Prep insider: Future Illini Thompson on a roll
Record run for Thompson
CHAMPAIGN — Central senior SAMONE THOMPSON has moved into elite company. She is one of three athletes from the school who have qualified for the girls' state track and field meet in the maximum four events.
The first to do so was YVONNE OLDHAM, in 1980. She advanced in the 200 and long jump as well as with two relays. In 2000, ODILE MAMBO was part of three advancing relays as well as an individual 200-meter competitor.
Thompson, who will compete in four events when the Class 2A state meet starts on Friday, is the first to qualify in three individual events as well as the first to win three sectional titles.
The UI recruit was a sectional winner in both hurdles races and the long jump. She's also on the qualifying 800 relay. Thompson ranks prominently on the state leader's list, based on sectional performances. She enters state seeded second in the 300 hurdles, third in the 100 hurdles and fourth in the long jump.
Coach Guthrie Hood said Thompson's performance was far from the only sectional highlight.
"The team had 26 personal records," he said, "bringing our total for the season to 409."
Bulldog seeks threepeat
MAHOMET — Jessica Melchi has been running her best on recent Fridays. Two weeks ago, in the Corn Belt Conference meet, she broke the school's 400-meter record (58.34). Last Friday, at the Centennial Sectional, she re-broke her record (57.60) with a time that ranks fourth on the all-time Area Honor Roll.
This Friday, the junior will get another chance to run the event. She's seeded second — based on sectional performances — in the Class 2A division of the state meet, which will be held at Charleston. Semifinals are Friday. Finals are on Saturday.
Blue Devils break drought
VILLA GROVE — No one associated with the Villa Grove boys' track and field program can remember the school's last conference championship in the sport.
It occurred in 1955.
Coach NICK CURRY'S squad had reason to celebrate last week when it prevailed in the Little Okaw Valley Conference meet at Arthur by 25 1/3 points over runner-up Arcola.
VG had seven individual winners and also captured three of the four relays.
ADAM CRUTCHLEY won three individual events (800, 1,600 and 3,200) and RYAN PEARCE won two (shot put and discus). They each were part of the maximum four wins. Crutchley anchored the 3,200 relay. Pearce anchored the 400 and 800 relays.
RILEY BISHOP (100) and JOHN HENDERSON (110 high hurdles) were other individual winners. Joining Crutchley on the 3,200 were TYLER HARRISON, AUSTIN CARMACK and BRYCE BENEFIELD. The 400 and 800 relays had the same runners: TRAVIS ARNOLD, STEVEN MILLER, Bishop and Pearce.
Sages seeking equal splits
MONTICELLO — Shortly after Monticello's 3,200-meter relay team won its race at Monday's 31st News-Gazette Honor Roll Meet, coach JEFF BUTLER approached his quartet to offer his take on the race. The gist of what Butler had to say was this: Leadoff runner STEVE SCHROEDER and second leg ANDREW HANSELMAN ran their portions of the race so fast that JESSE GALAWAY and anchorman COLE MARSTELLER don't get off to as good a start as they should because the team lead is already so comfortable.
So, should Schroeder and Hanselman slow down a bit to force the other two to kick it into gear quicker?
"I'm sure we'd love to do that to make them work harder, but we're just going to keep on doing what we're doing," Hanselman said.
The Sages' group set its personal-best time at Monday's meet, finishing in 8 minutes, 13.84 seconds. But, the group felt it could have gone faster with better handoffs and quicker starts.
"We've got work left to do, so we're going to be tapering this next week and get ready for state if we make it and see where we can go from there," Hanselman said.
Monticello will host an 18-school Class 1A boys' sectional on Friday, starting at 5 p.m.
State champions in the making?
CHARLESTON — The Class 1A state leader's list in girls' track, based on performances from last week's sectionals, shows five area individuals and one relay top-ranked.
SYDNI MEUNIER, from Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley, posted the quickest qualifying times in the 800 and 1,600 races. St. Joseph-Ogden's CHELSEA BLAASE is No. 1 in the 3,200 (where the runner-up in Hoopeston Area's LAUREN HOUMES), Kandie Bloch, from Argenta-Oreana, soared the highest in the high jump (5-8) and Sullivan/Okaw Valley's AMANDA McCLAIN ran the quickest in the 400 meters. The Redskins' 800 relay also had the best time at sectionals.
Cobras recruit All-Area standout
ST. JOSEPH — Senior BLAKE HOVELN, an All-Area infielder from St. Joseph-Ogden, has given an oral commitment to continue his baseball career next year at Parkland College. Hoveln leads the 22-11 Spartans with a .388 batting average. He is a four-year starter for SJ-O at shortstop.
Great followup for M-S
MAHOMET — Last season, Mahomet-Seymour's boys' track team set five school records. Two have fallen thus far this spring entering Thursday's Class 2A sectional, which M-S is hosting.
JONATHAN SCHAAP broke a 37-year-old record in the 3,200 meters, held by MARK JOHNSON, when he ran 4:14.85. Schaap's time was more than six seconds better than the previous mark. Last weekend, CALE McCORMICK shattered the standard in the 800, which had stood since 2000, when he was clocked in 1:55.20.
Coach KEITH POGUE believes it's no accident the longstanding marks are falling.
"It's TODD LaFOND (distance coach) and NEAL GARRISON (cross-country coach)," Pogue said. "They've created a culture where offseason running isn't an extra, it's a given."
Pogue said the 3,200 relay — which includes McCormick — could challenge the 1980 standard (7:57.26) either this week or next, and Schaap is less than 2 seconds away from breaking another of Johnson's records, the 1,600 (9:27.60).
"This is the best distance crew I've ever had," Pogue said.
Marcus Jackson, Fred Kroner