Josh Eiker Stands Tall In Centennial Charger Invite

Josh Eiker (middle) proves he is fastest man in Illinois in 60m (Mark Capapas photo)

The track and field scene shifted from the Chicagoland area to central Illinois at the University of Illinois Armory Field House. The Centennial Charger Invitational is a three-tiered meet that goes Class A, B, C. The "A" classification races are termed the featured events.

3A defending state team champion Edwardsville was the featured team and it was opportunity for the Tigers show off some depth through the three levels.

Individually, there was enough talent from the sprints to the distance arena to keep everyone happy, captivated and excited inside the cramped Armory.


  • Josh Eiker (Sr., Galesburg) was the main protagonist especially after missing out on the sweepstakes from last weekend's Proviso West Invitational. Eiker's camp indicated that he had a lot going on and the possibility of racing hard three weekends in a row was not a wise plan. The well rested Eiker took his place in the Class A 60m against new rival Cary Lockhart (Jr., Bloomington). Lockhart is deemed the heir apparent after placing second last year in the 3A 100m and 200m state championship. However, Eiker has the fastest returning times in those marks and now has moved up into the 3A classification. The short dash appeared tight among of the blocks but as the pack of Cheetahs locked in on the finish line Eiker's posture was in control. The 6.90 win against Lockhart 6.95, Vincent Gordon (Sr., Centennial) 7.00, and Deshon Buchanon (Sr., Belleville) 7.05 was quick and decisive and may foreshadow what is to come at the end of the month at the Illinois Top Times.
  • Eiker won round 1 but there was two more to go. Although Plainfield North won the 4x200 pretty comfortably in an IL #2 1:32.27, it was the anchor match up between Eiker and Lockhart. Bloomington got the jump on Galesburg and Lockhart barely held on and led his team to a second place finish in 1:33.64. Eiker runs 21.0 for his leg and pulled his team to third in 1:33.81... the last match up of the day was the 200m and it was no contest. Eiker bolted out of lane 6 and cooked the field running 21.57. Several of Eiker's future Illini coaches were atop the scoring and/or scoreboard filled with glee. And they should be after seeing that Eiker has the US #8 time and top flat mark in the country. As well there are only a small handful of collegians that ran faster inside the Armory.

  • Jon Davis (Sr., Oakwood) was another athlete who passed on the Proviso West Invite. Davis' reason was he had a long cross country season that stretched into mid December that led to an All-American honor in the Foot Locker National Championship. He also needed the extra time to gain full mental and physical health back. Davis would term his first 3200m race of 2016 as a "rust buster"- in which he and his friend and fellow outstanding distance runner Alex Keeble (Sr., Mahomet-Seymour) would work together for a portion of the race. Davis did most of the chores leading the 400 circuits in 67.8, 2:18, 3:30, and 4:43. Keeble took up his end of the deal at 2k crossing in 5:53. It was very short work because Davis regained control of the pace and gradually pushed his foot to the pedal. The end result was a 9:21.62-9:24.06. It was a meet record for Davis and an indoor personal best for Keeble.
  • Tayjione Nathan (Sr., Hillcrest) and Steve Strange (Sr., Oswego) locked horns in the 400m. Strange held a slight edge entering the homestretch but Nathan pulled even with just a few meters remaining in the race. Both athletes were awarded with 50.49 marks. But it was Nathan who got the benefit of the next thousand.
  • One of the top middle distance runners in 2015 Heath Warren (Sr., Springfield) put the choke hold on the competition in the 1600m from the gun. He led comfortably with a modest 65 second opening quarter-mile and then 2:11 at the halfway point. He coasted the rest of the way with a laughter 8 second win in 4:25.02.
  • Plainfield North closed out the meet with a school record 3:29.66 in the 4x400 relay. North had traded a lead with cross town rival South one time but the token resistance was merely that.
  • Ryan Ashenbremer (Jr., Normal West) won the Pole Vault in 15'6" and then had the bar raised to 16'0." He then got in a car with friend and second place finisher Zach Bradford (Bloomington) and headed to the Chicago area for the Windy City Pole Vault Summit.