It's the time for that yearly question that is asked at this point of the indoor season. Who's The Man or Woman? Yes, it has come to the biggest weekend in our high school track and field season: Illinois Top Times. But here's a better question for you: What do Loyola-Chicago, Buffalo, UMBC and even Syracuse ALL have in common? They are 'Bracket Busters' in the current NCAA basketball tournament. A whole bunch of guaranteed, no way they'll lose, left a lot of teams and fans in shock. Could the same thing happen at Top Times? In track and field, anything can happen. In my opinion, for this year's meet, I don't see that happening. If the top one or two athletes perform as they have, most events will take care of themselves. But beware of the quiet ones who have been lathered up under the radar. Nothing is truly guaranteed in track and field.
In 2A girls, one of the most competitive events may be the high jump with Sarah Flight (Jr., Charleston), Shaniya Howard (Sr., Urbana), defending champion and record holder sophomore Diamonasia Taylor also of Urbana, Carly Tucker (So., Metamora), and my dark horse pick, Alyssa Baltimore (Sr., Decatur Eisenhower). If they all perform, the high jump could be a good one.
This year, like in years past, we will witness the last indoor high school meet of the great Imani Carothers (Chicago Brooks College Prep). She will bless the pit in the long jump one final time and give us a show in the 60h/60m. If you have not seen her in person, like all the greats before her, this is your last chance for indoor high school track and field.
It's just my opinion but there are probably one or two races of the whole meet that must be watched in girls 3A -- 60m and 200m. In the 60m, Ameia Wilson (Jr., Danville) is and has been hot ALL season. She comes in at 7.56, but Ozzy Erewele (Springfield) has clocked 7.58 in limited competition, and is not wanting to lose in her last indoor high school dash. Ozzy is the defending champ whereas Ameia took third in 2017. Nya Carr (Sr., Buffalo Grove) is quietly laying in the weeds.
The girls 200m have a twist. Ameia comes in ranked #1; Ozzy is #3. The twist you ask. The ultimate Bracket Buster -- "Cinnamon aka Dajour Miles (Aurora West). How soon we forget that THIS is her FIRST IL TOP TIMES, even though she's a junior. The last two years she has been injured and robbed of state titles. Knowing her camp like I do, this is a title that must be added to her resume'.
Boys 3A give you your last chance to witness two ALL- TIME greats in IL history. The #1 ranked shot putter in the U.S. John Meyer (Lockport Township) at 70'04 ¼ and in the pole vault the New balance national champion and pole vault king, Zachary Bradford (Bloomington) at 18'05. It is rare, very rare, that IL has not one, but two kingpins in American high school track and field.
The superstars will be superstars! There will be someone who doesn't care about the rankings or meet seed and become a Top Times Bracket Buster. We just don't know who. Come meet time, the question of Who's The Man or Woman for 2018 will be answered.