Headliners Ready To Roll At Distance Night In Palatine


Photo Credit: Cortney White/Trials of Miles, Austin, TX

One of Illinois' prized track and field events is back.

Finally. After a year away, the Distance Night in Palatine will yet again feature some of the Midwest's top athletes in a variety of events. 

Some performances, in particular, have more at stake, though. 

Let's get into the particulars. 

Related Information: 

Where: Chic Anderson Stadium, Palatine High School

Schedule: The main event starts at 8:00 p.m. EST

Heat Sheets

9:03 p.m.: Girls 800m, Section 4

9:08 p.m.: Boys 800m, Section 4

9:13 p.m.: Girls 3,200m, Section 4

9:28 p.m.: Boys 3,200m, Section 4

9:41 p.m.: Girls 1,600m, Section 5

9:50 p.m.: Boys 1,600m, Section 4

The Girls 800m

Girls Record: Rachel Hickey, 2:10.70, 2018

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Lineup: Roisin Willis, Stevens Point (WI), 2:03.05; Allison Ince, Normal Community (IL), 2:09.42; Marianne Mihas, Chicago Latin (IL), 2:10.95; Kaylie Politza, Valparaiso (IN), 2:12.57; Katrina Schlenker, Batavia (IL), 2:15.29.

There isn't much debate about this: This could be a historic event. 

Willis is the headliner and is returning to the track after an unfortunate lane miscue at the CYUP Cabin Fever Invite -- officials incorrectly managed the start -- negated what looked to be a 2:02-type run from Willis indoors. But with all things, it's what you make of your opportunities after challenging moments, and here Willis will have a chance to once again go for a U.S. Olympic Trials standard in the 800m: 2:02.50. 

She should shatter the previous meet record. 

Willis opened up her outdoor season on Feb. 26 at the Trials of Miles in Austin, Texas, and put down a US No. 1 time of 2:03.85.

She's also run under 2:05 three times in 2021 alone. 

But Willis will have some very talented company. It will be interesting to see exactly how Allison Ince races against the Wisconsin star. 

The two athletes are in different places in their careers, performance and fitness wise, but it's always a fun exercise to see how an up-and-coming force, much like Ince, competes against a proven veteran, much like Willis.

Mihas, Politz and Schlenker all will be vying for sub-2:10 times, too. 

Boys 800m

Boys Record: 1:54.86, Arthur Santoro, 2017

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Lineup: Nathan Cumberbatch, Shorewood (WI), 1:53.00; Plainfield South (IL) Niko Schultz, 1:54.41; Nicolas Dovalovsky, Neuqua Valley (IL), 1:54.50.

The boys 800m will feature a field of boys athletes looking to break 1:53 and run some of the fastest times in Illinois and Wisconsin. As it stands now, Dovalovsky owns Illinois' top outdoor time at 1:55.71, while no one has broken two minutes in Wisconsin just yet.

Boys 1,600m

Boys Record: 4:08.64, 2018

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Lineup: Luke Schildmeyer, St. Charles East (IL), 4:14.00; Jacob Myers, Lake Zurich, 4:16.29; Derek Harlan, Centralia, 4:16.53, Hunter Krepline, Brillion, 4:17.00.

While no athlete in Illinois has yet to break 4:20 for 1,600m, there's a very good chance that opportunity comes on Saturday between this field.

Girls 1,600m

Girls Record: Alyssa Norris, 4:59.88, 2019

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Lineup: Ava Parekh, Chicago Latin (IL), 4:45.50; Lydia Malecek, Onalaska (WI), 4:48.34; Campbell Petersen, Naperville North (IL), 4:56.20; Kylie Finger, Oconomowoc (WI), 4:57.00; Samantha Poglitsch, Wheaton Warrensville (IL), 4:57.00; Brooke Stromsland, Lake Villa (IL), 4:57.00; Aly Negovetich, Fox Lake (IL), 4:57.89.

Like the girls 800m, this field is loaded with superior talent. The weekend will present Parekh's first true opportunity to chase after her overall 1,600m PR of 4:48.41, which she achieved in February at the SPIRE Scholastic Showcase. But she shouldn't be alone. Malacek is one of Wisconsin's top distance athletes, while Peterson, Poglitsch and a host of others have also broken five minutes. 

Boys 3,200m

Boys Record: 8:59.46, Clayton Mendez, 2017

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Lineup: Lucas Guerra, Highland (IN), 8:57.52; Drew Rogers, Herscher (IL), 8:57.88; Luke Wiley, Gurnee Warren (IL), 9:02.65; Wilson Georges, Bartonville Limestone (IL), 9:05.00; Micah Wilson, St. Charles East (IL), 9:08.66.

After clocking Indiana's top mile in April at the Flashes Showcase Miracle Mile, Guerra will face-up against arguably Illinois' top distance runner, Rogers, for a chance to dip under nine minutes. Wiley, Georges and Wilson won't be far away, either, which will make this field super interesting to watch over eight laps.

A total of three athletes in Indiana have already broken nine minutes -- including a state-leading 8:55.07 from Izaiah Steury -- so that will be the mark for Guerra. Rogers and Co. will be chasing after Luke Schildmeyer's Illinois No. 1 time of 9:14.66.

Look out for a meet record.

Girls 3,200m

Girls Record: Ailey Mitchell, 10:57.66, 2019

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Lineup: Anna Perry, Eureka , 10:45.25; Maggie Gamboa, Naperville North (IL), 10:52.02; Lianna Surtz, Aurora (IL), 10:53.00; Jenna Buchanan, Bartlett, 10:55.00; Anna Harden, Arlington Heights Hersey, 10:57.78; Lucy Westlake, Naperville North (IL), 10:57.98.

A host of girls athletes will look to break 11 minutes in one of the state's top races at 3,200m so far this spring season. And a meet record should be on the horizon. It could be anyone's race to win.