Expect to see a 60 foot thrower or two during the indoor season
TOP RETURNING PERFORMERS
The lone throws event for the indoor season will have some new faces at the top of the rankings after dominant state champions Daniel Lucas (1A, Cowden-Herrick) and Kyle Clabough (3A, Yorkville) move on to collegiate careers.
There is one state champion returning, however, and that would be Centralia senior JehChys Brown. Brown threw 59-6.25 to hold off David Russell (Sr., Chillicothe [Illinois Valley Central]) and Caleb Smith (Jr., Salem) in the 2A outdoor state championship meet. All three athletes return, and project to compete during the indoor season. Brown and Smith went head to head at the SIU Invite in 2022, eventually throwing 52-11.5 and 54-1.5 to finish third and second respectively, behind East St. Louis' Samuel McCain (now graduated). Those marks represented top-5 2022 indoor marks among returnees.
The #1 returner for both indoor and outdoor SP marks comes from 3A, though. It's last year's third-place finisher Alex Sohn from Normal Community (Sr.). Sohn launched 60-5 at home on February 26th, and then improved to 61-7 at the Big 12 Conference meet during the outdoor season. Sohn nearly hit 61' again at sectionals but failed to surpass 59' at state. He returns now his senior year as the favorite to lead the state during the indoor season and begin to make a run at the state title with Clabough no longer in the way.
Close behind Sohn at state was Javaris Ambrose (Sr., Harvey (Thornton)). Ambrose is already on track to be a major thrower to beat having won the Misfits Invitational throw with a 58-8.75 performance. His 60-10.25 last indoor season represents his all-time best, but he hovered closer to 50 feet most of his 2022 indoor season so he already projects to perform better this season with what we have seen so far.
The final returner beyond 60' is Chris Boyd (Sr., Tusola). Boyd was runner-up to Lucas in the 1A outdoor state meet in 2022 throwing 57-11.25, but did break 60 feet earlier in the month at Sullivan (60-1.25). Last year he did not compete until March, so we may have to wait a while before he enters the rankings unless he decides to make an earlier appearance this year.
Already at the top of the indoor leaderboards, this season has been Chase Crawford (Sr., Cahokia). Crawford's offseason work has clearly paid off, moving from a 49-foot thrower outdoors last to already eclipsing 58' twice in January, first at Arkansas and then again at Missouri Southern (where his 58-10.75 state lead was thrown). What staying power does Crawford have this year? Will we be talking about him in March as the runaway SP favorite in 2A?
Without the major preseason favorites this year, however, there is a big group of throwers that could rise to leaderboard relevance. Tyler Michelini (Sr., Lake Park) did not make 3A finals but did break 58' twice outdoors, an improvement over his indoor times. The Lancer program may put Michelini in a position to be a major performer very soon.
Billy Nolan (Jr., Hersey) is the final returning 3A all-stater, and as just a junior may have lots of improvement left to make. He went 56-05 to finish seventh.
Honorable mention: Cooper Starks (Sr., Virden-North Mac), Garrett Taylor (Sr., Salt Fork), Jacob Klink (Sr., Hononegah), KeShawn Harrington-McKin (Sr., Machesney Park (Harlem)), Kaden Garland (Jr., Oak Park-River Forest), Jacob Wickham (Sr., Newton)