The battles between DaeLin Switzer and Kenli Nettles will be extremely volatile in Charleston
Date: May 16, 2019
Location: O'Brien Stadium; Eastern Illinois University
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Charleston will be the epicenter of small class but big action track and field starting late Thursday morning and lasting well into the afternoon. This will be the time where some unfamiliar names come out of the page and on to the scene for all to see.
The team picture is not blurry. #1 Duquoin is loaded from top to bottom in many events and the preview below will bear that. The Indians have relays, sprints, and distance personnel. This could be a rout when it's all and done Saturday afternoon.
Look no further than the field events-
If there any section in track and field that can relate to the biggest class, 3A, it's the field events. Many times you will see some of the top performers coming from this division.
The first event to watch out for is the Pole Vault. The state leader and only one to eclipse the 13-foot barrier to date is Windsor Roberts (So., Tri-Valley). She comes into this affair as the heavy favorite and should make final with ease. The defending state champion is her own opponent unless she allows Tori Thomas (So., Rock Island [Alleman]) to creep in. Thomas has been rock steady over the years and is sure to clear 12-feet.
The classification leader in the Long Jump is Kamryn Kolb (So., Bureau Valley) and she jumped 19'5" at a very small meet in the middle of April. Kolb has not touched that mark before or after. So it's hard to say if she should be the favorite or not despite being undefeated during the outdoor season. Jaden Christian (Jr., Reed-Custer) has the top mark at 17'11.50" but the indoor champion Faith Frye (Sr., Casey-Westfield) only jumped 16'4.75" at sectionals and is near the bottom of qualifiers. Capria Brown (Jr., Danville Schlarman). And finally let's not forget about the defending state champion Atleigh Hamilton (So., St. Joseph-Ogden). She is coming on strong at the right time... we didn't mention Dakota Krone (Jr., Pinckneyville) in the LJ despite her winning effort at the Fairfield Sectional. She is tough but a stronger candidate in the Triple Jump. The season leader (37'4.5") will have to contend with the sectional leader and defending state champ Danielle Taets (Sr., Orion). Taets has been as dominant in her event as anyone in the state and she will be tough to beat.
Watch out for the throws! First up is the Shot Put and the foremost person of interest is Chloe Lindeman (Sr., Fulton). She is one of the best of all-time and is coming off of a banner indoor season in which she won the New Balance Nationals Indoor title and closed as the US #1. Thus far this outdoor season Lindeman has once again been a very business young lady with outside social interests but at the same time, she is unstoppable. Currently, Lindeman is the state leader and US #4 with a whopping 47-10. Expect her to main the four-foot advantage over her closest opponent and shoot for the 50-foot barrier. Among the 40-foot club members that will add value is Claire Bushur (Jr., Teutopolis), Katelyn Young (Jr., Oakwood), and Ellie Lamb (Sr., Rushville-Industry)... the Discus Throw will see 130-foot performers Bushur, Hope Jackson (Jr., Riverdale) and Madison Keegan (Sr., Putnam County) in full force.
Lastly, we cannot forget about two athletes who will duel one another all weekend. Those individuals are Kenli Nettles (Jr., Arthur) and Daelin Switzer (Sr., Decatur [St. Teresa]). In the field, they will contest the High Jump. Nettles won the Illinois Top Times in March and Switzer was there despite coming off of basketball season a few days prior. They met again at the Central A&M Sectional and Nettles got the best of her once more. Both girls have cleared the 5'6" barrier time and again so expect more this weekend. Nettles is good but Switzer has been great during her career as she has never lost at the state meet and will want to nab her fourth consecutive title.
Duquoin is in line to sweep all four relays-
The Alongi sisters junior Gabby and freshman Grace will carry their team in the 4x800. The ability to go and put up a serious time is what could happen and those who line up for Thursday's prelim round is in for a rude awakening. The class best is 9:43.00 and that more than likely will fall.
The Indians come into the state meet on a hot streak in the 4x100. Already holding a best time of 50.11, it's time to drop a sub-50.00 on the field. That will definitely come by them and several other squads. Bureau Valley will challenge as will Fulton and St. Joe-Ogden, who were all sectional champions.
The top two times in the 4x200 occurred at the Fairfield Sectional between Nashville and Duquoin. Nashville topped the Indians 1:46.38-1:46.45. St. Joe-Ogden also dropped a solid time at their sectional (1:46.91) and the Spartans are going to have a say so in the final outcome this weekend. How about the Erie Sectional and the strength that it brings to Charleston? Three teams will be in the mix when it's all said and done: Bureau Valley, Milledgeville, and Rock Island (Alleman) were within a half-second of one another.
The final event of the day is the 4x400 and no matter how things had transpired during the meet, some serious firepower is expected. Once again Duquoin is expected to lead the way. The Indians season-best 4:03.93 is among the fastest times in all of Illinois, but it won't be needed it until Saturday. The quartet's sectional best 4:07.59 is more than a second better than Rockridge.
Speed is the name of the game in track and field-
Duquoin High School has become a broken record by now to most of you. Well, sorry, Madison Davis is ready to add to the misery of her opponents in the 100m. The senior standout comes to the state prelims with the top sectional and class mark of 12.14. This time is good enough to challenge most girls in Class 3A. Unless Davis falters, expect her to walk out of O'Brien Stadium with a gold medal around her neck on Saturday... Davis is also the one to beat in the 200m but the objects in the mirror appear closer than you think. Kenli Nettles is a novice here with a fast 25.58. Olivia Sturrup (Jr., Milledgeville) is the class leader at 25.52.
It was almost a year ago to the date that Nariah Parks of Belleville Althoff Catholic came on the scene as a freshman. She had placed fifth in the 400m and her coach awarded her with several scoops of ice cream at a nearby restaurant. Parks is no longer a mystery runner, she has the top time coming in of 58.55 and will be ready to push the limits. Perhaps the top challenger Gabby Alongi will have something to say as she has the second fastest time at 59.06. Alongi could be a scratch with the 4x800 relay and open 800 coming prior. No one else in the field has broken 1:00.
Both hurdle races will be ruled by a select few. Nettles and Switzer are the ones to beat. The short version 100HH has Nettles at 14.53 during the regular season. She clocked 14.56 at sectionals to place her stamp as a favorite. Switzer will improve on her 14.91 effort to the final. Newcomer freshman Jalynn Wood of Duquoin will enjoy the ride. She ran 14.98 in her sectional round. Don't forget about sophomore Chloe Moyer of Meridian. She comes in ranked #2 in the classification at 14.83.
Two of the best long hurdlers in the state regardless of classification are Nettles and Switzer. Both stallions dueled in the 300s at the Central A&M Sectional and Nettles came out on top with a career-best 44.08, which happens to be the third fastest time in the state. Switzer's 44.50 wasn't too shabby either, she rocked out the fifth-best mark in the annals. We believe the final on Saturday will be a classic affair.
Latin distance runners look to put on a show-
Every now and then this classification produces an outstanding distance runner that garners attention from the masses. But it is rare that more than one athlete from a Class A team goes above the fray. Well, Chicago Latin has two outstanding runners of national elite stature. Freshman Ava Parekh and sophomore Marianne Mihas have commanded the headlines since the beginning of the school year. During the fall, the Romans competed in the 2A division for cross country. Both outstanding runners earned high all-state honors in Peoria back in November. However, it's the track season that they really enjoy. Since this is the state championship, both could potentially run on the squad's 4x800 relay and pick up valuable points for a trophy chase.
The 3200m brings Parekh in an unlikely spotlight. It was in early April at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational, Parekh ran 10:39.31 and that seemed to change the focus of where her season would go. She is now the favorite to win this race on Saturday based on her 10:27.35 sectional win. It is the third fastest time in the state and nearly one minute ahead of the nearest competitor. If there is one consolation to consider, it's Ailey Mitchell (Jr., Shelbyville) who ran 10:57.66 at Distance Night in Palatine. If only Mitchell could slow things down a bit...
Mihas is the defending "mile" champion but her best event this season is the 800m. For a brief time this season, she was atop the leaderboards with a 2:13.91 from the Arcadia Invitational. Her personal best is still the fourth best time in the state. More importantly, though, is what happened at sectionals. Mihas rolled a list leading 2:17.40- a time that's nearly four seconds ahead of the chase pack.
Mihas has not run anywhere near her 4:55 personal best in the 1600m this season. But a champion can snap out of it at any time. Parekh, on the other hand, has run a sizzling IL#3 4:53.75. She placed third at the massive DNP. The confidence of competing well in that affair will go a long way to stardom in Charleston this weekend.