Boys track and field: Local standouts and storylines to watch this week

Minooka’s Nate George, Plainfield South’s Josh Cygan among those to keep an eye on

Bolingbrook's Terence Jackson Jr. competing in the 400 meters during IHSA 3A Sectional track meet  on Friday, May. 17, 2024, at Joliet.

The time has come to once again gather at Eastern Illinois University for the IHSA Boys State Track and Field Meet. The Herald-News coverage area will have plenty of athletes to keep and eye on this week, so let’s take a look at some of those we’ll be watching.

Class 3A

The competition will be fierce throughout the Class 3A meet. There will be a multitude of competitors worth watching, but one of the most interesting competitions to keep an eye on will be the 400-meter race. Of the runners with the 10 best times in the event, three of them hail from the area.

Lockport’s Nolan Lamoureux has the best chance of bringing home a title with the second best time in the heat at 48.48 seconds. He’s a strong bet to at least make it the podium. Bolingbrook’s Terence Jackson Jr. will be looking to sneak into the top three as well. Jackson Jr. has the No. 4 time at 48.96 entering the event.

Joliet West’s James Kokuro is seventh with a time of 49.30 and will aim to pull off an upset.

The 1,600-meter run should see a local athlete win a title, barring an upset. The top two runners are from Joliet West (Marcelius Mines) and Plainfield South (Camyn Viger). Mines is the favorite with a time of 4:14.31, but Viger is just behind him at 4:14.37. Mines also is competing in the 800.

Mines isn’t the only one with the top time heading to state. Lemont’s Quinton Peterson is the favorite to win it all in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.27 seconds, 0.11 ahead of the No. 2 runner. However, don’t count out Minooka’s Dejay Smith. His time of 14.66 is fourth best, and just 0.05 seconds behind the No. 3 spot. It’s entirely possible that he’ll make the podium for the Indians.

“Plainfield North is a phenomenal team,” Minooka coach Nick Lundin said. “We really put the puzzle together to win a conference championship with Nate (George) and Dejay running the 100 meters and having confidence in our young guys. It all worked out. The team has a good shot to make a run at a trophy. We’re hoping that it can come together.”

While Plainfield North barely missed out on a conference championship, finishing second to Minooka, they may still bring home a state championship in at least one event. The 4x400-meter relay team is favored to take it all as they enter with a time of 3:17.42, 1.2 seconds faster than any other team. The Tigers hope to have their runners firing on all cylinders this week.

Don’t be surprised if the Tigers make a double podium showing in the relay events. Their 4x800 team boasts the No. 2 time at state in 3A at 7:51.04. While about three seconds behind Community West, it still should be enough to get them a medal.

In the field events, Plainfield South’s Josh Cygan will be the area’s best shot of a podium finish. The senior boasts the No. 2 distance in the discus at 55.86 meters. While he’s four meters behind the top spot, he’s about a meter ahead of fourth and should bring home some hardware. Head coach Jason Crowe commended Cygan’s work ethic for getting him to this point.

“He does a lot of research online,” Crowe said. “Everything is on the internet these days as far as form and technique. He’s really just taken off with the discus in the last year and a half, so it shows how much work ethic and commitment he’s put into it.”

We should see another local medalist in the long jump, too. Lincoln-Way East’s Dedrick Richardson Jr. enters as the No. 2 seed with a distance of 7.44 meters. Don’t be shocked if Bolingbrook’s Devin Cathey medals. He has the fourth best distance in the long jump at 7.11 meters, just 0.02 behind third place, and he’ll hope to break through to make the podium.

Richardson also will compete in the triple jump.

Class 2A

While there may not be as many competitors at the 2A level from the area, that doesn’t mean the quality is lacking. There still will be opportunities for podium finishes and maybe even some championships.

In the 3,200-meter race, Morris freshman Cuyler Swanson boasts the No. 4 time at 9:35.32. While it’s 10 seconds behind the third place runner, anything can happen, and all three runners ahead of Swanson are seniors. Don’t be surprised to see his name in the top three, if not this season, then very soon.

Morris also has another competitor to watch in the 300-meter hurdles. Sophomore Colin Zierman enters the competition with the No. 9 time at 40.25 seconds, but only 0.54 seconds separate him from third place. He’s only 1.79 seconds away from the best time. Keep your eyes on the sophomore, now and in future events.

Class 1A

We should have a few more titles coming from 1A.

While there aren’t a lot of top-flight contenders in the running events in 1A, the Dwight Trojans are a solid bet to bring home a championship in at least one field event. Freshman Graham Meister has been one of the most exciting competitors in the shot put all season. He enters with the top distance in 1A at 17.20 meters. He should bring home the gold, and if he keeps growing, he could be in for a storied career.

Meister may not be the only local 1A star on the podium. Seneca’s Sam Churchill is the fourth seed in the pole vault with a height of 4.20 meters. He’s 0.11 behind third and 0.50 behind first. Should he bring his best, however, he could bring home a souvenir.