Five area track and field meets to watch, prior to the state finals in Charleston, courtesy prep sports coordinator Fred Kroner
News-Gazette Honor Roll meet
This 32-year-old event will continue May 13 at the UI Track. There should be a number of marquee performers, including Argenta-Oreana's Kandie Bloch-Jones, who in the recent national listings had the best high jump nationally (5 feet, 11 inches) during the outdoor season. Three meet records were broken in 2012. Danville's Alexus Jimson-Miller was a part of each one, winning the 100-meter hurdles and the 200 dash and joining three teammates on the 400 relay. Three boys' marks were broken, or tied, including the pole vault where co-record-holder Andrew Roney, from Mahomet-Seymour, will be back, looking to raise the standard of 15 feet, 3 inches. Tuscola's Broc Smith was part of the record-setting 800 relay last spring.
SJ-O Spartan Classic
The boys' 39th annual meet will be held April 26. The Classic field includes the majority of the area small-school powers. Included in the 22-school field are Arcola, Argenta-Oreana, Fisher, Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley, Monticello, Oakwood, Paxton-Buckley-Loda, Salt Fork, St. Thomas More, Tuscola, Unity, Urbana Uni High, Villa Grove and Westville. Last year's top two teams in the 23-school extravaganza were Monticello and the host Spartans. Among the individual champions who return are Villa Grove's Ryan Pearce (shot put and discus) and Tuscola's Broc Smith in the 100.
Girls' Big 12 meet
Urbana, and its spiffy all-weather track, will be the site for the Big 12's outdoor meet on May 3. Danville, which was dominant indoors, is seeking its first outdoor league crown in three years. Hurdler Alexus Jimson-Miller is closing in on an all-time area-best time in the 100-meter event. The last four Big 12 titles have gone to different schools. Normal Community is the defending champion, Normal West won in 2011, Danville in 2010 and Bloomington in 2009. During the past 33 years, Centennial has the most outdoor Big 12 team titles (8), followed by Bloomington (6), Danville (5), Decatur MacArthur (5), Normal Community (4), Normal West (2), Stephen Decatur (2) and Champaign Central (1).
Boys' Big 12 meet
On May 10, this will be the first major event hosted by Danville since it unveiled its all-weather track. The Vikings are the defending champions and during the past half-century have more track titles than any Big 12 school. The 50-year rundown: Danville (12), Bloomington (8), Decatur MacArthur (8), Urbana (6), Champaign Central (5), Normal West (3), Rantoul (3), Centennial (1), Decatur Eisenhower (1), Mattoon (1), Normal West (1) and Stephen Decatur (1). The host Vikings have strength in the distance events, including 800-meter runner Johnny Leverenz, who was timed in 1:56.72 Saturday in the 800 meters at Springfield, and Caleb Hummer, who ranks among the area leaders in the 1,600 and 3,200 events.
Lady Sages Invitational
A Who's Who from the area will gather April 26, including Arcola, Argenta-Oreana, Clinton, Gibson City-Melvion-Sibley, Judah Christian, LeRoy, Oakwood, Paxton-Buckley-Loda, Salt Fork, Schlarman, St. Joseph-Ogden, St. Thomas More, Sullivan/Okaw Valley, Tuscola, Unity and Urbana Uni High. Central A&M and SJ-O were the top two teams a year ago in the 23-school field. Among the returning individual standouts is Amanda McClain, from Sullivan/Okaw Valley, who won the 400 and the long jump last spring, and A-O's Kandie Bloch-Jones, the Illinois recruit who is the defending high jump champion. The oldest meet record was established in 1992 by Tuscola's Emily Smith, who tossed the discus 141-10. The oldest running mark also belongs to the Warriors: the 1,600 relay (4:07.10) in 1994.