Quantity could be the deciding factor this weekend in the 3A state meet at O’Brien Field. With the weather supposed to be oppressively hot, it will come down to the schools that are deep to get the state championship. There is some good quality in this field with any number of five schools in the hunt to replace Lake Park as the state champion. The question will be whether or not Lake Park will be replaced? They bring into the meet 12 qualifiers that could bring the top trophy back to Roselle.
Here is a look what to watch for in the team battles this Friday and Saturday. The schools are listed by number of total qualifiers with the highest number going first.
Oak Park-River Forest
Qualifiers: 13 Individuals, 4 Relays – 17 Total
Outlook: The Huskies have gone after three goals this season. In the last two weeks, they have accomplished two of them by winning conference and sectional titles. Now on to goal #3: the state title. This team put themselves in a good position by qualifying 17 to Charleston. Some of you may say the numbers are high because of the sectional they were in. There is quality within those numbers.
Carl Heinz is the defending champion in the high Jump and will look to go after another on Saturday. He could also score in the Triple Jump. Malachy Schrobilgen is one of the elite distance runners in the state. He will be out for a championship in either the 3200 or 1600. Evan Fisher could score some major points in the 800 and will be a part of a couple of their relays.
The short sprint relays are comprised of all underclassmen. How will they stand up to the state meet pressure? They have looked good so far. Coach Tim Hasso’s team has been pointing for this moment. If they come out of Friday with 9 qualifiers to Saturday, this team will be in great shape to win a championship.
Qualifiers: 11 Individuals, 4 Relays – 15 Total
Outlook: Don Helberg’s team was not in the team title discussion at the beginning of the year. In the last 3 weeks, this team has emerged as one of the elite squads in the state. Last Friday at Wheaton-Warrenville South, they backed up that claim qualifying 15 to Charleston.
The Falcons can score in many ways. They will get points in both the weight events from Christian Hollinger and Mac Spaulding. Zach Gordon popped a Long Jump that is longest in the state. He will look to go after the title this weekend. Gordon also could score points in the 200 Meter Dash and will be part of their 4 x1 and 4x2 relays.
Wheaton North could get points from Brett Kohler in the 300 Intermediates. The same can be said from Aidan Askin in the 1600. This squad could be towards the top if they can get 3 of their relays to Saturday. This is a team with deceptively good quality. They could show that this weekend.
Roselle Lake Park
Qualifiers: 10 Individuals, 2 Relays – 12 Total
Outlook: Those of you that are saying “Here we go again with Lake Park and their field events”…stop it! Last year the Lancers did it scoring points with basically three athletes. This year is a different team. And this squad could repeat through the field events, but it will be totally different than last year. At the Wheaton-Warrenville South Sectional, they qualified both of their individuals in 5 out of the 6 field events. Shot Put was the only event they did not get through. There is more depth on this team than last year and it could show this weekend.
Scott Filip has qualified in three events. He could place high in both horizontal jump events. It would be a bonus if he scored in the High Jump. Kevin Spejcher has been on the last couple of weeks. He won the IPTT Indoor State championship. He would like to get the one that has eluded him the last couple of years.
Shawn Koch enters the Triple Jump with the longest effort in 3A. He could score big points in this event. Marcus Jegede will be a favorite in the Long Jump. The talented sophomore was also anchor their 4 x 1 relay. The Lancers could get points in the Pole Vault from either Derrick Smith or Tim Ehrhardt.
Lake Park qualified 2 relays as well. Both the 4x8 and the 4x1 could make it to the Saturday finals. Coach Jay Ivory is smiling because the majority of the squad that qualified for the state meet are underclassmen. They are a young and talented squad that could bring back another championship trophy.
Qualifiers: 9 Individuals, 2 Relays – 11 Total
Outlook: The Tigers have the parts to stop Lake Park’s title express. They qualified 11 from the ultra tough Belleville West sectional last Friday. They will combine speed and strength to go after the state title and duplicate what the girl’s team did one week prior.
It may have been a blessing in disguise that star sprinter Cameron James hurt his hamstring during the indoor season. It gave Bennett Gray a chance to step into the sprint spotlight. The junior has the second fastest time in the 100 and could be one of the favorites. James also qualified in the 100. Put those two sprinters together and you have a dangerous 1-2 punch. That showed in the 4x1 where the Tigers have the fastest time in the state.
Edwardsville is strong in the field events. So much that it may neutralize Lake Park’s strength. Josh White will be one of the favorites in the Triple Jump. Tom Schuette will score some good points in the Pole Vault. Julian Harvey could get some bonus points in the High Jump. Vincent Valentine has been the big surprise for coach Chad Lakatos in the Shot Put. This is Valentine’s first year in the event, yet he will be one of the favorites.
Garrett Sweatt opted out of the 3200 /1600 double due to a sore knee. He will only run the 3200, but will be a big threat to win it.
Edwardsville will know where they stand after the 4 x 2 when they are done competing for the day. It will be a sit and wait proposition for them. But the waiting is the hardest part and the waiting could get them a state trophy.
Qualifiers: 9 Individuals, 2 Relays – 11 Total
Outlook: Last year the Wildcats tied for third place in the team race due to the strength of Timothy Faust who won the 100 & 200. It could have been higher if it were not for a phantom dq in the 4x2. The makeup of this year’s Thornton team is different where it does not rely on one individual for points. It is more of a well rounded team that could surprise.
Jonathan Anderson has the possibility of scoring points in both of the hurdle races. Demetri Smith has taken over the role that Timothy Faust had in 2011 and will be a factor in both the 100 & 200.
Thomas Taylor will compete in both the Long and Triple Jump. He could score some big points in both those events. Thornton has 2 good sprint relays. Both could place high even win on Saturday.
There is not much room for mistakes from this team this weekend. But it is a team that has flown under the radar most of the season and could come away with a trophy on Saturday.
Qualifiers: 9 Individuals, 1 Relay – 10 Total
Outlook: This is not your typical York state meet team where they will score points in either the relays or the distance events. This Duke team is powered by a couple of field events that if they score high in them, York could sneak away with a trophy.
Nick Sgarbossa and Shawn John have been towards the top of the boards in the Pole Vault most of the season. Sgarbossa has the highest clearance in the event (16-0) and will be the favorite. They will need big points in this event. Paul Golen has qualified in both the Shot and Discus. He could score big points in the Discus. He needs to find the consistency that he had indoors to score high in the Shot Put. The big surprise in the field events for York could be High Jumper Adam Kosecki. Two weeks ago, his PR was 5-11. It is now 6-5 and he could sneak in a couple of points.
York will have its normal entrants in the distances and could get a couple of points from either Chris May & Billy Clink in the 1600 or Nathan Mroz in the 3200. The Dukes do have a 4x8 relay that qualified. Hard to say if they will make it to Saturday. They have the talent but whether they will run to the potential or run scared will be the big question. It could score points that this team could use to get into the top 3 by the end of the day.
Naperville Neuqua Valley
Qualifiers: 6 Individuals, 3 Relays – 9 Total
Outlook: Not much wiggle room for errors for the Wildcats if they want to place in the top 3 at state. Neuqua will score big points in the 3200 with Mark Derrick and Taylor Soltys. Derrick could even get points in the 1600. Their 4 x 8 is the big story for this team. The quartet ran 7:52 last week at Naperville North. It has the potential to run faster this weekend and place high.
Jacob Bender tweaked his hamstring towards the end of the 400 last week at sectionals. He still placed second and has the second fastest sectional time in the state. He has had all week to rest. He will be the man to watch in that event and will score big points. Bender will also be part of the 4x1 that could make the finals and score bonus points.
Andrew Peterson vaulted to a PR last week. He could score some points in the Pole Vault. Carlos Varela-Hernandez is another athlete that could score points in the Discus.
Qualifiers: 5 Individuals, 4 Relays – 9 Total
Outlook: This team is running with a heavy heart with the passing of long time Coach Willie May last month. This team used the same formula that Coach May used in the past in putting emphasis on teamwork within the relays. All 4 relays could score on Saturday putting them in shape to score some major points. The 4x 4 surprised by running 3:20 last Thursday and will be in the mix for the crown.
Xavier Levy has not been in the spotlight in the 100 & 200 Meter Dashes. He could score in both of those. Adonis Jones and Demonte Hill are entered in the Triple Jump and Long Jump respectively. It would be bonus points for the Wildkits if either could score in those.
Aurora Waubonsie Valley
Qualifiers: 6 Individuals, 2 Relays – 8 Total
Outlook: Kevin Rafferty’s team has been overshadowed most of the season by Lake Park and Neuqua Valley within their conference. Now with state meet this weekend, the Warriors have enough quality in their qualifiers that they could place in the top 3.
Waubonsie have two qualifiers in both the Shot and Discus with Riley Kittridge and Jamal Bearden. Both weight men have the potential to score big points in both events. James Travis was a surprise qualifier in the Triple Jump. If this sophomore scores in the event this weekend, it would be a bonus.
Kyle Schafer has been among the elite in the 300 Intermediates all season. He gets his chance to score big points as he will be one of the favorites. He is also a part of a 4x4 relay that has been towards the top of the leaderboard all season. They will be in the top 3 in this event on Saturday.
Qualifiers: 7 Individuals, 1 Relay – 8 Total
Outlook: Could be among the top at the end of the meet, but the Panthers will need no mistakes. O’Fallon could score some big points in the 1600 Meter Run with Alex Riba and Patrick Perrier. O’Fallon could score points in the 4x8 if either two of these guys run. At this time, it looks doubtful that either will on Friday. If the relay makes it to Saturday, we may see both.
O’Fallon could get some points in the Pole Vault with Jack Klopfenstein. Senior Discus thrower Nick Barrett is among the top 5 sectional performances in that event. He could go higher this weekend.
Chris Wiggins is peaking at the right time in the 100 meter Dash. He could score some points there as well.
Qualifiers: 5 Individuals, 3 Relays – 8 Total
Outlook: With only 8 qualifiers, this team does not have much room for mistakes. But the quality that they have is strong and could be in the mix for a trophy on Saturday. Their 4 x 4 relay has been tough all season. It will be in the hunt for a top finish on Saturday if they can stay away from the mishaps that haunted them in the indoor season.
Minooka’s 4x8 relay is back to defend the title that they won last year. It could. They have great senior leadership in Dan Popek and Joey Santillo. Popek also qualified in the 800 and could place in the top 5 in that race. Look for points from Ethan Cane as well in the Long Jump.
Qualifiers: 3 Individuals, 4 Relays – 7 Total
Outlook: Not much room for mistakes for the Maroons, but Patton Seagraves came into this meet last year in the same position and left with a top 3 finish.
All 4 relays are quality relays. The sprint relays at Belleville West have the tradition of stepping up big at the state meet. Don’t expect anything less than that. Do not be surprised if they win all three. The 4x8 relay is rated 20th on the leaderboard and could get bonus points if they make the finals.
Jamion Nash will need a good meet to place in the Triple Jump. Taron Johnson could get bonus points in the Shot Put.