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2,710 Athletes in 2008 IESA Class AA State Track and Field Meet

A total of 2,710 athletes from 235 schools will converge at Corwin Clatt Stadium in the EastSide Centre at East Peoria Friday-Saturday (May 16-17) for the 24th Annual Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) Class AA State Final Track and Field Meet.

IESA began the state series in boys track and field in 1932. This will be the 77th year for the boys. IESA began the state series in girls track and field in 1972. This will be the 37th year for girls. A total of 260 member schools entered the 2008 Class AA state series and 90 percent (235) of the schools entering athletes in the qualifying sectionals advanced at least one qualifier to the State Final Meet.

There are 14 events in each of the classes. There will be a grand total of 56 events. Preliminaries and finals are conducted on the same day in all field events. In the 100-meter dash and hurdles, there will be preliminaries and semifinals on Friday with the finals on Saturday. Timed finals are the format in all other running events. The best times from all the heats or sections in a respective running event determine final places in that event.

Field event competition begins Friday at 12:00 noon. The running events will get under way Friday at 1:00 p.m. Competition Saturday begins at 9:00 a.m. with the finals in the hurdles and 100, and the remainder of the running and field events. The complete time schedule for the weekend, and the complete event-by-event listing of qualifiers, can be found on the IESA Web Site From the home page, go to the Track and Field icon in the box on top of the home page then click on Class AA Schedule and/or Class AA Qualifiers. Also visit the FanZone icon on the home page for information regarding the meet that spectators should know.

Single-session tickets will be on sale at the stadium each day. Tickets are priced at $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for students K-8 and seniors. Gates open to the general public at 11:00 a.m. Friday and at 8:00 a.m. Saturday.

This year, for the second time in IESA track and field history, the athletes winning medals will be recognized on the infield after the conclusion of their event. The time schedule has periods for presentation of the medals to the individuals and relay team members built into it.

Seven members of the IESA Scholar Attitude Award presented by State Farm class of 2008 will be competing this weekend. They are Sara Scarbro of Algonquin Heineman, Lance Curtis of Bushnell-Prairie City, Timoshanae Wellmaker of Cahokia Wirth, Rachel Kobayashi of Chatham Glenwood, Michael Simon of Springfield Lincoln Magnet, Aaron Brenner of Sterling Challand and Dominic Vahling of Teutopolis.

Here is a look at each of the four meets within the Class AA State Final Meet:

Class 7AA Girls

Perennial powerhouse Cahokia Wirth rates as the school to beat for the team title. One of the school's three relays is top-seeded and Emmonnie Henderson, who won last year's seventh grade shot put, is third-seeded this year in the shot put and is the leader among the qualifiers in the discus.

The Wirth 4x400 relay of Antwyneque Golliday, Desiree Blanks, Marshay Morton and Konnisha Lockett ran 4:26.20 in the sectional to post the best qualifying time by 3.6 seconds over the 4:29.80 of Normal Kingsley. The Wirth 4x100 relay has the No. 7 seed time and the Wirth 4x200 relay has the No. 6 seed time. Henderson posted a top seed mark of 102-07 in the discus in the sectional and has a qualifying mark of 31-8.50 in the shot put. The leader in the shot put is Audrey Scott of Casey-Westfield, who tossed it 32-9.50 in the sectional.

In the sprints, the top-seeded runners are Aaliyah Brown of Matteson Huth and Erica Nagel of Lemont Old Quarry, respectively. Brown's top-seeded time in the 100-meter dash is :12.30 and her top-seeded time in the 200-meter dash is :25.30. Nagel's second-seeded time in the 100 is :12.50 and her second-seeded time in the 200 is :26.00.

Brion Portis is Springfield Franklin has the No. 3 seed time in the 200-meter dash at :26.30 and posted the top mark in the long jump at 16-2. Portis also runs a leg on the Franklin 4x200 relay, which posted the top time in the sectionals with a 1:51.20. Joining Portis on the relay are Ashton Williams, Justice Collins and Charday Crawford.

In the distance races, Julie James of El Paso-Gridley is the top seed in the 800-meter run with a 2:28.60 and is second-seeded behind Brooke Gordon of Normal Parkside in the 1600-meter run with a time of 5:23.20. Gordon's top-seeded time in the 1600 is 5:20.50. Gordon qualified 14th in the 800 with a time of 2:35.20.

In the pole vault, this year's top four seeds competed last year as sixth graders. Jessica Melchi of Mahomet-Seymour is the top-seeded vaulter with a sectional mark of 8-3. Kelsey Kinley of Normal Parkside is second-seeded at 7-9 along with Raquel Ellison of Chatham Glenwood and Mary Cate Hummel of Urbana MS, all at 7-9. Melchi and Kinley tied for eighth in last year's state meet at 7-0. Hummel tied for ninth at 7-0 and Ellison tied for 19th at 6-6.

Class 7AA Boys

East St. Louis Lincoln practically has owned the 7AA boys meet, winning the team title in six of the last eight years. East St. Louis Lincoln is again a strong contender in 2008.

Kendrick Lewis is East St. Louis Lincoln's top threat in the sprints. He is third-seeded in the 100-meter dash with a time of :11.80 and is seeded second in the 200-meter dash with a time of :24.30. The leader in the 100 at :11.60 is Drevontae Peoples of Danville South View. Peoples is the No. 3 seed in the 200 with a time of :24.70. The top seed in the 200 is Bernard Gamamou of Beardstown MS with a time of :24.20. He is second-seeded in the 100 with a time of :11.70.

The East St. Louis 4x100 relay is the top seed with a time of :47.30. Joining Kendrick Lewis on the relay are Terry Hubert, Emil Minor and Michealan Raymond. The East St. Louis Lincoln 4x200 relay of Lonnie Best, Deangelo Johnson, Donovan Smith and Raeshawn Thomas is the No. 6 seed with a time of 1:45.60. The Cahokia Wirth relay of Deandre Irving, Marlon Brady, Gary Hickman and Michael Monigan is the top seed in the 4x200 with a time of 1:44.0. The East St. Louis Lincoln 4x400 relay of Terry Hubert, Deangelo Johnson, Markise Allen and Philantae Johnson is the No. 2 seed with a time of 4:06.20 behind the 4:06.10 of Michael Lockenvitz, Alex Jefferson, Chance Tapley and Michael McElrath from Normal Kingsley.

Normal Parkside figures to build its point total in the distance events. The Pythons have the No. 2 seed (Peyton Scheuermann in 5:01.90) and No. 3 seed (Taylor Hallatt in 5:02.30) in the 1600-meter run. Parkside then has Scheuermann as the seventh seed in the 800-meter run with a 2:19.10 and the third seed with River Gordon at 2:17.40.

Top seed in the 1600 is Brock Snarski of Blue Mound Meridian with a time of 4:56.50. Snarski is the second seed in the 800 with a time of 2:15.40. The leader in the 800 is Ethan Michael of Lincoln JHS with a time of 2:15.00.

Class 8AA Girls

Ten of the 11 individual champions in last year's seventh grade meet return in their respective events this year. And East St. Louis Lincoln, which won the 8AA girls team title last year for the first time in the 23-year history of the two-class series, is a serious contender to repeat.

Here is how last year's seventh grade champions are seeded for this year's eighth grade meet:

Lake Kwaza of Sycamore won the 100-meter dash last year in :13.13 and comes into this year's meet with a :12.80 along with two others to rank second behind Kimberly Azie of Bolingbrook Jane Addams. Azie also is the leading qualifier in the 200 with a sectional time of :26.10.

Stacey Sinclair of Petersburg PORTA JHS won the high jump at 5-0 and is seeded third this year with a 5-0 mark in the sectional. The leading qualifier is Emily Christian of Braidwood Reed-Custer at 5-4.

Joymesia Howard of East St. Louis Lincoln won the 100-meter hurdles last year in a time of :16.43 and is the third seed this year with a qualifying time of :15.90. The leader is Paige Crawford of Matteson Huth.

Stacie Hall of Braidwood Reed-Custer, last year's 1600-meter run winner, comes into the meet with the No. 9 seed of 5:38.0. Hall won the event last year with a time of 5:20.45. The leader is Megan O'Brien of Homer Glen Homer at 5:24.0.

Quincy's Mariah Hoke won the discus last year with a toss of 96-10 and comes into the weekend with the No. 1 seed off of a sectional mark of 106-1.

Kyvierra Hawkins of Peoria Von Steuben is the fourth-seeded long jumper with a sectional mark of 15-7.50. She won the event last year with a leap of 16-2. Charleston's Miranda Hankins is the leader with a sectional mark of 16-6.

Megan Paul of Mundelein Fremont is the top-seeded runner in the 400-meter dash having posted a time of :59.10 in the sectional. She won the event last year with a time of :58.54.

East Peoria Central's Autumn Andrews won the 800-meter run last year with a time of 2:26.55 and qualified No. 16 for this year's meet with a sectional mark of 2:33.80. The leader is Jahnell Horton of Bolingbrook Brooks with a sectional time of 2:23.20. Megan O'Brien of Homer Glen Homer, the 1600-meter top qualifier, is the No. 14 seed in the 800 with a sectional time of 2:33.30.

In the pole vault, last year's seventh grade champion Sarah Oprondek of Forrest Prairie Central comes into the state meet with a mark of 8-6 in the sectional for the No. 2 seed. The leader is Ashley Thomas of Rushville Schuyler County at 9-3. Oprondek won with a vault of 8-1 last year.

The East St. Louis Lincoln 4x200 relay of Dacia Gardner, Ellen Davis, Bionka Sykes and Joymesia Howard is top-seeded at 1:48.00. East St. Louis Lincoln's 4x100 relay team of Markay Griffin, Jasmine Moody, Alecia Herndon and Mariah Thomas is the No. 2 seed with a :52.80 behind Bolingbrook Brooks, which posted a :52.70 in the sectional. Members of the Brooks relay are Tierra Webster, Amanda Gnatek, Akiya Croom and Jamie Dodson. The school's 4x400 relay of Dacia Gardner, Ellen Davis, Sydnee Williams and Mariah Thomas is third-seeded with a sectional time of 4:23.20. The leader is St. Joseph with a 4:21.90 and that relay includes Chelsea Blaase, Tori Masters, Hannah Graham and Jolee Paden.

Class 8AA Boys

The distance races should be sizzling, featuring last year's 1600-meter champion Lucas Verzbickas of New Lenox Liberty who won the Class AA boys cross-country title this fall, Michael Simon of Springfield Lincoln who won this year's Class A boys cross-country race, and Garrett Sweatt of Edwardsville Lincoln, who won the 800-meter run last year.

Springfield Lincoln is a Class A school for cross-country but is a Class AA school for track and field, which sets up the showdown between the two cross-country champions. Springfield Lincoln and Springfield Ball Charter form cooperative teams in boys cross-country and boys track and field. Michael Simon attends Springfield Ball Charter.

Verzbickas has the top-seeded times in both races, posting a 2:04.20 in the 800 and 4:21.80 in the 1600. The all-time IESA 1600-meter run record is 4:31.75 set in 2004 by Kevin Havel of Prospect Hts. MacArthur. Verzbickas' sectional time is nearly 24 seconds faster than the 4:45.60 of second-seeded Dragan Simic of Rockton Stephen Mack. While Simon's 800 time of 2:19.0 puts him seeded No. 28 in that race, his 1600-meter time of 4:56.00 is the No. 7 seed. Sweatt is second-seeded in the 800 at 2:06.20 and is third-seeded in the 1600 at 4:46.80.

East St. Louis Lincoln is gunning for its fourth straight team title and sixth in the past eight years, and appears to have the horses to do it. In addition, seven individual champions from seventh grade last year are back at the state meet.

Jeremy Nicholson of East St. Louis Lincoln won the seventh grade 110-meter hurdles and 200-meter dash last year. This year Nicholson is the No. 2 seed in the long jump with a leap of 20-5 behind a 21-4 by Dontae Pryor of Kewanee Central. He is the No. 5 seed in the shot put with a sectional toss of 46-11.75. The leader is Jacob Martin of Farmington Central at 48-09.50. Nicholson is the top-seeded competitor in the 100-meter dash with a time of :11.30. He also runs a leg on the school's top-seeded 4x400 relay, which posted a 3:40.80 in the sectional. The No. 2 seed in the 4x400 relay is the Rochester foursome of A.J. Fisher, Zachary Barnett, Ross Blumhorst and John Perry at 3:53.10.

Another individual to watch is Isaac Morckel of Wood River Lewis & Clark, a school that was Class A last year. Morckel won both the 100 and 200 in last year's Class A meet. In the 100, he won in :12.24 and qualified for the event this year with a time of :11.6 in the sectional. In the long jump, Morckel went 18-6.50 in the sectional and is the No. 13 seed. In the 200, his sectional time of :23.30 is the No. 1 seed. He won last year in seventh grade in a time of :24.94. He also runs a leg on the school's 4x100 relay, which is seeded ninth with a time of :48.90.

Gillespie's Austin Semplowski is the leader in the 110-meter hurdles with a sectional time of :15.10. Jake Gates of Mattoon is second-seeded at :15.20. East St. Louis Lincoln has Keenan Lawson at :15.30 and Isaiah Doss at :16.10.

Here is how the other seventh grade champions from last year are seeded for this year's eighth grade meet:

In the 100, Jordan McGriff of Quincy won last year in a time of :12.18. He is one of four competitors posting a time of :11.50 in the sectional behind East St. Louis Lincoln's Jeremy Nicholson at :11.30 and the :11.40 posted by Syrus White of Rantoul Eater and Peyton Wyatt of Newton Jasper County.

Syrus White won the 400-meter dash last year in a time of :53.74 and he is second-seeded in the event this year with a sectional time of :52.90. The leader in the 400 is Austin Semplowski of Gillespie at :52.70.

In the discus, Caleb Fricke of Petersburg PORTA JHS is the top-seeded thrower with a sectional mark of 160-3; exactly 11 feet further that second-seeded Derek Bunch of Mahomet-Seymour. Fricke won in seventh grade with a toss of 125-3.

Pole vaulter AJ Fisher of Rochester went 11-0 in the sectional for the best performance coming into the state final. Last year Fisher won the seventh grade title going 10-6.

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