Neuqua Valley senior Ty Moss will look to end his fine prep career with a win and personal best in the 800m (Colin Boyle photo)
When the Midwest Distance Classic was rebooted from its sleep status after a year in hiatus, the weekend of June 13 was thought to be the perfect remedy in terms of not clashing against the New Balance Outdoor Nationals or Brooks PR meets. However, as it turns out there is a full plate of hot track and field for outstanding athletes to choose from. So as we watch what happens in New York (Adidas Dream Mile), senior all-star meets from around the country, the now renamed US Army Midwest Distance Classic will be a meet with large implications regarding fast times. The gracious host Illinois Benedictine University in Lisle, IL is sure to provide a surreal scene for everyone in attendance.
Events: Steeplechase, 800m, Mile, 2-Mile
Lane Tech graduate and 3A 1600m winner Pavlo Hutsalyuk (right side) will be racing the 800m (Colin Boyle photo)
- Maybe this race will overshadow the so-called marquee match up known as the Mile showcase. This primed build up could be the epic battle in what many observers thought they were going to get at the end of the Illinois season (IHSA) between seniors Ty Moss (Naperville Neuqua Valley) and Pavlo Hutsalyuk (Chicago Lane Tech). Moss stuck with his guns in the 800m and won the 3A state title. Hutsalyuk was rumored to be running the 800 but instead was chosen to compete in the 1600 and won that crown. The scenarios of both runners were set up nicely last year during the post-season. Hutsalyuk struck first when he traveled with his team to the New Balance Outdoor Nationals and completed in the 4x800 relay. The Indians wound up sixth running a blistering fast US #8 time 7:39.76. Hutsalyuk nearly snagged the race by himself with a deaf defying 1:49.96 anchor leg that was clocked by FAT. It is not sure if Moss heard about the feat or not, but he unleashed a big performance and shot heard around Illinois a month later at the AAU Nationals. Moss placed 2nd in running 1:50.52. Moss has since been on a tear winning every half-mile and placing fear in opponents when he lined up for the 4x8 relay. Moss and Hutsalyuk had better not overlook Minnesota big class champion senior Shane Streich. Streich is perhaps the most well rounded of the top three. He won the state cross country crown last fall proving that his endurance is second to none. He has great strength and speed as well with personal bests 4:12.02 (1600m) and 49.57 (400m). His mark of 1:51.04 is the top time for entrants. We could finally see the first sub 1:50 clocking on Illinois soil since 1997. The pace setter Sam Bransby (former Naperville Central standout now at U of Nebraska). The plan is to set up the field with 25, 53, 1:21 marks by the 600m. Other outstanding runners include Dustin Davidson (Jr., St. Louis University), Chris Torpy (Jr., Orland Park Sandburg), Joe Novak (Sr., Waukesha Catholic, WI), Zach Snider (Sr., Indianapolis Brebeuf), and Joe Gaynor (Jr., Hudson, OH).
Jon Davis is expected to have plenty of company when he competes in the two-mile on Saturday evening (Colin Boyle photo)
- The 22 runner field will be highlighted by several outstanding runners. One key standout is Thomas Pollard (Sr., Gilbert, IA). Pollard first jumped on the scene by winning the Iowa state 3200m last year in 8:50.43. He would also go on to nab two All-American plaques at the Footlocker Nationals. Pollard is a supreme talent for sure, but he has to be seething after losing the Festival of Miles championship Mile 10 days ago to Bryce Richards (Sr., Mundelein). Richards stormed the last 50m and nipped Pollard at the finish line to win the title. Both runners are entered here and although Richards is somewhat of a novice, his confidence and talent level has come to the surface in a big way. Kevin Salvano (Jr., Buffalo Grove) was not happy about his 7th place finish in the Illinois 3A race a few weeks back. He will be looking to trump his personal best 9:04.79 from the Arcadia Invitational. Speaking of Arcadia, Oakwood junior Jon Davis wanted badly to be among that elite field back in April. Davis was able to travel to some of the best races in the state and compete well. Despite missing nearly a month of traveling due to a lower leg injury, Davis was able to set the 1A state meet record in 9:05.23 and he is clearly one of the very best runners in this field if he is healthy and the conditions are ripe. Wisconsin native Ben Eidenschink of Port Edwards won the D2 state title by over 17 seconds. He is certainly capable of running with anyone in the field. Graham Brown (Sr., Palatine), Sam Oh (Sr., Stevenson) will give it one more try before moving on to college.
Both Torpy brothers will be represented at Midwest Distance Classic. Chris Torpy anchored his team to a 4x8 relay title this spring (Colin Boyle photo)
- The two section glorified fields will feature a ton of in state flavor. Downers Grove North senior Ryan Clevenger was struck by bad luck and illness through much of the season. If he can catch a break one last time before heading off to the University of Wisconsin, his personal best 4:11.22 will be toast. Several guys are listed as doubling but that tall order may hurt them against a talent like Sean Torpy (Jr., Orland Park Sandburg). The weather conditions last weekend at the Magnificent Miles in Chicago were horrible. It is expected to be in the lower 70s at race time. If so, expect to see a time faster than 4:18.35.
One of the nation's top female distance runners Audrey Belf of Michigan will be in the house on Saturday evening (Peter Draugalis photo)
- Larkin Chapman (Jr., Muscatine, IA) is a dynamic athlete who mixes speed and power into her racing. The Iowa state champion has run 55.63 for 400m and long jumped over 19-feet. Chapman recently won the Festival of Miles title in a personal best 2:09.90. In that race Karina Liz (Jr., Aurora Central Catholic) set the opening pace to only slip to sixth overall. There is a pace setter expected this time around that should assure some fast times. Liz has been sitting on her personal best 2:10.73 since winning the state championship in 2014. Liz will have another opportunity to dip under 2:10. Other standouts to watch will be Alyssa Goesch (So., Germantown, WI), Abigail Grider (Sr., Ft. Wayne South Side, IN), and Nicky Althoff (Jr., Rockton Hononegah).
- A relatively small mile field will feature big time talent Audrey Belf (Sr., Birmingham Seaholm, MI) who may have to serve as her own pace setter if she seeks the goal time she threw out there. "I really want to run 4:39 because I ran 4:44 solo the last time out," said Belf. The 4:44 that she is referring to is the 4:44.56 conference win. The All-American Belf used this Chicago land stop over as a warm up for next weekend's massive Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle. In that meet, Belf will be competing in the 2-mile against arguably the greatest field assembled. Belf is not looking ahead though as she just wants to get another personal best before moving on. The mostly Illinois contingent of Audrey Ernst (Fr., St. Charles North), Michaela Hackbarth (Jr., Downers Grove South), Kathryn House (Jr., Loyola Academy), and Brooke Wilson (So., Prospect) will do their best to keep things interesting.