Here is what to keep an eye on in the 3 distance races for this upcoming season in Class 1A
3200 Meter Run
It came down to a last lap kick for Henry Arndt of Westmont (Westmont HS) to move by Steve Schroeder of Monticello (Monticello HS) in the last 100 meters to win the state championship in this event. It has pushed Schroeder to bigger things in this past cross country season. After an earlier season defeat to Grant Nykaza of Beecher (Beecher HS) in September, Schroeder responded with a convincing 9 second win at the state cross country meet in November. I would imagine Schroeder still has that image of last May in his mind and would like to exorcise it.
Schroeder comes into this year with the fastest returning time by over 10 seconds to the time of Jesse Hahne of Danville (Schlarman HS).
After the state cross country meet, Nykaza shocked with his second place finish was thinking out loud about racing in the 3200 Meter Run this spring. Last year, Nykaza was a part of his team’s winning 4 x 800 relay and then in the 1600 Meter Run. With parts not being there for Beecher in that relay, we could see Nykaza running in this race at state in May.
This could be a tough field and we could see some quick times at state in this event. Also keep a close watch on Scott Woodard of Tolono (Unity HS), Cole Dill and Connor Ehnle of Tremont (Tremont HS), and Cameron Harvey of Sullivan (Sullivan HS).
800 Meter Run
This race is always effected by the runners that doubling back after running the 4 x 8 relay earlier in the day. Last year’s rushing of the time schedule took out some of the runners who could have factored into the outcome.
The 800 in 1A will be a tight affair between Zeke Elkins of St. Joseph (St. Joseph-Ogden HS) and Eric Leonard of Niantic (Sangamon Valley HS). Leonard placed 2nd last year behind Josh Jones of Herscher (Herscher HS). In that race, Leonard ran a 3 second PR showing that he is capable of going much faster this spring. Elkins will be the chief competition for Leonard. Most likely coming off of the 4 x 8 relay, the senior showed he has the strength this past fall by finishing 15th at the state cross country meet. Last year, Elkins anchored his team to a second place finish and came back to finish 4th in this event.
Britt Henderson of Chicago (Latin HS) was on the outside looking in at last year’s state meet. He finished 14th in the preliminaries missing the finals by 6 tenths of a second. He ran a 1:56.97 at the Lisle Sectional last year. He has the talent to compete with the above mentioned.
There are a group of runners that will be in the mix. Keep an eye on Lance Curtis of Bushnell (Bushnell Prairie City HS) who made the finals last year and finished 11th, Blake Hale of Robinson (Robinson HS), Dakota Conrad of Auburn (Auburn HS), Nick Jones of Oregon (Oregon HS), and Kendall Eckert of Tolono (Unity HS).
The record in this class is 1:51.22 of Peter Callahan of Winnetka (North Shore-Country Day HS) in 2009. Both Elkins and Leonard have the talent to get close to this.
1600 Meter Run
Last fall was a breakout season for Beecher’s Grant Nykaza. Even though he did not win the state meet in cross country, he did make his mark by posting some fast times and did qualify for the Foot Locker National Meet. Big step for this junior. We could see some bigger steps in this event this spring from him. He has the fastest returning time in the 1600 by almost 3 seconds. You expect this junior to double.
Should be a good pack after Nykaza. Steve Schroeder of Monticello (Monticello HS) has the XC championship under his belt, but would like to add some more honors to that. He ran 4:27.03 last year. Expect that time to drop this spring.
Other runner to watch include Jon Hill and Wes Bradshaw of Sparta (Sparta HS), Luke Zocher of Monticello (Monticello HS), Matt Vermeersch of Pleasant Plains (Pleasant Plains HS), Brock Snarski of Macon (Meridian HS), and Andy Arenz of Auburn (Auburn HS).
Comments: please e-mail Michael Newman : newman.dyestatIL@gmail.com