Illinois Exceeds The Bandwidth: The Youth Movement Dominates At The UK High School Invite

Dajour Miles, Katelynne Hart, Marcellus Moore gives the #FLYTIME salute (Joy Johnson photo)


The production exceeded the hype at the 2017 version of the University of Kentucky High School Invitational. The small but deadly force from Illinois did the absolutely best of its contingent. It all started with the first event of the day: Girls Weight throw. Warrensburg-Latham senior and soon to be University of South Carolina bound KD Young took home first place honors with a fleeting toss of 55'9". Young would later return and win her favorite event the shot put with a meet record and field house record 50'8".

We cannot forget Homewood-Flossmoor senior Jaimie Robinson who fouled on her first attempt in the triple jump and then regrouped to set a new fieldhouse record 40-9. Robinson will be sure to set more personal best marks in this facility when competes at the University of Alabama. Alabama is a member of the SEC which rivals UK.

The big news of the day was the youth movement. To be fair, club coaching had a lot to do with the initial success of Illinois athletes in Lexington. In particular, freshmen Marcellus Moore (Plainfield North) and Katelynne Hart (Glenbard West) and sophomore Dajour Miles (West Aurora) are products of Thomas Boatright and the Aurora Flyers Track Club. All three have national meet experience and success. So it should not have been a surprise to see them march into the Nutter Fieldhouse and produce dominate performances. Overall, it was a great day not just for Illinois kids but nationally. Aside from multiple new #1 state marks there were a beavy of national highlights. The final tally of top marks: 115 US Top 50 performances, 29 US Top 10 performances, 5 US #1 marks, 8 field house records.

Moore ran two races that put the elder statesmen back home on notice. He ran a state leading 6.89 60m which put him inside the top 20 nationally and cemented his status as the fastest freshman in America. It did not stop there though. Moore return late in the meet to run the 200m in 21.95- another state leading performance and US #3 for a freshman. There is no chill with Moore as he returns back to Illinois and tackle the state competition. Just for emphasis: Moore had previously competed against the likes of Tyrese Cooper (Florida) and Brian Herron (Georgia)- two of America's underclassmen elite sprinters.

Miles enjoyed a great day. It was a year ago when she made her first statement on the national scene placing third in the 400m running 55.42. Unfortunately, it would be a short lived display of excellence. Miles had to reset her goals after transferring from Waubonsie Valley to West Aurora. She was able to regroup and run summer track with fun. On Saturday, it was once again an opportunity for Miles to star. She confidently entered against a strong field. The first heat was the premium section where she faced off against Shianne Sipsey of Georgia. Miles got to the break and headed the curve against Sipsey. Once she got to the bell her limited strength held long. Miles strolled home in a then US#1 54.25. It is an indoor state record and a mark that may hold up outdoors unless she breaks it. Miles returned later to run a gutsy 200 in which she placed second in her section in 24.56- new state best. She beat defending state champion Amira Young (Jr., Whitney Young) in the process. Young, who earlier copped the #1 mark in the 60m (7.74), is now IL #2 at 24.80.

Hart showed tremendous poise in both wins: 1m & 2m at UK HS Invitational

Hart came in after a very successful cross country season in which she won state and later earned All-American honors in Portland, Oregon at the Nike Cross Nationals. Hart had run one indoor meet in January but for the most part has been training. The mile was first up and she quickly asserted herself against the field. The first half was negoitiated in 2:26 and later 3:42 with a quarter-mile to go. The final tally was a state leading 4:54.30.

The two-mile was the story though. There was not many people outside of the summer track circuit that acknowledged the potential greatness of Hart. She ran a 9:36 3k to win her age group national championship. That scary time if converted would have challenged for the 3A state 3200m championship last spring. In Lexington, Hart returned ready like a prized fighter on a few hours of rest between rounds. Louisville Male junior Kaitlyn Lacy, who is an outstanding distance runner, tried to go with Hart's torrid pace which was peppered with 75 sec quarter-miles early one. The first mile was 5:07 for Hart and it knocked out Lacy cold from the race. For the remaining portion of the circular affair it was all Hart darting in and out of lapped runners. Hart seemed to accelerate like an 800 runner on the penultimate lap which set her up for the bell and record run. The final verdict on the clock was a fieldhouse smashing 10:21.41. In addition, Hart took down former Merriville Andrean star Michelle De La Vina's freshman national record which stood since 1998. De La Vina set her record in March at the then National Scholastic Indoor Nationals in Boston. Hart may have an opportunity to challenge for a national indoor title next month at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York if she chooses to attend.

Bret Dannis (in green on left) had an excellent 60HH prelims and finals at UK Invitational

Other notable Illinois performances: 

  • Bret Dannis (Jr., St. Bede) continues to rise as a national force finishing second in the 60HH with a new personal best 7.98 which is IL#1 and US #8. Dannis got a terrible start out of the blocks which left him at a deficit to the likes of national elite Kentre Patterson of E. Lansing, MI. Dannis was able to quickly power himself back upfront but Patterson's tremendous closing speed was just too much. Patterson left the building with a 7.88 US #3 mark. 
  • Landon Keefover (Sr., Antioch) under the disguise makes the 60HH final and runs IL #2 and 3A's top time. Dannis is a 2A competitor.
  • Ayanna Tommy (Fr., Antioch) may be a name we will hear from. She was a late entry in the 60 and did well in the prelims. Tommy ran 7.91 which will put her 9th in the state rankings.
  • Jenna Diers (Sr., Lincoln Way West) ran a state best in the 800 (2:17.78). She went with Emma Kuntz of Louisville Male whose pace never slowed down it seemed. Diers would fade badly as Kuntz went on to run a US #2 2:10.61
  • Ameia Wilson (So., Danville) may be ready to take a leap as one of best sprinters this season. She runs the state's third best time in the 60m in her prelim (7.80).
  • Shanice Garbutt (Jr., Danville) ran close to her personal best in the 800 (2:21.62)- good for IL #3