2014 is going to be vastly different from 2013 because of classification defections. For example, Martel Hunter moves up from 1A and should be a dominant force in his league in all three flat races. Several other highly touted speed demons and hurdlers climbed the stairs to 3A. As well, the graduated talent such as DJ Duncan, Reggie Bratton, and Marcus Greer will be felt. At the same time, it gives a bevy of emerging athletes an opportunity to step forward and make a name for themselves and their schools.
2013 State Champion: Reggie Bratton (Jacksonville) 10.68 [+1.3]
Key returners: Dion Hooker (Jr., Sycamore), Treston Fowler (Sr., Dunlap), Martel Hunter (Sr., Monmouth-Roseville), Sharvon Johnson (Jr., Chicago Phillips), Demoria Harris (Jr., Chicago Dunbar).
Outlook: The three-sport star and two-time defending champion Reggie Bratton has graduated and moved on to college, leaving the door wide open for a host of speedsters. Dion Hooker has the top returning time of 10.78 along with a fifth place finish in last year’s state final. If he can’t get the job done, the duties will fall upon Treston Fowler who was also a state medalist. Fowler holds a best of 10.79.
2013 State Champion: Marlin Brady (Sr., Cahokia) 49.30
Key returners: Brady, Jeremiah Watson (Sr., Chicago Urban Prep Charter), Martel Hunter (Sr., Monmouth-Roseville), Jeff Swanson (Sr., Winnebago), Brandon Riley (Sr., Chicago Morgan Park), Dion Hooker (Jr., Sycamore), Michael Giovannelli (Sr., Chatham-Glenwood), Jalon Monigan (Sr., Cahokia), Damion Allen (Sr., Lasalle-Peru). Nathaniel Kucero (Sr., Maple Park Kaneland).
Outlook: Can Marlin Brady get a three-peat this season? If the two-time reigning state champion is to do so, he is going to face some worthy opponents along the journey. Former 1A champion Martel Hunter enters the fray as a big threat to Brady because he is one of the state’s best one-lap sprinters. Last year he rocked a 48.93 to easily subdue his opponents. Jeremiah Watson is a name that is not very familiar to Illinois fandom. But inside the Chicago Public League circuit he was one of the best sprinters. Watson ran 49.58 with limited coaching and quality races, but he has hooked with touted North Lawndale Coach Zontavious Johnson during the pre-season track circuit. Look for Watson to crack into the 48s this season.
2013 State Champion: Dion Hooker (Jr., Sycamore) 22.23 [-0.2]
Key returners: Hooker, Demoria Harris (Jr., Chicago Dunbar), Martel Hunter (Sr., Monmouth-Roseville), Nicholas Fizer (Sr., Dolton Thornridge), Monterious Wheatley (Jr., Springfield Southeast), Devante Clarke (Sr., Jacksonville), Jeremiah Watson (Sr., Chicago Urban Prep), Martel Hunter (Sr., Monmouth-Roseville)
Outlook: Will it be the defending champion Dion Hooker or both newcomers Martel Hunter and Demoria Harris on top of the heap this season? Hooker has the best returning time of 21.77 (no wind) in his best event. Hunter, who won the 1A title, will have deeper competition to push him to his maximum potential. Harris ran 21.99 last as a sophomore last year while logging a full load of races. His older brother Darvell Harris took the track world by storm two seasons ago when he demolished the 3A ranks in the 200 and anchored two winning state relays- the 4x2 squad ran the third fastest time in Illinois history.
2013 State Champion: D.J. Duncan (Harrisburg) 14.41 [+0.5]
Key returners: Gary Hickman (Sr., Cahokia), Lucas Ege (Jr., Burlington Central), Patrick Lefevere (Sr., Aurora Central Catholic), Terry Allen (Sr., Champaign Centennial).
Outlook: Gary Hickman had a rough time competing against the champion DJ Duncan who was the best overall hurdler in a deep pool. Duncan is gone now leaving the door wide open. Hickman is a starting member of the school’s state championship basketball team.
2013 State Champion: Marcus Greer (E. St. Louis Sr.) 37.82R
Key returners: Gary Hickman (Sr., Cahokia), Dylan Nauert (Sr., Maple Park Kaneland), Lucas Ege (Jr., Burlington Central), Michael Billington (Sr., Bloomington Central Catholic), JD Gieson (Jr., Dixon).
Outlook: Hickman is on track to be the top long hurdler if relay duties don’t stand in his way. He is capable of running in the mid 37s when he is at his apex. Dylan Nauert ran some swift marks last year and has the second fastest time of 39.00 despite missing the state final.