Hannah Morris is one of the top long jumpers in the US and she will be in attendance on Saturday
The 39th Annual Gene Armer Invitational in all honesty is the final co-ed invitational of the season and the last chance for any kid hoping to earn one last indoor personal best or invite to the upcoming Top Times. This unique meet is one entry per event and the race order is not in the traditional format. Things start early (9am) and before you know it it's over!
All eyes will be on the high jump where US #1 Jelena Rowe (Sr., Chicago Heights Bloom Township) cleared a historical 6'0". She is only girl in the country to do so this season and just the second Illinois girl to ever do it during the cover season. The next item for Rowe before moving to outside is to outright leap past the 6'0.25" all-time record. Two other solid performers will look to give Rowe something to think about and not relax. IL #3 performers Lucy Rulon (Jr., Champaign St. Thomas) and Diamonasia Taylor (Fr., Urbana) have cleared 5'6."
The state's best long jumper also hails from Bloom Township in junior Hannah Morris. Morris has a personal best of 20'1.75" from last year's outdoor campaign. Morris continues her roll with a 19'9.5" which also ranks #10 in the country. Morris will attempt to defend her title against Lyn'nika Vance (So., Crete-Monee) and Serena Bolden (So., Springfield Southeast)- both 18-foot jumpers that are ranked 4th and 6th respectively in the state. This could be one of the more exciting events to watch in that Morris could jump away and hide, or she could have technical issues from the past expose her as a mortal and allow someone to come in and steal her show.
Chicago Lane Tech junior Sarah Olojo has been on the rise since taking triple jump serious last summer. Olojo and her coach DJ Vazquez have worked tirelessly on technique, strength, and knowledge of the sport. The results so far have put Olojo among the elite in the state. How does 36'10.5" sound? It is solid indeed but reaching into the 37-foot range before the outdoor season begins is even better.
Deambria Brown is another emerging star but her encounter will be in the shot put. The two-time all-stater has cleared 44-feet this season. The Peoria Manual senior is ready to cop the title she won two years ago.
The pole vault will feature some of the best talent in the state. Nikki Ogorek (Sr., Normal Community) and Kristin Slaughter (Sr., Effingham St. Anthony) are the creme of the crop when it comes to the pole vault. Both 12 foot vaulters will look to elevate their status in the rankings. Can both top 5 artists move up? Find out on Saturday morning.
Anna Sophia Keller will be a beast on the track in the distance races (Beth Scheid photo)
Distance: The girl to watch is Anna Sophia Keller (Sr., Effingham St. Anthony). Keller is one best distance runners in Illinois history. The four time state cross country winner added an All-American honor to her name on the grass. Keller has also been a beast on the track Her 1600m personal best of 4:52.15 ranks in the top 5 all-time. The future Notre Dame Irish distance runner has few equals in this game. On Saturday don't expect anyone to challenge her except the stadium clock. The meet record that Keller holds may be her only challenge. Watch for others such as Maggie Scholle (Sr., Lane Tech), Enyaeva Michelin (Jr., Evanston), and Jenna Schwartz (So., Waterloo) to make an impact in the distance races.
Speed game: Central Illinois has enjoyed some power performances this undercover season. Courtney Sockwell (Sr., Rockford Lutheran) will meet her stiffest and most compelling challenge of the season in the 60. Ameia Wilson (So., Danville) and Katina Martin (Jr., Decatur Eisenhower) are the key names to concerned with. They have run a robust 7.63 and 7.64- both ranked #2 and #3 in the state. Martin will return later in the 400 to challenge all and any comers. Meanwhile, Sockwell and Wilson will battle for the 200 title.