Many chimes about what invitational is the best on a big smörgåsbord of high school track and field can make your head spin if you let it.
But the biggest head spinner of the entire weekend much less the day will be the weather. It seems like when there is a warm and comfy day in the Chicagoland region is on Sunday or early in the training week. This awful trend will continue as lower to mid-50s are expected to dominate the scene. The teams that embark on Prospect High School seem to expect these type of climes. Get ready!
The 4x800 relay is top billing as always-
This has been an unusually slow march to sub 8:00's for the nation's premier state in such production. Only O'Fallon has went under the watermark and their time was just 7:59.93. The good is coming and cool temperatures should not stop what is expected to occur. Minooka, Hersey, New Trier, and host Prospect should all fight it out. Minooka will be on a man hunt after winning the Top Times meet last month in dramatic fashion. The Indians will have cross country champion senior Soren Knudsen ready for battle. The Knights are defending champs and they love the 4x8. Watch for them to close the race out with senior James Riordan who has ran 1:56.75.
The field will not have superstar state champions among its entrants like last year with seniors A.J. Epenesa (Edwardsville) and Cameron Ruiz (Lakes). The triple jump may see rising seniors Tom Saggau of Lyons and David Oluyadi (Lane Tech) take charge. Saggau leaped 46-10.75 indoors and Oluyadi also soared past 46-feet and placed second at the Illinois Top Times meet.
John Steffan (Barrington) is on the verge of eclipsing 60-feet. He threw 57-7 indoors and now 59-6 thus far outdoors. Fellow senior and MSL foe Billy Matzek (Prospect) has a personal best 57-0 and he should be able to challenge Steffan for the victory.
Junior Jamir Gibson of Zion-Benton has thrown the discus 165-1. Can he match that distance again?
The high jump may be the best land event because sophomore Michael Shafis (Prospect) leads with a solid 6-7.25 mark.
The open track feeling-
The sprints look lighter than usual especially the short dashes. Watch for Tyler Creamer's seed mark of 50.00. The Zion-Benton sophomore may very well run extraordinary times one day, but there is no where listed that says he has burned the track up yet. But one athlete who is ready to shine is Colin Marchio. The Minooka senior has stepped up and filled a void left by graduation and injuries to the Indians speed corps. Marchio has responded with 10.95 and 22.34 times.
Junior Charlie Kern (York) and senior Vince Zona (Lyons) will duel in probably the best race of the evening, the 800m. Kern is the state leader here and Zona has run well in the mile/1600. But outstanding distance runners hail from the mighty WSC Silver League and battling on MSL turf seems very fitting. We could see a time from the winner in the 1:53-54 range. Will we see senior Thomas Mosley of Zion-Benton push the pace like he always does? Money is on Kern though.
Junior Danny Kilrea (Lyons) probably thought he was going to have Whitney Young junior Clayton Mendez or someone else to race in the 3200m. Not so now. Mendez is resting up for the post season after an exciting yet tiring last few weeks. Mendez ran the state's first sub 9:00 last weekend at the Distance Night In Palatine. Maybe Kilrea will thrill the crowd with a great solo effort or perhaps someone we don't know is ready to run the race of a lifetime Friday evening.
If the 800 does not produce the desired fireworks, the 1600 should. Zona, Kilrea, and Knudsen will double back from events. Alex Tam (Jr., Libertyville) will be fresh with his 4:19 seed time. At-large runner Brian Leonard (Sr., Palatine) will be in the building racing. Hopefully, the energy will be there when 8:40 arrives.
Not much to the sprint relays except Proviso West is seeded as the favorite in all three. The fans and pundits will be watching very closely in how the Panthers respond.