Here is a glimpse of what to watch this spring in the field events in Class 1A:
Three all state jumpers return to this event. Alex Baumgarten of Strasburg (Stewardson-Strausburg HS) finished 2nd last year at the state meet and returns as the highest placer. However, he does not have the longest returning jump. That honor belongs to Myles Ketelson of Flora (Flora HS) who jumped 22’ 2” during the season. Should be a good battle between these two quality jumpers.
Let us not discount the other two jumpers that placed at last year’s state meet. Keep an eye on Malik Williams of Champaign (Judah Christian HS) who finished 6th, and Devin Johnson of Erie (Erie-Prophetstown HS) who finished 9th.
Other jumpers to keep an eye on include Tyler Young of Virden (North Mac HS), Jake Keown of Shelbyville (Shelbyville HS), and Kyle Landon of Chester (Chester HS).
This could be a wide open event in 1A this year with only two jumpers that return that are all-state. That also means that there is an opportunity for plenty of jumpers to step up.
Alex Walter of Camp Point (Central HS) placed 3rd last year at the state meet to be the highest placing returner. He also has the longest returning jump. Close behind is junior Tay Shanklin of Winnebago (Winnebago HS), who placed 7th last year.
After these two jumpers, there is a 2 foot gap. However, watch for Heath Byom of Knoxville (Knoxville HS), Matt McDonald of Dupo (Dupo HS), and Russell Michelich of Auburn (Auburn HS).
Perhaps the most competitive of all the field events in 1A. 5 jumpers return that attained all state status. The good thing is that the top 3 return. The better this is that those 3 are all juniors. So the next two years in the high jump in this class should be fun fun fun.
The two athletes to keep a close watch on are Oumaru Abdulahi of Mooseheart (Mooseheart HS) and Kyle Landon of Chester (Chester HS). Landon had the highest clearance last year with a jump of 6’ 10”. However, it was Abdulahi who bested Landon at the state meet. Both are great sportsmen and great athletes. We could see both of them flirting with 7’ this spring.
Do not discount Bill Weissinger of Hinckley (Hinckley-Big Rock HS). He finished 3rd last spring. He should be in the mix with Landon and Abdulahi for the state championship in 2012.
Also keep an eye on Matt Mueller of Mt. Olive (Mt. Olive HS) and Kolten Postin of Moweaqua (Central A&M HS) to challenge for a top 3 finish.
Mitch Mammoser of Newton (Newton HS) is the defending champion in the Pole Vault and will enter the season as the huge favorite. It would have been interesting if Tyler Ginger of Stanford (Olympia HS), who placed 2nd place last year, was in this event. However, Olympia HS is now 2A.
There is a 15 inch gap between Mammoser and the rest of the field. His teammate, Sophomore Brandon Tolliver-Goode finished 8th last year and could be his chief competition.
Other vaulters that will push the two Newton vaulters include Haeden Sweetin of DuQuoin (DuQuoin HS), Dalton Plumer of Rushville (Rushville-Industry HS), Austin McCourt of Oregon (Oregon HS), and Josh Blome of Casey (Casey-Westfield HS).
Just like the Pole Vault, this event could be as competitive. 3 athletes return that are all-state. Ryan Pearce of Villa Grove (Villa Grove HS) is the highest finisher returning. He placed 4th last year. His best put of the year is over 2 feet behind that of Adam Weidner of Manlius (Bureau Valley HS), who finished 5th. Some of that had to do with the poor conditions on prelims day a year ago. Look for a competition between these 2 this year.
O’Shay Smith of Lena (Lena-Winslow HS) finished 6th last year and is the other returning all-stater. Look for big things from him this spring. Also keep an eye on Heath Frevert of Glasford (Illini Bluffs HS) and Ben Smith of Cambridge (Cambridge HS) in this event.
After horrible conditions in the prelims where they could not move this event indoors like most of the field events, Caleb Fricke of Petersburg (PORTA HS) responded with a huge throw in the finals. Still was not enough to catch the state champ Andrew Ellison of Lebanon (Lebanon HS), but it was a great effort. Fricke enters this year as the big favorite in this event. His throw is close to 20 feet better than the next closest athlete Ryan Pearce of Villa Grove (Villa Grove HS), who finished 6th last year.
Other throwers to watch include Adam Weidner of Manlius (Bureau Valley HS), Gabe Manning of Williamsville (Williamsville HS), and Michael Jack of Winnebago (Winnebago HS).
comments? e-mail Michael Newman newman.dyestatIL@gmail.com