It was all smiles for Ava Parekh who walked with a gold medal in the Big Apple
New York, New York-
No matter how good you are, sometimes win some and sometimes you lose some. Such was the case on Championship Sunday. It's fun... then PRESSURE. If you have ever been to the New Balance Nationals Indoors inside the Armory, then you already know the atmosphere is second to none. It has an allure like no other that attracts the best talent in America. And then there's the pressure of performing at a Zenith level. There is no escape either. Even the Emerging Elite is filled with extreme talent that coaches, parents, and athletes must be aware of.
Ava Parekh is as talented as any Illinois girl this year in the distance events. And as a first-year high school athlete, her parents and handlers have crafted an intelligent game plan. Of course, Parekh could enter in the EE or championship fields. No. Instead, it would be the Freshmen girls mile for the standout from Latin HS in Chicago. At approximately 8:30 am local time, Parekh lined up with the best of her class and competed in an environment best suited for her. Section #2 went off rather modest with the first two circuits in the mid-36 second range. Parekh, who came in with a personal best 5:00.82, has the ability to stretch the pace early and then see who can hold on. But after the pace hit 2:31 half-way through, it was obvious that a strong kick would decide. On the last lap, it was Parekh and Juliette Whittaker of Maryland pushing away from the rest of the field. Parekh hit the tape first in 4:59.36- ahead of Whittaker's 4:59.40. It was a job well done.
Marne Sullivan (Sr., New Trier) placed 25th in the championship 800 with a time of 2:14.13. Sullivan got out well but appeared to stall on the third lap and could not pick up another personal best.
Thomas Shilgalis (Sr., Naperville Central) had tremendous hopes of dropping a super effort in the championship. Shilgalis got out well leading the opening 400 in 55.8 and in striking position to blow away the state leading time and possibly nabbing one of the six All-American spots. But since most Illinois kids had never run on a banked track with tremendous traffic and a rail, it meant the potential of danger was lurking. Shilgalis indeed got boxed in at 650m and clipped the track rail, which ultimately killed his momentum. He placed a disappointing 18th in 1:55.99. But a lesson learned and the prospect of fast things to come outdoors.
Chandler Hayden (Sr., Pittsfield) earned All-American honors in the championship girls weight throw with a toss of 57-0. It was a season-best effort for the future U of Tennessee student-athlete.
It was a rough time for two of the state's elite female triple jumpers Daryn Davis (Jr., Huntley) and Serena Bolden (Sr., Springfield Southeast). They legitimately had intentions of earning All-American honors, but neither made it to the finals with 13th and 18th places. Davis best effort was her first attempt that sailed 38-8.75 while Bolden could only get one attempt in the legal mark at 38-1.25.
Andie Granskog (Sr., Lake Park) competed in the indoor version of the heptathlon which is called the pentathlon. The event covers five disciplines: 60H, shot put, high jump, long jump, and 800. Everyone knows about national record holder and all-around super athlete Anna Hall of Colorado who steamrolled her competitors with a total score of 4209. Granskog completed the grueling event with a 9th place effort score of 3200.
Marcellus Moore and Katelynne Hart has spoiled us-
The good fans of track and field in Illinois are living in a Golden Era of greatness. The boy's side of things is in a healthy state from top to bottom with Marcellus Moore of Plainfield North leading the charge. The girls have their anchor in Katelynne Hart of Glenbard West. Now juniors, both were former middle-school stars that came up from the ranks via the Aurora Flyers Track Club authored by the legendary Thomas Boatright. Moore has dominated the state scene in the sprints, earning all-time 100m status (10.31) and putting down some monster efforts in the 200m and the relays. Hart on the hand has smashed all existing mile and two-mile records indoors and outside. There has been no male-female pair simultaneously as dominating as these two.
Moore had a long weekend with the 60m and 200m races. He has been here before but never in the catbird seat before this indoor season (US #3/US#1 respectively). Moore got through Saturday's qualifying round with ease and appeared to be on his way to achieving his goals. Sunday's 60 semi-final looked rough with a 6.84 clocking. The final did not go according to the plan as Moore took fourth in 6.81. Would the disappointing effort hurt him for the 200 final? On the outside lane, Moore tried to overpower the field but Mario Heslop was not having it. He pulled away for the win in a sizzling 20.90 (US #1/US#5 all-time). Moore got the consolation prize in 21.23. For anyone else in the state, this would be awesome and a time to throw a party.
Hart was slated to run the 5000 on Friday night. But with the iconic Katelyn Tuohy of New York in the field for the two-mile, there was no way she would as successful against the great one. In fairness, Tuohy anchored her team to its fourth straight DMR championship. Tuohy eased up on the competition once the win was secured, but she still put stress on the legs with an "easy" 4:41.9 carry. The deuce got out slow for only the first lap in 39 seconds. Tuohy and Hart pushed the pace from then on, but the vast majority of the credit should go to Tuohy. She put a hurting on Hart and the field, but mostly Hart who rarely gets bullied in a race. This time the opening 4:52 mile stung hard and forced Hart to back off or risk getting swallowed up by Sydney Thorvaldson of Wyoming who played it well several big meters back. Tuohy continued to punish the laps which led to her breaking the meet record and running a dazzling 9:51.05. Hart held on to second in 9:58.42. Both stallions shared pleasantries off to the side of the track. In a few years, we all are going to appreciate this day.