Samara Miller displaying serious championship hardware (Aurora Flyers Track Club photo)
The week long AAU Nationals hosted by the expansive Humble High School just outside of Houston was one to be remembered by most of the several thousand athletes who attended and competed. As the championships began to unfold, MileSplit Illinois contributor B-Side expressed things this way: "The heat here is disrespectful. But if this is a preview of hell you definitely don't want to go. I see folks falling out and getting stretchered- ambulances lined up outside the stadium. The heat here is tougher than the competition." However, those who were successful among the oppressive weather conditions shined very brightly.
Aurora Flyers Track Club bust out on the scene with 32 national championship medals-
Samara Miller (Neuqua Valley) produced one of the most memorable performances by an Illinois athlete in a long time. The Purdue University bound Miller began her quest for stardom with a personal best of 24.31 in Thursday's 200 semi-final. The big follow up came on Friday in her 400 semi that netted a US #17 53.51. Miller did not stop there though. What happened on Saturday is something that no one could have predicted. Miller immediately went to work with a great start against the aggressive field. As she entered the homestretch it was apparent that a win was evident. But it was the incredible time that beamed "52.96." The wow factor immediately spread throughout the twitter universe. It was an amazing finish for Miller whose big plans for a state championship or two was derailed back in May. Miller closes out her career with a US #7/IL #1/IL #3 all-time.
National champion #1 Samara Miller in girls 17-18 girls 52.96; IL #3 all time
Samara's club teammate Dajour Miles had her internal battles that she had to deal with. Miles, who was the defending champion in the 400, had to repeat in the hardest way possible. Miles did not run outdoor track for high school team at Waubonsie Valley. She trained through the spring and into the summer. A hard fought victory down the homestretch of the 400 finally reached in 53.98- good for IL #2. Miles later added a 4th place finish in the 15-16 girls 200 in 24.14, which tops off as the second fastest time in the state. Indeed a once despondent Miles got the last laugh.
Katelynn Hart, the soon to be freshman at Glenbard West HS, had been on fire this summer with outstanding victories all over the AAU venue. Hart was heard loud and clear when she ran 9:52 for 3000m earlier in the summer. Hart had earlier won the 15-16 year old 1500 title (4:41.56) and second in 800 (2:13.48). Hart finished the games with an easy victory in the 3k (9:58.49). Now watch for Hart to star on the high school scene this fall.
Marcellus Moore enjoys track and field very much. He loves it enough to hold off against full scale football practice that awaits him when he returns home to play for Plainfield North. The incoming freshman will be a prominent name on the gridiron this fall and certainly back on the track next spring 2017. Moore lit up the deep Texan field with a blazing 10.81 (+0.5) Century title for 14 year olds. Moore returned later to blaze 22.07 for runner up in the 200. His times if eligible would be among the best in the state.
Brandon Adams was already a rising junior when the summer began. As a sophomore for Minooka, Adams racked up a ton of accolades and all-state honors. Now for summer track and field it is all about making a brand name in some respects. Adams completed the one lap tour in 48.49 and 3rd place in the 15-16 age group. Adams ran 48.46 in Friday's prelim round.
Another incoming freshman boy ran extremely well on Friday and Saturday. Brendan Turner produced an eye opening 51.11 during his prelim. Turner will attend Bolingbrook HS this fall. He is also the son of Notre Dame University track and field coach Alan Turner. The Saturday final saw Turner close well over the final 150m to grab 4th place and clock 50.76. He will be a major player on the Illinois scene next spring.