The Open Races Look Very Appealing-
The open race is a great way to watch some former greats matchup against some of the state's rising stars in head to head action. While these are a few of the earlier races in the night they're not something you want to miss. The field includes a total of twelve competitors that brought hardware home this past weekend from Charleston. Names like Jason Hoffman of Minooka, Ford Baker of New Trier, Will O'Brien of Glenbard West, and Dillon Blake of Mundelein seem to be the top current high school talent in the field. They will try and take down two former runners from the state of Illinois in Austin Ohm formerly of Illiana Christian and Paul Zeman formerly of Belvidere North. Zeman was a great runner during his time in the Land of Lincoln. He was a three-time state champion and a seven-time all-stater that went on to have a great career at the University of Illinois. A win for anyone over Zeman could really boost their confidence heading into this cross-country season.
The Middle School Races are Where Stars are Born-
Over the years Magis Miles has allowed future high school stars to make a name for themselves in these races. Micah Wilson of St. Charles East, Jacob Kluckhohn of Wheaton Warrenville South, and Richie Jacobo of Palatine have all showcased their talent at this event before beginning their running career at the high school level. But who will be the next young runner that proves themselves this year?
On the boys side, we have a total of five entries with seed times below the 5:00 barrier. Leading the group is future Lane Tech Indian, William Archer. Archer led an impressive Chicago St. Benedict team to a dominant team state title performance as well as picking up the individual state title. He continued his dominance in track as he picked up another state title in the 1600m just a few weeks ago. Archer is the runner to beat in the field. Two last names in the field will also ring a bell as both have superstar sisters. Dan Watcke is the brother of Hinsdale Central star, Emma Watcke, and Akili Parekh is the brother to Chicago Latin 3200m state champ, Ava Parekh. Both will try to challenge Archer for a big win.
The depth in the girl's middle school races isn't as strong because the majority of the top girls elect to race with the high schoolers instead, but this year may feature the best field compiled so far. Leading the charge is Morgan Mackie. Mackie is only a seventh grader, but she picked up two state titles a few weeks ago at the IESA State Championship in the 800m and 1600m. She will be challenged by Anna Harden and Olivia Kunio. Kunio might be the biggest challenge as she tore up the cross-country scene, but has been waiting to rekindle that same magic on the track.
The Frosh Races Are A Great Way To Show Off The Future-
The biggest name to watch in the boys race is freshman Micah Wilson of St. Charles East. Wilson was one of the top freshmen in the country this year but really only raced the 3200; so it will be exciting to see what he can do fresh. He will be challenged by New Trier's stud freshman Nick Falk. Falk qualified for the IHSA 3A XC State Meet this past fall, but placed further back in comparison to Wilson. It'll be a great race to watch as two stellar runners try to out-pace the other's raw foot-speed.
We have a rare sight in the girls frosh field as XC all-stater Naomi Ruff of South Elgin is set to compete. This may be a race against the clock after a great showing over the past year that was highlighted by snagging a state medal at the notoriously fast Detweiller Park. Alex Spang and Kelsey Casella of Downers Grove South have the best shot of stealing the win from Ruff, but it will have been a hard fought victory if they manage it.
The High School Races Will Draw The Most Interest-
The "main event" is the Elite miles, but the average spectator will be drawn most to the results of the high school miles. The boys side is stacked with all-staters. The name that stands out above all else has to be Zachary Kinne of North Allegheny. For those that may not know, Kinne attended Neuqua Valley high school here in Illinois until this past summer when him and his family moved to Pennsylvania for his father's work. He went on to become a state champion in Pennsylvania and will be coming back to race some of the best talent Illinois has produced in his absence. Josh Methner of Hersey is one of the names that will be challenging the returning Kinne. Methner was the 3200m and XC State Champion this past year in the Land of Lincoln, which were two titles that Kinne was the preseason favorite for until his departure. Kinne versus Methner is a dream matchup that we finally get to see playout.
For some runners, this will be the last dance for them... others will be trying to make their names. People like Ian Geisler of Huntley, Ben Rosa of Lake Forest, Ethan Kern of York, and others will be looking to end a track season on a good note and transition into cross-country for their senior campaign.
On the girls side, this may be the best race of the day with a total of seven runners under the 5:00 barrier. Leading the field is freshman star, Ava Parekh of Chicago Latin. Along with her teammate, Marianne Mihas, the "Latin Assassins" have torn up the running scene with Mihas winning the 1A 800m and 1600m state championships and Parekh winning the 1A 3200m state championship. But Campbell Petersen of Naperville North will be challenging the duo for the win. Peterson broke 5:00 for the first time in her career at this event last year: can she rekindle the magic and pull out a win here? Emma Watcke of Hinsdale Central is another name to watch, as she was the runner up this past year in the 3A 1600m. Watcke's season seemed to be on an upward trend towards the end, so with her experience and talent she'll also be a good challenge for the win. But we also can't forget about Lianna Surtz of Rosary who might be the biggest dark horse in the field as she really hasn't had much competition to run against. She had a great xc season that saw her qualify for NXN, and she is definitely capable of running sub 5:00, just how far under?
The Main Event-
The main draw of the men's race is to see if the 4:00 barrier will finally be broken inside the city of Chicago. Six runners are within range of accomplishing the feat, but who will cross the line first? Anthony Famigletti, a two-time olympian, leads the seed times with a 3:55.71. Many will know Famigletti for a video that surfaced of him running a 3:59 mile while tied to a dog named Bailey. But Famigletti will now have to rely on the competition the field will give him in order to squeeze under four again, rather than just the love and speed of a dog.
Another name to watch in the men's field is Sam Penzenstadler who was a standout runner during his time at University of Loyola-Chicago. Penzenstadler has broken the 4:00 barrier before but hasn't done so in two years, will he be ready to do it on the day of the race? Meanwhile, Joe Coffey sits with a seed time just above the 4:00 barrier at 4:00.60, but has had a career year in the 1500m running a 3:44.43 just two weeks ago. He looks to be in prime shape. Michael Ward is in the same boat as Coffey after having an amazing year showcasing talent at every distance from 1500m to 10k as he finished his NCAA eligibility at Bradley University. But don't count out Alejandro Garcia and Denis O'Callaghan who are on the bubble of breaking the barrier as well.
On the women's side, we finally get to see Katelynne Hart tested in the mile this year. Hart won the event last year, but it'll be a hard title to repeat as the field is loaded. The main goal that is being touted for this race is to break the 4:40 barrier, and with three women in the field with seed times under it this could become a very, very good race. Anna Shields comes in all the way from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Shields was one of the best 1000m runners in the world this past indoor track campaign as well as running a 4:12.36 for 1500m last season. Her resume is definitely the best in the field. Katie Jo McMenamin, a former D3 1500m National Champion that has moved to the city of Chicago to train and call home, is another name to watch. Maybe living in Chicago will give McMenamin a home-town advantage. Hope Hoffman is another runner that could make a claim for the win. Hoffman is a former D1 All-American for Northern Illinois University where she qualified for the U.S. finals in steeplechase. It will be interesting to see what she can produce in pure footspeed without barriers to get over.
Rounding out the women's field are several collegiates looking to end their long seasons and years on a high. Rebecca Cradock and Maddie Marasco from University of Illinois look to show their speed after redshirting their outdoor track seasons. Rachel Hickey is in a similar position. Hickey is back to competing after an injury hampered her freshman year, and will look to show off the fitness she's gained. Lindsey Brewis of Loyola will also be looking to prove herself in a much shorter event. Brewis, typically a 10k runner, will need to find her turnover in order to go for the win against this stellar field.