Downers Grove South senior Erin Reidy was the star of last year's show
Location: NCC Res Rec Center; Al B. Carius Indoor Track; Naperville IL
Start time: Field- 4:45p; Track- 4:45p
The skinny: Expect to see some pre-weekend fire bestowed on the track and in the field all evening long. It is not often during the indoor season that we get to witness some state of the art performances mid-week. So appreciate it!
First thing first, it's the distance races that command attention-
We don't normally preview events out of order but the 800m field that's assembled could possibly be the deepest in terms of star power short of the 3A state final cast. We are talking middle indoor season where things are starting to heat up in Illinois. The defending champion Erin Reidy is listed among the potent entrants as is Katelynne Hart (Sr., Glenbard West), Olivia Schmitt (Sr., Lakes), Marianne Mihas (Jr., Chicago Latin), and the early season indoor MVP Ava Parekh (So., Chicago Latin).
Reidy has the meet record of 2:11.47 set last year. Hart is coming off of a tremendous 5k effort last month in Boston, but don't think for a minute that she isn't game for this event. KK has the fastest PB of anyone in the field (2:10.63) and will be ready for the challenges that await her. Look for Schmitt to come out of her winter hibernation and put down a good mark. She ran 2:11.83 last season. Parekh is here to sharpen her blades in lieu of the upcoming New Balance Nationals Indoor in a few weeks. Don't be turned off by her 2:23 best, she will run better than that.
The 3200m should be a thriller in section #2. It will feature some of the best runners in the state. Maggie Gamboa (Jr., Naperville North), Brenna Cohoon (Sr., Downers Grove South), McKenna Revord (Sr., Hinsdale Central), and Samantha Poglitsch (Jr., Wheaton-Warrenville South) are the featured names here. Poglitsch on the surface has the least experience running the 16-lapper but her ceiling is very high based on the success that she has had in cross country and her prowess in the 800 and 1600. The state's best metric time is 10:49.99 and that could drop if Poglitsch pushes the pace early. However, Gamboa is the early money favorite here.
The fans are going to have to sift through three sections of the 1600m before they get to witness the last great distance runner of the day. Reidy is slated to participate here but we will see how the outcome of the 800 turns out. Emma Watcke (Sr., Hinsdale Central) and Campbell Petersen (Jr., Naperville North) will be on the scene ready to put on a show. Might we see a sub-5:00 effort?
Hart is also listed in the 4x800 so we will see how that scenario unfolds at the top. But even if she is not on it, one would think the state leading 9:55.23 by Wheaton South will go down.
The workhorse Mariam Azeez is expected to get the job done-
Mariam Azeez (So., Lincoln-Way East) was a star track and field athlete in middle school. Now just a few short seasons later here at the next level, she is emerging into the potential that has been laid out for her. Already this season, Azeez has popped 19-1.5 in the long jump- good for third-best in the state. After disposing of the field in the pit, it's time to go over to the track's first event- the 55 dash. Azeez draws the favorite card but Bloom's senior duo Janea Gardner and Allysa Fryer may have something to say about that. They come in with the second and third fastest season times of 7.32 and 7.35.
Blended in among the dashes is the hurdles race. Bria Armstrong (Sr., Bloom Twp) and Nakayla Morgan (So., Bloom Twp) who are 1-2 in the state at 8.47 and 8.54. Brianna Barwick (Sr., Dekalb) is healthy again and should be a strong threat to the establishment... it may take all 10 sections of the 400m before we see a sub-1:00 clocking. Azeez and her teammate Sophia Barnard (So.) appear to be the favorite. Can someone break 26-seconds in the 200? Once again look for the battles between Azeez, Fryer, and Gardner to determine the winner... Armstrong IL#4 coming in the meet in the triple jump. After dropping a series of 37-foot efforts, it's time to move up to the 38-foot realm.
Relays talk? Watch for section #7 and Bloom finally get an opportunity to load up and drop a smoking time. With the personnel they have, it's not impossible to think anything under 1:46 isn't too unreasonable to ask for... Dior Nicholson (Sr., Hinsdale Central) is the only one in the shot put field throw over 40-feet to date. Nicholson has surpassed her season-best from a year ago with a 41-4.75 several weeks ago at the York Invite.