They say dynasties come and dynasties go. If that's true then it's mean it's time for a new era of girls track and field to begin. In the beginning it was the legendary coach Nino Fennoy and his E. St. Louis Lincoln Flyerettes winning 13 of 14 titles including 11 in a row. The torch would later be passed down Evanston and Morgan Park and finally to sprint guru coach Angelo Brown and Frankfort (Lincoln-Way East). Now, a new era has dawn with Homewood-Flossmoor on the rise. The Lady Vikings have been simmering for several years and this might be the right with a solid mix of veteran and youthful talent. If the elders can pass the torch as the great programs before them they may just be on their way. But then there is Coach Fennoy back again with a seasoned team ready to pounce on the youngins.
The field events go like this-
LJ: The state leader and the most improved jumper in Illinois is none other than Jaimie Robinson (Sr., Homewood-Floosmoor). At the beginning of the school year many pundits thought of Robinson as a primary triple jumper. But the truth of the matter besides inhereting great genes (ala Glenn Robinson), Robinson has outworked the competition and earned ever bit of her success. "The Jaimie" has been pulled out on a number of occasions this season. You know, two thorough beatings on the track and in the field- that's "the Jaimie." It looks like Jaimie will breeze this weekend here. Her 20-foot effort earlier in the season was backed up by a wind legal 19-11 at sectionals. Others fighting for a silver medal will be Kamesha Smith (Sr., Thornwood) and former 20-footer herself Hannah Morris (Jr., Bloom Twp.) who has been on the shelf most of th outdoor season.
PV: We could see a first here come Saturday. Ali Munson (Sr., Lisle Benet Academy) is back... but she will be competing in a different classification. The former 2A state champion is now in 3A as her school's success factor has "vaulted" them upward. It doesn't matter because Munson has gone undefeated since the beginning of the 2016 season. She is IL#2 and the favorite over a solid crop that includes Lauren Seaver (Jr., Normal U High) and Nikki Ogorek (Sr., Normal Community).
LJ: There has not been an athlete who quickly captured the attention from one attempt succession as Jelena Rowe (Sr., Bloom Twp.). She has made the rare feat of clearing 6-0 regular by her standards. "Jelena 6.0" has cleared the occasion in 4 of 5 meets during the outdoor season. The US#1 indoors and outdoors has a personal best 6-1 which makes her iron clad even if she has an off day. Rowe is motivated though, despite winning a national championship such as the prestigious New Balance Outdoor Nationals, she does not have a state title on her resume. Kamesha Smith, Katie Mans (Jr., Alton) and Ololade Ayoola (Sr., Lincoln-Way East) will fight it out for silver and bronze.
SP: Two-time state champion Courtney Morgan (Sr., Aurora Metea Valley) is going to have a fight on her hands. Despite throwing 48-8 indoors and winning the Illinois Top Times, Morgan has only topped out at 45-3 outside. Evangeline Harris (Jr., E. St. Louis Sr.) leads the sectional pack with a 44-11.25. Harris will be extra motivated as her team is in the title chase with several teams. Every point counts.
TJ: Is there anyone out there that can challenge Jaimie Robinson? Anyone?! The answer is no. Robinson is US#2 all-conditions 42-8 and on the verge of 43-feet. No Illinois girl has ever soared that far. If Robinson somehow makes it into the 43-foot range a few coaches will be paying up via steak dinners. Just saying.
DT: E. St. Louis Sr. will have the state's classification leader senior Jasmine Poole tossing the plate near 150-feet. During the sectional round, it was Courtney Morgan and Jalah Morris (Jr., Zion-Benton) able to be within respectable range. And just like Poole's teammate Evangeline Harris, she will be motivated by a team state title.
The relays, relays, relays, relays-
The relays are exciting because they get the crowd on its collective feet. But relays serve a purpose in that they are often vital to a team's success in terms of winning a championship. This may hold true again at the state championship.
4x800: Last year Hinsdale Central seemed like a surprise winner even though they had massive firepower among its quartet. They were an enigma if you will with one former state individual champion Anne Zaher returning after missing a complete season followed by three pure inexperienced cross country girls. This is not a mix of success in girls middle-distance racing at the state level. This season despite three returning legs from that team that ran a blistering 9:04.27, no one is talking about the Red Devilettes or even giving them much of a chance to repeat. Naperville North, Belvidere North, and even Glenbard West has grabbed the headlines this season. New Trier has the top time from sectionals and could make some serious noise. But remember one thing about returning champions who have good parts back: they will rise to the occasion.
4x100: O'Fallon opened many eyes last weekend at the Belleville West Sectional when they blazed the track in 47.09. The Lady Panthers did not even make the finals last year because of a zone infraction. To say the least when they stack things up they have been on a mission. Please don't forget Romeoville. The Spartans feel slighted at times and will be out to prove the naysayers wrong. West Aurora, Granite City, and possibly Homewood-Flossmoor will challenge for supremacy.
4x200: O'Fallon returned about an hour later and crushed everyone once more in a state best 1:39.91 at Belleville. That was just the beginning for a team that placed 2nd in the state meet last year. We may see something unreal this weekend like a clocking in the 1:38s if the weather can hold up. Romeoville will once again challenge here. The Spartans dropped an IL#2 1:40.95 last weekend in less than desirable conditions which means in 80 degree climes they can go faster. Springfield will have speedster Ozzie Erewele on its roster. Homewood-Flossmoor is among the fastest group without star Jaimie Robinson. E. St. Louis Sr. and Dekalb should make a run for the finals.
4x400: E. St. Louis has been dominant all season here and there is no reason for that to stop. Besides, they need the points and the state team title may come down to this one event. The Flyerettes are going to need every bit of that 3:54.59 state leading time on Saturday. The hot chasers will be Downers Grove North, Lockport, Lyons Twp., Belleville West, and defending champ Lincoln Way East.
Watch freshman star Katelynne Hart enter the stage-
The #1 freshman distance runner in the country happens to be the top distance runner in the state as well. Katelynne Hart (Glenbard West) is someone who fights like a pitbull in competition. She does not let go of that ankle or even neck until it is completely over. Completely over in her case are track races. We could see something remarkable in Charleston if weather and mood are in the right places.
3200: KK Hart is the obvious favorite as she is the big time favorite. if rankings mean anything then the race for second place is obvious. No one is going to touch 10:14.47 or even 10:24.47 (10 secs slower than Hart's US#8 time). Last year's second and third place finishers Ashley Tutt (Sr.) and Emily Shelton (Jr.) have returned. Shelton is running extremely well as evidenced by her #2 seed out of sectionals. She clocked a school record 10:33.81 to finish ahead of Naperville North's Alex Morris (So.). This field is deep and littered with talent like Lindsey Payne (Jr., Glenbard West), Jocelyn Long (Jr., Barrington), and Brooke Wilson (Sr., Prospect). Sarah Schmitt (Jr., Naperville North) placed second as a freshman is lurking hard in the background.
800: No Hart, no problem. The field will be just fine led by the hard charging Emma Moravec (Sr., Downers Grove North). It is time for Moravec to set forward after being among the state's elite for four years. She could be motivated by cross town rival and former Downers South great Michaela Hackbarth win two state titles. It will come down to strategy and who wants it the most. Madison Marasco (Jr., Schaumburg) is racing well now after a light indoor season. Her success here will depend on what happens in the team's relay chances. Running a hard leg on the 4x8 could mean disaster in the open. The turnaround is one of the toughest in track and often misunderstood. Emily Stegmeier (Sr., Elk Grove) has been in the shadows for several years and will be among the lightest taxed kids on the docket. She does not have any relays to worry about or doubling back from any other race. State runner up from last year senior Jenna Lutzow has her Belvidere North 4x8 in the title talk. What decision is she going to make? We are talking about 3A racing now where anchor legs have to max out. Can she run 2:11s in a span of 90 minutes? Two days in a row? It will be interesting to say the least.
1600: Hart will be shooting for greatness in track's great event. 4:47.54 is US #6 and just 1.54 off of the national lead. Hart may gun for that time in the prelims on fresh legs and when the weather is expected to be its best. Claire Hamilton (Sr., Naperville North) gave Hart a bit of fits at the Sue Pariseau Invite. She has logged 4:51.15 good for US #16. Let's hope for a great battle for Saturday. Reilly Revord (Jr., Hinsdale Central), and Distance Night in Palatine winner Olivia Niziolek (Sr., Maine South) will be ready.
Watch Jaimie Robinson come from behind and nip Ameia Wilson near the end
Speed play is the name of the game on the track-
Watch closely or you might miss something....
100: The "crap shoot" race is this one. Who is it going to be? Jaimie Robinson has billed herself as a sprint candidate queen now and not just a jumper. How about Dajour Miles? Is her hammy completely healed for the torque needed coming out of the blocks and down the run way? Ameia Wilson is destined to star here from Danville. Ozzie Erewele said at Belleville West last weekend that she is not satisfied by a sectional title. Plus, after taking a beating by the Martin twins at conference did not sit well with her. Defending state champion Amira Young still has not gotten the respect she deserves. There are so many others out there and with 7 heats someone solid is going to be left out.
200: Robinson may be the one to beat here after running a sensational come from behind race against Wilson. 24.11 in legal win is awesome but there is more to come from a great field that will not lay down. Miles is strong and could win it as can the defending champion Young.
400: Kylie Welch (Sr., Bloomington) is the 3A leader at 54.90- IL #2. Welch has gotten more notoriety this season and the reward is a ticket to the University of Iowa when it's all said and done. Oh but wait... did we forget Dajour Miles better known as "Cinnamon?" Remember she was the darling of indoor track running out to a US #2 54.25 before getting injured at The Downers South Mustang Relays trying to chase down Amira Young on the 4x2 relay. Speaking of Young, she will be in this event in 2018- book it! In the meantime it wll be Welch and Miles dueling and everyone else ringside participants.
100HH: Not enough love for the short hurdles for some reason. It has been a long time since a 3A kid has really showed out. Can Mya Robinson (Sr., Thornton) be that young lady this weekend? She is the leader at 14.29 and a slight favorite over Rokelle Stanley (Jr., E. St. Louis Sr.). A sizable pack of girls are just under 15.00 and need to get it booking.
300H: Stanley is the state leader at 43.82. We suspect that time will not hold up this weekend and maybe a sub 43 will be in the offering. Haile Bieber (Sr., Naperville North) is IL#3 and could pose a challenge to Stanley. Robinson and newcomer Haley Click (Sr., Lake Forest) will be there.