What: Mid-Illini Conference track and field championships
Where: Dunlap (Washington is host)
When: Thursday. Field events 4 p.m., running events 6 p.m.
Defending champion: Metamora
Team favorite: Metamora
Contenders: Pekin, Morton, Canton
Defending individual champions: 100, 200, 400 – Jimmie Smith (sr.) Canton. 800, 1600, 3200 – John Crain (sr.) Dunlap. LJ – Colton Vinovich (sr.) Pekin. PV – Cody Durand (jr.) Dunlap.
Outlook: This could be the closest conference race in years. Metamora has won the last five titles, but Pekin was undefeated in the dual-meet season. Dragons coach Marshall Tucker doesn’t know if that will translate to a conference title. “Duals don’t count for anything (as far as final conference standings),” he said. “The only thing it’s done for our kids is confidence — and a little confidence can go a long way.” The sprints should be especially exciting between Canton senior Smith and Morton junior D.J. Zahn. Metamora senior Aaron Peters and Kyle Henderson of Pekin also enter in the mix here. Distance and middle distance favorites are Dunlap’s Crain, senior Ryan Van Fossen of Metamora, senior Zach Wiedeman of Canton, junior Jic O’Neill of Canton and sophomore Tyler Morse of Limestone. Relays are Metamora’s forte, but Pekin and Morton also have turned in some great times. In field events, look for East Peoria junior Chris Neely in the weights, Vinovich (Pekin), Brandon Lambiase (Metamora) and Zahn in the long jump and Dunlap’s Durand in the pole vault.
What: Mid-State 6 Conference track and field championships
Where: Peoria Stadium (Central is host)
When: Thursday. Field events 4 p.m. Sprint prelims: 5:30 p.m. Running finals: 6:30 p.m.
Defending champion: Richwoods
Team favorite: Notre Dame
Other contenders: Richwoods, Central
Defending individual champions: 1600, 3200 – C.J. Elward (sr.) Notre Dame. 110HH – Marcellous Rush (sr.) Central. 300IH – Mike Davis (sr.) Richwoods. SP, D – Jake Hoelzel (sr.) Richwoods. TJ – Cornelius Thomas (jr.) Central. HJ – Ishmill Lindsay (sr.) Central. PV – Cameron Bridges (sr.) Richwoods.
Outlook: On paper, said Knights coach Roland Brown, Richwoods should defend its title. “By seeds, it should be us,” he said. “It’s going to be close, and the kids will have to hold seeds.” Notre Dame is coming out with guns blazing. Elward is expected to defend his titles in the 1600 and 3200 and also is entered in the 800 and 4×800. Richwoods freshman Kendrick Foster has run a :10.6 in the 100 meters, but ND senior Brian Garland is one-tenth of a second back. In the relays, Central and Notre Dame are close in the 4×100, Richwoods and Manual should battle in the 4×200 and 4×400, and the Knights top the Honor Roll in the 4×800. Hoelzel should defend his two weights titles.