State champion Latavia Maines and her cousin Nikita Maines talk about their all-state performances
2016 State Champion: Latavia Maines (Sr., Centralia) 44-2.5
Key returners: Latavia Maines, Nikita Maines (Jr., Centralia), Taylor Schwartz (Jr., Dixon), Deambrea Brown (Sr., Peoria Manual), A'Veun Moore (Sr., Mt. Vernon)
Season outlook: Latavia Maines turned back a slow indoor season in which her cousin Nikita Maines won the Illinois Top Times title. Latavia won the all important outdoor title. It should be another great season for the relatives. Latavia was not completely satisfied with her win. "[I want] to go 50-foot next year," alluded Latavia. Hanging in the shadow will be state runner up Tayla Schwartz. She completed a sensational season in the shot put that contained a personal best. Schwartz also won the discus state title.
Top marks in 2016-
Imani Carothers reflects on her fabulous day in the field events at the 2016 state meet
2016 State Champ: Imani Carothers (Jr., Chicago Brooks) 40-0.75 [+1.8]
Key returners: Imani Carothers, Paige Minor (Sr., Charleston), Dominique Anderson (Sr., IMSA), Alex Schaub (Sr., Dunlap), Jayla Campbell (So. Rich Central), Chante Johnson (Jr., Thornridge), Zaria Walker (Sr., Freeport), Laqwasia Stepney (So., Cahokia)
Season outlook: It was a banner year for Imani Carothers who entered in the triple jump for the first time in her career. She completed a nearly blemished season aside from finishing second at sectional qualifying. Carothers did not let inexperience deter her as he battled the seasoned Sierra Brown (Trinity) down to the last jump. Jayla Campbell is a talented young jumper who more emphasis on the 400 than the jumps. She was the only one credited for defeating Carothers. However, nerves may have gotten the best of her and she fouled on all of her attempts at state. Another solid athlete to watch out for is Chante Johnson. She missed out on most of the outdoor season but spent the time away to improve technique and strength. The finishing product to 2016 was a strong summer track circuit. Johnson to date improved to 37-7 in January making her a marked young woman. Overall, the triple jump is going to surprise many fans this season.
Top marks in 2016-
2016 State Champion: Tayla Schwarz (Jr., Dixon) 145-8
Key returners: Tayla Schwarz, A'veun Moore (Sr., Mt. Vernon), Damya Gunn (Jr., Marion), Jessica Baker (Sr., Normal University), Cassie Perry (Sr., Mahomet-Seymour)
Season outlook: It was a big improvement in this event from the previous season in which the winner only threw 131'. Traditionally, 2A has been mediocre in the discus but the tide appears to be improving with more than five girls better than the 2015 state champ. Tayla Schwarz could be on her way to elite status because she has the third best throw across all classifications. Several others who look to improve include A'Veum Moore and Demaya Gunn. Both girls placed in the top five at state a year ago.
Top performances in 2016-