The opening 4x800 should be an interest affair to say the least with Lyons' Ed McCarter and his trademark high socks (Colin Boyle photo)
The meet of the year indoors or outside for the boys in the state of Illinois is finally here with everybody’s favorite the 46th Annual Prospect Wanner Knights Invitational. Mother nature has indicated that she will cooperate and bring in solid climes that is expected to reach the middle 50s with moderate winds. If she keeps her word, then the faithful should see a wonderful meet and one of the best of the year.
As for the host Prospect High School in Mt. Prospect, IL, it will certainly be a spot for locals as well as track and field fiends to come and get their dosage of top notch action.
Tweetcast begins at 5:30pm with prelims: @ilptt
Let’s take a look at what’s cooking across the board:
The main event remains the 4x800m relay-
The defending 3A state champion Barrington is in the field but only has a seed time of 8:03 which says they may not be ready to rock and roll. Besides that they have some key personnel who will be competing at the Palatine Relays on Saturday. Also a bit surprising and light on personnel is York. The perennially strong Dukes were expected to load up their relay for the first time this year, but have chosen to allow their mainstays to step up individually. Instead they have chosen a C-team approach. Keep in mind that relays are worth double points for the first time at Wanner Knights.
Lane Tech on the other hand has chosen the other route by loading up their best quartet for the first time this outdoor season. The Indians ran a state indoor best of 7:54.21 back in March but have been itching since the beginning of the track season to compete in the Wanner Knights Invite. They are well aware of the hunted target they have become since the middle of the indoor season.
This race has the potential to be very fast if the weather conditions remain in the middle 50-degree and moderately light winds as predicted. It is conceivable that we could see our first sub-7:50 clocking of the season. For that to happen, the lead off legs cannot be conservative. For example, at the recent Dyestat Illinois/York DMR Special, the stud-laced field of lead off runners ran incredibly tame for the first two laps of their 1200m carry. This cannot happen on Friday evening. Lyons Township will be the team to look for with senior Ed McCarter on lead off. McCarter, who normally sports stylish knee high socks, will push the opening pace in his trademark fashion. Lane Tech senior David Schmieg likes hot paces as well. Add in the likes of dangerous teams such as Arlington Heights Hersey (8:01.70), Palatine Fremd (8:00.3), and Hinsdale Central (8:05) to boost the chances of a memorable affair.
Let’s continue with the distance events-
3200: This was at one time a must see event that even the sprint fans delayed going to concession stand for. The deuce still should be an entertaining race with at-large entrants Dan Santino (So., Chicago St. Ignatius) and Billy Magnesen (Sr., Hinsdale Central) pushing toward the front. Let’s add in cross country standouts James Ryan (Sr., Lyons Twp.), Kyle Mattes (Sr., York), and Blake Hallman (Sr., Prospect) for added depth. Now the recipe ingredients look mighty tasty. The winning time with this type of talent could fall below 9:20 and presenting a forecast for late May in Charleston.
Speed begins with the relays-
Schaumburg has been turning heads on the track and field with its speed rather than the traditional long stuff. For the first time this season the Saxons will get a chance in a big primetime spotlight to prove they are for real. The 4x1 quartet led by speedsters Shandall Thomas (Jr.) and Stacey Smith (Sr.) have a state best and only unit under 42.00 this year at 41.82. In fact, the Saxon crew has not been challenged at all this season and that fact could remain the same after the evening is over.
The 4x2 will see Schaumburg once again at the top of the state charts at 1:28.04. Although the Saxons are rated as the favorite in this event, they should feel a push from several teams. York is a team that has run under 1:29 this season and should be ready to rock a fast time. The Dukes will have to rely on reliable transitions and good stick play to keep up with the Saxons. Lyons is another formable team to watch out for.
The showstopping event of the evening could be the most action packed as four teams come in with seed marks 3:25 or better. Lyons leads the way by over three seconds with a smooth 3:22. The key in hanging with the Lions and then applying pressure will be the first two legs. If no one is in sight before Lyons’ anchor senior Jimmy Rhode it will be over. Watch for Springfield, Whitney Young, and Naperville Central to provide a good fight.
Individually, several events have the potential to jump off the screen and capture the fandom. The 100m doesn’t seem as deep as the 200m but Shandall Thomas leads the way with a solid 10.75. Barrington junior Scott Miller is listed at 10.50 but officially has a personal best of 10.97. If he is as good as listed then we all should expect a great final. The 200m on the other hand appears a little deeper with a number of quality sprinters who have clocked times in the 22s. Nine will advance to the final and among them should see Thomas, Eric McMiller (Sr., Lane Tech), and John Roberts (Jr., Zion-Benton) as the headliners. Of course, there are nine lanes as mentioned before so there should be some pleasant surprises forthcoming.
Michael Jopes (Sr., Naperville Central) and Jarvis Hill (Sr., York) should fight it out for supremacy in the 110HH. But in the 300H it should be all Hill who has the sixth fastest time in the state at 39.17.
Watch out for the 1600-
Last year the 1600m turned out to be the event to watch as St. Ignatius’ Jack Keelan rolled to a then state best and smoking 4:09.62. No one in the field this year is as stout as Keelan was or is, but it should be a good race. Hoffman Estates Conant junior Zach Dale is entered as an at-large runner who originally had intentions of competing in the 3200m. But after realizing that his 8:56.35 sizzler was more than adequate in terms of what anyone in the field could handle, it was a better choice for him to run the metric mile. Dale has a lifetime best of 4:17 from last year and certainly will be expected to improve on that mark. He will have some quality opponents awaiting him. David Schmieg (Sr., Lane Tech) ran 4:17 earlier during the indoor season and most recently followed it up with a 3:08 1200m DMR carry on Wednesday. The key for Schmieg is coming back from that race two days ago followed by his 4x8 chores. If he can’t get the job done, look for a host of savvy vets in Jacob Amiri (Sr., Downers Grove South), Alex Bashqawi (Sr., York), and more who can run under 4:20.
The 800m championship heat field has 10 of the 12 entrants with times under 2:00. Juniors Alex Lima of Lyons Twp. and Pavlo Hutsalyuk of Lane Tech will be expected to run well despite running legs on the 4x8. Both runners could be giving their coaching staffs the grueling test run to see if they can duplicate the feat on the state level. Matt Plowman (Jr., York) ran 1:55.68 last weekend and will push the pace knowing he is the favorite who is ready to roll a big time. Jacob Amiri will go with him in this exciting race.
York's Reid Smith will be among the top field event performers to watch for (Colin Boyle photo)
Don't overlook the field events-
The often overlooked field events will be going all around the Prospect HS sports complex starting at 5:30pm.
High jump: York senior Reid Smith is a 3 to 4 event athlete but his bread and butter is the HJ. Smith has cleared 6'7" this season. He will have a formable opponent in Barrington senior Parker Deloye is the event defending champion at 6'7".
Pole vault: Smith is the defending champ and the big favorite who should excel and shoot for a new personal best that is 14'6".
Shot put: There are five throwers who touched 50' this season led by Prospect senior Justin Phillips. Phillips heaved 53'6.5" to lead all competitors.
Long jump: Stacey Smith is the leader with a 21-10 (outdoor best) but he performed an IL#2 23-4 during the indoor season. He is the big favorite and should be ready to pop another personal best.
Triple jump: Smith could walk out of Prospect Stadium as a four event winner if he can perform up to his #1 seed aspirations which is 45'.
Discus throw: Joe Bellafiore (Sr., Hersey) leads the way with a 160'2" season best mark. There are two more performers at 156'5" and 151' to watch out for in Andrew Romig (Jr, Zion-Benton) and Brad Ruehrdanz (Sr., Fremd).