It is hard to distinguish which relays teams will be great in May when we are only in February. So many decisions by coaches. So many different lineups to try. So in this preview, we will try to give you an idea of the schools to watch for in each of the 4 relays.
4 x 800m Relay
Last year, Minooka HS stormed to victory in this event with the incredible 1:51 anchor by Joe McAsey. This year it is anyone’s ball game. There are a number of schools that could take first, but I do not think we will be able to weed out the teams until the beginning of May.
One school that I think may surprise everyone is traditional relay power East St. Louis (Senior HS). Last year, the Flyers only ran 7:54 but all of their runners were underclassmen. In a year where none of the schools stand out, this team may be the favorite. They are led by Johnny Moore, a 1:55 800 runner, and Devonte Hamilton. Southwest Conference rival O’Fallon is another team to watch. They have two strong runners in all state cross country runners Alex Riba and Patrick Perrier. Distance Coach Jon Burnett has a good nucleus to choose from for the other two spots.
Defending champ Minooka HS should still be watched. They have 2 good returnees in Joey Santillo and Dan Popek. Like O’Fallon, there is a good nucleus that Coach Nick Lundin has to choose from.
Mt. Prospect (Prospect HS) is one of those traditional powers in this event that always seems to have a team towards the front . This season, Josh Campos and Mike Thill wll be the runners that lead the Knights. The same thing applies for Elmhurst (York HS). The Dukes lost all of their runners from last year’s 4th place team, but have a young nucleus led by Matt Parks and Eric Glaubke.
A surprise team could be Chicago (Lane Tech HS). Led by David Timlin, the Indians could build off of their state meet appearance in the fall. Keep a close eye on the 3 2A schools that moved up. Belvidere (NorthHS) won the 2A title last year. They have a powerful nucleus led by Will Crocker and Garrett Lee. Yorkville finished just behind North last year. They will challenge in 3A with a good group led by Jake Callahan. Springfield HS could challenge also depending if 2A state champ Michael Simon is included in the relay.
Other schools to watch in this event include Naperville (Neuqua Valley HS), Aurora (West HS), Palatine HS, Winnetka (New Trier HS), and Hoffman Estates (Conant HS).
4 x 100m Relay
Belleville (West HS) is the defending champ in this event. Do not be surprised if they repeat this year. Two veteran relay runners, Raymond Scott and Jeremy Randolph, lead the way for Coach Patton Seagraves. There is some good young talent waiting in the wings ready to add to the Maroons’ legacy.
There are two schools that I would keep a close watch on. The first would be Plainfield (North HS). Coach Anthony Holler has all 4 runners returning from his team that placed 7th last year. Marquis Flowers and Quest Young are two of the leaders in this quartet. The only school to watch is Skokie (Niles West HS). Two years ago, West won this event and last year they placed 2nd. They would like to get the title that Belleville West won from them last year.
Other schools to watch include Wheaton (North HS), East Moline (United Township HS), Edwardsville HS, Plainfield (South HS), Elmhurst (York HS), Naperville (Neuqua Valley HS), and Peoria (Richwoods HS).
4 x 200m Relay
Belleville (West HS) finished 3rd last year but could be the favorite in this event. Just like in the 4x1, Raymond Scott will power a young but fast team. The defending champ Harvey (Thornton HS) loses double state champion Timothy Faust, but they still have talent that could capture a top 5 finish led by Jalen Banks.
Plainfield (North HS) will be the team to watch again in this event. They placed 4th last year and will look for a championship this season. Other schools to watch include Joliet (West HS), Wheaton (North HS), East Moline (United Township HS), Skokie (Niles West HS), Evanston (Evanston Township HS), Edwardsville HS, and Rock Island HS.
4 x 400m Relay
It will be hard to duplicate last year’s finish. Plainfield (South HS) won in the last meters from a somersault from anchor man Sheldon Magee. South does have 2 great 400 meter runners in Steven Harris and Mitch Wolff that will look to defend their championship.
Cross town rival Plainfield (North HS) could be their chief challenger. 48 second 400 runner Quest Young could lead this quartet to a championship.
Let us not forget about Belleville (West HS). They were 2nd last year and could capture the title led by Jeremy Randolph.
Other schools to watch in this event include Minooka HS, Lake Zurich HS, Naperville (Neuqua Valley HS), East St. Louis (Senior HS), Wheaton (North HS), and Elmhurst (York HS).
Comments / Questions? Contact Michael Newman > newman.dyestatIL@gmail.com