Normal West Invite: Edwardsville stars Sweatt, James produce top marks

Coverage of the Normal West Wildcat Invite

Fri., Feb. 24, 2012 -- Normal, IL

LINKS: Full Results | DyeStat Elites



  • B-3200: Edwardsville sr Garrett Sweatt rolled a IL#1 / US#2 9:07.25, topping MacArthur sr Michael Clevenger 9:19.75.

  • B-55/4X200: Edwardsville sr Cameron James blasted a IL#1 / US#12 6.40, then had a 22.5 leg on his team's winning IL#1 1:31.46.

  • B-PV: Eric Gordon of Community West (Normal, Ill) sets a meet record of 15' 0".


Normal West Invitational Recap

The feel on the inside of the Shirk Center for the Normal West Wildcat Invitational was that of an early season meet. But the first final of the evening, the 3200 Meter Run, felt more like the state final.

Garrett Sweatt and Michael Clevenger made sure of that.

Both runners went by the 1600 in a quick 4:35, but it was Sweatt, the Edwardsville senior, that pulled away in the last 1200 meters to win in a then US#2 time of 9:07.25.

It is a great time, a great performance. But considering that this is Sweatt's first indoor race of the season, the race was even more impressive. The future looks bright for the runner that has a state championship in his sight.

"We have been doing a lot of long strength work so far this year," said Sweatt after his race. "I responded well to that in cross and I ran my PR off of just strength and I did today as well. Training has just gone well. I've felt relaxed."

"I remembered that Clevenger had a great kick," he continued. "So my coach and I decided to make a move with 7 to 8 laps to go. I wish I was a little faster in the middle, but I have 3 months to work on that."

For Clevenger, this was a race that he left happy with. "Me and my coach thought that my race would be around 9:20. I am happy with my performance. I did not think we were going to run that past. When we went by the mile in 4:35, I thought whew, it was faster than I expected."

Sweatt's goal at the beginning of the cross country season was a state championship. He finished 4th last fall at the state meet. His goals remain resolute: a state championship. At the same time, he would also like to get one for his team.

"I'm definitely going to run both races (1600 & 3200) unless something happens. I definitely want to help my team and bring home a trophy."

Part of Edwardsville success will come from the swift feet of sprinter Cameron James. He showed on Friday that he could be the sprinter to beat this May. In the prelims, Johnathan Boey of Decatur MacArthur zipped to a state leading 6.44 55 meter dash while James ran 6.58. There was a determined look in James' eyes as he left the blocks wanting to make sure it was not a repeat performance of the prelims. He surged at about 25 meters and won with a convincing 6.40, #12 US so far this year.

That was not all for the Edwardsville senior. He led off for the Tigers in 4 x 200 Meter Relay. He gave his squad a commanding lead with a 22.5 lead off split. It put Edwardsville in command early in the race and gave them a lead that they did not give up. The time of 1:31.46 is a best time in Illinois so far this year.

Host Normal West had a pair of winners, both in the field events. Senior Eric Gordon cleared 15' 0" on his second attempt to win the Pole Vault and set a new meet record. He made good 3 attempts at 15' 6". A look of things ahead for this Wildcat.

The other winner for the host school was in the Shot Put. Sophomore Kyrin Tucker just started participating this year in track after spending the winter in wrestling where he qualified for the state meet. The 6' 7", 280 lb athletic found himself behind Peoria Richwoods' Tyler Brown going into his final put. Tucker responded with a 52' 7" winning put.

Cahokia athletes had a successful meet. Trey Story won in the 200 Meter Dash, Marlin Brady won in a photo finish over Homewood-Flossmoor's Josh Nance in the 400 Meter Dash, Chris Moore won the Long Jump, and Antonio Pierce was victorious in the High Jump. Along with the individual accolades, the Comanches picked up a pair of victories in the 4 x 400 Meter Relay and the 4 x 800 Meter Relay.


6th Annual Normal West Wildcat Invitational Preview

It may be the end of February. But on Friday on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington IL, the track at the Shirk Center will have the intensity of the state meet at the end of May.

Some of the top individual athletes will be in attendance for the Wildcat Invitational. There is no team scores kept at this meet. This is more however an opportunity for coaches to access how their teams are developing for the 2012 season. It is also a time for the athletes to see what work they still need to do.

Here is a look at some of the events to watch for this meet. The first race starts at 3:45PM Friday afternoon.

~~ Dynamite 3200 Meter Run ~~

It may be the first race of the day, but it could be the most anticipated race possibly in the indoor season. The 3200 Meter Run has the starpower with two of the top elite distance runners in the state.

Michael Clevengerof MacArthur HS (Decatur, Ill) is the 2 time 2A Cross Country champion and the defending state champion in the 2A 3200 Meter Run. Garrett Sweatt of Edwardsville HS placed 4th last fall in the 3A state meet. Both runners have PR's of 9:09 in this event.

The two raced at the Peoria Invitational last October. In that race, Clevenger moved away in the last 600 meters to win by 4 seconds. Being that this is the first race for both runners this track season, it will be interesting to see what both runners bring to the table.

Meet manager Steve Destri of Normal West HS orginally had one section of this race with 18 runners in it. It has since been changed from one to two sections. With less runners in section 2, it will mean less lapped runners. Even though this race is early in the season, we could see some fast times.

~~ The Relays ~~

As the spotlight will be on the first race of the day, it will still be shining bright as the last event goes off: the 4x400m Relay. There is quality in the last section of this race with defending 2A state champion Cahokia and perennial event power Belleviille West leading the way.

Cahokia ran 3:26 at the University of Arkansas Invitational in January and come into this event with the fastest seed time. With Marlin Brady and Darren Payton leading the way for the Comanches, this team could be flirting with a sub 3:25 time.

Plainfield North will be up to the task of challenging Cahokia with Quest Youngleading the way for North. Belleville Wet, led by Jeremy Randolph will be up to the challenge for contending for the win in this race.

Minooka, Edwardsville, and Springfield fill out the final section and will be in contention with the 3 above mentioned squads.

~~ The Field ~~

There is good quality in all 5 of the field events. We will see some good performances in this meet.

Keep an eye on the Pole Vault. Hometown vaulter Eric Gordon of Normal Community West HS has already cleared 15-4 this winter and is itching to go higher in this meet. He will have some good vaulters pushing him higher led by Tom Schuette of Edwardsville and Cirron Clarkof Danville.

In the Triple Jump, watch for Aaron Perry of Richwoods (Peoria, Ill). He placed last year at the state meet while competing for Mt. Zion HS. His family moved during the summer. He will be a force this year in 3A for this Peoria school.

Chris Moore of Cahokia has stunned many in this event this winter by jumping 45'5 3/4" at a meet in Missouri at the end of January. His previous best was around 41' ! Should be a good competition.

~~ The Sprints ~~

The 55 Meter Dash should be sizzling. Cameron James of Edwardsville has ran 6.96 for 60 Meters in January. That time is equivelent to 6.38 for this event. The all state performer in the 100 meters last spring will be the focus in this event.

However, he will have company. Keep a close eye on the Richwoods (Peoria, Ill) duo of Mikail Davisand Kendrick Foster, Joey Giovannelli of Glenwood (Chatham, Ill), Johnathan Boey of MacArthur (Decatur, Ill), Marquis Flowers of North (Plainfield, Ill), and Trey Story of Cahokia. This field is loaded. We could see someone popping up that was not mentioned here that could surprise.

The 400 Meter Dash should be tight with Quest Youngof North (Plainfield, Ill) and Marlin Brady of Cahokia as the favorites.

Watch for Clayton Glasperof Richwoods (Peoria, Ill) in this event. He ran 14.1 in the 110 HH last spring finishing 2nd in the 2A state meet and should be the favorite in this event.

To preview the Normal West Wildcat Invitational heat sheets, click here.