Illini West anchor Jacob Bryan is one of the classification's most diversified athletes
2017 State Champion: Carthage Illini West 8:03.91
Key returning teams: Illini West, Pleasant Plains, Deer Creek, Sterling Newman Catholic, Elmwood, Shelbyville, Rockford Christian
Outlook: There are always question marks regarding relay teams from year to the next. Illini West is the defending state champion who lost two legs to graduation. But guess what? They still have anchor Jacob Bryan who happens to be an elite 800m runner. If he opts out of the relay in crunch time for the open events, Pleasant Plains will be the team to beat if they are not already the best squad on paper. The Cardinals have had tremendous success at the state championship level and they return all four legs back. Depth will be added with state placers Deer Creek (DeeMack) and Sterling Newman Catholic despite the graduation of Chris Ahlers. Shelbyville placed second in the Illinois Top Times but did not advance to state despite having a great unit. Senior Ryan Skowronski is going to have to get back to the 2016 mode if his team wants to be a player in crunch time. Rockford Christian could steal the show at the end of the day. The Royal Lions ran 8:33 with an all sophomore lineup last year and barely missed the state final. If they insert star Riley Wells into the picture they could be the favorites. Illinois' top 800m runner is good enough to steal the state stage by himself.
Top Performances in 2017:
This race was a sight to see with a beavy of teams fighting for the finish line
2017 State Champion: Rushville Industry 43.28
Key returning teams: Decatur St. Teresa, Liberty, Lena Winslow, Rushville, Warrensburg-Latham
Outlook: With all due respect it is harder to predict and ultimately reload in the sprint relays than distance ones. But the 4x1 at the Class A level is harder to define because of team depth. The top four teams in 2017 lose at least two legs from graduation. One team who some like commentator B-Side thought Decatur St. Teresa had the best quartet but didn't run one of its top sprinters in the state championship. We will see what happns when a team runs with a full deck. Warrensburg-Latham is a team that lost out on the sweepstakes when a botched exchange at 1,2 was not handled correctly. They will return all four legs including the explosive twin pack Diondre and Dionte Lewis.
Top performances in 2017:
The sophomore trio from Ridgeview stole the show in the 4x2
2017 State Champion: Colfax (Ridgeview) 1:28.90
Key returning teams: Ridgeview, Rockford Christian, Rushville Industry, Warrensburg-Latham, Madison, Lena-Winslow, Liberty
Outlook: Ridgeview used three sophs last year to get the job done. One of those youngins was the 300H champ Mason Barr. Barr anchored the comfy win and he will be in the mix again unless another event comes and disrupts his opportunity to share another great team moment. Rockford Christian will be in the mix again as will Madison. This is a tough event to predict because it is surrounded by an enormous amount of speedy events. Teams that have good depth usually peform well in the 4x200.
It was an amazing tilt between the two best teams in the classification last year
2017 State Champion: Rockford Christian 3:22.41
Key returning teams: Rockford Christian, Illini West, Pleasant Plains, Warrensburg-Latham, Taylor (Rockridge)
Outlook: Rockford Christian and Illini West proved to be the best teams last year as it came down to the final meters. Rockford Christian's Riley Wells was just too good for Jace Norman in the end and the spoils go to his squad. It will be another great year in this relay as many teams return with minimal damage.
Top performances of 2017: