls that have had some great success throughout their careers. This year, the girls are extremely driven and have (set) some very high goals. and all our goals center around the month of May." ~! coach Vince McAuliffe.
Athletes to watch: Latika Brown, Sr., sprints; Aliyah Crockrell, Sr., sprints; Kinnedra Johnson, Sr., jumps; Chardae Greenlee, Jr., jumps, sprints, relays; Julianne Adegoriolu, Jr., relays, distance; Erica Levine, Jr., relays; Kierra Martin, Jr., relays.
Outlook: Overshadowed somewhat by T.F. North's boys' team, the Meteors are poised to make a name for themselves this spring. Brown, who coach Moses Hulbert pegs as a future Division I runner, can supply points in any race from the 800 on down, and Johnson returns after a junior season in which she reached state in both the triple and long jumps. H-F transfer Greenlee went 36-2 in the triple jump indoors and the relay teams remain strong. North's roster totals 37 athletes.
Quote: "We have a lot of talent, but I can remember when I had eight girls and I'd run them in as many events as I could get away with. They think I'm joking, but it's been hard work (building up the program)."~! Hulbert.
Athletes to watch: Shanell Randell, Sr., sprints, relays, jumps; Uriah Walker, Sr., sprints, relays, HJ; Amber Levy, Sr., sprints, middle distance, relays; Isis Johnson, Jr., sprints, middle distance, relays; Amber Bell, So., jumps, relays; Lanetta Charleston, Jr., sprints, relays; Noor Hindi, So., distance, relays.
Outlook: Injuries wreaked havoc on the Rebels last year, stripping them of key athletes at several junctures. One of those affected was Johnson, whose sophomore season ended at T.F. South's third indoor meet. She was close to running a state-qualifying time in the 800 as a freshman and should break through this spring. Bell, Charleston and Hindi are other underclassmen coach Steve Nelson believes have potential. The Rebels' will be strongest in the shorter races.
Quote: "We have a talented team. The girls are working hard and are extremely focused, and the future is very bright." ~! Nelson.
Athletes to watch: Krysta Dean, So., sprints, middle distances, relays; Andrea Fulgium, Jr., PV; Kenyatta Anderson, Sr., throws; Alyssa Hood, Sr., throws; Lanae Riley, Jr., sprints, relays; Ashley Robinson, Sr., hurdles, jumps, relays; Tashea Tinglin, Jr., sprints, relays; Kori Wallace, Sr., jumps, relays.
Outlook: Coach Roy White has the Thunderbirds focused on lower-level development to add depth to the program, but the current varsity squad already has some quality performers on the roster. Among them are Fulgium, who broke Thornwood's indoor pole vault record, and Anderson, who narrowly missed state qualification last spring in the discus. Hood (shot put), Wallace and Robinson are other field-event athletes of note. A strong showing indoors has the T'birds primed for the outdoor season.
Quote: "Last year got the ship turned in the right direction. If our talent on the frosh-soph level continues to push the varsity, exciting things will happen by season's end." -- White.
NOTE: Beecher and Washington did not provide information for the preview.
~! Compiled by Ken Karrson