York Invitational: Balmes steals distance runners spotlight with state leading Shot Put


Friday’s York Boys Invitational in Elmhurst is known for the performances in the distance events.

The spotlight on the 2012 edition of this meet, however, belonged on the Shot Put circle. As the start of the running finals began on the track, a 3 man battle was developing between Nick Boesso of Glenbard South, Mark Balmes of Hersey, and Paul Golen of York. In the first 3 preliminary throws. Balmes cranked out a put of 53’ 5 ½” on his 2nd effort. Meanwhile Golen and Boesso were battling for the second spot with Golen’s 51’ 5” put just 4 inches ahead of Boesso.

The finals started and that is when it got interesting. Boesso did not improve on his final three throws. Balmes and Golen had different plans.

Golen on his 4th round put improved to 52’ 11 1/2 “ to get within 6 inches of Balmes. Golen was improving each round while Balmes was looking to get the right put. The momentum appeared to be swinging to Golen’s favor.

Golen yelled out as he released his shot to the lead with a put of 53’ 6 ½”. Within 30 seconds, Balmes entered the back of the ring and using his spin technique, heaved his shot 54’ 8 ½”. Neither athlete improved in the final round. The Hersey senior left the competition area with the win and a state tying effort (with Perez Ford of Romeoville).

What was he thinking right after Golen took the lead? “I gotta throw a big throw right now,” he said reflecting on his effort. “I only had two more shots. There would be less pressure to get it that time than it would the last.”

Watch the full interview with Mark Balmes here.

Perhaps the most exciting distance race of the night was the 800 Meter Run. Dan Popek of Minooka, after leading for the first 400 and letting it slip away, rebounded in the last 50 meters to win by 9 one hundredths of a second over Josh Campos of Prospect. Andrew Clingermann of Palatine and York freshman Matt Plowman were close behind for 3rd and 4th.

“He told me after the race that he was a little guilty of looking at the heat sheets and seeing some of the seed times,” Minooka Coach Nick Lundin said afterwards. “He took the race too hard thinking that he would have it.”

It was impressive effort for the Minooka senior. 45 minutes earlier, he led off the 4x8 for Minooka with a 1:58.9 split to give them a one second lead over James Weaver and a talented Conant squad. On the second leg, Conant’s Jack Hutchison grabbed the lead on the last 200 meters of his leg, a lead that Conant would not surrender. Joe Sulentic and Tyler Schneider increased the lead for the Cougars as they won with a time of 8:11.24, a ten second seasonal improvement.

Schneider came back later in the evening in the 1600 Meter Run. He grabbed the lead after the 2nd lap and would not let go of it despite increased surges by York’s Billy Clink. Both runners went through the 1200 in 3:20. Clink tried to make a move on the back stretch, but Schnedier responded pulling away with a 3 second win over Clink.

“I just wanted to go out and take the lead. That’s the best way I race,” Schnedier said afterwards. “With about 3 laps to go, I just decided to go for it and kick it in.”

Watch the full interview with Tyler Schneider here.

Watch the full race here.

Jake Mazanke provided the biggest eye popping performance of the night in the 600 Meter Run. The St. Charles East senior who was a state finalist in the 800 last spring, went by the 400 in 53 seconds and cruised to a winning time of 1:22.38. The is a state best and ranks #25 in the US.

The pace went out slow for the 3200 Meter Run with Joey Santillo of Minooka leading at 4:51 at the half way point. Sophomore Nathan Mroz of York started to push the pace at that point, but could not shake Willowbrook’s Pat Niyork who stayed on Mroz’s shoulder. Niyork took off in the last 300 running the last 400 in 63 seconds to hold off a determined Mroz to win by 2 seconds.

“ The pace was actually pretty good and wejust started taking it out, taking it out,” the Willowbrook runner said afterwards. “No, in my mind I thought I had him (Mroz). So I took the chance and went all out the last lap.”

Watch the full interview with Pat Niyork here.

In the team battle, York came away with its own invitational championship over a talented Minooka squad. York won with only one event win, that from Nick Sgarbossa’s win in the Pole Vault. Minooka had a great meet with individual wins from Luke Stoval in the 200 Meter Dash, Tevin Hopkins in the 400 Meter Dash, Popek in the 800, and two relay wins in the 4 x 2 and the 4x4.

The only double winner of the evening was Conant’s Ben Bowers who won the High Jump (6’ 2”) and came back to win the 55 Meter High Hurdles (7.85).