Opening Night Of Indoor Track and Field At Gately Is Lit!

Kaila Jackson of Detroit's Track Life Track Club christened the brand new Gately Track in fine fashion


The first indoor meet on Illinois soil in 11 months was greeted with both elation and trepidation. When the spanking brand new Gately Indoor Track & Field Center was completed in early 2020, there was a feeling that Chicago could become a major force during the undercover season... then the pandemic hit. It was a thud for us as the entire 2020 indoor and outdoor season was shut down due to Covid-19.

Now with teamwork among local members of the track and field community February 5, 2021, was the day it all came together- on Superbowl weekend no less.

The first event of the evening was the boy's 200m prelims- nine of them mixed in with a slate of no shows. However, when senior Juan Manaog of Chicago Lane Tech dropped a huge 22.79 PR in the very first section, the grumblings from the grandstands that this track surface could be very fast. Hot boy senior Brandon Battle of Edwardsville confirmed it two heats later with a blistering 21.86 that rocked the building.

On the other side of the girl's ledger, a group from Detroit, Michigan is known as Track Life Track Club introduced their brand in impressive fashion. Led by Kaila Jackson's 24.59 she was followed by Leeah Burr (24.77), Comari Hawkins (25.03), and Brooke Gray (25.13)- a total of five from their stables made the finals. 

Mixed into action was some quality distance races. The boys got it started with many competitors hitting on PRs including section three winner Kai Connor of Westfield IN. He clocked a very satisfying 4:23.17- #1 for the Hoosier state. But the talk of the day was freshman Gavin Genisio of Benton clocked the US#2 time for a freshman in 4:26.61. He is someone to watch for the next three years. Keep in mind there is still a championship section to go on Saturday.

Battle (above) came back in the final several hours to blaze a good field that included Jaylin Holmes (Detroit) and Kyle Burgoni (Tolono Unity) with a lightning-fast PR 21.50, good for US#8 and it got the faithful out of their seats. For the girls, it was a Track Life sweep with Jackson rolling to a US#5 24.19. 

Jayden Ulrich of East Alton-Wood River got into the national talk conversation in the girls' shot put. With just a few competitors in the field, she was here for a business trip. Her best toss her third one which sailed 46'9.75" and good for US#3. She has so much more to give us in 2021. The Indiana University-bound senior is just scratching the surface of her talent.

Some technical issues by Dillon Peters of Andrew HS in the triple jump could not prevent him from skying 46-9 and nabbing the US#12 spotlight.