This week in Illinois boys track & field

I would not say it was the most ideal weekends to run a track & field meet. Conditions on Friday were passable to run. Last Saturday, the bottom of the weather dropped out.

Two of the major meets in the Chicago area were cancelled on Friday. The Red Ribbon Classic and the Jim Arnold Invitational were cancelled due to the fact that the weather forecasts for the area looked ominous on Saturday. Also, both meets had teams coming from out of town and a decision needed to be made early. Also, the timing services that were timing the meets needed to be notified as well.

The weather gods did a 90 degree turn on Saturday. The monsoons that were predicted on Saturday did not happen. The only boys meet that was contested in the Chicago area on Saturday was the Palatine Relays, a meet that has run in snow before. The conditions were less than ideal (40 degrees, 15 mph east wind) but still some great performances came from the meet.

Read about the Palatine Relays here.

There were some great performances this past week regardless of the weather. Here is a look:

~~ The Valley Distance Medley Relay ~~

The coaches at Metea Valley, Neuqua Valley, and Waubonsie Valley liked the idea that York and Palatine came up with at the beginning of April. So instead of running the 4 x 800 Meter Relay to begin the meet, they decided to run a Distance Medley Relay. Some of the conditions of the weekend carried over to Tuesday’s meet. A light drizzle was happening when the runners lined up. Thank goodness they ran the race early. 40 Minutes later, the skies opened up and the rain did come down.

Only Neuqua Valley and Metea Valley fielded teams.

On the opening 1200 meter leg, Taylor Soltys of Neuqua took off in the last 400 meters to open a five second lead over Metea’s Matt Stewart. After that first leg, it was Neuqua Valley racing against the clock.

Andy Martinez maintained the Neuqua lead in the 400. Jacob Bender added another four seconds to the lead for Neuqua with a 1:57 leg. He ran the first 400 in 54 seconds! “I think I went out a little too fast,” chuckled bender after the race.

He gave the baton to all state runner Mark Derrick, He opened in 59 seconds for the first 400 and closed in 4:17.5 to give Neuqua a finishing time of 10:18.9, #1 in Illinois.


Neuqua Valley

Taylor Soltys: 60.4, 2:08.4, 3:12.4

Andy Martinez: 52.0

Jacob Bender: 54.2, 1:57.0

Mark Derrick: 59.0, 2:04.8, 3:11.0, 4:17.5 = 10:18.9

Metea Valley

Matt Stewart: 60.5, 2:08.6, 3:17.6

Will King: 51.9

Colin Yorke: 58.1, 2:01.9

Joe Stewart: 59.5, 2:04.5, 3:12.4, 4:20.6 = 10:31.3

Watch the entire race here.

~~ Miles upon miles ~~

On Friday evening, some of the premere events in the meets that were contested in the 1600 Meter Run.

You already know about the 1600 the Jack Keelan (St. Ignatius, Chicago Ill) ran at the Wanner Knights Invitational. Read about it here.

While that race was going on, Will Brewster and Luke Zygmunt of Grayslake Central lined up along side of Tyler Schneider of Conant at the Mustang Classic in Rolling Meadows. Three quality milers looking for a fast time. Schneider took the pace out fast for the first 800. Brewster took the lead right after that and controlled the race from there. Brewster’s time of 4:17.81 was almost 4 seconds ahead of Schneider with Zygmunt five seconds back.

Downstate at the Gene Ward Invitational in Champaign, Michael Clevenger (MacArthur, Decatur Ill) was looking to get the fastest time in the state in the 1600 that other race competitor Jonathan Schaap (Seymour HS, Mahomet Ill) had run 2 weeks prior. This would be Schaap’s second race of the night. Earlier he won the 3200 Meter Run in 9:31.89. This race was all Clevenger from the gun. At the end, it was a 20 second win for the three time state champion over Schaap. Clevenger’s time of 4:13.34 is currently the best time in the 1600.

Even though this meet is focused on what happened in boys track in Illinois, I have to mention the great 1600 Meter Run that happened at the Tiger Girls Invitational at Wheaton-Warrenville South High School. Jill Hardies (Central, Hinsdale Ill) and Hope Schmelzle (WWS, Warrenville Ill) took the pace out in a brisk pace. They had company. Ten other runners were with the leaders including 3A Cross country champion Amanda Fox (Central, Naperville Ill). The race came down to a frenzied kick between all of these runners. Hardies ended up the winner in 5:04.42, less than a second ahead of Fox. Overall, there were twelve runners that were under 5:15; thirty runners were under 5:40.

~~ This week ~~

A week before conference meets will have many coaches having their athletes in different races tuning up for the state series. We could see some fast times this weekend if the weather cooperates.

At the John Davis Invitational at Glenbrook South, it looks like there will be a great 800 race with Leland Later (New Trier, Winnetka Ill) and Neal Omar (Niles West, Skokie Ill) leading the way. This will be Omar’s first open 800 of the season. He has run a couple of 1:53’s in relays.

Perhaps the best meet of the weekend will take place at the Collinsville Invitational. Some great sprint races will be on display with host Collinsville, Belleville West, Cahokia, East St. Louis-Senior, and O’Fallon leading the way.

The Kane County will take place at West HS in Aurora. This meet has quite a history. Read all about it here.

Other meets to keep an eye on:


  • Bloomington Invitational

  • Rich East Invitational


  • Bill Jackson Invitational @ Lockport

  • DuPage County Meet @ Lake Park (East Campus)

  • John Davis Titan Classic @ Glenbrook South

  • Kane County Meet @ Aurora West

  • Lake County Meet @ Deerfield

  • McCarthy Memorial Invitational @ Hinsdale Central

  • McCormack Invitational @ Geneseo

  • Morton Relays

  • Northern Illinois Invitational @ Machesney Park Harlem

  • Pete Reiff Invitational @ Hoffman Estates

  • Ron Gummerson Classic @ Conant

  • Winnebago Invitational


  • Carlin Nalley Invitational @ Benedictine University

  • Chicago Public League Championships @ Hanson Stadium

  • Collinsville Invitational

  • Irish Relays @ Bishop McNamara

  • Thornton Invitational

~~ And finally ~~

First: hand timing. I thank goodness that the IHSA has gone to FAT timing for sectional meets. I wish it was mandatory for invitationals as well. I was witness to a hand timing mess at a meet last week. Times were not close to to what they were actually which makes it hard to write about.

Some one e-mailed me a performance for the 100 meter dash. They converted it so that it was an FAT time and insisted that it go on the TFX board. Well, upon further review, that converted time would have been one of the top ten times…IN THE WORLD! Timing in the dashes is tough and extremely tough if you are hand timing. That is why we do not take dash times.

Second: The Midwest Distance Festival. Here is the story on how this meet actually came to be. A few weeks ago, an athlete that I was interviewing mentioned how it would be great if the Distance Medley Relay was in the meet. As I was driving home, I made a note to check the website on any info for the 2012 meet.

No website anywhere. I asked a couple of coaches. I finally found a coach that said that he thought that the meet was dead. When I left the meet, the coach said that meet needed to keep going.

I went to Bob Geiger, the editor for Dyestat Illinois, and told him of what could happen. We tried contacting a couple of people who were involved with the Gala, but there was no reply.

Last Sunday, the ITCCA (Illinois Track & Cross Country Coaches Association) decided to support the meet. The name has been changed (The Midwest Distance Festival), but the purpose has not.

There will be a new venue: Memorial Stadium on the campus of the University of St. Francis in Joliet. The meet has moved from Saturday night to Friday night. It could be a problem, but there is not much we can do since the All-Star meet is the next day. Why not do it after the meet? What happens if there is a delay in the all star meet during the afternoon? So it makes sense to have the meet on Friday night.

Scott Bush did such a wonderful job in creating this meet and making it the meet that all distance runners in the Midwest and throughout the country look forward to every June. It was hard to let it just go.

I was named the meet director and it is a humbling responsibility. I’ve had dreams the last couple of nights. The first was a stadium full of fans with a field full of runners. The other was that of a janitor looking for garbage in the stands while I see tumbleweed crossing the infield. Hoping for the first one.

All I would like to do is continue what Scott started. You always look for the best runners to be there. I cannot guarantee that right now, but I shoot high and I always have. I will do the best I can.

We are adding one event in this meet: The Distance Medley Relay. Yes. I’ll let you invision the teams that I would like to get to run in this race. We will have a boys race. We will have a girls race.

Details of the meet with qualifying standards will be released in the next week. Registration will open right before the state meet.

My goal for this meet: competitive fields, fast times, and all the runners leaving with personal bests. The big thing is that every one leaves Joliet on that evening having a great experience.

Read about it here.