WATCH: The thrilling 'fast' section of the Girls 400m dash
The first proper weekend of the season was jam-packed and full of meets throughout the country. There was the VA Showcase on the eastern seaboard, then the Carl Lewis Invitational in Texas, and how about the U of Arkansas HS Invite in the southwest and the Reno Pole Vault Summit in the west?
But there was only one Morolake Akinosun Elite Invitational in the Midwest- specifically the city of Chicago at the Dr. Conrad Worrill Track & Field Center.
At exactly 10:30 in Central Standard Time, the field events and the middle school mile went were underway. There was hardly a glitch in action on the track and field, in fact, the meet ran ahead of schedule 20 minutes at a time.
The energy of the crowd seemed to ignite the initial finalists of the meet which were the 60-meter hurdles and 60-meter dashes. It was a Michigander sweep with seniors Nonah Waldron of Motor City Track Club/Oak Park and Braxton Brann of Ann Arbor clocked 8.71 and 8.02. Waldron is still rounding into form an injury from the outdoor track season. Brann took advantage of the field in a new meet record and is currently the 12th fastest time in the country.
Next on the track was the flat version of the short sprints and the early season Illinois state leader Asia Thomas did not disappoint. She had already clocked a reserved 7.64 in her prelim. For the final, it would a completely different tale. Thomas came out of her starting blocks like former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson did in his prime- no mercy on the opponent. The senior from Chicago Kenwood completely devoured the field in 7.48. The time was a new meet record, taking down "Killa K" Kaila Jackson of Michigan's previous 7.53 mark.
The male version was a bit more balanced. Brann returned back to the starting blocks to greet his challengers. Waiting was an unknown by the name of Braydon Waller of Chicago Heights Marian Catholic. Waller's swag meter was very unassuming, more like a blue-collar work in a pair of spikes. He and Brann dashed down the center lanes with the loud and energetic crowd in support, both hit the finish line in a fast 6.85. The times were meet records but Waller was ruled the winner. He also supplanted himself on the map with several college coaches in attendance lurking and perhaps taking notes on future needs.
The final event of the day was the 200m and the girls final section did not disappoint
RESULTS I VIDEOS I PHOTOS
Enter Delea Martins. She has practically spent as much time inside the Gately Track building now recently Christened to honor the late great local civil rights leader and champion of youth sports, Dr. Worrill. Martins is a senior who will be off to the University of North Carolina next fall and represents Shorewood High School out of Wisconsin, but on this occasion, she is heavily entrenched in the Milwaukee Speed Academy mindset that her parents created.
Martins took a break from the 60m to run the 400m and 200m. In the first race of the day, she took the long dash by the horn and never trailed. In fact, thankfully Martins was able to stay clear of the small ruckus behind her before going on to win in 56.47 and producing the second-fastest time in meet history.
The finale would essentially decide the queen of sprints of this great meet with Martins vs. Thomas. The collateral damage has to be Brooklyn Sandvig of Milwaukee Speed Academy and Lola Kolawole of the Milwaukee Mustangs. One is a new teammate of Martins and one is a former one. It doesn't matter. Thomas got the jump first on the field in the first 50m down the bank track. Martins was able to remain composed because of her speed and strength. Indeed, she used her experience on the final bank and slingshotted herself into a controlling position. The final result was a winning effort of 24.71 and Sandvig passed Thomas to take second in 24.87 and ahead of Kolawale's 24.93. Thomas was fourth in 24.97.
There were some nice highlights in the distance arena like Catie McCabe's tremendous debut in the 800m. The Hinsdale Central senior was an underdog coming to Ohio prep star Alexa Fortman and Kylee King of the Motor City Track Club. The out-of-towner's resume is pretty scary when you take a serious scan at them. Forever, McCabe is pretty accomplished as well. Fortman and King set an early pace under 64 seconds that meant serious business. Once they were able to settle in on the third lap, the strength and speed endurance appeared to favor the patient McCabe. She took control inside of the final lap and won in a statement-making 2:14.25.
Two tough warriors Scout Storms of Barrington and Mia Kotler of Chicago Latin are sophomores at their respective high schools. They both have battled some nagging injuries but appear to be ready to endure a long but fruitful 2023 campaign. The 1600m race in which they competed in was essentially a dual between them. Kotler led most of the race, occasionally pushing the pace hard in the middle with the taller Storms shadowing her. Finally, on the bell lap, Storms had enough and took flight and won in 5:03.70- almost three seconds better than Kotler 5:06.08.