Last year's 1600m was incredibly competitive. The fans should see another treat Saturday evening
The Community Races will start at 6:30 pm with the following order of events:
- 6:30 pm Youth boys/girls 800 (6th grade and below)
- 6:40 pm Junior high boys/girls 1600 (7th and 8th grade)
- 6:50 pm Open 1600 men/women (post-high school)
The Undercard will start at 7:00 pm with the following order of events:
7:00 pm Girls 1600 - Section 1
7:08 pm Freshman boys 1600
7:15 pm Girls 3200 - Section 1
7:29 pm Boys 3200 - Section 1
7:40 pm Girls 800 - Section 1
7:45 pm Girls 800 - Section 2
7:50 pm Boys 800 - Section 1
7:54 pm Boys 800 - Section 2
7:58 pm Girls 1600 - Section 2
8:05 pm Girls 1600 - Section 3
8:12 pm Boys 1600 - Section 1
8:18 pm Boys 1600 - Section 2
8:24 pm Girls Distance Medley Relay
8:40 pm Boys Distance Medley Relay
8:54 pm National Anthem / Special Olympics 800
The Main Event will start at 9:00 pm with the following order of events:
9:00 pm Girls 800 - Section 3
9:07 pm Boys 800 - Section 3
9:14 pm Girls 3200 - Section 2
9:28 pm Boys 3200 - Section 2
9:41 pm Girls 1600 - Section 4 (Run in "The Gauntlet" with spectators on the track)
9:50 pm Boys 1600 - Section 3 (Run in "The Gauntlet" with spectators on the track)
10:00 pm Costume 4 x 400 relay
Admission for spectators is by donation of a used pair of running shoes or $5 to Special Olympics.
-The Undercard Score-
The Distance Night in Palatine, in its fourth year, has expanded its reach further outside of the immediate region. Texas is now in the picture along with several other states. But in order to get hyped for the "main" players, the fans need a nice warm up. The undercard races do just that.
1600: The first three of four sections will go off here. DNP has never had a sub-5:00 performer before the "Gauntlet" section. With this race as strong as its been in state annals, it is very plausible. Section #3 could provide the fireworks and pressure to the following championship section. Mackenzie Brownrigg (Sr., Lincoln-Way Central) has the best seed time of 5:07, but it could be Molly Fitzpatrick (So., Barrington) to break through. Fitzpatrick ran 4:59.53 near the end of last season.
800: The first two sections should not only see many personal bests, but the leaderboards will take a pounding with so many potential new marks to be added. Breena Shreeves (Jr., Knoxville) has the leading seed time at 2:19.86. Can you believe the record is 2:12.83 by then-freshman Stephanie Kriss of Highland Park two seasons ago? That's fast!
DMR: A dozen teams are entered and none appear to be as loaded as the record holders from Naperville North. The fans should expect a very competitive race in which six or seven schools could pull out a victory. The Huskies will be in the mix again along with St. Joe-Ogden, Middleton, WI, and top-seeded Downers Grove South. Look for a time in the 12:40s for the winner.
Freshman race: These races are always fun to watch and predict which kid will be a star several years down the road. The record holder Ethan Kern (Jr., York) is having an outstanding career having qualified for both the Nike Cross Nationals and Footlocker National Championship. Who is next to step up? It's hard to say with eight entrants coming in at 4:40 or better. One good guess would be Harry Wood Prince (Chicago Latin). He possesses a good blend of leg speed and endurance, two main ingredients needed to be a successful miler.
3200: Lots of talent here and it would not hurt to assume that many of the first entrants will make an impact this fall during the cross country season. Dawson Smith (Jr., Rock Falls) is the top seed who took fifth in the 1A state meet last fall. Max Svienty (Jr., Hersey) placed 20th in the 3A cross country state meet, but he has raced lightly thus far on the season.
800: One of the most underrated events in the festival sits right here. More than half of the first two sections have marks under 2:00 including two in the first one. It will be interesting to see who will go out and set the tone for the races. This event on a magical night is certainly not a sit and kick affair.
1600: There will be two sessions prior to the main event. The penultimate race will feature Andrew Englert (Sr., Lincoln-Way Central) who has a personal best 4:21.96 dating back to last. He will be the favorite.
-The Main Event-
Girls 800: The good news is the field that's assembled is tremendous. If there is any bad news, it's been a while since the top three entrants have run what they are capable of. Claire Hill (Sr., Naperville North), Mikenna Robinson (Sr., Naperville Neuqua Valley), and Marne Sullivan (Sr., New Trier) can and are expected to deliver on their 2:11-2:12 personal bests. If you are a competitor and feel satisfied that they are quiet, think again. This trio is like a pack of Gaboon vipers while calm can strike at any given moment. The bite can be lethal. A renewed Olivia Schmitt (Jr., Lakes) will beware and run her own race. She is the current state leader having run 2:13.85 two weeks ago at the Arcadia Invitational in California. Payne Turney (Jr., Clinton) is another title threat who will proceed with caution, but ready to run the race of her career.
Boys 800: Keep in mind that defending champion Riley Wells (Sr., Rockford Christian) does not have the top seed coming in. Grant Jensen (Sr., Prairie Ridge) does. But Wells is the state leader at 1:54.51 in which he achieved at the high powered Arcadia Invitational. Wells will be hard to beat because he has tremendous speed to outlast anyone in a kicker's race. He can also use his strength during a fast pace one as well. With the entire field under 1:59 coming in, it will not be a cakewalk for Wells or anyone else.
Girls 3200: Defending champion Jenna Schwartz (Sr., Waterloo) is a scratch. Alex Morris (Sr., Naperville North) is the favorite regardless based on her consistent dominance which led to an IL #2/US#9 10:31.38 indoors. That stat will be hard to beat, but Emma Watcke (Jr., Hinsdale Central) won the Batavia Distance Madness in 10:37.96- with a win over Morris in the process. However, it's outdoor season now and a new slate for all to improve and gain some mental advantage going into the post-season. Keep in mind there are a total of ten girls with seeds under 11:00, so there is no doubt this is going to be a great affair. Fatima Giron (Jr., Round Lake), Abby Lopez (Jr., Argo), and Emily Burns (Sr., Lake Zurich) are some new emerging names on the scene.
Boys 3200: This race is filled with home pride flavor and it will be a wake-up call for some of the best around the Chicagoland area. Defending champion Josh Methner (Jr., Hersey) has been sitting back in the cut and licking his chops all winter for an opportunity to pose before a national audience. He will get that Saturday night against the best long-distance field assembled in the country for 4/20. Don't worry about the one 3200 on his 2019 resume. He has been training well and working on other aspects of his racing game. He certainly wants to go for Clayton Mendez's meet record and dip under 9:00. The task of getting to the Promise land will not be easy. Tommy Brady (Sr., Maine South), Sam Rivera (Sr., Chicago Whitney Young), Stephen Moody (Sr., Glenbard West), Mathias Powell (Sr., Mahomet-Seymour), and Jared Kreis (Jr., Lincoln-Way Central) are immovable roadblocks standing in the way.
Girls 1600: The race of the day is right here. First, the faithful get their first opportunity to watch a national champion for the first time. Roisin Willis (Fr., Stevens Point, WI) had been a superstar on the middle-school summer track circuit in the 200-mile. But it was in March at the New Balance Nationals Indoor 800m championship that the unbelievable happened. She took down Lady Goliath Athing Mu of Trenton, NJ to win the title. She will now step out of her comfort zone and compete against some of the best talents in the state. Among the young talent to challenge her are fellow freshmen Aly Negovetich (Grant), Ava Parekh (Chicago Latin), and Katrina Schlenker (Batavia). The future is now! Ahh, but don't forget Campbell Petersen (So., Naperville North) and Marianne Mihas (So., Chicago Latin). They have multiple years of high school racing remaining and will provide additional excitement during the journey.
Boys 1600: The marquee matchup will be worth the wait! Drew Bosley (Sr., Homestead, WI) and Carter Cheeseman (Sr., Ft. Worth Christian) are more known for their outstanding cross country prowess of course. But they both agreed to meet in the "mile" and may the best young man win. Bosley has run 4:09 and Cheeseman 4:11. It will be a great one. Thomas Shilgalis (Sr., Naperville Central) has clocked 4:10 but which Shilgalis will we get? Will it be the monster like one that also ran 1:51.81 for 800m or will we get a 4:28 performance? State leader Andrew O'keefe (Sr., Granite City) is in the mix and could pull an upset. Stay tuned!