Relive last year's top middle-school team from St. Ben's in Chicago. The 1A Boys team produced one of the top efforts in meet history in 2018.
Where: Maxwell Park; Normal, IL
9:30am- 1A Girls
10:15am- 1A Boys
11:00am- 2A Girls
11:45am- 2A Boys
12:30pm- 3A Girls
1:15pm- 3A Boys
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In the 1A girls race, Libby Castelli of Palatine St. Thomas enters with the top time from the sectionals rounds running a 11:56 for 2 miles at the IESA 1A Sectional A, leading her team to a third place finish. The 7th grade sensation has already put up a time of 11:14 on the board this year at the Prairie Stampede meet but, did lose to fellow 1A runner Morgan Mackie of Chicago Queen of All Saints there. Mackie is another girl who has just been lights out all year running a season PR of 11:10. Mackie won both the 800m and 1600m state titles in the spring. Castelli did end up getting revenge on Mackie at the Fox Trot Invite but, will either one of them beat the favorite in the field? Becca Heitzig of Lincoln West Lincoln-Broadwell is the girl to be watching as she is the runner up from last year. Unable to catch Maria Stedwill of Peoria St. Jude last year, its finally time for Heitzig to shine. Also don't count out Ella Hwang of Chicago Old St. Mary's, Addison Lane of Antioch Emmons, and Abigail Jordan of Palatine St. Thomas as they all finished in the top 10 at the girls state meet last season.
Coming into this season it was anyone's guess on who would win the 1A Boys State Title with no clear favorite returner and to this day there is still no clear favorite. We do know we will be seeing a great contest though between Andrew Nelson of Chicago Old St. Mary's and Christian Provost from Kankakee Bishop McNamara. Provost has really had a breakout year after winning the 1A 1600m State Title this past spring with a time of 4:55.96. He really has translated that performance to the grass running a 10:42 to win the IESA 1A Sectional D. Nelson though will not go down easily after winning the IESA 1A Sectional B in 11:42 on a harder course. Nelson has also gotten primed up a bit this season racing against many of the best 2A and 3A runners in the state throughout the year. If these two give the same type of effort that they did in the 1600m at state this past spring then we may be set to see one of the best races in 1A history. Don't forget about Isaiah Hill of Brimfield, Alex Leonard of Chicago Old St. Mary's, Matthew Chan of Buffalo Grove St. Mary's, and Joey Bosch of Princeville who all placed in the top 20 last season.
Before this past weekend all signs were pointing towards the runner up for the state meet last year, Raegan Stringer of Tolono Unity to come back to Tolono with the state title... that was until the finish of the Sectional G meet which saw her get blazed by up comer Katelyn Jones of Robinson Nuttall by almost 30 seconds. Stringer is a veteran though and with already running the Maxwell Park course this season she may have the tactical advantage over the newer star in Jones. Bella Domier of Round Lake Park is another name to keep your eye on as she is coming off a good sectional A win in 12:20. Domier took 4th place at the state meet last year and will try and hang with the two favorites. Don't count out Heather Canny of Lockport Oak Prairie and Maria Polyakov of River Forest Roosevelt as they both placed top 10 at the state meet last year.
It is an open field in the boys' 2A race with three names showing out above the rest. Benjamin Gibson of Chicago Latin School enters as possibly the biggest name in the field after placing 4th at this meet last year with a time of 10:53.30. Being undefeated this year versus 2A talent it looks to be his title to lose. The 7th grader also has the fastest season PR in the field running a 10:42 earlier this year at the Prairie Stampede Meet. Trey Sato of Round Lake Park is another name to keep an eye out for as he looks to run with the 7th grader phenom. Sato had a great track season finishing 4th at the 7AA State Meet in the 1600m running a 5:00.84, can he translate the same success to the grass and build off his 10th place performance at last years state meet? Then there is the wildcard... Marc Gonzalez of Chillicothe who enters with the best sectional time with a 10:50 at the Sectional F Meet. Little is known about Gonzalez, but 10:50 is definitely not a time to sleep on. He may just swoop in and claim a sneaky win.
Ali Ince is ready to improve into the top spot on the junior high scene
Over the past few years, we have had stars come through the middle school scene as promising 8th graders... Tatum David in 2018, Katrina Schlenker in 2017, Katelynne Hart in 2015... Is Ali Ince of Normal Kingsley the next star? The 8th grader had a good state meet last year placing 6th with an 11:39.10, but obviously was not satisfied and went after it in the winter. She came in the track season with a new fire and set the middle school scene ablaze. Gaining the 7AA State titles for both the 800m and 1600, Ince set the 7AA State Record in the 800m running a 2:18.62 and barely missing the 7AA 1600m record by 1.43 seconds. Ince has already gone 11:18 at Maxwell Park this year at the Parkside Invite, can she run low 11:00 or maybe even break the mark this weekend?
The 3A boys race looks to be a rare battle between two teammates in Josh Weeks and Yonas Wuthrich of Morton JHS going head to head once again. For most of the season, Weeks has had the upper hand on his teammate winning almost every encounter by about 30 seconds until the Sectional H meet this past weekend when Wuthrich went 10:00 for the hard-fought win over Weeks. The last time these two went to battle on a state meet level was for the 7AA 1600m State Title when Wuthrich narrowly beat Weeks 4:50.15 to 4:53.02. Weeks was fresh that day as Wuthrich had taken runners up in the 800m earlier that day. Could it be that Wuthrich is just a better clutch performer or was the Sectional win a fluke and Weeks will prove that he is the all-around better cross-country runner?