1A Boys State Meet Preview: Tuscola Is The Team To Watch

Jackson Barrett will be a key figure in Tuscola's bid for a team state championship.


WATCH LIVE: Illinois Boys State Championships

Date: May 23 & 25, 2024 (prelims, finals)

Location: O'Brien Stadium; Eastern Illinois University

Time Schedule: HERE

Social media: Twitter X ---> @milesplitil #BTFState24

Final Power Rankings: HERE

Tuscola Distance Leads the Title Charge

Tuscola missed the podium by one point in 2023, finishing fourth with 29 points behind Newton's 30 points.

In the time since then, they have won the 1A cross country state title and have amassed several top spot showings on the power rankings to enter the state meet as a slight favorite ahead of other strong contenders, including Colfax Ridgeview, Winnebago, Bloomington Central Catholic, Maroa-Forsyth and Morrison. The same individuals responsible for the cross country state title are also the main players in the track title chase. Jackson Barrett (Sr.), Josiah Hortin (Sr.), and Will Foltz (Sr.) each divvied up the six spots in the 800, 1600, and 3200-meter runs, with each having a shot at the top three in both events. To lock up the title, though, Tuscola must be put over the top by their sprint relays, David Hornaday (Jr.), and Kamden Flenner (So.) in the hurdles and sprints. 

Dominic Martin (Sr.) may be the highest point scorer in the 1A meet, so he is a big reason that Ridgeview is in the hunt behind Tuscola. He is entered in the 200, 110HH, 300h, and the Long Jump and is fit to score high, especially in the hurdles events. For Ridgeview, each of their four relays will be crucial. 

The door is opened in the 400-Only Title Defenses in 200, PV-

After a strong 2024 season that included state-leading sprint times, defending 400m state champion Reece Curtis (Sr., St. Anne) unfortunately did not qualify for the state meet. He was one of only a few athletes who could defend a title from last year. The others are Supreme Muhammad (Sr., Winnebago) in the 200m and the pole vault to Isaiah Whitaker (So., Bloomington Central Catholic). This means that many first-time champions will be crowned.

One good bet to win his first state title is Graham Meister (Fr., Dwight), already the state leader in the Shot Put by four feet in his initial season. His best throw of 17.33m (56'10.25") was nearly replicated at sectionals, where he threw 17.20m. 

Curtis' absence leaves the door open for Parker Wolf (Sr., Newton), Brysen Vasquez (Sr., Salt Fork), and Brian Smith (Jr., North Shore Country Day) to compete with each other for the 400m title. Each athlete has run under 50 seconds this outdoor season, and it may take a sub-49 performance to win this event. 

Whitaker goes for his own Record in the Vault-

Isaiah Whitaker in the Pole Vault is the biggest favorite in any individual event in at the state meet. In his freshman year, Whitaker overcame misses at the three previous heights to clear 5.10m, breaking Kyle Kruthoff's 5.08m record from 2019. Whitaker has cleared 5.20m indoors this season, so his sights may be set on re-breaking his 5.10m record from last year at that 5.20 mark. The all time state meet record is Zachery Bradford's 5.33m, (just a hair under 17-6), but cross-classification competition between Whitaker and Paul Migas (Sr.) may push both of them to approach that number. 

Does Isaiah Hill try the entire Quad?

One of the most aggressive event loads is Isaiah Hill's (Sr., Elmwood), entering the 800, 400, 1600, and 4x8 relay cards. Hill did shoulder that triple nicely, running 1:58.14, 50.97, and 4:30.37 to qualify in each event safely. Hill did not run the 4x800 at sectionals, and as the class leader in the 800, he looks likely to open his finals day with the 800 rather than the 4x800. Elmwood's 4x800 is competitive as a top-6 seed and the fastest-time qualifier in the field. 

Hill ran 4:19 to finish runner-up in the 1600 at last year's state meet, so as a top returner, he will have to decide whether to contest the 400 in anticipation of the 1600. Hill still seeks his first state title.