Daelin Switzer won Illinois Top Times Indoor title last year in her first appearance (Angela Kerndl photo)
Key returners: Switzer, Kiah O'Neal, Kenli Nettles, Olivia Saucedo, Janiya Collins (Jr., Madison), Kaela Wellman (Jr., Liberty), Paige Tucker (Sr., Sesser-Valier), Dedria Lorton (Jr., Busnell-Prairie City),
Outlook: 13 state finalists return in what could possibly be the deepest event on the docket. The top 8 are back with multi-sport athlete Switzer leading the charge. Switzer, who is an explosive athlete, standing out in volleyball and basketball; she won the 15-16 AAU National title last summer with a height clearance of 5-7. The two-time state champ is capable of reaching another level this season after seeing Jelena Rowe (Chicago Heights Bloom Twp.) clear 6-1 last year. We potentially could see three girls at 5-10 or better this year. Kiah O'Neal is the #1 stat returner in the state with #2 Switzer and Kenli Nettles #3, but Switzer is the one to beat based on her pedigree as a pure winner (undefeated). It is going to be an exciting year in the high jump.
Key returners: Young, Chloe Lindeman, Emily Offenheiser, Carrie Ferguson, Chandler Hayden, Saige Barnett, Claire Bushur
Outlook: The best of all-time has left the facility for the University of South Carolina. That person of course is the great KD who leaves behind a tremendous legacy. It is extremely doubtful if we will see another girl throw anywhere near 53-feet like she did, but there will be progression with the emergence of Chloe Lindeman. Lindeman is tops in Illinois and US#2 returner, proving yet another round of strong shot putting from a Class A participant.
Key returners: Yoder, Jaden Christian, Britney Oakley, Lucy Lux-Rulon
Outlook: Jumps are sometimes hard to predict and with as many losses to graduation and a few classification defects sprinkled in, it could be a lean year here. Only four state finalists return led by the state champion Paige Yoder. She and class newcomer Jaden Christian are the lone leapers that produced marks over 18-feet. Look for those two to duke it out when the crunch time arrives late spring.
Key returning performances:
2017 State Champion: Tarynn Mays (DuQuoin) 37'1"
Key returners: Danielle Taets, Jaden Christian, Carmen Devries, Grace Alley (Jr., Seneca), Kaelyn Hamalie (Sr., Spring Valley Hall)
Outlook: State runner-up Danielle Taets will look to move up to the top perch after the graduation of Tarynn Mays who is now at the University of Illinois. But look out here comes Jaden Christian to come and spoil the party. She was one of the top freshman in all of Illinois last season who earned all-state honors in 2A. Classification change will make things interesting for sure. That also means that Natasha Bernett moves from the shuttered Luther North to big 3A Chicago Lane Tech. No one else other Christian and Taets have leaped over 37-feet.
Key returning performances:
It should be an ever better overall season in the discus than a solid 2017 produced (Tracy Burmester photo)
2017 State Champion: Kathleen "KD" Young (Warrensburg-Latham) 150'
Key returners: Rachyl Anderson, Chloe Lindeman, Chandler Hayden (Jr., Pittsfield), Noelle DeJaynes (Jr., Decatur St. Teresa), Emiy Offenheiser, Sabrina Martinez, Ellie Lamb (Jr., Rushville Industry), Hope Jackson
Outlook: The state's best thrower also happened to be KD Young. She makes way for a seasoned bunch that looks to be one of the strongest years in a long time. Coming from the talent rich Caitlin HS throwing program is Rachyl Anderson who tossed her way to the third best mark in all of Illinois and will return as the #1 discus thrower. Emily Offenheiser provided some resistance last year at state with a 4th place finish, but if the Southern Illinois-Edwardsville bound Anderson is on her game, she will be tough to handle. Look for her to clear the 150-foot barrier on more than a few occasions this season.
Will we someone new emerge from the ranks? (Mark Capapas photo)