The 2019 indoor season has ended but some of the cold temperatures have remained as the outdoor season kicks off. For the last few months I have sat back listening and watching and here are my personal views on this past club and high school season.
The season kicked off with signing day and I noticed how some athletes were signing but are not even one of the top athletes of their class, did not win a race, and barely made it to Top Times. Yet...will be headed to college in the fall. When I look at the performances of some, I simply ask, "How?" There were many athletes, some past state champions, who simply did not put in the work but thought they had been until the undesired results came. Some freshmen thought junior high success translated to high school success. It does not! Even a few former state champions have found out college is a lot tougher than they thought.
My team (Dominators) did well during the club season but it was a roller coaster ride. There were season-ending injuries before it even started but Torrica Baltimore was able to return for the last meet (Gene Armer) of the school season. Having only run a week, with no races since last July, and me with the flu coaching from the bed, she runs an indoor PR and qualifies for Top Times. The week of Top Times, she catches the flu and runs another PR being out-leaned in her heat. Torrie could have quit but showed a lot of heart. My first timer, "Rocket", ran through the learning curve of the club circuit going up against older kids. He was on the podium every time he ran in both national meets in Rockford and Ypsilanti, MI. I had one athlete, with a life-changing situation but I could not tell her. She was told after nationals that surgery would be the following week. The family and I were there and 10-15 minutes later she runs out screaming, "Coach B, I can run! The doctor said my cancer is gone!" The tears filled the waiting room and I will never forget her face and her screams of being able to run. Not only did she run the whole season and stood on the podium 4 times after missing half of the practices, but she also outran cancer!
Back to the approaching school season. You always know it's close because the "big boy" meets start. Along with that come a few coaches, who do not like the club circuit, speaking aloud on athletes not focusing on the school team. There will even be shade thrown towards the athlete that decides to compete at those meets. There are coaches who do not want to acknowledge these national meets and will even look at them as pre-season meets to the school season. As if to say, the competition in our state is tougher than the national competition. I have heard it for years where I live and read about it every season. It is sort of funny how Lance Lang (MO), who got second at New Balance Nationals Indoor in the 60m running the #4 time in history, made a decision to not run for his school. He visits his coach every three weeks, the other days working out on his own with his coach's workouts. Athing Mu (NJ) doesn't run for her school but became the American record holder in the 600M.
The Big Boy meets came and went as Marcellus Moore (Plainfield North) kicked off the Texas A&M meet with US #1's in the 60m (6.76) and 200m (21.36) and after a visit to "Pig Sooey country" (Arkansas) where he won the 60m in 6.75 he was king of the sprints. He even won in Iceland in the 60m (6.71). It seemed that every time he touched the track his times dropped, and there were no real threats. The University of Kentucky HS Invite arrives and a little known sprinter from Missouri showed up. I had just met him the week before at a meet. At the same time, the Simplot Games was taking place in Idaho, and Micah Williams (OR) won the 60m in 6.64 (and he was sick). Back to the UK, Lang went out and shocked the whole country defeating a loaded field that included Marcellus winning in a time 6.62 becoming the #1 60m sprinter in the U.S.
New Balance would decide who the sprint king was as all the major players showed up. Williams (OR) ended up winning it in 6.60, Lang 2nd in 6.65 and Mario Heslop (NJ) took 3rd in 6.73 as Marcellus finished 4th at 6.81. Marcellus did bounce back for a second in the 200m (21.23) to Mario Heslop (NJ) 20.90. The Emerging Elite portion of the meet the day before is what IL fans will remember most as E. St. Louis Sr., in their Cheetos Orange speed suits stole the show. Willie Johnson won the 400m in 48.39, and then came back and won the 4x2 and the 4x4 titles. New Balance had turned into the ESTL Invitational. They carried the torch and repped IL well.
The remainder of the school season was ending with little fanfare. A funny thing happened though as Top Times arrived the athletes competed. In 2A, Serena Bolden (Springfield East) jumped 19'09 1/2 setting a new record. I knew when she landed it was huge. Serena and her teammates came back later in the meet and set the 4x2 record in 1:44.94. Class 3A Katelynne Hart (Glenbard West) took everyone as my bother would say...to the 'learning tree', Heart decided to run the 800m, and on paper was an underdog. Who won? Next question. She ran an all-time record of 2:10.63. Katelynne came back, won the 1600m, and broke that record in 4:48.06.
Victor Cameron (Crete Monee) aka Mr. Don't recruit me if you want to, broke William Sessions 60HH record in 7.82. The college coaches say he is too small for the college highs. Well, I tell you what; he would be brought in on an official visit like a pro day for college football. We are going to find out if he can run them or not. If he can, here is your scholarship. The Crete Monee relays showed me something winning the 4x2 and the 4x4. Hey, somebody set up ESTL vs Crete Monee in the 4x2. Let's take the same two plus Fox Lake Grant in the 4x4. Now that would be a good one. Marcellus broke the 60m record held previously by the Jonathan Boey (Macarthur) of 6.79, which should have been broken last year. But that's another story. Marcellus took it down in a time of 6.73. That' probably going to be around, until he breaks it next year.
All while the Top Times was going on, we had an eye on ESTL in Louisiana as the outdoor season kicked off. Johnson blazed the track with a 2nd in the 400m in 47.34 and then they won the 4x4 in 3:19.51. That was the first meet of the year ladies and gentlemen. It's REAL early! The Flyers are on a mission this year. Bring on outdoor season, and bring me a blanket.