New Balance Nationals Outdoor Preview: Illinois Edition

The Frankfort Lincoln-Way East road show will not be in attendance in Greensboro this weekend.  Coach Angelo Brown has confirmed that Aaliyah Brown and company will shut it down as the high school team for 2013. Despite the absence of “The Franchise” and her cohorts, the Illinois contingent appears to be a very good one assuming that everyone who is listed competes. Tony Jones along with our MileSplit contingent will be out in full force all weekend with photos, video interviews, and much more!

Boy’s entrants (29): Cole Henderson (Jr., Pekin)- 100, 200, LJ; Jack Keelan (Sr., Chicago St. Ignatius)- 5k, mile; Patrick Perrier (Jr., O’Fallon)- mile, 2m; Alex Riba (Sr., O’Fallon)- mile, 2m; Nick Prajka (Sr., Orland Park Sandburg)- 800; Alex Gold (Sr., Deerfield)- 2m; Nolan McKenna (Jr., Wheaton-Warrenville South)- 2m; Jonah Hanig (Sr., Highland Park)- 2m; Harry Winter (Jr., Palatine Fremd)- 5k; Justin Kretchmer (Sr., Waterloo)- HJ; Phillip Jefferson (Sr., Calumet City TF North)- TJ; Ryan Njegovan (Sr., Sandwich)- DT; Luke Vaughn (Sr., Champaign Centennial)- DT, SP; Brandon Duncan (Sr., Waterloo)- SP, DT, HT; Jack Denby (Jr., Carlinville)- PV; Luke Schroer (Jr., Wheaton-Warrenville South)- emerging elite mile; Dustin Davidson (Fr., O’Fallon)- Freshman mile;  Lincolnshire Stevenson- 4x800r; Palatine Fremd- EE 4x800r, DMR.

Girl’s entrants (16): Madeline “Maddie” Perez (Jr., Glen Ellyn Glenbard West)- mile, 2m; Sarah Bell (Sr., Bloomington Central Catholic)- PV; Taylor Knauf (Sr., Aurora Christian)- PV; Hannah Swift (So., Clinton)- PV; Jasmine Brown (Sr., Dekalb)- TJ; Lena Giger (Jr., Highland)- SP, HT; Wheaton-Warrenville South- 4x800r, emerging elite DMR; Brooke Catherine (So., Normal Community)- EE PV; Mackenzie Gallagher (So., Normal Community)- EE PV; Kassandee Ifft (Fr., Prairie Central)- EE PV.


Keelan and Henderson will lead the boys’ charge-

Jack Keelan and Cole Henderson have proven themselves incredibly well on the Illinois stage this season.  Keelan was undefeated against his Midwest counterparts during the outdoor season which culminated in a 4:07.50 signature mile victory at last weekend’s Midwest Distance Festival.  Cole on the other hand went from a pleasant surprise during the indoor season besting some stiff individual competition at Illinois Top Times. He was able to successfully carry that momentum outdoors in dominating the 100 and 200 dashes.  Cole also won the long jump.

The Illinois fireworks will start with Keelan battling some familiar and friendly foes in the 5k on Friday evening.  Keelan has never competed in a 12.5 lap affair on the track.  Though he joked about it recently chuckling, “I really don’t know what I’m getting myself into.”  What he is getting himself into a fierce battle with the likes of stud runners Jake Leingang (Sr., Bismark, ND), Sam Wharton (Sr., Tipp City, OH), and Kyle Levermore (Jr., Don Bosco Prep; Ramsey, NJ).  Keelan will have his work cut out but he should be fine- especially if the pace isn’t taken out haphazardly.  The only athlete capable of such a suicide pace and withstanding any pressure is Edward Cheserek (Sr., St. Benedict’s Prep; Newark, NJ).  However, Cheresek is not entered in NBON.   It should be a good affair with all involved taking turns pushing the pace and ultimately going after Cheserek’s meet record of 14:25.74. 

Keelan is also entered in the mile along with Alex Riba and Patrick Perrier (though in separate sections). Keelan is entered in the championship race as arguably the favorite, but the four lap affair will feature some of the fiercest competition that he will face this season.  Alex Hess (Sr., Ft. Wayne Carroll, IN), Vincent Ciattei (Sr., Perry Hall; Baltimore, MD), and Garrett O’Toole (Jr., Middlesex; Concord, MA) will be the featured targets.

Watch for Cole Henderson to make the finals in his three events and become a household name among the national flock in 2014.  Henderson is the first Illinois boys’ sprinter to contest more than one open sprint event and it should be interesting to see how fast and how well he can jump in the 100, 200, and long jump.  Hopefully, his training hasn’t taken a big dip since last competing in the state meet three weeks ago.  Regardless, Henderson should be capable of running 10.50, 21.40, and leaping 23-10.  Those marks should be able to open some eyes and probably land him in one of the finals.


Perez, Bell, and Wheaton-Warrenville South hold high hopes for Prairie State girls-

Maddie Perez has been on the big stage before albeit the cross country one when she earned All-American honors last fall at the Nike Cross Nationals.  If the junior standout competes as well as she is capable of, she very well could be walking home with two more All-American medals around her neck.  “I’m going to plan to plan my goals on the way out, but two new PR’s would make it a great meet,” said Perez earlier in the week.  Hopefully, lofty goals won’t come into question because of weather.  The temperatures have averaged mid-90s in Greensboro in recent time.  Game time climes are supposed be in the low to mid 80s with moderate humidity.

The Wheaton-Warrenville South girls’ team will have something to prove… to themselves.  After all, some pundits have called into question of their decision to not fully defend their amazing 4x800 state championship that netted 8:59.  The Lady Tigers did feature three returners from that historic squad.  However, Coach Rob Harvey was looking at the bigger picture for his team at the time.  He knew that his senior charges McKenna Kiple, Hope Schmelzle, Erin Herrmann, and Helen Majer needed to build their individual portfolios.  They were all successful in doing that.  Now, the business at hand will be to go and run to the best abilities in the championship 4x800r on Saturday evening and double back in the emerging elite DMR at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning.  It should be interesting to see what kind of legs these young women have after the weekend.

The rest of the best-

Sarah Bell very well could have her own preview portfolio, but knowing her it is easy to assume that she will be all business in Greensboro in the pole vault.  The US#8 Bell will have her hands full with a great field that will feature the nation’s top vaulter Annie Rhodes of Midway, TX.  Rhodes has skied 14-0 and will look to make a clean sweep of things in terms of indoor and outdoor national rankings.  Her only loss this season was at her outdoor state championship.

Lena Giger has been handed the torch in the shot put by the state’s all-time leader Emmonnie Henderson of Edwardsville.  Giger comes in with a US#10 mark of 48-10.75 and could be ready for more.  In most recent times, she trekked all the way to San Francisco to compete in Golden West Invitational where she placed second.  Hopefully, she has enough left to earn All-American honors and return next year on the same podium as Henderson.

High Jumper Justin Kretchmer will now have an opportunity to test himself as possibly the meet favorite.  Kretcher already has the eighth best jump in the country at 7-1. David Njoku of Cedar Grove, NJ is the only other leaper over 7-foot outdoors.

Surprise entry Jasmine Brown will look to continue her wonderful season in the triple jump.  She won the 3A title with a 39-11.7w (wind was 2.8).  Her goal in an event that is usually strong should be top six. The nation’s all-conditions leader Keturah Orji (Jr., Mt. Olive, NJ) is entered in the field

The discus throw will look like the 2A final again with Luke Vaughn, Brendan Duncan and Ryan Njegovan all competing for All-American slots (top 6). Vaughn and Duncan will double back in the shot put later in the competition.

Phillip Thompson beat the heavily favored Cahokia triple jump duo of Chris Moore and Jamari Ward at state.  Now, let’s see what he has on the national stage.

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