Current Hersey boys track and field coach Ken Blazek still remembers his days as a hurdler for then-Prospect coach Joe Wanner and the Knights, back in the day.
One of Blazek's favorite memories came at the Knights' Wanner Invitational.
"I have always described this meet to our kids as the first state meet of the year," Blazek said. "If you can't get up for this meet, I don't know what you can get up for."
Blazek and the Huskies will get to battle with the those Knights, along with powerful teams from Schaumburg and York as the field at the 46th edition of this meet is as deep and talented as ever.
"You get some of the best competition in the state at this meet each year, you get to run under the lights," Blazek said. "It's no holds barred. You go after it just like you would at the state meet."
The field events will kick off at 4:30 p.m., with finals on the track slated for a 6:30 p.m. start.
Getting to Gattas Field early is a good idea as the signature event of this meet -- the 3,200 relay -- figures to be just that once again. York brings one of the top relay groups in the state each year. Joining the Dukes are talented groups from Libertyville, Prospect, Hersey, and Fremd, along with quality quartets from Lane, Hinsdale Central, and Lyons Township.
A meet that is traditionally known for its distance may have to take a back seat after the opening relay, because the flying Saxons from Schaumburg figure to light things up in the 400 and 800 relays. Shandall Thomas has been electrifying in leading the Saxons so far this spring and figures to pace a group that includes Tom Ciupka, Stacey Smith and Jarman McMillon to great times Friday night. Look for York and Zion to keep pace with the Saxons.
The 3,200 and 1,600 runs will feature loaded fields again. The 2-mile features Conant junior Zach Dale among some of the elite runners in this event. The 1,600 field is just as good with the likes of Grant VonderLippe and Andrew Philapose of Hersey among the top contenders.
Neither do the field events lack for star power. The jumps feature Smith and Edwin Kelly of Schaumburg. Cole Monckton of Hersey is another contender in a deep triple jump field.
Back on the track, the hurdles events could be some of the best individual races of the night. York's talented dup of Alex Teague and Jarvis Hill will battle with Michael Jopes of Naperville Central and Max Roberts of Libertyville in what should be a great race in the 300 hurdles.
Palatine Relays: Saturday is as much an annual rite of spring as there is in the North suburbs as the 82nd running of the oldest and longest-running high school relay meet in the country kicks off at the Palatine Relays.
The meet starts early Saturday morning with opening events slated for a 9 am start. After the traditional alumni mile, the events pick up after lunch with individual and sprint relays taking center stage.
On the boys side in particular, Barrington figures to run junior Konrad Eiring for the first time since early in the outdoor season. Whether he adds to the defending state champion 3,200 relay for the Broncos or runs an individual event, the return of Eiring is a big key to the second half of the season for Barrington.
While Barrington looks to Eiring, talented programs like Fremd, the host Pirates and Jacobs will be in the mix for the team top honors.