Aaliyah Brown and mates ready to show power at Proviso East Invite

By Tony Jones- anthony.jones@espn.com

Fans attending the 2nd Annual Proviso East Lady Pirates Invitational had better get a good and lasting snapshot of Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort, Ill) junior superstar Aaliyah Brown. It may very well be that she will be competing in the New Balance Indoor National Championships in New York City next year at this time.

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) recently amended several guidelines that will allow track and field athletes who meet qualifications to compete in USA Track & Field (USATF) sanctioned events.

There is a feeling in the air as Brown emerges as the top prep sprinter in 2013, it’s only right that she is afforded the same opportunities and spoils that many of her contemporaries around the country are enjoying.

As for Illinois’ premier all girls invitational, it should be a dandy as some of the state’s best sprinters and athletes who will be competing on the fast Mondo X flat track inside of the Proviso West HS field house on Saturday.

Here is a slice of what fans should look for:

Sprints galore-

Everyone knows the incomparable Brown will not have a challenger in any event she chooses to contest; Brown hasn’t contested a 55 that is eligible yet (marks under 400 must be FAT) but she still sits at US#4 for 60 (7.42). The question that most pundits will ask is: ‘will anyone be able to stay with Aaliyah?’ The answer will probably be NO but it doesn’t mean the competition will be subpar.

For starters, the 55 dash is stocked with talent as all-state speedsters like Plainfield North (Plainfield, Ill) senior Cessily Jones, E. St. Louis Sr. (E. St. Louis, Ill) sophomore Daria Walker, Springfield Southeast (Springfield, Ill) junior Charday Crawford, E. St. Louis Sr. (E. St. Louis, Ill), Seton Academy (South Holland, Ill) senior Dejanae Terry, and Naperville North (Naperville, Ill) sophomore Alexis Hyshaw. At any rate the short dash will be exciting and guaranteed to keep the fans out of their seats.

The field for the 200 is virtually the same as the 55 and will more than likely yield the same results: Brown running very fast and chasing records.

Shamier Little takes front stage-

There is no chance that Shamier Little is going to take a back seat to Aaliyah Brown. Little, a junior who is from tiny Lindblom College Prep High School on the south side of Chicago, made a name for herself in last summer’s AAU 400H final running US#2 57.83- that swift time just barely missed the US Olympic Trials “B” standard of 57.80.

So far this season, Little has produced two IL#2 marks: 8.28/55HH and blazed 57.25/400

Little is also a candidate to win a state team title in Class 2A by herself if she can pass the test of running and performing marvelously in four events- the maximum for an individual- at the state meet. Little will only contest the hurdles and long sprint at the Pirate Invite. It’s ironic that the team she is chasing is Springfield Southeast. The Lady Spartans are the 2A two-time defending state champions.

Team power surge-

High school track and field is vastly different that its counterpart on the collegiate side because of one fundamental thing: scoring. High school coaches and kids love team trophies at the end of the day for their efforts.

There will be several teams to watch vying for two trophies. E. St. Louis Sr., Springfield Southeast, Frankfort Lincoln-Way East, Downers Grove South, and Homewood-Flossmoor are the teams that should walk away with the hardware.

E. St. Louis is the defending 3A state champion with nearly everyone back. But don’t expect head coach Nino Fenoy to try and overpower the competition. The legendary coach will more than likely use this meet to move his best athletes in their off events. It’s hard to say what the relay line ups will be for the Flyerettes until the girls actually get on the track. Senior leader Joymesia Howard will be in her top events: 55HH and long jump- but that’s the only guarantee.

Lincoln-Way East opened their invitational season last weekend at Argo by winning it convincingly. But the Griffins really made a team statement at the Downers Grove South Mustang relays with two outstanding performances in the 4x2r and 4x4r- both are among the very best in the state. They showed that can roll hard with more than Brown as their franchise leader. Look for names like Nicole Nepote in the 800, Kaley McLawhorn- 1600, Collette Theodour- LJ, and freshman standout Julia Junkrowski-HJ- to show the rest of the state how good they can be.

Springfield Southeast will have a say in the final team scores because they are that good. The two-time 2A champions have stayed on top because of their ability to reload and restock every season. Now that the steady Alexandria Harden has moved on to college, it will be a little more difficult in finding guaranteed points. The Spartans will look to hold over Charday Crawford. Crawford earned all-state honors in two relays and one individual event last year. She will be the cornerstone that coach Thomas McBride and his staff will rely on.