High-SchoolTrack-and-XC: Lake Park



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.

IL Boys 3A StatePrelims: Relays run amuck

May, 26, 2012
Darvell HarrisBob Geiger/ESPNHSDarvell Harris anchored two AAA prelims leaders for Dunbar, and also paced 200 qualifying.

Charleston, Ill ---The wind that was present during the 1A prelims was gone on Friday replaced by high humidity and temperatures in the upper 80’s. It did not bother the relay runners much as some sizzling times scorched the already hot surface of the O’Brien Field track.

Dunbar showed up on the track with on a mission. No one had heard of this squad a month ago. This Chicago Public League school last week ran 1:27.71 to win the St. Ignatius 4 x 200 relay. In the second heat of the Friday afternoon prelims, Dunbar moved the baton around the track in spectacular fashion running 1:26.11 to win their heat. The time is the best in Illinois this year and the fourth best ever in the state according to the IHSA.

Earlier in the meet, the Mightymen ran 41.77 to record the fastest qualifying time in the 4 x 100 Meter Relay. To show the strength of this squad, Darvell Harris ran 21.34 to run the fastest time in the 200 Meter Dash.

Bloom Township surprised some by running 3:17.47 to have the fastest time heading into the Saturday final. There waiting for them are four other schools that went under 3:20 in the preliminaries headed by Springfield (3:18.10).

~~ Distance events feel the heat ~~

With temperatures scheduled to get to dangerous levels in the high 90’s on Saturday, some coaches made decisions so that some of the distance runners would not run two races. One runner that took this road was Leland Later (New Trier, Winnetka Ill), who decided to just run the 1600 and passed on the 4 x 800 Meter relay.

The 1600 may be a classic race with numerous runners possibly running under 4:10 despite the heat. In the first heat, Jack Keelan (St. Ignatius, Chicago Ill) had has feet clipped with about 300 meters to go. He took two steps off the track and composed himself for a homestraight sprint. Keelan won that first heat 4:13.63.

The second heat had some of the top distance runners in the state led by Later, Malachy Schrobilgen (Oak Park-River-Forest, Oak Park Ill), Alex Riba (O’Fallon, Ill), and Todd Ford (Loyola Academy, Wilmette Ill). Later led the pack through the first 800 in 2:07.2, then extended it in the next 300 meters. Later and Schrobilgen came home comfortably in 4:12.60 – 4:13.11.

The third heat had the calming effect of a hurricane. Easton Huch (Libertyville, Ill) took the pace out in an incredible 59.9 for the first 400 with Mike Lederhouse (Glenbard West, Glen Ellyn Ill) close in tow. Hutch led the 800 in 2:03.8 and then Lederhouse took command of the race finishing in 4:12.65. It took 4:16.45 to make it to the finals perhaps the fastest prelims of all time. It should be a great final.

With Later out of the relay for New Trier, the team with the fastest sectional time struggled through their heat of the 4 x 8 finish 13th overall and missed qualifying by one place. Saturday’s final shapes up to be a fast one with Niles North entering the final with the fastest prelim time (7:45.13) led by the 1:55.3 anchor of Aron Sebhat. Sandburg (7:46.57) and Lane Tech (7:46.92) were pulled to fast times in that heat and will be factors in the final. Minooka (7:47.72) and Wheaton-Warrenville South (7:49.07) were the other heat winners.

They say practice makes perfect. I guess that can be said about Michal Filipczak (Maine South, Park Ridge, Ill) and his race in the 800 Meter Run preliminaries. Filipczak did not run passive like he did in the 2011 finals where he finished second. He took command early and won his heat in 1:51.93, the exact same time he ran at the sectionals. We could see the finals under 1:51. Peter Archibald (Geneva, Ill) won his heat and made the 1:52.16 he ran look easy. Chris Alvarez (Central, Crystal Lake Ill) won his heat (1:53.38) by two hundredths over Will Crocker (North, Belvidere Ill).

~~ Team race ~~

Edwardsville stands in good position heading into Saturday’s finals. They have 9 qualifiers. Two time defending champion Lake Park qualified 11 to the finals and still may three-peat if they can move up in some of their places in both the Long and Triple Jumps. The Lancers did receive a boost by qualifying both their 4 x 8 and 4 x 1 relays.

Edwardsville has the fastest 100 qualifier in Bennett Gray (10.93). They also qualified their 4 x 1 and 4 x 2 relays.

Wheaton North is third in qualifiers with 7. Zach Gordon is currently leading the Long Jump (24-0.5), which is currently 9th in the United States.

~~ Other notes of interest ~~

  • With Jacob Bender (Neuqua Valley, Naperville Ill) not running the 400 due to the injury he got during his sectional race, that opened the door for Antonio Farley (Round Lake, Ill). The senior won the first heat in 47.95, a PR, and the fastest time in the preliminaries. Next closest to Farley is Malik Harrison (Springfield, Ill) who is almost a second behind.

  • It should be a great final in both of the hurdle races. Rashad Hulbert (Crete-Monee, Crete Ill) ran 14.25 to have the fastest time in the High Hurdles. In the heat before that, Derrick Willies (Rock Island, Ill) had run 14.31. In the 300 Intermediates, turnabout is fair play. Hulbert won the third heat in 37.40, putting the pressure on Willies. The Rock Island junior responded by running a 37.16 which is best in the state this year.

  • Josh Freeman (Cary-Grove, Cary Ill) may double his pleasure in the weight events. In the Shot Put, he has a commanding five foot lead( 63-9.25) over Mark Balmes (Hersey, Arlington Heights Ill). In the Discus, things are a little tighter for the senior. Freeman leads the Discus (171-2), but only leads by three feet over Garrett Jensen (Edwardsville, Ill) and Brandon Lombardino (Grant, Fox Lake Ill).
WWS, IHSA, Track & Field, Marcus Jegede, Lake Park, Zach Gordon,Wheaton NorthSteven Koch/ESPNHSMarcus Jegede (Lake Park) and Zach Gordon(Wheaton North) go head to head in the 4 x 100 relay at the Wheaton Warrenville South Sectional. Wheaton North had 15 qualifiers out of the sectional.
Meet Results

Warrenville, Ill --- Wheaton North powered its way to the 3A sectional crown at Red Grange Field Friday night just by doing what they were expected to do according to Coach Don Helberg. “Everyone has qualified today like we have wanted to. I didn’t know if we would get both Pole Vaulters in but we did,” said Helberg. “Friday night is a big day and you have to have some luck.”

The Falcons qualified eleven individuals and four relays to next weekend’s state meet in Charleston. Part of the success of Wheaton North next weekend will come down to the legs of Zach Gordon. The junior had a tremendous sectional by anchoring the winning 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relays. He did win 2 individual events, the Long Jump and the 200 meter Dash, but it was the first event that everyone was talking about.

The first round of the Long Jump started in epic proportions with 3 jumpers going over 23 feet. That left it up to Gordon, who had the second longest effort so far in the state this year. He cranked out an amazing 24-2.50 jump that had the spectators around the pit shaking their heads including Gordon.

“I give credit to the competition. They really came to compete. Once I saw a couple of 23’s there, I thought I had to do it,” Gordon said. “I just prayed and I was able to get out there.” Gordon only needed one jump in the competition to win over fellow qualifiers Marcus Jegede & Scott Filip (Lake Park, Roselle Ill), Antwon James (Glenbard East, Lombard, Ill), and Jamaal Payton (Proviso West, Hillside Ill).

Wheaton North also received wins from Christian Hollinger in the Shot Put (54-3.5) and the Discus (171-5), and Brett Kohler in the 300 Meter Intermediate Hurdles (38.41).

Two time defending 3A team champion Lake Park finished 26 points behind Wheaton North. The Lancers however set themselves up with a great chance to repeat their team championship by qualifying ten individuals and two relays to Charleston. All ten individuals qualified in field events, which has been the formula for past successes for Coach Jay Ivory. They qualified 2 individuals in every field event except the Shot Put. In those events, they received wins from Kevin Spejcher in the High Jump (6-9) and Shawn Koch in the Triple Jump (47-8).

The warm spring evening spurred on great times in the distance events. In the 3200 Meter Relay, Wheaton-Warrenville South broke open a tight race in the 3rd leg when Andrew Martz pulled away from the pack running a 1:57.2 split. Luke Schroer maintained the lead for the Tigers as they won by 5 seconds over cross-town rival Wheaton North and Lake Park. York finished fourth, just making it in by twenty-eight hundredths of a second.

The 3200 run was a battle of attrition for the runners in that race. The temperatures will still in the 80’s when the athletes lined up on the track for this race. At the gun, the pack thinned out immediately as Tyler Schnedier (Conant, Hoffman Estates Ill) and Pat Niyork (Willowbrook, Villa Park, Ill) took the pace out quickly with a 64 second opening 400. By the 1600, the duo passed by in 4:34.6 with Nathan Mroz (York, Elmhurst, Ill), Nolan McKenna (Wheaton-Warrenville South, Warrenville Ill), and Scott Milling (York, Elmhurst Ill) holding on for dear life. Finally with about two laps to go, Niyork finally broke away from Schneider and went on to a four second win.

“I tried to plan ahead all day and drink a lot of water but it was flushed out of my system by the time I was racing,” said Niyork. “He (Schneider) told me the last few weeks he was getting outkicked in the last 50 meters of the race. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to make it an honest race. I wanted to win this race with guts, and not with a fifty meter kick. The last two hundred meters, my arms and abs were burning. I was wavering a little bit on my stride. I just can’t wait until next weekend.”

Mike Fahey (Glenbard East, Lombard Ill) bided his time in the 800 meter Run waiting to break away from the pack with 200 meters to go. He did and went on to a seasonal best win of 1:55.51. James Weaver (Conant, Hoffman Estates Ill) punched his ticket to state by finishing one second behind Fahey. It was a good way to finish the day for the senior. Earlier, he was part of the 4 x 8 quartet that just missed qualifying for state.

Mike Lederhouse (Glenbard West, Glen Ellyn, Ill) left no doubts that he will be one of the favorites in the 1600 meter run in Charleston with a commanding win in this sectional race. Lederhouse took the lead at the 200 meter mark and passed the 400 in 61.7 with a pack trailing behind him led by Schneider, Aidan Askin (North HS, Wheaton Ill), Chris May (York, Elmhurst Ill), and Derek Anderson (Wheaton-Warrenville South, Warrenville, Ill). Instead of waiting for 700 meters to go, Lederhouse stretched the lead out to 40 meters on the second lap passing by in 2:05.8 while the pack was nearly 3 seconds behind.

Anderson made a move to catch Lederhouse on the third lap, but the Glenbard senior heard the cheers and the yells from the South crowd and pulled away in the final 500 meters to win by four seconds.

“Tonight, I was just trying to focus on bringing it hard the second and third lap. That is where I have been lacking the past couple of weeks,” Lederhouse said. “My last lap was better than last week and I am excited about that. Last week I locked up the last one hundred meters. Today I finished strong which is encouraging.”

The sectionals lone 3 event qualifier was Ben Bowers (Conant, Hoffman Estates Ill). The talented senior qualified early in the meet clearing 6-5 in the High Jump. Then he controlled the 110 Meter High Hurdles as he surges away from the pack at the fifth hurdle to win by almost half a second. He also qualified in the 300 Meter Intermediates Hurdles finishing second behind Wheaton North’s Brett Kohler.
Roselle, Ill --- At this time of the track season, schools start tinkering with their lineups looking for the right combination to score points. Coach Don Helberg looks like he has the right combination in place for Wheaton North to have a chance to make things happen in Charleston in three weeks. The Falcons won all four relays and nearly doubled the score on such perennial state powers as Lake Park, York, and Wheaton-Warrenville South to dominate the 80th DuPage County Meet Friday night at Lake Park.

This squad is balanced and could score in a number events at state. The two athletes that provided the spark for the Falcons at this meet were Zach Gordon and Aidan Askin. Gordon started his night in the Long Jump. Coming off of a great performance in the event at a low keyed meet on Tuesday where he jumped 23-3 for the second longest outdoor jump in the state, he won with a performance of 22-7.25. A little off of Tuesday, but still the junior was happy.

“Today I was not on the board. Tuesday, I really felt it,” he said. “My step was off. I was behind the board the entire time.” Gordon anchored both the 4x1 and 4x2 relays. In the 4x1, he led his team to a 42.13 time in less than ideal conditions for a sprinter. He came back 45 minutes later and ran a 21.7 anchor to finish in 1:29.1 seconds. He felt his hamstring tighten up and coaches decided his night was over. He did not race in the 200 Meter Dash. No need to risk injury when his team had a big lead.

See the entire Zach Gordon Interview here

Askin started off the good fortunes for Wheaton North on the track in the 4 x 800 Meter Relay. The senior grabbed the baton on the anchor leg in second place behind York. He was able to catch York’s Jack Achen with 500 meters to go and went on to win by nearly four seconds. Askin’s anchor split was 1:55.6.

“I knew I was running the 1600 later on, so my coach told me to stay relaxed,” Askin said. “I knew at the same time I did not want to be out kicked so I did not want to worry about that.”

Wheaton North also closed the night by winning the 4 x 400 Meter Relay by coming behind on the last leg to catch Waubonsie Valley. The Falcons also got a 1-2 finish from Christian Hollinger and Mac Spaulding in the Shot Put

Perhaps the best race of the night was in the 1600 Meter Run. Jimmy Qiao of Naperville North stretched the pack out early passing the 400 in a quick 61 seconds. Following close behind was Askin and Mike Lederhouse of Glenbard West. Qiao kept the lead at the 800 going past in 2:07.6.

On the backstretch of the third lap, Lederhouse took the lead and the race really began at that point. The Glenbard senior stretched the lead over Askin and York sophomore Nathan Mroz. On the final lap, Askin made a charge after Lederhouse, but the Hilltopper was able to hold off Askin. Lederhouse’s winning time was 4:13.38 and signaled that he was back and should be considered in the talk for the 1600 title. Askin finished in 4:15.98.

“It started back at indoor conference where I did not feel great and I was really fatigued at the end of the race. After Prep Top Times, I went to have my blood tested and found out that my iron levels were severely low. I have been eating a lot of red meat and a lot of iron supplements and I am starting to feel like I am back to my normal self.”

That he was feeling better was evidenced in the 4 x 8 relay where he had the lead for the Hilltoppers with an opening 1:54.5 split.

Lederhouse 1600 Splits:

61.4, 2:07.7, 3:13.2, 4:13.83

See the entire interview with Mike Lederhouse here.

The 3200 Meter Run was not what Willowbrook senior Pat Niyork had expected. Wanting to run under 9:10 on this night, Niyork went through the 1600 with York’s Billy Clink & Scott Milling, and Glenbard South’s Joe Singleton. Niyork stretched out his lead and quicken his pace in the last 800 running 2:16 to finish in 9:16, close to his seasonal PR.

“ The first lap was perfect. But then I dropped off after that. I mentally just could not stay with it,” Said Niyork. “I can’t wait to start doing some more speed work and then I will be able to hit the 69’s like I want. This was the last real meet about time. From here on out, it is all about the place. I am not worried about times.”

As Lederhouse was coming back into form in the 1600, so was Glenbard South’s John Wold in the 800 Meter Run. He took control of the lead at the 400 passing by in 57.2. He held off Derek Anderson of Wheaton-Warrenville South on the last straight. His time was 1:57.02, but it really did not matter to him. After a season of foot problems, it felt good to get back on the track.

“I have been having a lot of trouble with my feet, with the bones. Today it felt good to get out on the track. I felt so relaxed during this race, “ the sophomore said.

This week in Illinois boys track & field

April, 19, 2012
Contrary to belief, the weather was not as bad as it looked. Yes, there were some meets that were cancelled in Central and Southern Illinois. But the weather was not all that bad. Compare the weather that we had this weekend to that of last year. All I remember someone telling me that hey were running the mile relay at the Bud Mohns Invitational while the snow was gently falling.

The performances keep getting better. I think once the temperature stabilizes and it gets warmer, we will see the sprint times drop dramatically. But there have been some super performances in the last week that could point us to a great state meet in May.

With saying that, here are some of the top things that I noticed in the last week.

~~ Who is this guy Schaap? ~~

I was first alerted to this performance close to midnight last Monday when I received a text message from the meet manager of the Capitol City Classic Mike Garcia, coach of Springfield Lanphier. He told me that he sent me the results and yes, the 1600 was correct. I checked and saw that Jonathan Schaap, a junior from Mahomet-Seymour, won that 1600 running a dynamite 4:14.85.

The question that was going through the message boards was who is Jonathan Schaap?

He is legit guys. I seriously believe that he realizing his full potential right now. You will see that in some cases with a distance runner coming from his sophomore year. This is the case with Schaap.

The team approach that the Bulldogs used last fall may have stopped Schaap from showing his full potential. He did place 25th at the state meet running 15:18.

His time in the 3200 has dropped dramatically from last season with an improvement of 36 seconds so far. He was running 4:29 indoors. At the meet last Monday, Schaap was pushed by 3200 all stater Marc Maton of Chatham-Glenwood. The big thing will be seeing what he can do in the 3200. His next meet will be the Normal Invitational on Friday.

~~ The power of the Pole Vault ~~

At the same Capitol City Classic Meet, Eric Gordon of Normal Community West won the event with an outdoor PR of 15-8. We saw the same thing from indoor season where he will be steady clearing at a certain height and then make the improvement upward. The conditions will have to be agreeable for Gordon to make the next step up.

We thought that at the beginning of the year that we would have only a few vaulters at 15-0. So far during this outdoor campaign, we already have seven vaulters at 15-0 or above led by York’s Nick Sgarbossa.

The one vaulter that I would definitely keep an eye on is Luke Winder of Plainfield Central. He is only a sophomore. Last Saturday at the Bud Mohns Invitational at Downers Grove, he cleared 15-0 for the first time either indoors or outdoors. He comes from a great vaulting family following his brothers Jake and Josh, who were both state champions in the event while in high school. Both brothers went on to vault at North Central College where Jake was a 3 time national champion and Josh is currently a two time All-American.

~~ Only field events at Lake Park? ~~

Lake Park has been the 3A team champion the last two seasons based on a dominating presence in the field events. At the beginning of the year, Coach Jay Ivory thought that they would have some help from the track events. That thought showed up Saturday at the Bud Mohns Invitational. Their 4 x 800m Relay quartet, dominated by sophomores, placed 3rd in the event. Kevin Jorgensen surprised the crowd at Downers South by winning the 1600. Throw Jorgensen into the 3200 Meter Relay and that squad could challenge for a medal. Throw in Scott Filip in the 110 High Hurdles and the Lancers could find some help outside of the field.

~~ The future in the 4 x 800 Relay ~~

While we are on the subject of the distance relay, a strong quartet from Crystal Lake Central leads the state in 7:58.20, run last weekend at the BATE Invitational at Buffalo Grove. But also keep an eye on a relay that was run at the John Bell Invitational last Saturday at West Aurora. Lyons Township’s sophomore squad of Henry Hostetler, Ed McCarter, Alex Lima, and Dan Lupano ran a 8:19.89 to win the F/S level of the race. If they ran that quartet in the varsity race, they would have placed third. This team may make it to state this year, but they could be contending for a state championship in 2013.

~~ The Belvidere North DMR ~~

Will Crocker, Garrett Lee, and Tyler Yunk all had strong performances on Easter Weekend at the Arcadia Invitational in California. The trio was back at it for the Blue Thunder at the Hub Relays in Rochelle last Saturday.

“In the first event of the day, we put 4 juniors in the 4 x 1600 Meter Relay to go after the meet record of 18:46,” said Belvidere North Coach Troy Yunk. “The record was 18:46, we ran 18:22. Jesse Laseman 4:39, Paxson Menard 4:37, Tyler Yunk 4:31, and Garrett Lee 4:35(we ran in that order). Nick Miller from Harlem lead off their 4 X 1600 in 4:22 so we had a gap to close on our second leg. Paxson got the lead and we rolled from there”

The key was saving Yunk and Lee for the DMR which they did during their 1600 Meter legs.

In the DMR, Belvidere North ran solo. Will Crocker led off in 3:09, Sophomore Logan Zeien ran the 400 in 52.2, Garrett Lee ran 1:58, and Tyler Yunk brought it home in 4:25. Their time was 10:25.6 which is the second fastest time currently in the state.

This is directed at the Midwest Distance Gala…let’s get a DMR together after state and see some fur fly before Nationals!

~~ A strange end to a meet ~~

The city of Palatine located northwest of Chicago perennially has two tough track programs in Palatine HS and Fremd HS. Last Saturday, these schools duked it out in the First “Crosstown Classic”. The competition was close.

With the 4 x 400 Meter Relay remaining, there was a 1 point differential with Palatine leading 71-70. Comparing the two teams in this event, Fremd had the advantage with their 4 runners capable of running 3:32, Palatine’s 3:38.

At the first turn there stood Coaches John Nalley of Palatine and Jim Aikens of Fremd talking with Nalley basically conceding what the outcome was about to be. They waited for the start.

The gun went off. A second later, another shot went off. Both coaches began to walk over to the starting line. Their was a false start…and Fremd was charged with it. Palatine ran the race solo and ran 3:38.4 which clinched the meet championship 76-70.

For this day, the Pirates would have bragging rights in Palatine…until next Tuesday when the two schools go at it again at the Mid Suburban League West Division Championships at Schaumburg.

~~ This weekend ~~

This will be the first weekend of tests for some of the top distance runners. Erik Peterson of Barrington, who ran 4:16 on Tuesday at a Triangular meet, will double in both the 3200 Meter Run and the 1600 Meter Run at the Lake Zurich Invitational on Friday.

Perhaps the top meet of the weekend will be the Bob Cohoon Invitational at Downers Grove South on Friday evening. The 3200 Meter Run should be perhaps the best field outside of the state meet (that includes Prospect as well) including Leland Later of New Trier, Mark Derrick & Taylor Soltys of Neuqua Valley, Grant Nykaza of Beecher, Nick Kirk of Downers Grove South, and Kevin Proffitt of Downers Grove North. Most of these runners will come back in the 1600 Meter Run where they will be joined by Malachy Schrobilgen of Oak Park-River Forest and Martin Martinez of Warren.

Other action to watch over the next three days:


- Rocket Relays @ Burlington Central

- Terry Englund Relays @ Blue Island Eisenhower

- McHenry County Meet @ Crystal Lake Central (Field events Thursday, Track events Friday).


- Brother Rice Relays

- Buzz Bradley Invitational @ Sparta

- Chatham-Glenwood Co-Ed Invitational

- Dunlap Relays

- Elmwood Park Invitational

- Glenbard South Invitational

- Highland Park Twilight Invitational

- Lake Zurich Bears Invitational

- Lyons Township Relays @ Western Springs

- Mascoutah Invitational

- Mattoon Invitational

- Normal Community Invitational

- Red Grange Invitational @ Wheaton-Warrenville HS

- Rock Island ABC Meet

- Round Lake Invitational

- Tinley Park Relays

- Travis Classic @ Hersey HS

- York Invitational


- Hononegah Relays @ Rockton

- Johnson Invitational @ Bloom HS

- Lake Forest Invitational

- Peterson Prep Invitational @ Kaneland HS

- Sabre Invitational @ Streamwood

- Winston Brown Invitational @ Edwardsville

Let’s hope the weather is great this weekend!!!

Illinois: What happened in boys track last week

February, 29, 2012
For the week ending February 25, 2012

The first major invitational competition happened last weekend throughout Illinois. Even though it is the indoor season and the state meet is 3 months away, there were some great performances at some of the venues.

Leading up to the state meet, I will highlight some of the action on the boys side. The action will start to pick up heading towards Bloomington for the IPTT Classic on the weekend of March 23.

So here is what I saw this past weekend of note:

~~ Have the defending state champions lost their touch? ~~

2A champion Cahokia and 3A Lake Park saw their first major invitational action this past weekend with Illinois only competition.

Cahokia has competed in some major invitationals in Arkansas & Missouri throughout January. They competed at the Normal West Invitational last Friday and actually look like the team to beat in 2A. I know it is only the end of February, but this team has the depth and quality to capture a team championship.

For example, in the Frosh/ Soph 4 x 400 Meter Relay, their first two runners split 51.9 & 52.5. Coach Leroy Milsap does have the athletes to spread around to get the points at state meet time. Trey Story placed 3rd in the 55 and won the 200. Marlin Bradywon the 400 by 3 ten thousandths of a second. The Comanches showed their strength in the field events with Antonio Pierce won the High Jump and Chris Moore in the Long Jump. Moore would have been in contention for the Triple Jump, but he tweaked his foot on his first jump and did not compete.

We talked about Lake Park in the recap of the Proviso West Invitational. Time will tell if this team will get their third in a row, but the prospects looked good after last week's meet. Even with super soph jumper Marcus Jegedle on the lower level in this meet, the Lancers still fell 1 point short to Neuqua Valley for the team championship at Proviso.

Kevin Spejcher won the High Jump with a clearance of 6' 8" with 3 good attempts at 7'

There is depth in the Pole Vault where Tim Ehrhardt placed 2nd and Sean Lang placed 7th. Junior Derek Smith did not compete. He cleared 13' 9" in a dual meet earlier in the week at Oak Park.

Lake Park has more depth in the jumps they've had the last two years. The thing is that they are all underclassmen! Junior Shawn Koch had a breakthrough in winning the Triple by improving his PR by 2 feet. Scott Filip won the Long Jump with a state best 23' 4". Then you have to think about Jegedle, who jumped 22' 4" in the Long and 45' 6" in the Triple.

"With the depth in those events, that gives us better options to spread guys around in other events," Lake Park Jay Ivory said during the meet.

~~ The Jump that did not count ~~

How would you like to jump 6' 4" in the High Jump and place third in a dual meet? That is what happened to Lake Park's Scott Filipand Oak Park's Harrison Gay last Thursday at a dual meet in Oak Park's Fieldhouse. It was a crazy High Jump competition where at least 6 jumpers went 6' 0" or higher.

But the story of the night was about the jump that did not count.

Kevin Spejcher of Lake Park and Carl Heinz of Oak Park-River Forest had a great competition in this event with Heinz winning at 6' 10" and Spejcher right behind at 6' 8".

Heinz asked the bar to be raised to 7' 0". He missed on her first two attempts. On the second attempt, he looked into the stands and said, "Sorry mom!" Carl had cleared 7' last April at a meet in Hinsdale, but his parents were not there.

On his third attempt, Heniz messed up his steps and tried to stop before the bar. Unfortunately, his momentum took him under the bar. That was his 3rd attemt. The competition was over...or was it?

Heinz looked over to his coach Danielle Dobias-Wagner and asked if he could try one more time. She nodded in approval.

Good approach. Good plant. Good clearance of the bar. 7' 0" was his. It would have to be a confidence thing because it was his 4th jump and you only get 3 to clear a height.

What was amazing is that he had not had a good practice in the last 2 weeks. At his first meet of the year on February 3, he hurt his foot and was out. With little work coming into this meet, it will be fun to see what he will do in the upcoming weeks.

~~ For you stat geeks...like me ~~

Here are the 200m splits for Garrett Sweatt of Edwardsville in the 3200 Meter Run at the Normal West Invitational last Friday. Sweatt's 9:07.25 is currently ranked #3 in the United States.

33.7, 67.9, 1:42.4, 2:16.3

2:51.4, 3:25.9, 4:01.7, 4:35.6

5:10.3, 5:44.6, 6:19.5, 6:53.6

7:28.5, 8:03.0, 8:37.2, 9:07.2

~~ This weekend ~~

Most of the action this weekend will be at some of the universities throughout the state and away from the Chicago area.

The boys edition of the SIU Invitational will be held on Saturday in Carbondale. The Illinois State Invitational at Normal is also being contested on Saturday.

A new meet, the Centennial Invitational at the University of Illinois, should be highly contested with Garrett Sweatt and Cameron James of Edwardsville scheduled to compete.

If you are in the Chicago area, there are a couple of meets that could check out. On Friday, the York Invitational will include the season debut of Palatine in the distance events on this spacious 200 Meter Track in Elmhurst.

On Saturday, the Joe Scarpino Invitational will be held in Buffalo Grove.

On Sunday, the ICOPS Invitational featuring some of the top Catholic Chicago area schools in the area will be held on the campus of Lewis University in Romeoville.

If you are in the Naperville area on Monday night, stop by the Al B. Carius Track on the campus of North Central College. The Mustang Relays will be held starting at 6 PM. If you like relay action, that is the place to be!

~~ And Finally... ~~

I think as someone who covers track & field, you kind of wonder what the big thing will be at that meet. You come to the meet looking for spirited competition and great performances. You like to see young athletes see what they can do.

I did see that on Saturday at the Proviso West Invitational.

Right before the start of the first heat of the Varsity 1 mile run, I looked down the starting line. There was an athlete there that I thought did not belong. Before the start of the mile, you expect to see athletes with the distance runner body...some short, some tall and gangly.

There was an athlete there that towered over the rest. Calvin King of Proviso West was about 6 ' 3" and close to 280 pounds. (That is just an estimate). I looked at the meet program and he had a seed time of 14:00. I made a remark to a coach near by that we might be here for a little.

The gun went off. In my mind, I was thinking that I hoped that this young man would make it through 400 meters.

Boy was I wrong!

The lead runners crossed the finish line and King still had 4 more laps to run. But he kept going. Just each step he was taking was closer to finishing.

He was not alone. The entire attention of the Proviso West Fieldhouse was on this young man. All the athletes and coaches were standing around the track cheering King on.

In my mind I was thinking, "Come on---you can finish. You can do it."

When on my drive home, I was getting phone calls from people asking if I had seen what was said about this race online. I had not.

There were comments of why was this athlete allowed to compete in a major invitational and more that I prefer not to talk about.

Sometimes we want to see the spectacular at a track meet. We want to see the meet record broken or something note worthy.

For those of you who did not think it was right of this young man to run, well I hope seeing this young man's effort towards the finish line changed your thinking about that.

We did see something spectacular happen and this athlete provided it. King finished nearly 3 minutes ahead of his seed time running 11:11. He competed and achieved. That is what I look for at a track meet.

He may not have the body of a distance runner, but does have the heart of one.

King received the loudest ovation of the day. He deserved it.

The Secret of Their Success at Lake Park

February, 16, 2012
The Lake Park High School boy’s track & field team has dominated the track scene in the state of Illinois winning the 3A team title the last two years. Head Coach Jay Ivory has built a squad that is dominated by field events. In the history of the track and field on the high school level in Illinois, no school has won the state title the way that school west of Chicago has. All the points scored by the Lancers were done through 6 field events. It must be something with the facilities that they have. It must be the water that is in Roselle that they are drinking. But it is something way more than that.

There is nothing that special about the indoor facilities that the Lake Park track teams use. There is no flash or sizzle about the area. It is not a 200 meter track temple that some of the schools have within the state. It is small and compact. The boys and girls teams have trouble using this small area at the same time. The actual running area is not a full circuit. But still, Ivory and his team find I way to make it work out. Thank goodness for a warm winter.

There is an aura of success when you enter that small area adjacent to the main gym. It comes from the two state championships that this team has earned. The success starts from the coaching staff that is passionate in what they do.

Jay Ivory is the head coach. “I feel like I am just the manager,” he said. “I am just trying to get the team from meet to meet and make sure they are entered in each meet.” Ivory is the pulse of this team. But when you ask him about that, he defers all the success to the staff.

“You can see how passionate they are to the cause of track & field,” Ivory says of his assistants. “It is absolutely infectious. No surprises with them. We would not be successful without these guys.”

Tom Kaberna coaches the horizontal jumpers. Bob Nihells coaches the weight events. Lance Murphy is in charge of the distance runners. Doug Juraska works with the High Jump and the Pole Vault. Ivory handles the sprints. “I believe we have the best group of coaches in the state, perhaps the country,” Ivory stated.

It is the field events where state meet success has occurred in recent state meets. You can look at past state meets and see that all 6 events have been successful which is a credit to the 3 coaches that coach the athletes.

This year will be a year of test for the Lancers. They have lost 65 out of the 74 points that were scored in the state meet with the graduation of Jeremy and Jermaine Kline in the weight events along with Zach Ziemek, the state champ in the Pole Vault, Long and Triple Jumps.

For the first time in 3 years, Lake Park enters the season not as the favorite in the team competition. It is a position that suits Ivory just fine.

“I am fine with the fact that people think that we have lost so much and they we will not be towards the top,” Ivory sheepishly says. “I think we have some quality guys coming back that could put up points. We also have some young kids that are also stepping into the mix. We may be a more rounded team than we have been the last couple of years.”

No offense to Ivory’s sprint crew or the distance men of Lance Murphy. Both men have a young group of athletes that could surprise on the state level this season. The spotlight the last few years has been in the field. So what is the secret of their success?

“Success breeds success,” Ivory simply states. “It is just like York and their distance runners. Kids see the success that comes from the events and they just want to be a part of it.”

~ Breaking down the jump ~

Kaberna’s jumpers have achieved the most equally along with Nihells' throwers in the Lake Park program. It comes down to the coach and his passion towards the two events.

“I have gone to so many clinics searching for ideas to make my guys better,” Kaberna said while I was visiting. “Any idea, if it is good I will use it. For example, I TIVO the guys when they are taking jumps. We go back and watch each of the jumps slowing it down. I can point out what the guys are doing wrong. I got that idea from a diving coach and how he used it with his divers. It is easy to say you are doing something wrong and the guys will doubt what you are saying. If you show them the video of a jump, they become believers of what I am teaching. The proof is in the pudding.”

“I had problems with certain aspects of my Long Jump during last year,” said Junior Scott Filip, who earned all-state last year in that event. “Coach showed me what I was doing wrong on the video. We fixed it and then there was no more problem.”

So much of Kaberna’s practices are concentrate on technique. Not one part of the jumping phase is ignored. Kaberna picks it apart piece by piece for his athletes. The one thing that his guys do not practice is the landing. “If we do everything else right, the landing takes care of itself,” Kaberna states.

Kaberna is also responsible for the DuPage Track Club, where the Lancers compete on during the early summer. It is also a chance for younger athletes in the community to feel what it is like and what it will be like to be a Lancer. “We are just trying the younger kids excited about track and field,” Ivory added. “No doubt the track club helps us.”

~ The little corner of success ~

There is a small room nestled in the corner between the track area and the main gym. That is where the weight athletes of Bob Nihells congregate every day to work on the technique necessary in the Shot Put and the Discus. The small area was where State Champions Dan Block & Jermaine Kline learned their craft. Just like with Kaberna and the rest of the Lake Park staff, Nihells is creative with the training techniques. There is video equipment in the room to look at each athlete.

“Good athletes make better throwers,” Nihells said as he was describing the Kline brothers. “They were extremely gifted.” This year will be a bit of a challenge where he will be going through a rebuilding process with his group. Will the success of the Klines’ trickle down to this year? “It is really hard to say if any of the kids learned from them or their success scared some kids away. Some kids back away from that success. So it is a double edged sword when you get kids like that. Some kids, if they are like a year away, they have a tendency that I am not going to get a chance to throw so why should I. Then you have some freshman that look up to them so that is really the key if you have freshman that are really talented and they saw what it took to get good. Then as a coach you move in and you are ready to go again.”

“The group I have this year is very coachable. When you have kids that work hard and that you can teach, they will be successful,” Nihells concluded.

~ Legacy ~

Lake Park, Spejcher, Geiger
Cassandra Geiger/ESPNHSKevin Spejcher of Lake Park is a treat to score in multiple jumps
Kevin Spejcher is looked at as the key leader on this squad. He has competed in the state meet the last few years placing 6th last year in the state finals in the High Jump. His goals are high this year that he made a choice to skip basketball for the first time in his high school career. “I just knew I was not going to get a scholarship in basketball. I wanted to concentrate all my efforts in the High Jump,” the senior said. “Individually, I just want to stay healthy and try to go over 7’ by the end of the indoor season. Top 3 is definitely the goal. I have been part of the state team the last two years. I want to bring one more back before I leave.”

The success that this team had was through the efforts of Zach Ziemek who is now attending the University of Wisconsin. It was not what he did in the stadium the day of the meet, but the impact that he had during practice and away from the team.

“What I learned from Zach is that you have to put 100% effort during the off season,” said Filip. “I learned what you put into the event is what you get out of it. He always stayed positive. He always was on time for practice. He would do everything that was asked of him. I looked up to him because he taught me everything.”

What Ziemek passed down to Filip will be eventually passed down to the next group of jumpers. “I am trying to teach the younger kids the same things. I just want to be the athlete, the person that he was while he was here. I just want to continue the Lake Park tradition.”

When it comes down to it, it is what the coaches bring to the table for their kids every day. The coaches look to get knowledge and pass it on to the athletes on this team. It brings the team to practice every day hungry to learn and hungry to do their best.

Kevin Spejcher summed it up best when it comes down to his coaches and what the secret is in this west suburban school. “I have never been inspired so much by these coaches. They love what they do and they know it. It is the coaches. That is why it is so special here.”