Illinois Wesleyan University welcomed back the premier indoor track and field championship with open arms. It was the first time since 2020 when the Covid-19 Pandemic closed shop on the track and field season. The long climb back was punctuated by extraordinary efforts by nearly all involved inside the Shirk Center. The hard-earned efforts produced a salivating 60 elite-level performances into the MileSplit database.
The initial talk of the meet was of the multi-talented Alyssa Williams. The Tuscola senior was entered in four events. The first one up was the long jump. Truth be told she shuffled between the 60m prelims/finals and the pit in an hour's timespan. It did not matter to senior Nakeita Kessling of Henry-Senachwhine who confidently nailed the winning 18'3.25 jump on her third effort. She connected on her fourth attempt at 18'2.50" and that was all she needed. Williams notched 17'10" on her final sixth attempt and finished in the runner-up spot.
However, Williams was just getting started. She opened her track campaign with the fastest time in the 60m prelims with a sizzling 7.83 mark. As good as that was, Williams would blaze a solid in the final with a personal-best 7.74. The time is now seventh-best in all of Illinois. Later, Williams assisted her mates with a section four 4x200m win that took fourth overall in 1:50.62. Finally, Williams closed the evening with a win in the 200m- the time was 25.95 and severely ahead of second-place junior Cambria Geyer of Tremont who ran 26.65.
Cross country power Winnebago fresh off of spring break did not miss a beat. The 'Bagos dashed past the 4x800m field to take a classification best 9:50.30.
Tyreke Fortney came into the weekend as a relative unknown in terms of the track and field world. The senior from Peru St. Bede did not compete in last spring's state series nor did his marks ring a bell. However, after producing a very good football season in the fall, things started to fall in place. In his first Shirk Center appearance, Fortney dropped a 7.02 60m marker to lead all qualifiers. But it was the final where he unleashed the speed demon and rocked the building with a 6.90 personal best. It proved to be the third-best time in the state and nearly set the class meet record. For the punctuation, Fortney cruised in the 200m with another PB win 22.73.
If you don't know Jadon Robertson now you do. The senior from Cowden-Herrick who is bound for Southern Illinois University collected three pivotal wins. Robertson had pre-game targets all over him and he did not crack. It started with the long jump in which he won with a 21-6.75. He moved to the high jump mat and cleared 6-6 which is the fifth-best mark in the state. Lastly, Robertson made a huge statement in the 60HH. The time and precision that produced a state-leading 8.18 was no joke. Robertson did not win the athlete of the meet but his name was heard throughout the building.
Robertson's teammate senior Daniel Lucas also made huge waves in the shot put. The massive Lucas won with a toss of 55-5. There was one throw that sailed over 61-feet but was called back because of a scratch. It was that effort that amazed the field and provided a sense of what is to come.
Ryder James (Sr., PBL) eased his way to two victories via the 3200 and 1600 meter runs. In the first event, he shadowed Miles Sheppard (Sr., West Hancock) through the first mile in 4:39. James would turn on the jets with less than 800 to go and win going away in 9:18.31. The latter was mirrored the same as James put the hammer down late to win in 4:27.41.
Classification #1 Rockford Christian displayed two relay wins: 4x800 cruised in 8:26.11 to drop the best time in the league. The 4x400 quartet concluded the meet in another class best 3:33.65.