Ayah Mustapha poses shortly after partaking in the USATF IL State Association festivities
If you checked the weather before this weekend, you, like many other coaches and athletes probably expected delays and automatic advances. The only thing seen across the weather forecast was exceeding amounts of rain and lighting. But I am not here to tell you about the weather. I am here to tell you about one of the weekends we have all been waiting for since IHSA state. The USATF Association Championship happened at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois. Some of Illinois' best came to show that they are picking up right where they left off in order to start their summer journey to the USATF Hershey National Championships.
In the 15-16 girls 100-meter dash, the rising sophomore Sydney Robinson took the first place spot with a time of 12.30. Not even a full step behind her was Sydney Weaver of the Windy City Hammers who ran 12.37. The Windy City Hammers were not afraid to show that they have a powerhouse 100-meter dash. Three more competitors for the team qualified as well.
For 15-16 boys, the Illinois Shockers took over the finals sending three athletes on to the Region 7 Championships. The first place spot went to Marshall Ellis who ran a 10.96. The 17-18 women 100-meter dash finals had three athletes under 12 seconds with Taylor Gilling of TNT as the expected win. Gilling ran 11.32 at IHSA state. We will have to wait and see what the rest of the summer holds for her. On the men's side, Xavier Curtis punched his ticket to Regionals in the 100-meter dash by running a 10.80.
The next race that everyone was waiting on was the 400-meter dash. Alexandria Edison was the only girl under 59 seconds in the 15-16 division girls. Ayah Mustafa followed behind her with a time of 59.44. In the 17-18 women's Division, we saw a familiar face pop up on the board. Ashanti Denton was the IHSA 400-meter dash State Champion. She ran a 54.45 to take the title. This weekend she clocked 56.81 to take first place with her teammate Tesa Roberts following behind her. Another state champion made an appearance as well. Samuel Herenton (TNT) was the 1A 400 champion and he ran a 49.28 this weekend to qualify. Herenton ran a 48.16 at state and he looks to be on track to break 48 seconds sometime this summer.
While the qualifying times for 200 looked a little slow for the athletes, they did not fail to show their true colors during the finals. Taylor Gilling also took the win in the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.64. On the men's side, there were four TNT athletes who qualified and among them was Jason Thormo, 3A 400-meter champion. Thormo ran 47.97 at state. He did not make an appearance in the 400 this past weekend but Herenton made sure to let the world know that TNT would have a top spot in the 400.
The 4x400 had some excellent qualifiers to finish off the weekend. The Zephyrs in the women's 17-18 division ran a 3:54.09 which was a time that made All-American last year. The men's 17-18 division had TNT as the first place finishers who ran a 3:22.50. That time is almost a second and a half shy of 8th place at Nationals last summer.
There seems to be a common theme here. State champions are taking their rightful place at the top to let everyone know that they are not finished showing what they have to offer. But just because they are taking their rightful place does not mean that others should not be overlooked. The summer season has started to get good which means there will be some athletes coming out of the clouds (which is what we saw a lot of this past weekend. The clouds at least). As you begin to place your bets, make sure to remember track and field is all about upsets so you'll just have to wait and see what goes down at the Region 7 Championships. Until then...