I would be wrong to say that this indoor season flew by a flock of birds heading south for the winter. But the truth of the matter is, once all of the politics and protocols of hosting indoor competitions, particularly in Chicago were figured out, things did fly by rather swiftly.
For the first time since 2012, I have held a direct role in hosting or providing indoor meet management, and as delightful as it had been, it was a ton of work. Coaches who host meets certainly can sympathize with the stress of going through a tight checklist to make sure things go well. This time period that we are in has presented a quadruple challenge for us all. As I take a moment to reflect, we almost did not have an indoor season in the state of Illinois.
Aside from having an actual track and field season was the fact that the city of Chicago was the epicenter in the state of Illinois. Maybe even in the midwest. Athletes, parents, and coaches came from all over the state to the spanking new Gately Indoor Track & Field Center. Heck, we had kids from both the east and west coast partake in the Windy City action. I want to say kudos to all who had a hand in the success of the indoor season.
Out of the gate, I was impressed by the intensity of the athletes which led to incredible performances. On the boy's side, the amazing amount of distance runners that came and sought fast times was unbelievable. Drew Rogers heard about the good marks before him and decided to test drive one of the fastest 200m banked surfaces in the country. The Herscher junior star completed the deal with state bests in the 1600m (4:11.77) and 2-mile/3200m (9:00.21/8:57.88). How about Brandon Battle of Edwardsville? He had been chasing the all-time best 400m all-season. He got it at the IL Meet of Champions Showcase with an exclamation 47.88! The first Illinois boy to break 48-seconds.
The girls did well also. Let's start with some out-of-town flavor. Katharine Duren of Massachusettes starred at Gately several times in the hurdles. We wish the nationally ranked hurdler the best outdoors. The same for Ava Parekh of Chicago Latin who did most of her damage in Virginia Beach. Parekh ran some of the fastest times ever for an IL girl in the mile and two-mile. Let's not forget about the freshman Ali Ince's feats at adidas. She won two titles in a span of 45 minutes. Along the way, she won the adidas Indoor Nationals mile title. One of my personal favorite female coverage assignments was of senior Riley Ammenhauser from Neuqua Valley HS in Naperville. At the CYUP Cabin Fever Invite, Ammenhauser arguably had the top performance of the season when she took over the #1 spot in the nation with the triple jump. The mark was an incredible 41'0.25."
As we are slowly moving back to normalcy, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) recently released its guidelines for the upcoming outdoor season. Later, dates for the upcoming outdoor season were released. April 5 is the official start date statewide for practices and 10 practices later, teams may host or travel to competitions.It is hard to say with the new models in place how the season is going to look, but it's awesome to have a season after a year layoff. Keep in mind that some conferences have implemented play among themselves until the post-season. Take a look at the post-season schedule below