We are probably looking at the largest contingent in our state history attending the New Balance Nationals Outdoors. From the junior high, emerging elite, to the championship level, it should a serious but fun time for all involved.
-One of the steadiest and hard working track and field athletes that we have witnessed in recent memory brings her talents to Greensboro. Although Wilson had never won a state title, she is not afraid of continuing to be the best she can be. Watch for her to challenge for All-American honors in all three events. The long jump may spring her best opportunities.
-The state's top one-lapper has finally meandered his way to North Carolina. Johnson won the 2A state title last month but has not stopped running fast. He recently competed in Cuba as part of the NSAF talent development group. Johnson got a bad draw of lane 1. But it's no excuse and he should give everything that he has to set himself apart from every returner in the state.
-One of the state's best combo sprinters has had one of the quietest full calendars in a long time. She ran in the 55s during the indoor season that netted significant exposure. Campbell does not chirp about her accomplishments very loudly or a lack of a cheerleading squad may be the issue. But she will get a clear understanding right away out section 2 of 7 in the unseeded category.
-The newly minted long sprint queen will get her first shot in a national championship. Denton is in section 5 and from what we hear, she is in good shape despite her state meet happening a month ago.
-It will be interesting to see Cavan continue his solid post-high school roll. He won the elite boys section at the Magis Mile. The 4:12.98 is solid and is in line with the field that's assembled in his section. The "Deuce" will be all about perseverance.
-The transition to the big time was satisfactory for Petersen. She moved from 2A to 3A despite being a success at Dunlap. Ironically, her former school competed in the larger classification during the track season. Petersen has a personal best of 4:54.46 but it was during the middle of the outdoor season. She didn't fare as well during the state series and will be looking to gain some revenge.
-An unfortunate fate after the Distance Night In Palatine struck this kid. He had busted out with a personal best 9:12.95 but a stress reaction in his tail bone put a damper on the last portion of the season. Hopefully, Schmitt will be able to salvage a good effort before moving on to this senior cross country season.
-Don't think for a moment that Lopez is not worthy of being in this field. She ran 10:30.52 during the season and if it wasn't for the fate of being in the "slow" section of the state 3200m, she would have most likely earned all-state honors. Lopez will get one more opportunity to make good on the 2019 season.
-Behrens indicated that she would like to race a competitive 5000m on the track before leaving for WASH U. She will get an opportunity to just that. Behrens recently ran 10:38.90 for 3200m. That mark bolds well for Ella as she is slated to compete in the fast section Friday evening.
-As one of the elite youngsters in the distance arena, Fitzpatrick is developing well with a 10:48 on her record. She did not contest the event at the state level this season. Fitzpatrick competed in the 4x8 and 1600 for her team. It's all on Molly now.
-This is the team's heartbeat here. Cameron is the outspoken one who has produced when called upon. He has an opportunity to make the critics weap once more should he make the 110HH final. The relays, of course, will take care of themselves.
-Two ways to look at this. One is the opening that Schirmer needs to gain national level notoriety and push himself into superstardom. His solid marks are amazing considering the competition and conditions in which he had to endure them.
Crete-Monee: 4x100, 4x200, 4x400 relays
-We will now get to see how well and REAL our best team is now. They have chosen to enter the lion's den and once you are in it, there is no turning back. It's either slay or get slain. If the Warriors are still near peak position (and they should be based on their training model), they will be just fine. The times 40.86, 1:26.29, and 3:20.30 speak for themselves. The scary thing is, they can do better.
-This guy should be the man next year. But for now, he is a very valuable asset to the team's All-American chances.
(Sr., Crete-Monee)- 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, LJ
-Perhaps we are looking at the team's MVP. Safo is a double state champion who still has something to prove if he listens to the naysayers who questioned his long jump skills. The running boards at NBNO are fast and will give Safo the spring that he needs for a good 24-foot effort.
-The catalyst of the squad is Ricky Johnson. He anchored the state all-time best 4x1 in the prelims and the championship-winning effort the following day.
-Some have forgotten that Assil has run 49.43 in the open race. His relay split should go a long way.
Downers Grove South Girls-
-An interesting cast here and a good one. There is a mix of middle to LONG distance runners. Reidy is the best of the group with a personal best 4:56. Warden ran 5:00 and Cohoon are capable of a 5:00 effort. Don't forget Versaskas as well. If anything, a good effort should plant in the minds of NXN committee members (some will be in attendance) to don't fall asleep on the Mustangs.
-One of the state's premier pole vaulters this season will get an opportunity to shine against a slew of the nation's elite. A 16-5 or slightly better effort should be good enough for All-American status.
-Held won the emerging elite title in March. The 2A state runner up will compete in the big girl division now.
-Undefeated and holding the state's best effort of 13-feet is for real. Roberts was a pre-high school phenom and will get an opportunity to go at Sam Spencer who many say is the state's ultimate vaulter.
-The state's best pole vaulter will get her chance against a great field and against the other two great vaulters Held and Roberts. May the best girl reach the mountain top first.
-Roberson had a good year. She jumped further than she ever had before with a 19-10.5 performance. This happened to be a great season for the long jump again and placing fourth in the 3A state meet was tremendous. Her chief competitors Vance and Wilson will be on the same runway this weekend.
-Choosing to enter in her favorite and main event, the state champion Vance will see what the big time is like. She will not be scared especially when her toughest competition for her entire life has been her champion older sisters. Vance's 20-foot plus effort was not a fluke.
-At one point Stringfellow was the top combo jumper in the country. Now as a state champion triple jumper coming into his biggest contest, he has an opportunity to clear 50-feet and walk away with a national title.
-When many others counted her out as one of the state's elite triple jumpers, Daniels snatched the silver medal at the state meet. The Vikings competitive driven program has certainly helped Daniels developed into an elite type jumper.
-This young gun has an opportunity to improve further in her development. She may have felt slighted with only a 5th place finish at state, but there is time to get better.
-One of the biggest surprises this season in the throws with two top-four finishes at the state meet. Appel will get a fresh start on 2020 this weekend.
-The state champ of both events in 2A will see his buddy Sam L in the shot and Jordan Johnson in the discus. Hendershot has a chance to be an All-American in one of the events.
-Not to be overlooked is one of the state's elite throwers and certainly, Sam L is listed in two throwing events. The highly charged Liokumovich should be a factor in whatever event that he chooses to compete in.
-One of the nation's elite throwers will get one more opportunity to win the outdoor title. Remember when she took top honors during the indoor version? Lindeman comes in as the favorite according to the field. Hopefully, the US#8 performer on paper can move up.
-The 2A girls shot put champion has really come on this year. She cleaned up with an IL #4 46-9.5 effort and makes just outside of the top 20 overall. We may be looking at the new guard now.
-One of the premier throwers in the country will get his second crack at NB after finishing 15th last year. Johnson will see his pals Sam L and Hunter H in the field. Clearly, the 200+ foot thrower will want a crack at the nation's top ace, Devin Roberson
-New on the scene is Mr. Petko. Look for him to make a splash and see if he can get into the high 180-foot range.
-Granskog placed 9th at NBNI pentathlon and is another outstanding product from the Lancers program.