It Was An IL Thang At The USATF Jr Olympics

Intern Zahir Giwa poses questions to Emmi Scales during the aftermath of her superb week in California


It was a business trip before pleasure for a select group of track clubs and individuals who earned their way to a weeklong adventure to Sacramento, California for the USATF Junior Olympics.

The impetus behind the stalwarts from TNT, Windy City Hammers, and the Vipers Track Clubs was being competitive as well as successful against some of the best talents in the country.

Nothing but love for the contingent from Illinois (Zahir Giwa photo)


Crystal Lake Prairie Ridge representing the TNT Track Club rising senior Rylee Lydon started the medal grab by winning the 17-18 girls division of the pentathlon. Lydon won the event with a dramatic performance in the 800m final (2:16.18) which helped her tally a final 4677 points.

The Vipers Young Men 4x800m earned a runner-up finish in 7:58.31. Anchor leg Jackson Gilbert clocked 1:56.8 to move his team from the fourth position. Teammate Brianna Dixon of Rantoul who competed in the same 17-18 division but for girls, took the silver medal in the high jump (1.65m), fourth in the 100H (14.64), and teamed up in the 4x100 that placed fifth in 47.08. The Urbana based club continued to rack up top-shelf results. Alyssa Williams of Tuscola got the final 17-18 girls all-American medal in the 200, running 25.30. Earlier she placed in the 100 with a time of 12.36. Jackson Gilbert got in the All-American act with a fourth place finish in the 400m (48.39). The same was for Sam Atkinson in the 800 (1:54.59).

Standout Jayon Morrow of Kankakee advanced and scored in the 100 (5th) and 200 (4th) for the 15-16 young men group. But the most impressive feat was him anchoring the 4x400 that brought home a title in 3:19.46. Morrow's tough man split was clocked in 47.5.

Sofia Munoz of Mt. Zion HS by the way of the Vipers TC got in the girls 17-18 All-American mix. Munoz took seventh in the 1500m with a time of 4:59.64

The Hammers earned a healthy amount of prestige and clout. Symone Frison copped the eighth place position in the girls 17-18 100 (12.52). Kennedy Ross was just as productive in the girls 17-18 100HH (6th- 14.75). Asia Thomas just got under the requirement to earn All-American status in the girls 17-18 200m. She took seventh in 25.04. Thomas earned seventh in the 400 as well with a time of 57.96. The collegian Madison Saunders returned to her group to place fourth in the triple and long jumps. The biggest bounties for the Hammers were the 17-18 4x100 and 4x400 relays. It was a great anchor by Asia Thomas who beat a team from Texas with a time of 45.93. The longer race was no contest as the quartet roared to a 3:44.04 clocking. Madison Hardamon was the anchor.

Emmi Scales continues to improve and impress. The rising senior produced the greatest 100H series for an Illinois girl. There is no doubt she will be a prize recruit as a member of St. Viator/TNT in 2023. The national champion ran 14.03 in the prelim, 13.72 in the semi, and a robust 13.52 in the final. This amazing feat was conducted against a strong headwind (-2.0). Scales has officially run the fastest legal time in state history. She would take third in the 400H and anchor her mates in the 4x4 to a sixth place finish.

Homewood-Flossmoor graduate Alexandria Edison held the Illinois Shockers TC banner high with two All-American honors in the girls 17-18 division. Edison placed fifth in the long jump (5.46m) and fifth in the 200 (24.70).