2022: Prospect ran the state's top time of 9:21.20 at the DGS Mustang Relays
TOP PERFORMING RELAYS IN 2022
Every year, the 4x800 at the Mustang Relays on the
first Monday night in March marks a turning point for the distance relay in the
state. With limited chances for all the best teams to meet on the track in the
4x800 prior to Mustang, we look ahead to the traditional meet at North Central
College to give a solid preview of what to expect in the outdoor season.
However, before any 4x800s have even been contested, there is a heavyweight favorite that the state will be watching: the Knights of Prospect High.
Prospect is the two-time outdoor 4x800 champion and defending Top Times champion. Their 9:21 mark from Mustang Relays in 2022 was by far the best performance in the state during the indoor season. The Knights return Hailey Erickson (Sr.), Cameron Kalaway (Sr.), and Lily Ginsberg (Jr.) from this group. For any other team, losing a leg like Audrey Ginsberg to graduation would be crippling, but we are talking about Prospect here, who reloads with one of the great freshman distance talents in Meg Peterson (Fr.). Prospect embarked on a historic tear through the cross country season, one that culminated in a top-5 national finish. One of the most eye-popping performances of their fall, however, came on their home track in August for an 800 time trial, where the four ladies mentioned combined for a 9:01.4 total team time. What new heights will Prospect rise to this year in the 4x800? And can anyone challenge them?
The runner-up squad to Prospect outdoors was Naperville North, which experiences some turnover in the event but has fresh legs that could contribute out of the freshmen class. Emma Berres (So.) is the best returner in the event.
York, the cross country runner-ups in 3A, do return most of their third place team, most notably Brooke Berger. The Duchesses were the fastest performer in the 3A prelims at state in 2022 and showed in cross country that they are not afraid of Prospect.
Hinsdale Central can load with Catie McCabe (Sr.), Sarah Skora (Jr.), and Sarah Fischer (Sr.) at the top of the roster and can be a dangerous team if the Red Devils go that route. Minooka was third at top times and faltered to eleventh at outdoor state, but remain deep and has an institutional track record in the event.
Naperville Central did not qualify for the outdoor final, but has a glut of talent at the top end and might be a team to watch in the 4x800 for both genders. Yorkville has been consistent in this event for the past few years but does have some turnover to overcome since last year.
Teams like Lyons Township and Downers Grove North are deep and will have plenty of options to turn to (Hannah Renner and Jillian Peters lead DGN). Madison and Kristina Findley (both Jr.) are sub 2:24 legs for the Lions.
A team to watch at the 2A level is Lakes, who was runner-up at outdoor state in 2022 to Mt. Zion. Lakes return all their legs, including anchor Becca Runyan (Sr.).
Rochester is a team that was vastly improved during the cross country season. They have more options to go to now for the 4x800, and that includes Colleen Zeibert (Sr.) who was runner-up to Becca Heitzig in the 2A 800, running 2:13. She represents a dangerous anchor leg for a potentially competitive Rockets team.
Will Winnebago run a 4x800 team indoors? The traditional 1A powerhouse did produce a 9:50 showing to win Top Times in 2022. Most of their legs return from last year which also included breaking 9:30 in the rain to win the outdoor title. They will need to be cognizant of Glen Carbon Fr. McGivney this year, who was a distant runner-up outdoors in 2023 but return the talented Elena Rybak (So.) and a much improved Kaitlyn Hatley (Jr.).
Other teams to watch: Hersey, St. Charles East, Loyola, Oswego East, Lake Forest, Grayslake Central, St. Ignatius, Glenwood, Mt. Zion, Tolono Unity, Washington, Rosary, DePaul College Prep