Gately Track & Field Center; Chicago
Day two opened with smiles and a warm feeling from the faithful who appeared delighted with track and field action back in full force. Athletes from all over the state and parts of the Midwest gave it their best effort on the superfast Mondo track surface.
1600m: The fast section #5 needed to put their foot on the pedal after Friday's winner Kai Connor of Westfield IN clocked 4:23.17. Micah Wilson (St. Charles East) and Arthur Graham (Naperville Central) pushed away from the field after a conservative first half in 2:10.6. With just 150m remaining, the pair locked together like dueling rams, but Graham was able to shake loose off the final turn and power home ahead of Wilson for the smoking win 4:16.81-4:16.98. Both earned high national rankings, Graham's charting at #15.
800m: Coming into the meet would be the debut of the state's top returner Niko Schultz of Plainfield South. The senior had previously given up football now that it has moved to the frosty winter session. More devotion to training and fitness means some interesting return on dividends. Immediately, Schultz was off to the races after the gun with 25.0 and 55.0 circuits. His lead would shorten just a bit with Julian Head of Naperville North pursuing at 500m. Schultz's strength was too much as he powered in a big personal best and US#6 1:54.41. Ryan Maseman of Plainfield North closed out strong for second in 1:56.87.
60HH: Kevyere Mack of Peoria Richwoods and Logan Buck of Pekin both represent One Motion Athletics and favorites to the final. In it, Mack got the final finish lean over Buck 8.29-8.30. It was swift enough to be top 35 marks in the country.
60m: Jaylin Holmes representing East Kentwood MI and one of the most notable short sprinters in the Midwest completed his season debut with a personal best win 6.91. Kyle Burgoni of Unity HS was second in 7.02 PR and IL#1
400m: Once again it was the road warrior Brandon Battle of Edwardsville on a rampage this season. There were loud whispers of him attempting to break 48.00. Instead, he got out lightning fast in 22.9 for the first circuit and clear of a leg-weary but still dangerous Niko Shultz. Battle pumping very hard hit the tape in 48.69.
Long Jump: Jayden McCulskie-Green of Sandwich took the state lead with a 21-8 effort.
1600m: Some key defections prior to the meet could not deter an event still filed with quality. Annie Christie of the famed Carmel IN program trailed Kylie Finger of Wisconsin for much of the race but moved in front for good with about a quarter-mile to go and clocked a PB 4:58.39
800m: Downers Grove South junior Sophia Mcnerney apparently worked on some high quality work during the traditional base period part of the year. She took hold of the competition with an opening 66.4 (400m) and dragged them for four laps. The final result was a personal best by six seconds in 2:18.68.
60H: The Illinois State University signee Gracie Jessup of Salt Fork (repping Vipers Track Club) improved on her state lead with a 9.22 PB which just missed the top 50 nationally.
60: Prelim leader Kaila Jackson of Detroit Renaissance (Track Life U) posted a fleeting 7.53 but had to bow out because of a sore hamstring. Sophomore Asia Thomas of Chicago Kenwood (Hounds & Foxes TC) took advance of the situation won her season debut in 7.67.
400: Leeah Burr of Track Life U/Renaissance HS was the heavy favorite coming in and she roared through the first opening lap around 25.1. She would later lock up with 100m to go as teammate Brooke Gray came on strong for the win in a personal best 56.34.
Long Jump: Kylie Gormann of Centralia stays undefeated with a 18-2.5 winner.