Class A Girls State Championship Preview

Opening thoughts leads with the prelims-

The state championship has arrived ahead of some pretty solid weather that should remain consistently above normal through the weekend.  Class A will take center stage and the opportunity to run very fast will be there. Thursday is prelims day and the smallest classification will get the stadium and town all to themselves.  

The field events will once again be stocked full of talent-

One would have thought after several key performers lost to graduation, the outlook was projected to be somewhat dim. Notably absent is the legendary "KD" Kathleen Young (Warrensburg-Latham) who moved on to the University of South Carolina. The all-time record holder in the Shot Put has since been replaced by a solid protege in Chloe Lindeman. The junior from Fulton is almost a spitting image of Young, picking up victories, awards, and All-American notoriety. Lindeman's best toss was 48-2.5i at the Illinois Top Times. That sensational mark rated #3 nationally indoors and was better than her third-place finish at the New Balance Indoor Nationals. Things have been a little slow during the outdoor season with Lindeman's best effort has been 45-1.75. It still rates IL#2 and ahead of chief competitor Pittsfield junior Chandler Hayden's IL#4 44-8.5. Expect a tight battle between the two, especially if Lindeman does not pick up the pace.

The Pole Vault will have tremendous depth backed by the likes of Windsor Roberts (Fr., Tri-Valley Downs), Tori Thomas (Fr., Rock Island Alleman), and Emma Smith (Sr., Carlinville). Roberts won the indoor title over Smith who both cleared 12-feet. But watch out for the unknown commodity Thomas who skied over 12-feet at sectionals, leads all qualifiers. 

The Discus Throw has been overlooked a bit in past years. Look for IL#3 Emily Offenheiser (Sr., Stockton) to make some noise this weekend. She has a personal best 148-5, which is amazing and nearly 10 feet further than Hope Jackson (So., Port Byron Riverdale) threw at her sectional.

The jumps will be on the upper hand this weekend. The Long Jump will see 18-footers Kamryn Kolb (Fr., Bureau Valley) and Brittney Oakley (So., Warrensburg-Latham). Oakley was 7th at state last year... Danielle Taets (Jr., Orion) won the Illinois Top Times Triple Jump title. That should be a springboard into finishing one notch up from her state runner-up finish last year. She has leapfrogged 38-7 season this season, which is good for #8 in the state. As good as that mark is, Dakota Knott (Jr., Fulton) was right behind her at 38-2.5. No one else will be within a foot of them in the final.

Daelin Switzer of Decatur (St. Teresa) has been fortunate enough to pick up two High Jump state titles as in many years of her high school career. Don't expect the competition to just hand over the gold medal this weekend. The sectional and classification leader is Arthur sophomore Kenli Nettles. Nettles has jumped 5-7 compared to Switzer's 5-6 and is 2-0 head to head including a victory at the Illinois Top Times. 

It will be nearly impossible to replace the distance legacy of Anna Sophia Keller-

We got spoiled over the previous four years whenever Anna Sophia Keller graced the track. The former great from Effingham St. Anthony was a steady force on the distance side. Keller's times often surpassed her big class cousins when she touched down in the 3200 and 1600 runs. Now Keller is running for the University of Notre Dame and a new breed must emerge. 

Enter freshman Marianne Mihas of Chicago Latin. Mihas is entered in the 1600m where she is coming off of a big win at the Distance Night in Palatine. In that pressure cooker, the winning time was 4:55.68- the 3rd fastest time in the state to date. It is going to be hard for anyone to tangle with Mihas if she produces a duplicate effort. There is perhaps one girl who could challenge the newcomer. That young lady is senior Arielle Summitt of Urbana U High. Summitt has the endurance and leg speed to match any surges, tactical or wise girl moves. Summitt recently broke 5:00 for the first time as well. Keep in mind that Summitt is defending champion and the heavy favorite in the 800m, and that could be used as a warm up if she is not pushed. 

The 3200m is wide open. Senior Laura Krasa of Juda Christian School has been lights out all calendar track season. She won the Illinois Top Times and is undefeated against classification foes coming into the state meet with a personal best 11:16.56. Caroline Jachino (So., Pleasant Plains) has the top overall sectional best and she will play into the overall face of victory. Add in Katelyn Robbins (Jr., Liberty), and Nygia Pollard (Sr., Elgin Christian Harvest Academy) for depth and surprise.

The sprints could be a surprise or let down-

When Bella Uscila went down in the Illinois Top Times 60m final, there was a collective silence in the building. It was more about the well being first and the what if. The Depaul U bound Uscila pulled her hamstring and had to be carted off the field. At the time she was considered the state's elite short sprinter. With just a handful of meets under her belt, she only contested the 100m at sectionals. It is uncertain the full status of the speed as we all were looking forward to seeing a run at the all-time best 11.41. Not going to happen now. Let's usher in Seven Hicks (So., Peoria Heights) who is supposed to be the next great speedster in the state. She has been laying low until now after producing the 2nd fastest sectional time of 12.37. Rylei Jackson (Chicago Christian) is tops at 12.35... Rebecca Waite (Sr., Milledgeville) is a factor in the Century as well, but her best event is the 400m where she is the favorite... the 200m will also have Hicks in the mix along with Waite and high jumper Daelin Switzer. In addition, Switzer has the top seeds in the 100H and 300H.

Milledgeville will be along the top teams vying for top team honors. They are going to rely heavily on two relays for big points. The first is the 4x100m where they are the top seeds at 49.89. The 4x200 will be among the money makers for the Rockford area squad. Look for Farmington and Stark County to battle in the 4x400. Several teams are under 10:00 in 4x800, such as Tremont and Warsaw, but don't worry about indoor champs Champaign (St. Thomas More). They only ran 10:52 at sectionals. The Sabres will be in the mix along with St. Joe-Ogden who will be chasing a team trophy.