Gene Armer Invitational Will Mark The Beginning Of Spring And End Of Indoor For Many

The incomparable Anna Sophia Keller will make her season debut in the 3200m (Colin Boyle image)

Gene Armer Meet Page

This weekend will certify itself as the final weekend of indoor track and field for many schools. Individuals and teams may opt to rest next weekend of the finale known as the Illinois Top Times or get their entry into the outdoor season. Not to mention that spring starts on Sunday. No matter what the decisions will be the expectation of a high out will be expected. The Gene Armer Co-Ed Invitational is one such quality invitational that impresses time after time.


Anna Sophia Keller leads things off on Saturday in the distance arena-

The multiple state champion and Nike Cross Nationals finalist Anna Sophia Keller (So., Effingham St. Anthony) will make her season debut in the 3200m going up against a solid field featuring fellow standout runners Megan Shaffer (Sr., Mattoon), Kitty Allen (Sr., Marengo), twins Maria Brauer (Jr., Petersburg-Porta), and Adrienne Brauer (Jr., Petersburg-Porta). Keller is arguably the state's top distance runner on the track with a personal best 10:22.16 on her resume. It should be a cake walk for Keller and the meet record of 11:08.04 should be toast as well.

The 800m should be a good one with several emerging athletes featured here. Imani Davis (Jr., Chicago Lane Tech) will be the one to watch in her season premier. Davis is usually Lane Tech's firestarter in the 4x800m relay. She has split 2:17-18 on several occasions and with her long sprint speed she should be ready to burn on the wide turns of the U of I oval.

Dominique Lewis promises to show out in the sprints-

Dominique Lewis (Sr., Champaign Centennial) is the state leader at 7.67 but she will have her hands full starting with the 60m prelims. It is assumed that all of the notables will make the finals such Tyuana Eason (Sr., Kankakee) and Emone Davis (Sr., Danville). If so, there should be some pressure on setting a new state mark and establishing a new meet record held by former Lincoln-Way East standout Alexis Hyshaw (7.65). Lewis will be the heavy favorite in the 200m with Eason competing in other events. Lewis has a season best of 25.74 which ranks 10th among Illinois young women.

Don't sleep on the field events-

The girl's high jump is one of the first events contested Saturday morning and if you dose off you may just miss the state's co- leader Jamari Drake (Jr., Springfield Southeast). Drake has taken off in recent weeks going from a solid but average 5-4 to an eye opening 5-8. Could the talented all-purpose athlete known for her contributions on the track continue to shine in the vertical event?

Another state leader in the field is Brooke Catherine (Sr., Normal Community). She is having a wonderful season in the pole vault with a lifetime best of 13-4 which ranks #6 in the US. As well Catherine is coming off fresh from the New Balance Indoor Nationals earning All-American honors with a third place finish. It would be easy for her to have a letdown but there is a meet record to go after. The 13-1.5 mark is held by the former Bloomington Central Catholic great Sarah Bell who is now at Vanderbilt University. Claire Buck (Sr., Troy Triad) comes in as a formable opponent to Catherine in that she has been one of the state's best vaulters over the past few years. Buck has a personal best of 12-6 from last year's state final. The stakes will be a little higher for her on Saturday as she attempts to topple Catherine.

The triple jump will feature the IL#6 and IL#7 Emani James (Jr., Thornton Fractional North) and Courtney Manning (Sr., Normal Community). Both girls have surpassed the 37-foot barrier this season. It is the hope that competing against one another that we could see a 38-foot mark.

Watch out for Tayler Weaver (Jr., Mattoon) in the shot put. She recently threw a personal best 41-10.5 at the Charleston Girls Invite to rank #6 in the state; Hannah Morris (Fr., Chicago Heights Bloom) is one of the talented freshmen being touted in the southern Chicago suburbs. She leaped a personal best 17-9 so far this season.


The side of the event ledger is littered with virtual marks. In order words many coaches have entered what they think or envision their athletes running, jumping, or throwing. This is fine if the athletes in question have a resume that warrants such matters.


Brett Charlton (Sr., Eureka) is perhaps the best all-round speedster in the Class A bracket. The Illinois State University commit is just getting started now. Charlton has rolled a solid 7.02 in the 60m during the undercover season. He will be challenged by Adam Nelson (Jr., Triad) and Johnathan Stokes (Sr., Chicago North Lawndale). If these three can successfully get through their preliminary rounds they very well could touch down under 7.00.

Elijah Douglas (Sr., Crete-Monee) is probably best known for his exploits in the long jump. Ok but he is one of the top hurdlers in the state and several college coaches will be in attendance looking for his services. Douglas will look to improve his 8.39 season best in the 60HH. His chief competitor should he make the final is Josh Kirby (Sr., Peoria Christian).

Charlton and Stokes will meet again in the 200m. Charlton has a season best 22.72 performed on Vanderbilt's 300m oversized track. But he hasn't recorded a mark since January. Stokes on the other hand has not let his novice status hinder him. The first year track man ran 22.82 at the Arkansas University HS Invite. The U of I turns should aid him in bettering his personal best.


Several weeks ago Pavlo Hutsalyuk (Sr., Chicago Lane Tech) ran 3/4ths of a good 1600m before getting completely throttled by Jon Davis (Jr., Oakwood) over the final ΒΌ. Hutsalyuk finished second in a time that he was not happy with. The 4:27 time is not a mark that he wants to complete his indoor season with. His main competitor will perhaps be Peter Johnsrud (Sr., Oswego). Johnsrud ran the 3200/1600 double at the Centennial Invite two weekends ago. He is ready to run a fast "mile" and will certainly push with Hutsalyuk and who ever decides to jump in a fast pace.

The 800m will be a wide open affair with Alexander Bruno (Sr., Normal University) leading the charge. Bruno has a seed time of 1:59.24. He will be challenged by Arturo Cardiel (Sr., Lane Tech), Keith Lee (Sr., Urbana), Connor Stine (Sr., Olympia), and several others.


Sam Sikon (So., Carbondale) leads the Shot Put field with a personal best of 56-11.25 which happens to rate #3 in Illinois. Sikon will be looking to eclipse the 60-foot mark for the first time in his career. It very well could happen in the fan friendly Armory.

Douglas has a long jump personal best 23-0.25 from the 2014 state championship. But he is on his pace to better that mark if you consider his 22-10 indoor mark was achieved in March. Drake Taylor (Sr., Normal University) and a fleet of long 21-foot jumpers are ready to sneak up on Douglas. This should be a fun event to watch.

Kyndell Battle (Sr., Oswego East) leads all high jump entrants with a 6-0 seed mark.