IPTT Class 3A Boys: Crocker leads distance dominance by Belvidere North

When the IHSA announced last June that there would be changes in the classifications in track and field, and that some schools would be moved up a class, one of the schools that was hit by the move was Belvidere North.

Sceptics wondered if the Blue Thunder would be able to keep their distance dominance that they’ve had in Class 2A the last three years. There was doubt…how could this small school go up against the big dogs?

Well, Troy Yunk’s squad entered the Shirk Center for the IPTT Class 3A meet with a chip on their shoulder. They came to take a test and they passed with flying colors. Tyler Yunk won the 3,200, Will Crocker won the 800, and Garrett Lee came within a fraction of a second of winning the 1,600 -- nipped at the line by Oak Park-River Forest’s Malachy Schrobilgen.

So much for not being able to run with the big dogs. After this meet, they are the big dogs.

Probably the most impressive performance of the night by Belvidere’s distance trio was that of Crocker in the 800. He stayed off the pace for the first 500 meters. He moved up through the race field and charged to the front with 150 to go. He crossed the line with the win and a new PR of 1:54.87, close to a second ahead of Oak Park-River Forest’s Evan Fisher and St. Charles East’s Jake Mazanke. Crocker was also was named the Boys Athlete of the Meet for that performance.

“I came in here thinking that I could take it, but everyone took it out a little hard,” he said after his race. “So I was content with sitting in the back. I did that a lot last year.

“There has been a lot of talk. Former runners from our school get made fun of,” Crocker continued, explaining his squad’s attitude about the change up to 3A. “You are 2A and you don’t matter. We wanted to come out today and make a point that we can hang with the big guys. We are doing a pretty good job of it.”

About an hour earlier, it was Tyler Yunk’s turn to make a statement. He traded off the lead with Loyola’s William Hague and finally took command of the 3,200 in the last 400. His 9:16.62 is a PR. It was more than a second ahead of St. Ignatius’ Patrick Santino, who had a breakthrough race running 9:17.94.

The most exciting race of the night was the 1600. Conant’s Tyler Schneider took the pace out hard, similar to how he ran last week at the MSL Invitational. This time, he had company in Schrobilgen, Lee, and Mike Lederhouse of Glenbard West.

Lederhouse took the lead with 600 meters to go and tried to extend the lead, but the pack would not budge.

They passed by the 1200 in 3:13. Schneider was the first to kick with 250 meters to go with Schrobilgen and Lee close behind. Lee with 100 meters to go burst by on the curve. In the last 50 meters, Schrobilgen came up on his side and both runners gave everything they had. Both lunged at the finish line with Lee tumbling to the ground and Schrobilgen following suit. It was Schrobilgen that did get the win: 4:14.32 – 4:14.37 over Lee.

Some other highlights from the 3A Boys Meet:

  • This 3A meet was the meet where the unexpected was expected. It was so true in the final event of the meet, the 4 x 400. With 200 meters to go on the final leg, Minooka, Thornwood, and Waubonsie Valley were fighting for the championship. On the back stretch, it looked like Thornwood had passed Waubonsie Vallley on the inside on the back stretch. On the curve, it looked like Thornwood and Minooka lost their stride. However, Thornwood had a full advantage as they streaked home to an apparent victory.

Flags were up at both sides of the far curve. After 10 minutes of officials deliberating, it was ruled that Thornwood had thrown an elbow at Minooka and was disqualified. At the same time, Minooka was disqualified for an infraction during the first leg where they cut in too early. There was shock at the finish line as this was told to the race participants. St. Charles East was given the win as they had passed Waubonsie Valley in the last 20 meters.

(Writer’s note: I took video of this race. I have not had a chance to fully review it as of the time of this publishing. I will go into detail the accounts of this race in a full recap Wednesday.)

  • There were two upsets in the field events. In the pole vault, Joe Ward of Rockford Jefferson won the event with a PR of 15-0. Eric Gordon, the seasonal list leader in the event from Normal Community West, finished fourth.

  • The high jump competition was a thrilling affair coming down to the final two jumpers, Kevin Spejcher of Lake Park and Carl Heinz of Oak Park-River Forest. The defending state champ Heinz missed on his first two attempts of 6-5 before clearing on his third attempt. They both cleared 6-9. The bar was moved to 6-10. Spejcher cleared on his third attempt, Heinz brushed the bar with his shoulder on his final attempt. Call it a minor upset. Peter Stefanski of Marmion Academy had a good meet, finishing third with a clearance of 6-7.

  • In a thrilling last 200 meters of the 4 x 800 relay, David Timlin of Lane Tech held off Dan Popek of Minooka until the last 75 meters, where Popek made a decisive surge. Minnoka’s winning time of 8:00.27 is a seasonal best. Niles North’s Aron Sebhat overtook Timlin in the last 5 meters to take second.

  • There were no upsets in the shot put. Josh Freeman of Cary-Grove hit 62-3.25 on his second attempt to take control of the event early. Mark Balmes of Hersey was second in 57-7.25.

There will be a full update of the meet on Wednesday on Dyestat Illinois!