2A Boys State Preview: A Faction Between North And South

The Flyers of "Eastside," aka E. St. Louis Sr. will be a team to watch this weekend in Charleston


WATCH LIVE: Illinois State Championships on MileSplit


Date: May 24 (prelims); May 25 (finals)

Location: O'Brien Stadium; Eastern Illinois University

Schedule: HERE

Power Rankings: HERE

Sycamore, Mascoutah sit at the top of trophy chase-

If the most compelling state meet title races are between rounded teams with strong relays, then the Boys' 2A state meet will be one of the most satisfying team races to follow on the weekend. Mascoutah is the #2 Power Ranked team entering the state meet and has been outstanding in the sprint relays, running the 4x100 in sub-42 seconds earlier in May and retaining their state lead in the 4x200, a 1:28.07 from their county meet in April. The most crucial member of the Indians' attack is Noah Feldt (Jr.), who had an unbelievable sectional meet, qualifying in the 100, 200, and 400, with marks strong enough to score across the board (10.80, 21.99, and 49.23 this season).

Sycamore counters with the state's best 4x100 and 4x400 marks and the second-best 4x200 behind Mascoutah. The Spartan's answer to Feldt is Aidan Wyzard (Jr.), anchor on both relays and state leader in the long jump and a good bet to make the 100 final. The battle may be close between these schools and they will need some of the other components (Antonio Mack for Mascoutah, Pole Vaulters for Sycamore) to come up big and give their squad the edge.

East St. Louis Sr is positioned to add to their trophy case but will have to overcome missing out on qualifying in the 100-meters. The Flyers do have some power in the field, with two triple jumpers (Tyreke Baker (So.) and Shamond McClain (Jr.)), a long jumper (Kenneth Buchanon (Sr.)), a discus thrower (Andrew Bownes (Sr.)) and high jumper (Curtis Bownes (Sr.)) all capable of scoring. Still, they have some work to do on the track to catch Mascoutah and Sycamore.

Marion is also in position and can be helped with strong performances from Dylon Nalley (Sr.), Mekye Lomax (Sr.), and thrower Jordyn Beverly (Sr.). Still, they need to have each of those three athletes max out their point totals for a good chance at a trophy. Triad, St. Laurence, Benton, and Aurora Central Catholic occupy a tier just below these schools, and all have the chance of a trophy but will need some things to break their way to stay in the race.

Look to the relays for the most electric races-

Troy Triad and Mascoutah previewed the state 4x100 earlier in May when they went sub-42 head to head. Throwing in state-leading Sycamore, high-ceiling St. Laurence, perennial state power East St. Louis Sr, and a few other final candidates like Mt. Zion, Carbondale, and Morton, and you get some compelling prelims that will take close to 42 seconds to make the final, and potentially something close to 41.5 seconds to win the event. 

The 4x200 will be equally compelling, with many of the same quartets returning to match up. Morton has the second-best seed time from sectionals, and a surprising team to keep an eye on might be Richmond Burton, who ran 1:29 low at sectionals. 

The 4x400 should be outstanding from a few different angles. Sycamore flexed their muscles running 3:20 at their home sectional. Such a time was needed to hold off Aurora Central Catholic, anchored by 400 state leader Patrick Hilby (Sr.). The Chargers will never be out of the race with him on the relay, so watch for Sycamore to work to build up another big lead to protect themselves. East St. Louis and Cahokia always position themselves to be competitive in this event, so even though their 3:23 season bests don't suggest a sub-3:20 is coming this weekend, don't be misled. Sterling is another team to watch, as they have also gone 3:23 this season. 

Patrick Hilby's Chase of Titles, for Self and Team

The 2024 indoor national and reigning outdoor champion in the 800m is ready for a fantastic state championship. Hilby is entered in the 4x800, 4x400, the 800, and the 400. He has spent the last month sharpening his speed for the long sprint and will be ready for any obstacle that stands in his way. The 47.54 he laced the track with at the Sycamore Sectional is a state-leading mark.

Hilby is the prohibitive favorite in the 800 -the only question is whether he chases after the 26-year-old all-time state meet record (1:49.71) by Jason Van Swol of Lincoln-Way. of 1:49.71. He already has the 2A state meet record, and there seems to be nothing to prove in terms of records. It will be a short rest back to the 400, but he remains the favorite.

Can Hilby and his team win the 4x800 and 4x400? The 4x800 has been formidable even without Hilby this season, running 8:06 at the sectional. They will likely need him for a chance at the podium, and even with him, it will be tough to take down the classification leader Morton (7:51) and Benton, who ran 7:53 with Gavin Genisio anchoring that relay. The 4x400 has been mentioned already, with Sycamore as the heavy favorite in 3:20. This will be Hilby's final race for his team in Illinois before a postseason and heading off to the University of Wisconsin. What does he have in store? 

Absence of Top Sprint Returners Make Room for New Blood in Sprints

As the top returner on the leaderboards in the 100 and the 200, Chris Nelson (Jr., Herrin) looked primed to establish himself as the king of sprints in 2A and do so to make a trophy run with his team in the relays as well. However, the season did not come together quite in time for Nelson, who will appear in the state just in the long jump and in the 4x100 with Herrin. This makes the 100 a wide-open event.

Karmelo Abernathy (Sr., Murphysboro) popped up in a big way at the sectional meet, running 10.69 and 21.78 to give himself lane 5 in both prelims. Harley Rizzs (Jr., St. Laurence) has been the best of an outstanding sprint bunch out of Burbank and is a contender in both sprints.

The aforementioned Feldt and Wyzard are contenders and responsible for scoring points for a state title on their plates. Matthew Brooks (Sr., North Chicago) has also figured it out as late and is the state leader in the 200 after a big double win at the Ridgewood sectional. Finally, Rasheed Johnson (Sr., Rockford Boylan Catholic) is the top returner in the 100 from the state meet last year and has a good shot at titles in either sprint. The picture will become a little clearer after the Friday prelims, but until then, it's anyone's guess!

Hogan, Nalley, and Genisio Clash one last time in 1600

With Hilby opting for the 400 instead of the 1600 at state, familiar foes will face off again in the latter event. The favorite must be defending champion Gavin Genisio (Sr., Benton), who missed Wilson Georges' state meet record last year. Genisio also made a team-centric decision to add the 4x800 to his plate so that he will participate in an event win chase in that relay. On his heels are rivals Dylon Nalley (Sr., Marion), the unquestioned favorite in the 3200, and Ethan Hogan (Sr., Columbia), who has had a windy road to this point in his season. These three have already raced this postseason, with Genisio, Hogan, and Nalley finishing in that order at sectionals. Hogan chose to scratch the 3200 to run a fresh 1600 after an injury-riddled year has plagued the competition schedule for the North Carolina commit. Nalley had already run a 9:00 3200 earlier in the day. Even with the extra race, Genisio remains the favorite, but what will happen with this final matchup between these talented contemporaries?

Don't discount a host of other runners, including Dale Johnson (Sr., Sterling), Nalley's teammate Mekye Lomax (Sr.), Genisio's teammate Gabriel McLain (Sr.), Taylorville's Owen Morgan, and St. Joseph-Ogden's Carson Maroon