Here is a glimpse of what to look for in the distances races for 2A in 2012:
3200 Meter Run
The question will be this spring will be whether or not there is any runner in 2A that can beat Michael Clevenger of Decatur (MacArthur HS). After all, he is only the defending champion in this race along with being the defending 2 time 2A state cross country champion. He had a great post season in cross qualifying for both the Foot Locker and Nike National Meets. He capped off his cross country season by being named the Gatorade Boys Cross Country of the Year for Illinois. A well deserved honor for this young man.
I think this race could have been closer. But with Troy Yunk running in 3A this spring, it could change the strategy. I am sure Clevenger will go for some fast times during the season. Decatur MacArthur may have a shot at getting a team trophy so we could see a double from him and a scenario similar to last year with York’s Jack Driggs: just go for the points.
Clevenger ran 9:09 last year and has the fastest returning time by 16 seconds. The next in line is Luke Zygmunt of Grayslake (Central HS). Last year, Zygmunt just ran the 1600. If he is in this race, it could be interesting. 3 other all staters in this race return. Marc Maton of Chatham (Glenwood HS) did not have the best state meet in cross country last fall. He was 5th last year as a sophomore. He has the talent to be in the top 3. Jamison Dale of Chicago (Jones College Prep HS) and Joe Fritzsche of Mt. Zion HS are the other two returnees. Both have improved. Both will have an impact in this race.
Other runners to watch include K.J. Matuszak of Mundelein (Carmel HS) who was all state in Cross Country, Jake Brown of Mt. Zion HS who finished 3rd in 1A cross, Ethan Adfinger of Rock Island (Alleman HS), Will Brewster of Grayslake (Central HS), Joe Singleton of Glen Ellyn (Glenbard South HS), Ryan Clardy of Oak Park (Fenwick HS), Wesley Ward of Normal (University HS), and Dylan Hartley of Benton HS.
800 Meter Run
Michael Simon of Springfield HS is the defending champion in this race. However, since Springfield HS is now 3A for track and Belvidere North’s Will Crocker will also be in 3A, this race becomes more wide open.
There are 3 runners returning that are all-state in this event. The only all stater in 2A returning is Clint Kliem of Burlington (Central HS). Kliem finished 7th in the fall and 4th in this event last season. He does not have the fastest returning time. That belongs to Adam Lange, a junior from Galena HS who finished 7th in this event in 1A. The other returnee is Manteno’s Alex Andrewson, who finished 8th in 1A in 2011.
In this event, there are always wild cards with runners that could run other distance events or doubling off of the 4 x 8 relay. That question went through the mind of John Wold of Glen Ellyn (Glenbard South HS) last year. He had quality times in both the 800 and the 1600 last year. He ended up running the 1600. Will it be the same decision this year? The same can be said about Ryan Prais of Lake Villa (Lakes HS). However, he ran both events.
There is a ton of talent in this event making it interesting who will step up. Other runners to keep an eye on include Nathan Allyn of Decatur (MacArthur HS), Grant Inskeep of Peoria (Notre Dame HS), Darren Payton of Cahokia HS, Sam Welbourne of Jerseyville (Jersey HS), Mike Gulik of Burlington (Central HS), Timothy Warren of Chicago (Jones College Prep HS), and Mark Pedziwiatr of New Lenox (Lincoln-Way West).
1600 Meter Run
This could be a great race in this class. 4 all state runners return in this event. Along with that, this event is deep in talent which means so much could happen. So let’s look at the what could happen in May.
The fastest returnee and highest returning placer in this event is Luke Zygmunt of Grayslake (Central HS). He finished 2nd last year right behind Belvidere North’s Paul Zeman. He was having a great cross country season until he injured his shin right before his conference meet, which shelved him for the rest of the season. He won the Peoria Woodruff Invitational in September and would have been in the mix for the individual title at Detweiller in November. I am sure there is a fire burning inside of him wanting a state championship.
Then you have Michael Clevenger of Decatur (MacArthur HS), who finished 3rd last year after winning the 1600. There is always a question of a runner doubling at the state meet. Clevenger showed that he could do it. He also is battle tested and has the heart of a champion. He will be ready for the challenge.
The two other all state returnees are Tyler Morse of Bartonsville (Limestone HS) and Murphy Affolder of Mascoutah HS. Morse finished 6th last year. During the season, Morse was running around 4:28. When it came to the state meet, he dropped his personal best 8 seconds. He runs similar to former state champion Johnny Crain of Dunlap HS who is now at North Central College.
Murphy Affolder is the one runner I believe that is hidden in southern Illinois but could be the big surprise here. He finished 7th in this event last year and had a great cross country season finishing 10th. One runner not to discount.
Other runners to keep an eye on include John Wold of Glen Ellyn (Glenbard South HS) who finished 4th in cross country and 11th here last year. Wold in the prelims last year lost his shoe in the prelims which hampered his final’s race, Riley McInerney of Charleston HS who finished 3rd in cross last fall, Torben Hoffmeyer of Marengo HS, Ryan Prais of Lake Villa (Lake HS), Clint Kliem of Burlington (Central HS), Dylan Harkness of Sterling HS, and Chris Martin of Mascoutah HS.
Comments / Questions? e-mail Michael Newman > newman.dyestatIL@gmail.com