Girls Preseason Preview: The Need For 60m Speed

Asia Thomas of Chicago Kenwood displays her tremendous speed at the Morolake Akinosun Invitational 



Only three girls in Illinois history have cracked the sub 7.50 mark in the 60m. The great Aaliyah Brown of Lincoln-Way East (7.34), Ebony McClendon (7.45), and now Asia Thomas (Sr., Chicago Kenwood). Then there was Morolake Akinosun's out-of-this-world 6.76 (55m) massacre at the former Illinois Prep Top Times which converted to 7.27 for 60m.

Illinois began running the event more widely in the early 2010s. Thomas burst onto the scene as an eighth grader with performances that would've challenged for all-state honors in high school. The early season state leader (7.48) from the Akinosun Elite Invitational and current top 15 athletes nationally in the event has dropped early season fire which suggests she may be on track towards a special senior year. 

After her basketball obligations are complete, Katelyn Lehnen (So., Chatham-Glenwood) will take aim at defending her Top Times title in the 60m (7.62) she earned last season. After an extraordinary Freshman outdoor season marked by all-state honors and an individual title (200m), Lehnen will no longer sneak up on the competition. Her few weeks of indoor seasons will allow her to fine-tune some things for the outdoor season. 

To be a great hurdler, speed is necessary and Emmi Scales (Sr., Arlington Heights [St. Viator]) has it. She has already surpassed her personal best achieved in March 2022 at adidas Indoor Track Nationals by running 7.62 at the CYUP Misfits Invite. Her coaches have to be pleased with the results from her off-season training at this stage of the season. Oh yeah, she is the reigning 2A Top Times champion. Look for the future Kentucky Wildcat to drop her personal best even more as the competition becomes more fierce. 

Jaliyah Shepherd (Sr., Chicago Kenwood), burst onto the scene at the CPS Indoor Championships by running one of the state's top times (7.68). Shepherd did not crack the eight-second barrier until that meet. So far this season she has opened her indoor slate in December at the Gately Park Open (7.78) well beyond her previous season's opening race (8.06). Shepherd is the state's top returner in the 55m as well (7.12).

Naomi Bey-Osborne (So., Kankakee)- One of the state's upcoming speedsters who is known more for the 200/400 dashes. Bey-Osborne has wheels though, anchoring her team to a state championship in the 4x100 relay. She has run the event quite a bit during the undercover season, but her coaches are not sure if the 100 will be added as a feature this spring. There is no better way of testing than running a slew of 60 dashes. 

Nevaeh Lowe (Sr., Kankakee)- Another short speedster from the Kay's team vault. Lowe burst on the scene last winter at the Top Times when she finished a surprising second to Emmi Scales 7.74-7.75. When healthy she is a force to be reckoned with.

Rylee Lydon (Sr., Crystal Lake Prairie Ridge)- The state's top all-around track & field athlete has a bit of indoor flat speed too. Before she heads off to Texas A&M University in the fall, this will be an area that will be addressed. But let's be clear though, Lydon won't be a regular here, just a very good time placeholder. She has closed 7.85 as a PB during the pre-season.

Honorable mention: Symone Frison (Jr., Chicago Lindblom), Alex Johnson (Sr., Huntley), Tania Miller (Jr., Romeoville), Kyla Harris (Jr., Aurora Metea Valley), Cambria Geyer (Sr., Tremont), Kali Waller (Jr., West Chicago), Mary Kathleen-Stalling (So., Homewood-Flossmoor), Anna Barr (Sr., Normal University), Lena Jackson (So., Peoria Richwoods), Jolena Sites (Sr., Rockford Guilford), Essence Horton-Graves (Jr., Rockford Auburn)