Among the large field of qualifiers for the Class 3A state track meet at Eastern Illinois, it wouldn’t be a surprise if a Southland champion or two emerged from the field events and Thornton came home with a trophy.
“It’s going to be tight, it’s going to be very tight,’’ Thornton coach Vince McAuliffe said of finishing in the top three.
“There’ll be about five to 10 schools that could go down there and have a shot. We’re on that bus.’’
On the track, Homewood-Flossmoor’s Matt Anyiwo is a top contender in the 800-meter run and 400-meter dash. The Southland also has an impressive group of nine qualifiers in the 110 hurdles, led by Thornton’s Tifonte Hunt and Bloom’s Daylen Hubbard.
Thornton advanced 11 state qualifiers in eight events. The Wildcats are led by their No. 1-ranked 400 relay (41.43 seconds) of Martise Craig, Cavion Clanton, Hunt and anchor Jauan Wesley.
Clanton, Hunt and Wesley are returnees from the foursome that won the 3A state title a year ago (42.24).
“We’re looking for the repeat downstate,’’ Wesley said.
Thornton also will need points from its 800 relay (1:28.35) and Wesley in the 100 (10.83). He was seventh in the state last year.
JoWahn Brown, who returned to the team this season after a year absence, ranks among the top five in the long jump (22-11) and triple jump (45-9).
Bloom has two individuals whose sectional marks were the best in Class 3A: Malik Jenkins in the triple jump (46-7) and Jonah Wiley in the long jump (23-11). Wiley also is among the top 10 qualifiers in the 110 hurdles (14.48).
Providence senior Mike Monroe, high jump runner-up last year, enters the state meet with the best sectional height of 6-9.
“At this point, I wouldn’t say winning is secondary, but my goal is on myself and what I can do and perform,’’ Monroe said.
“My (sectional) 6-9s, I was eight inches above it. Seven foot, I just fell apart. So it’s definitely coming.’’
Providence pole vaulter Andy Jatis cleared 14-9 at the H-F Sectional to rank second to Plainfield Central’s Luke Winder (16-0), the defending state champion.
Oak Forest’s Luke Taccola, a first-time state qualifier, has the area’s top sectional marks in the shot put (53-6) and discus (162-0).
“It’s the culmination of my last four years,’’ Taccola said. “I’ve been training since sixth grade for this.’’
Crete-Monee’s Elijah Douglas qualified in three individual events: long jump (22-4), 110 hurdles (14.56) and 300 hurdles (39.30).
In Class 2A, Rich Central’s Franklin Hunt will be an individual to watch in the 100 (10.85, fourth-best) and 200 (22.23).
Illiana Christian’s Kevin Vroegh (800) and Nick Fiene (1,600) rank among the top 10 qualifiers in their events.
Also contending for a spot in the finals will be Thornridge’s Nick Fizer (14.92) and Morgan Park’s Brandon Riley (15.13) in the 110 hurdles and Hillcrest’s Luther Newburn in the triple jump (44-0).