Print and Go Back ESPN.com: High-SchoolTrack-and-XC [Print without images]

Thursday, May 24, 2012
IL Boys 1A State Meet: Schroeder / Nykaza matchup in prelims just a prelude to Saturday

By Mike Newman

Charleston, Ill --- The winds whipped up strongly from the south and affected most athletes Thursday in the first day of the prelims of the IHSA Boys State Track Meet. It did not affect Steve Schroeder (Monticello, Ill) and Grant Nykaza (Beecher, Ill) as they ran in the final heat of the 1600 Meter Run.

To them, it was just a rehearsal for Saturday’s final. Schroeder and Nykaza traded off the lead for the first three laps before Schroeder took the lead just before the last lap. He came across the finish line effortlessly running 4:21.28 while Nykaza jogged in a second behind (4:22.55).

“Everybody in the stands today thought I wanted to beat Steve today. The plan today was to just qualify. That was it,” said Nykaza after his run. “I did not want to run the last lap in 73. I wanted to come in nice and easy. I have some thoughts in my head about Saturday but I will keep them to myself.”

Thursday’s prelims for Schroeder set him up for a busy day on Saturday. He opened up the prelims by anchoring his school to the fastest time in the prelims in the 4 x 800 Meter Relay (8:10.29). Schroeder’s split on the anchor was 1:56.8 just ahead of St. Joseph-Ogden. He finished the day by anchoring his schools 4 x 400 Meter Relay running a 53.5 anchor. Monticello ran the 23rd fastest time in the relay and did not advance.

After he finished his 1600 meter heat, he announced that he would run the 4x8, 3200, and the 1600. Big plans for the state cross country champion. “He is the strongest distance runner in 1A,” said Nykaza.

“My plan today was test the field on the last lap. I think I executed my plan,” said Schroeder. “Saturday is going to be a lot of fun. Getting to run on this track so much?  I want to dell well in everything I can.  It is all about heart and guts and doing whatever it takes.”

The triple that he plans to do is not for his own self gratification. He wants to do it for his teammates. This is his last chance to that.

“I want to do this for my teammates. They have given a lot of the summer, over the winter. I just want to give back to them. They have been there for me through all my struggles. They are great teammates. We just want to bring a trophy home with us.”

Monticello is in good shape heading into Saturday’s finals. The Sages are tied with 6 qualifiers along with Oregon, Chicago Leo, and St. Joseph-Ogden. Newton leads all of Class 1A with 8 qualifiers including all 4 relays. Sparta qualified all of their relays and has 7 total qualifiers.

Leo chances of repeating took a little bit of a hit when they bobbled the final exchange of the 4 x 200 Meter Relay. They finished 26th and did not advance. Their 4 x 100 Meter Relay had the fastest qualifying time (42.67).

Other news and notes from Thursday’s prelims: