Charleston, Ill --- It wasn’t that the members of Dunbar’s team were in a rush to get back to Chicago to attend their prom on Saturday night. They are just naturally fast.
Coming into Friday’s preliminaries, the Chicago Public League School was not getting the attention that they justly deserved after a sectional where they set some eye popping times. More people took attention of these sprinters after their performances were leading the 4 x 100 Meter Relay, 4 x 200 Meter Relay, and 200 Meter Dash.
The Mightymen caught the state’s attention after going three for three in the finals winning those three events.
They would have hardware to wear at the prom. All of it gold.
The quartet of Claudis Dawson, Travon Harris, Dion Williams, and Darvell Harris got the baton safely around the track in the 4 x 100 Meter Relay to a 41.92, just holding off Oak Park-River Forest (42.19) and Edwardsville (42.23).
They returned to the track to run the 4 x 200 Meter Relay. In Friday’s preliminaries, Dunbar shocked the sundrenched O’Brien Field crowd by running 1:26.11, which was then the fifth fastest time ever in the state. They did one better in the finals. Pushed by a talented Belleville West squad, the Mightymen sizzled an incredible 1:26.01, just missing the state record set by Cahokia by three hundredths of a second in 2007. Belleville West finished second running 1:26.61.
“We think we run better in the 200 than the 100,” said relay member Travon Harris. “We were shooting for 1:25.6, but we did get the state championship.”
All that was left was for Darvell Harris to run the 200 Meter Dash. Harris had the fastest time in the prelims. He caught Calvin Edwards (West, Joliet Ill) as they came out of the turn, edged ahead and kept a lead on Edwards at the finish. Harris’ 21.44 brought home the third gold of the day for Dunbar.
“Nobody was talking about going to sectionals. We had to come here and prove ourselves,” said Darvell Harris. “Last year, we came down here and got disqualified in the relay. We had to make up for last year. We had a pretty strong relay this year.”
The Chicago Public League had one more relay win on the day and that was in the 4 x 800 Meter Relay. On paper, it looked like it could be any team’s race with 12 schools within seven seconds of each other. The race was tactical at the gun where Kendric Cornelius (Palatine, Ill) led a tight pack through the opening 400. Marc-Daniel Julien (Niles West, Skokie Ill) tried to force the pace through the back stretch. Coming to the first exchange, it was Micah Beller (Niles North, Skokie Ill) taking a slight lead over Julien and Kevin O’Flaherty (Sandburg, Orland Park, Ill).
The second leg was incredible and still anyone’s race. All 12 schools were together heading to the back stretch. Carlitos Rangel (Niles North, Skokie Ill) held the lead heading to the second exchange. All of a sudden, Neil Pedersen (Central, Hinsdale Ill) charged to the front and gave the Red Devils the lead as the handoffs occurred. Hinsdale Central and Niles North charged into the lead with Prospect, Sandburg, and Palatine still close, but it was still anyone’s race.
The third leg it finally stretched out but there were still 8 teams in contention to win the whole thing. Niles North, Hinsdale Central, Sandburg, Prospect, and then Lane Tech moved up into the top 5. With 200 Meters to go in the third leg, Lucas Beltran (Lane Tech, Chicago Ill) charged out in front but that did not last for long. Derek Hevel (Sandburg, Orland Park took over the lead going behind the scoreboard with Dan Troutman (Prospect, Mt. Prospect Ill) passing Beltran right after that. The final exchanges were made. The fun was just about to begin.
The fastest of the fast on these teams were anchoring. Pat McMahon (Sandburg, Orland Park Ill) had a monster anchor leg running 1:54.8 in the prelims was in the front. Josh Campos (Prospect, Mt. Prospect Ill), Aron Sebhat (Niles North, Skokie Ill), and David Timlin (Lane Tech, Chicago Ill) all were lurking behind. All had serious half mile speed. All were waiting to strike.
In the first 100 meters of the final leg, Timlin made the first and decisive move. Campos and Sebhat went chasing after the Lane Tech senior. Timlin opened up at 5 meter lead as the bell rung. In the last two hundred meters, Sebhat made one final move to go after Timlin. Behind the scoreboard, it looked like the gap was diminishing as Sebhat started to get closer. He got closer and closer but Timlin got to finish line before Sebhat. The margin of victory was only a half a second. That did not matter. Lane Tech captured its first 4x8 relay championship and the first for a Chicago Public League boy’s team in the state meet. Timlin’s split was 1:51.6, Sebhat’s 1:52.8…the margin of victory.
“It was my call not to run the 1600 prelims yesterday. I do not think I could have run what I did today if I would have run those four extra laps yesterday. At least I have the Gold medal,” an elated Timlin said. “I had dreams about this. Not reasonable thoughts. I’ve run against Sebhat before. I knew I had to make my move on the first lap. I can come in hard, but so can they. Crossing the line, it was not disappointment. It was not euphoria. It was something that we worked hard for. We did this for us.”
~~ Lake Park makes it three in a row ~~
This was not the typical Lake Park that we have seen the last few years. For the first two championships, it was Jeremy & Jermaine Kline along with Zach Ziemek carrying the load and scoring the majority of the points. This was a new year. Who would step up?
That is what Jay Ivory and his coaches asked the team on Friday night after the preliminaries. Lake Park had the most qualifiers left with eleven, but the places that his athletes were in would not get them another championship.
“We did a lot of work today. We told the kids last night that we still had a lot of work still to do. We asked them to step up and the kids did,” said Ivory. In the Long Jump, Scott Filip was sixth after the prelims; Marcus Jegede was 9th. In the finals, Jegede moved up to fourth, Filip to fifth.
The same thing happened in the Triple Jump. Shawn Koch and Filip were seventh and eighth respectively. In the finals, Koch moved up to second, Filip to seventh. All this extra effort to get the top trophy.
“The kids were phenomenal today. They picked each other up. We gained some points in some spots, lost them in other events. But as a team, we rose up,” said Ivory.
The Lancers also got points from Per Johnson in the Discus. Johnson improved his PR by nine feet. Kevin Spejcher placed fourth in the High Jump. Tim Ehrhardt and Derrick Smith placed fifth and seventh with Ehrhardt achieving two PR’s in the process.
On the track, both of Lake Park’s relays that qualified for the finals placed. The 4x1 relay finished sixth, the 4x8 relay finished eight.
Edwardsville and Oak Park-River Forest were not too far behind. Edwardsville finished six points behind Lake Park for second. Their girl’s team won the team championship the week prior. Oak Park was just a point behind Edwardsville and placed third. That was the first trophy for the Huskies since 1987.
~~ Freeman was double trouble in the Shot and Discus ~~
Josh Freeman (Cary Grove, Cary ill) had the lead in both the Shot and Discus as he entered the final round. He wanted to do something extra.
Freeman’s goal was to go after the Shot Put record set last year by Jermaine Kline. He came close with a performance of 66-0. He was not disappointed. He was elated. “It was the best day that I’ve had all year,” said Freeman. “I got within six inches of the state record so I can’t complain.”
He headed outside of the stadium to the Discus ring. There he still kept the lead but extended his best to 181-3. Brandon Lombardino (Grant, Fox Lake Ill) also improved in the finals to 170-4, but it was not enough to catch Freeman.
“My last throw was 181-3. I was the last thrower. The crowd got me pumped up. I let out a big yell,” Freeman continued. “It is a fantastic way to finish out four years.” His last throw gave him a PR by three feet.
~~ It was more for the team for Heinz ~~
Before he moved over to the High Jump pit, Carl Heinz (Oak Park-River Forest) had work to do if the Huskies were going to go home with a trophy. Heinz jumped up from ninth to fifth in the Triple Jump improving his PR to 46-8.5.
The final 3 jumpers came down to Heinz, Ben Bowers (Conant, Hoffman Estates Ill), and Peter Stefanski (Marmion Academy, Aurora Ill). All cleared 6-10. For Bowers, it was redemption for disaster earlier in the High Hurdles. Bowers was disqualified in the race for knocking over a hurdle and landing in the next lane. For a minute, Heinz could not be found. “I had no energy this morning. I was not feeling good. I did not have good confidence but seeing Malachy win the 3200, I got pumped up.”
He came back and cleared 6-11 where Bowers and Stefanski could not. His second championship in a row. He then went to throw up in the bushes.
The bar was raised to 7-1 and he saw his teammate Schrobilgen head to the starting line of the 1600. He stopped and started to yell at him. While the excitement of the 1600 was going on, Heinz hit his steps and popped over 7-1. The second time he in his career he had cleared that height. But hardly anyone noticed him clear it. “Today my steps were just on and it really made up for how crappy I was feeling. But seeing Mal run gave me the motivation.” Heinz missed at the state record 7-3.25, but it did not matter. He had the state title and important points to his team.
~~ The horizontal jumps ~~
Not much changed after the preliminaries of the Long Jump except for Filip and Jegede moving up. Zach Gordon (North, Wheaton, Ill) maintained his lead that he got on his first jump of the prelims to win the event. Matt Harris (Lyons Township, LaGrange Ill) finished second. Both are juniors which means one more year of excitement between these two great jumpers.
The triple jump had some more excitement. A.J. Scarborough (Barrington, Ill) held the lead up until the final round. On his last jump, Shawn Koch (Lake Park, Roselle Ill) hit the board perfectly with a leap 48-2.5. That left the last jump of the meet to Scarborough. It was a now or never moment for the senior and he responded. He flew 49-4.75 to win. It was wind aided like Koch’s. But that did not matter. It was the win, the first for a Barrington track athlete, that counted.
~~ The Pole Vault ~~
It took 14-9 to get to the finals of this event. 2012 had one of the deepest fields in the Pole Vault that this state had ever had. At the start of the state meet, ten vaulters had gone over 15-0. It looked to be a great competition. And it was.
Cirron Clark (Danville, Ill), Nick Sgarbossa (York, Elmhurst Ill), Luke Winder (Central, Plainfield Ill), and Eric Gordon (Community West, Normal Ill) were all left having cleared 15-6. Gordon and Sgarbossa were the only athletes to clear 16-0. Two of the top vaulters in the state were about to find out who was the best on this day.
Gordon missed on his first attempt at 16-3. Sgarbossa came down the runway with a good plant and cleared the bar with 3 inches to spare. The pressure fell on Gordon. He passed on his final two attempts at 16-3 and had the bar raised to 16-6. Neither vaulter cleared 16-6, giving the state championship to the York senior.
“The idea of winning the state championship has not sunk in yet. I am glad, but I wanted to make that last height also,” Sgarbossa said at the completion of the event. “It really did not bother me that Gordon missed at 16-3. I came here today to jump a PR. That was my plan all the time.”
~~ 3200 Meter Run: How would the heat change the race ~~
The scratches that were made on Friday in the 1600 Meter prelims showed that some of the runners did not want to risk running four extra laps on Friday to give up a chance to win the 3200 on Saturday. Only two runners, Malachy Schrobilgen (Oak Park-River Forest, Oak Park Ill) and Jack Keelan (St. Ignatius, Chicago Ill), opted to run both. Everyone else would be fresh, if you can call running in 95 degree heat fresh.
The pace went out honestly. This was going to be a war of attrition. Garrett Sweatt (Edwardsville, Ill) and Tyler Schnedier (Conant, Hoffman Estates Ill) took the pace out in 2:14 with all the pre-race favorites all still there including Schrobilgen and Keelan. The first action of the race was about to begin.
As the runners passed behind the scoreboard at the north curve of the track, Joe Stewart (Metea Valley, Aurora Ill) became impatient and wanted to get out of the pack. He went to lane two, but in the process clipped Pat Niyork (Willowbrook, Villa Park Ill) and sent him to the infield. The pack passed by. Niyork slammed his hand to the ground, got up and tried to catch up to the pack. In reality, his chances in the race were over. Yellow flags went up, but no foul was called.
Stewart took the lead and started to separate himself from the pack. No one would go with him. The pack bided their time and waited for the right moment to go after Stewart as the lead continued to grow. At the 1600, Stewart was at 4:28, Schrobilgen, Erik Peterson (Barrington, Ill), Mark Derrick (Neuqua Valley, Naperville Ill), Tyler Yunk (North, Belvidere Ill), and Keelan passed by the 1600 seven seconds back.
It was the same scenario that happened two years ago when Fenwick’s Martin Grady tried to steal the race. It was York’s Andrew Smith and Jack Driggs that chased him down in the last 400. Schrobilgen was a sophomore at the time and was in that race.
“I thought it was going to be a little surge, but it was a bigger one. I was hoping to sit back and wait. I wasn’t too comfortable with that. I remember sophomore year I went back to the pack and that didn’t work so well.”
With about 900 meters to go, Stewart was not coming back and Schrobilgen began the surge to go after Stewart. Keelan, Derrick, and Sweatt followed suit with Yunk starting to drop off the pace. The packs next quarter was 68 seconds, Stewart was struggling running a 75. “I definitely planned on go around the half way point. I usually don’t have a strong kick and I can’t finish up as strong as I want to. I was just trying to take as much out of the other runners as possible,” said Stewart.
At 400 to go, Schrobilgen made one more move. Derrick followed but the distance was growing between the two. Keelan caught Derrick at the line for second. Sweatt was a second back in fourth. But the moment belonged to the Oak Park senior.
“I knew from last year, I could go off of a fast pace and close in a 60,” said Schrobilgen. “Today I realized what it was like to run your own race. I don’t remember going past guys. I just remember sheer focus. I crossed the finish line and I thought this was it. It is unbelievable. Pure ecstasy.”
~~ The hurdle races ~~
How close could it get? That is what Derrick Willies (Rock Island, Ill) and Rashad Hulbert (Crete-Monee, Crete Ill) thought as they waited at the finish line after the two came across together. Jonathan Goins (Lockport, Ill) actually got a great start and had the lead after 3 hurdles. Rashad and Willies were even the rest of the way after they passed Goins. The verdict was in after 2 minutes. The win went to Willies, only one ten thousandths ahead of Hulbert.
Hulbert made sure that would not happen again in the intermediates. He charged out in his trademark fashion having picked up the stagger before half way through the curve. He was not going to let this one get away. Hulbert win over Willies was close to a second.
“The high hurdle race motivated for the intermediates because I knew I should have won that race,” said Hulbert. “I felt pretty good. I just wanted to get through the race.”
~~ Binion wins 100 for relay teammates~~
He came out of the blocks at the gun in a flash. It looked like Tavaris Binion (Hinsdale South, Darien Ill) had jumped the gun, but it was just a great start by the junior. Aided by the 3.7 wind at his back, Binion stormed to the 100 Meter Dash crown (10.53), just ahead of Calvin Edwards (West, Joliet, Ill) and the 10.62 that he ran.
This wasn't only a win for himself. He did it for the teammates that he ran with in the two highly rated relays that did not get out of sectionals.
"It was an unbelievable start," said Binion after his race. "What happened at sectionals motivated me. My teammates worked so hard this year. Those guys are great sprinters. If we cannot be here collectively, then I was there for all of us."
~~ Filipczak not passive in this race ~~
Michal Filipczak (Maine South, Park Ridge Ill) learned his lesson a year ago at the state meet. In that race, he felt he could win. However, he went out to slow which cost him the win. He was bound and determined not to let that happen again.
He took the lead immediately at the cutline. Filipczak was at the 400 at 53.8, almost a second ahead of Peter Archibald (Geneva, Ill) and Jake Mazanke (East, St. Charles Ill). The lead grew over the next 200. Archibald made a move but seemed like he was slowing down and had nothing left in his legs. Meanwhile, Filipczak was looking for a way to cross the finish line. He began to lose his balance 5 meters from the finish. He started to go sideways into lane 3 as he crossed the finish line. He won by over a half a second over Archibald. The thing was that Filipczak left everything on the track.
“The strategy was to get out fast. My coach thought I could run 1:50.88 off of what I ran the 400 split which was 47.6. I tried yesterday but the false start kind of threw me off. He told me to try again today but I did not think it would be that possible because of the heat and the wind,” said Filipczak. “On the last straightaway, the wind took away all of my energy. I was slowing down. I didn’t know what to do. I was almost certain someone was going to pass me. I told myself this is what I was training for my whole year. I had to do everything I could to win. I was thinking I can’t let someone else win. I just wanted it so bad.”
~~~ Farley’s finish in the 400 ~~
Antonio Farley (Round Lake, Ill) ran from the front in the preliminary round on Friday. On Saturday, it was the opposite.
“As I came around the turn, I thought I made it this far, I couldn’t stop now,” said Farley. The Round Lake senior was feeling pressure from both Kenneth Allen (Thornwood, South Holland Ill) and Kaleb Williams (Bloom Township, Chicago Heights, ill). Farley was able to hold off Allen and Williams to win the first track individual championship for Round Lake. Farley’s time was 48.29 compared to 48.33 of Allen.
What was amazing was 20 minutes earlier Allen ran anchor on Thornwood’s fifth place 4 x 200 Meter Relay team.
~~ Later’s rush comes up golden in the 1600 ~~
This was going to be a race of who was going to make a move first. The heat was still strong on the O’Brien Field track, but it was not going to affect the pace of the race.
The pace started out slow compared to the past 1600 finals that we have seen. Leland Later (New Trier, Winnetka Ill) reluctantly took the early pace through the first 400 in 62.5 with the rest of the pack led by Mike Lederhouse (Glenbard West, Glen Ellyn, Ill) close behind.
Over the next 400, the pace slowed down with Malachy Schrobilgen (Oak Park-River Forest, Oak Park Ill) and Pat Juras (Lake Zurich, ill) joined Later and Lederhouse towards the front. All twelve runners in the field were within contact of each other. The pace slowed down even more setting this race up for kickers like Later and Juras. They went by in 2:10 for the 800 Meters. The question would be who would go first?
Lederhouse was the first to go. In past 1600 Meter races, he would start his move with about 700 meters to go down the backstretch. This state meet was no exception. Lederhouse charged down the backstretch looking for as much space between him and the rest of the pack. Later tried to stay in contact with Juras and Billy Bund (Lake Forest, ill) on Later’s shoulder. Coming down the home stretch, Lederhouse’s head started bobbing down looking for one more burst. As he crossed the line in 3:12.2, it looked like he was struggling to keep the pace with Later just waiting a second back.
With 300 meters to go, Later caught and passed the struggling Lederhouse. In the next one hundred meters, the gap became bigger and bigger. The New Trier senior shifted into another gear that no one in this race had on this day.
Later’s closing 800 meters was an amazing 1:59.5, the 400 was a sonic 56.3 that made the rest of field look like they were standing still. Later had a state championship to compliment his cross country title in the fall. Juras made a burst to nail down second place, nearly four seconds behind. Schrobilgen, who was seventh with 200 meters to go, used the last ounce of energy to catch and pass Todd Ford (Loyola Academy, Wilmette Ill) at the line for third and grab valuable points for the Huskies.
“The plan was right after the sectional was just run the 1600. That is what my coach (David Wisner) told me. With all the heat, I think I would not have been able to double. Today, I was just going for the win. I knew that Lederhouse would go with about 700 meters to go and I was prepared for that. I figured I could not let more than a few steps separate us when he went,” Later said. “If I stayed close, I knew I would be able to close it down there. I figured if I was going to pass him, I was going to pass him really hard. The last 200 meters I was really going. This race was the only goal I had this year. This feels great. I am going to let it sink in. I think able to win in such hot weather and kick it in strong; I think I proved something to myself and my coach. I am really satisfied.”
~~ What a way to end an era on the blue oval ~~
The 3A 4 x 400 Meter Relay would be the last race to be run on the existing blue oval. The following week, the old surface would be torn up and replace along with a new football field. There was a lot of history that had happened on that track, so it was fitting of what happened in this race was the way that this track should be closed down.
The first two legs followed suit according to the race seedings after the preliminaries. Belleville West charged to the lead with Plainfield North and Minooka close behind. At the half way point, it was still Belleville West with Minooka and Plainfield North close than a second back.
James Cole had the baton for Belleville West, Tevin Hopkins for Minooka, and Derrick Suss for Plainfield North. Coming around the first turn, Suss made a move to try to take the lead. All of a sudden he slowed down and popped into the air. In 2011, he was out all season with a hamstring injury. That injury hit him again. He crumpled to the ground in pain.
The announcer called for a trainer as the rest of the race moved by Suss. The young man got up and waved everyone away from him. This was the senior’s last race and he was going to finish it. “I was going to finish that race. In my mind, no one was going to stop me,” Suss said while he received medical attention.
The race was still going on, but it seemed that all the attention of the remaining crowd had their eyes on Suss. Bloom Townships Kaleb Williams made a move on the outside to get his team into contention. The final leg had Tevin Suggs of Belleville West holding off Chris Wilson of Minooka and Micah Frasier of Bloom Township for the win. It was the first win in this relay for Belleville West. It was also the first for Belleville West coach Patton Seagraves. When he ran at Harrisburg, he anchored their 4 x 4 relays all 4 years, but could never win the title. On this day, Suss delivered to give Seagraves that winning satisfaction.
Suss was still trying to make it around the track as the rest of the runners finished. And he was going to finish. He was moving slowly. But he was getting encouragement. Man he was getting encouragement. All the athletes on the infield waiting to get their medals from previous races were lining the infield cheering for their fellow athlete. The crowd was standing giving him encouragement to get that final exchange off. If he got the exchange off, his squad still would receive a medal and attain all-state recognition.
I do not think there was a dry eye in that stadium as Suss approached his teammate Evan Flagg with the baton. I think it was a requirement of those who were still in that stadium that there was not a dry eye. Who could not be moved by this?
Suss finally made the exchange to his teammate and fell to the track. His teammates and his coach Tony Holler rushed around him. His coach gave him a tearful embrace. Plainfield North finished the race with a time of 5:47.44, perhaps the slowest final time ever for the 4 x 400 Meter Relay. That time did not matter. It was a matter of perseverance and desire to do something for his teammates that kept Suss going.
“He has been accepted to the Air Force Academy. He has a 32 ACT. He pulled a hamstring last year and missed his entire junior year,” Holler said after the race was over. “He did not get to run at the state meet. He made it through his entire senior year because he worked so hard. It was really eerie when he went down and pulled that same hamstring. In our pre meeting of today, I told them a story. The most heart wrenching story that I have ever seen about Derek Redmond in the 1992 Olympics. He pulled a hamstring and his father came along side and helped him across the finish line. I told our men that was the type of team that we wanted to be. And it happened. I am so proud of that kid.”
The effort of Suss should serve as an example of what athletics should be. There is glory in doing your best and winning the competition, but there is more glory in persevering and completing the goal that you set out to achieve.
For those who left the Stadium of that day, I am sure that vision of Suss limping around the track to finish will stay in their minds hopefully forever. It was a forever moment for Suss. It was a forever moment for Holler and the Plainfield North track team. It was a forever moment for this blue oval and the legacy of great moments in Illinois high school track history.