IL New Balance Indoor Nats Day 3 Recap: Return On Investment

Alli Ince poses with elite New Balance brass and athlete Emma Colburn



BOSTON- Day three saw the most activity inside the Track at New Balance. The New Balance Nationals Indoors saw some of our state's top track and field athletes get busy in the field and on the track.


"Alli " Allison Ince (Jr., Normal Community) won her second indoor national 800m title in three years of high school. This performance may be her best to date. Unlike in past top-tier races, Ince seems to allow competition to hang around, but not this time. She hit the first 400m in 1:01.28 and the 600m in 1:32.50. That was in line to run under 2:05 or even faster. Ince strolled home in 2:04.77.

Katelyn Lehnen (So., Chatham-Glenwood) made her national championship debut by qualifying for the 60m semi-final with a state-leading 7.45. Lehnen has the eighth fastest time of the 24th qualifiers. Lehnen also advanced in the Rising Stars 200m in 24.14- a state-leading mark and #3 all-time for IL girls.


The delays and wait were vicious but the previously unheralded high jumper Mason Kooi (Sr., Springfield Lutheran) came away with the win. On paper, Kooi's winning mark of 6'9" doesn't seem impressive for a national champion. But the ordeal that it took to get to 6'9" was amazing. Kooi said he had to warm up several times because of the track festivities which was double the amount of time- over four hours of waiting and competing. There was also a delay because of the girls' high jump. "They were doing so many activities on the track with the lights going off that also delayed the start of our event," he said. "I had to reset mentally a few times," Kooi added. He said the 6'5" starting height was the highest he had ever debuted. He missed his first attempt but connected on 6'9" in one attempt. After the competition bowed out at 6'7", Kooi attempted 6'11.50" for the national lead- passed on 7 feet because of rhythm and fatigue. 

Dan Watcke (Sr., Hinsdale Central) initially petitioned to get in the championship 800m but was rebuffed because of field size (top nine elite entrants) and he had not raced in an individual race in 2023. After some back and forth over several days, Watcke was able to secure a spot. He did not disappoint. The opening pace was set at a blistering 52 seconds which actually helps and forces Watcke out of his comfort zone. He hit the 400 in 54.0 and 1:22.2 with a lap to go. Watcke roared home in an all-time state-best 1:49.59! Though he finished third overall, the mark is US#2 because the runner-up Charles Leath IV is from Canada. An added bonus is the mark is #7 for all-time indoors.

Paul Migas (Jr., Lakes) came into the pole vault championship with a goal to win it all. He was perfect through four rounds before stalling at 15'9." Migas finished fourth overall and earned all-american honors.

Daniel Lacy (Sr., Champaign Centennial) advanced to the 60m semi-final with a time of 6.92.

Austin Belle (Sr., Naperville Neuqua Valley) dropped his state-leading 200m to 21.67.

The Plainfield South 4xmile team waited a very long time to compete in the meet's longest event. The meet officials ran the championship section first and then sections 2-4 later. The Cougars were in the fourth section. The race was busted open after the second leg and it was curtains on the competition. Plainfield South earned a third-place finish in 17:40.60- the winner was 17:34.17 from championship section 1.

Dylan Maloney 4:25.94
BJ Sorg 4:22.65
Jack Wright 4:32.11
Ethan Reynoso 4:19.92