High-SchoolTrack-and-XC: Malachy Schrobilgen

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).
Mike Leaderhouse, Malachy Schrobilgen, West SuburbanSteven Koch/ESPNHSMalachy Schrobilgen and Mike Leaderhouse run impressive 1600 meter times of 4:10 & 4:11 at the West Suburban Silver

Western Springs, Ill --- All during the day on Friday, the winds on the Lyons Township south campus whipped up from the south at a pace averaging 20 mph. Right before the start of the finals of the West Suburban Conference Boys Silver Division Championships, the winds ceased to exist. Conditions were almost perfect and ripe for fast performances on the blue oval.

Malachy Schrobilgen (Oak Park-River Forest, Oak Park Ill) and Mike Lederhouse (Glenbard West, Glen Ellyn, Ill) were up for the challenge.

Both distance runners were scheduled to run the 1600 Meter Run towards the end of the meet. Both runners took different paths to get to that race. Lederhouse anchored the Glenbard West 4 x 8 relay bringing the team from fifth to third. Lederhouse’s split was 1:52.0 to Glenbard West under 8 minutes. Schrobilgen came to the track ten minutes later and sat behind Chris May (York, Elmhurst Ill) for the first six laps. The Oak Park senior moved away in the final two laps to win comfortably by five seconds. As he left the track, he smiled and said, “That was a nice warm-up.”

By 8 PM, the conditions were nearly perfect and the runners in the 1600 would be foolish if they let this opportunity slip by. The weather dictated a fast pace and a tactical slow run was not going to happen on this night.

The only problem that spectators around the finish line speculated about was who would push the pace for these two elite runners? The answer: none. These two would handle it themselves. “My plan was to try to push the pace from the gun,” said Schrobilgen. “But Mike rushed to the front and I decided to go with him.”

The pace was quick with Lederhouse leading Schrobilgen, Nathan Mroz (York, Elmhurst Ill), and Kevin Proffitt (North, Downers Grove, Ill) through the first 400 in 61.6 seconds. The pace did not waver as the same four passed through the 800 in 2:05.5 in a single file line.

With 700 meters to go, Lederhouse made the move to break the race open, similar to what he did last week at the DuPage County Meet. Schrobilgen pushed to stay close to the Glenbard runner, but the pace broke both Mroz and Proffitt.

At the gun, Lederhouse had close to a second lead and it looked like he would extend it on Schrobilgen on the back stretch. On the final straight away, Schrobilgen made the final push to get past a tiring Lederhouse and had enough to win: 4:11.44 to 4:12.31. Schrobilgen’s closing 400 was 60.6 seconds.

“Today my goal was to run close to 4:10 as possible,” said Lederhouse after the race. “The pace kind of lagged the third lap. But, I am so excited about it.”

For Schrobilgen, it was redemption for the Oak Park senior in a way. Early during the outdoor season, he lost a pair of races. The first was to William Hennessy (Jacobs, Algonquin Ill) at the Gus Scott Invitational. The next week, it was to Leland Later (New Trier, Winnetka Ill) at the Bob Cohoon Invitational.

“I really did not know what was going on. I had some injuries in the off season, I think I had some residual effects from it. I was afraid to push it. After that DGS meet, I told my coaches I knew I should be doing better.”

The past two weeks he has rebounded. Last week, it was the solo 4:12 at Hinsdale. Then came Friday night’s win. “I'm running where I am enjoying it. I am not running scared,” he said. “This race tonight was I was either here or I would not be in the competition at the state meet. I feel good about it.”

~~ Oak Park’s first conference outdoor title since 1987 ~~

Oak Park dominated the team race in Friday WSC-Silver meet outdistancing York by 55 points. It came down to incredible quality and incredible depth. Tim Hasso’s squad scored in all but one event. It is a good build block for what lies ahead.

“We had three goals at the beginning of the year: win conference, win sectional, and win state. We accomplished one of them tonight,” said Hasso. “There is a natural progression in this sport and not to peak too early. The kids are confident. But you might as well erase the leader board after today because none of that matters. One false start, one dropped baton can change the whole thing. The idea is to advance to the next level. Focusing on places and focusing on doing your very best.

The domination started for the Huskies in the field events. Multi all-stater Carl Heinz won the High Jump clearing 6-10. He missed at three attempts at 7-1. He moved over to the Triple Jump where he won with a leap of 45-7.5.

Oak Park had six wins on the track which included the wins by Schrobilgen in the 3200 & 1600. In the 4 x 100, Oak Park used a lineup of two sophomores and two juniors to win over Downers Grove North by about a second. The Oak Park time of 41.85 is currently the fastest in the state. The same quartet came back and ran 1:28.27 to win the 4 x 2.

Zach Booth, a member of both relays, exploded out of the turn to run 22.50 in winning the 200 Meter Dash. Evan Fisher withstood a slow first lap and being boxed in for the first 550 meters of the 800 Meter Run. He broke away in the final 100 meters for a 1:58.72 win.

Oak Park is another school that will be in the hunt for a state championship in two weeks in Charleston. They have good quality and some strong relays. That’s the recipe that could bring back a trophy to Oak Park.

~~ News of note ~~

  • Jordan Munar (North, Downers Grove, Ill) dominated the two individual races that he ran on Friday night. He ran 11.12 into a slight headwind to win the 100. He came back in the 400 Meter Dash and won making a strong move with 150 Meters to go to run 49.12 for the distance.

  • Nick Scarbossa (York, Elmhurst Ill) was one of two event winners for the team runner up Dukes. Scarbossa set a new conference record and took over the state lead in the Pole Vault winning with a clearance of 16-0. Teammate Paul Golen set a personal best in winning the Discus with a throw of 171-7.

  • Relatively unknown Long Jumper Daniel Hinspeter (Central, Hinsdale Ill) took advantage of state leader Matt Harris’ (Lyons Township, LaGrange, Ill) misfortune of fouling on all three of his jumps, to win the event jumping a personal best of 23-0. The Red Devils had other wins by Ryan Daleen in the 110 High Hurdles (15.34), Ryan Callen in the Shot Put (53-10), and their 4 x 8 relay (7:57.10).

  • Other wins of the night included a 4 x 4 relay title for Glenbard West (3:22.63) and Lino Morgorvic (Lyons Township, LaGrange, Ill) in the 300 Meter Hurdles (39.43).

This week in Illinois boys track & field

May, 10, 2012
~~ Fantastic miles on Friday night ~~

It is amazing when all the stars line up and provide wonderful weather for athletes to perform in. That was the case on Friday night. Within 1 hour on Friday evening, there were some fantastic 1600 Meter Races in the Chicago area.

Let’s start at the John Davis Titan Invitational. In a talent packed race, Leland Later (New Trier, Winnetka Ill) ran the fastest time in the state running 4:10.7 to win. Todd Ford (Loyola Academy, Wilmette Ill) finished second in 4:16.0, Aron Sebhat (Niles North, Skokie Ill) finished third in 4:16.7.

At the McCarthy Memorial meet at Hinsdale Central, Malachy Schrobilgen (Oak Park-River Forest HS, Oak Park, Ill) ran an impressive 1600 running basically by himself. He won running 4:12.1, a meet record, and sixteen seconds ahead of Jack Feldman (Central, Hinsdale Ill).

Perhaps the most competitive of all the races this weekend was at the Lake County Invite. Erik Peterson (Barrington, Ill) was able to edge Pat Juras (Lake Zurich, Ill) 4:12.47 to 4:12.68, by 21 hundredths of a second. Martin Martinez (Warren, Gurnee Ill) and Billy Bund (Lake Forest, Ill) were both under 42:0 in this race.

The DuPage County Meet can not be left out of this discussion. Mike Lederhouse (Glenbard West, Glen Ellyn, Ill) started to push the pace with 700 meters to go and withstood a challenge from Aidan Askin (North, Wheaton, Ill) to win in 4:13.38. Overall, there were 7 runners that were under 4:23 in this race.

So why so many fast times in this race last Friday?

Besides the good conditions, most of the “name” distance runners participated in the event on Friday. I think it also has a lot to do with the fact that we are heading into the last three weeks of the season and this could be the one chance for some runners to get that fast time in the event if they will be competing in the 3200 in the state series.

Part of it may also be from the mild winter that we had and from the fact that the athletes have benefitted from that. So far this season, we’ve had eleven runners at 4:16 or faster and nineteen overall under 4:20. Fastest times that Illinois has seen at this time in the season in at least 32 years.

~~ Shift of Power ~~

There could be two schools that could place in the top three schools at the state meet in three weeks in Charleston and most likely it will not be schools from the Chicago area.

Maybe all three.

On Wednesday night, Edwardsville stamped itself as a state title contender by winning the powerful Southwest Conference Meet at Belleville. The Tigers scored 152 to edge O’Fallon by thirteen points with Belleville West fourteen more points behind in third. All three schools will be in the hunt in Charleston.

Edwardsville is deep with strong sprint relays, Garrett Sweatt in the distances, and strong and deep in the field events led by Pole Vault Tom Schuette and Vincent Valentine in the Shot Put.

Belleville West looks like they will be strong in all four relays. This is a traditional staple in the program that Patton Seagraves has developed in this suburban St. Louis school. Throw in Jamion Nash in the horizontal jumps and this team could be in the mix.

O’Fallon looks like they are peaking at the right time. They will be strong in the distance events led by Alex Riba and Patrick Perrier. Chris Wiggins looked strong in winning the 100 (10.76), and the weight events will be strong for the Panthers led by Nick Barrett and Dan Ryan.

Reality check: 3A power could be moving south of I-80 in 2012.

~~ Some of the things that we have seen around the track ~~

Do you know the term “ a runner that ran like crap” ? (That is the polite way of saying it.) Well, it happened at a meet on Friday night. A coach was relaying results to a fellow coach who had to stay at home. He asked how a particular athlete ran? The coach at the meet replied well, he ran like crap. The coach at home replied, “What was his time?” The coach at the meet said, “No, you do not understand. He stopped in the middle of the race and…”. Well, I’ll let you imagine where the runner went. When he entered back on the track, numerous reports said that the coach at the meet just had his arms in the arm exclaiming “What happened?”

The athlete responded he had two choices and you see which choice he took.

To credit that athlete, he came back the next day and achieved a PR in the event he was racing in.


At another meet in the preliminaries of the high hurdles, a runner knocked over a hurdle and fell to the ground. He bounced back up, and went to go over the next hurdle. His left shoe flew off as he went over that hurdle…and he did finish that race.


I am sure all of you have been told by a coach to concentrate on the race and the finish line. At the conclusion of a 3200 Meter race, a runner was approaching the finish line and he looked up at the scoreboard to see what the time was that he was running.

Little did he know as he was looking, another runner was passing him on the right. He did a double take and could not keep that runner from passing him.

Lesson of the day: finish the race….then look around.

~~ Correction ~~

Last week, we put out a list of competitions that athlete could participate in over the summer. Paul Vandersteen of Neuqua Valley e-mailed us and remined us of the night meets that they put on in the running crazy community of Naperville. Neuqua Valley does a great job in reaching out to the youth in the area and it would not be right to mention the meets that will be held in the Naperville area this summer.

An updated listing of summer meets can be found here.

~~ This weekend ~~

I am not going to list all the conference meets that will be going on this weekend. It looks like the weather will be cooperating so we should continue to see an avalanche of excellent performances. The countdown is on heading towards the state meet. The waiting is the hardest part!

~~ In memorandum ~~

Terrance (T.J.) Shirley, head coach of the Boys Track Team and Athletic Director at Thornridge High School in Dolton, died on Sunday at the age of 53. He was complaining that he was not feeling good on Friday night and did not attend his team’s meet, the Bill Jackson Invitational, in Lockport.

His son went to check on him on Sunday and found him in his bed.

Shirley was the pulse of the Thornridge athletic program. According to Assistant Principal Brad Beilfuss, Thornridge has been around for 51 years, Shirley had been the track coach for 26 of them.

A memorial service has been scheduled for by the school on Thursday May 19 at 10:30 AM. We send our deep thoughts and prayers to the Shirley Family, the Thornidge staff and students, and the Thornridge Community.

The SWSC Red Division Conference Meet is scheduled for today at Thornridge. It will be run with a heavy heart, but it will be contested in the spirit that Shirley would have wanted it to be.

More on Shirley can be found in this article from the southtown star.

This week in Illinois boys track & field

April, 26, 2012
So what did we find out about some of the teams from the meets last weekend?

The common answer would be it was hard to tell because the weather was not the best throughout Illinois. If you say that, move to the end of the line. Although the weather was bad, some teams and athletes stepped up and competed regardless of what their performance was. Yes, it was a character building weekend, but we did find out a lot about some individuals and teams.

That being said, let’s look at some of the things that caught my eye in the last week:

~~ The winds of April ~~

While the distance races were effected at some meet sites, the sprint race performances flourished. Well, at least those that had the wind to their back. At the Bob Cohoon Invitational at Downers Grove, Jordan Munar(North HS, Downers Grove Ill) showed that he belonged amongst the sprint elite in the state of Illinois wind or no wind. The 10.64 that he ran to win the 100m was the fastest so far run in Illinois under any condition. He ran a 21.62 in the prelims, but it was the narrow win over Jacob Bender (Neuqua Valley, Naperville Ill) in the finals in 21.96 that will make him a challenger in the two sprint events in Charleston.

The timing system was working at Mattoon when Jonathan Boey (MacArthur, Decatur Ill) stepped to his blocks last Friday night. So why are so many people doubted that this talented junior ran 21.15 behind a hefty wind? Those who thought that are thinking foolishly I guess. Though Boey had ony run 22.3 so far this spring, his progress from his sophomore season to junior season has been significant. He is undefeated so far this outdoor season running consistently in the 10.8’s in the 100 Meter Dash and in the low 22’s in the 200. Watch for him to be under 22 again…and again before Charleston.

~~ Stepping up ~~

There was some doubt after the 1600 at the Gus Scott Invitational about the health of Malachy Schrobilgen (Oak-Park River Forest, Oak Park, Ill) after his second place finish in that race. He did get beat by a very good runner in William Hennessy (Jacobs, Algonquin Ill). He was not that happy about performance at that meet according to his head coach Tim Hasso. He rebounded in a big way at Bob Cohoon. He took the baton in the 4x8 relay for his team about a second behind Downers Grove South and Minooka. Coming into the final 200 meters, he was even with Minooka’s 800m specialist Dan Popek. He did edge Popek at the line for the win, but it should be his 1:57.5 taking noticed.

Two other things that I noticed at Cohoon: The first was the way that Leland Later (New Trier, Winnetka Ill) ran his two races. He ran a very tactical race in the 3200 letting first Grant Nykaza (Beecher, Ill) take the lead then the Neuqua Valley duo of Mark Derrick and Taylor Soltys took over from there. Later finished in a 58 second 400. Different tactics in the 1600. No one wanted to lead so later did. The pace was slow going past the 1200 in 3:27, still Later found a fifth gear to close in 27 seconds in the final 200.

The second was the way that Mark Derrick (Neuqua Valley, Naperville Ill) ran in the same two races as Later. He was not afraid to take the pace in the 3200 and stayed close to Later at the end of the race. In the 1600, he took the lead with 300 meters to go and in fact stayed with the swift Later until the final 100 meters. Neuqua’s distance runners always peak at the right time. Watch for Derrick and his teammate Taylor Soltys to be in the mix for a top finish at Charleston

~~ Some surprises ~~

One of the big surprises this weekend was from Billy Bund (Lake Forest, Ill). He showed promise last spring in his sophomore season running 4:26. A leg injury sidelined the junior for the better part of the cross country season. He is healthy and evidence of that was the 4:19 he ran last Saturday at the Lake Forest Invitational. He is one of those secrets that a lot people have not heard of him. He should be heard from more in May.

When you watch a race and you see a 9 second lead with 2 laps to go, you think that the race is over. That did not go through the mind of Phil Quarfoot (Barrington, Ill) in last Tuesday’s Mid Suburban League Divisional Meet at Schaumburg. Quarfoot took the baton with Palatine far ahead. “Honestly, I was concerned with holding a steady pace,” said Quarfoot. “Once the Fremd guy passed me, I thought I would burn him in the last 200. When I saw the Palatine guy in the race, I thought go ahead and go for him. I surprised myself. My PR was 2:03 and today I ran a 2:00.”

~~ This weekend ~~

There is some great action all over the place this weekend. Unfortunately, weather may hamper some of the action on Saturday. Some of the things that I would watch:
  • The Wanner Knights Invitational at Mt. Prospect usually has some great distance races and we could see some fast times if the weather cooperates. The 4 x 8 relay should be loaded with Prospect, Hersey, Niles West, York, and Niles North leading a loaded field. We could see 7:55 or under in this race. Erik Peterson (Barrington, Ill) leads a tough field in the 3200 where we could have multiple runners under 9:20 in this race. The 1600 field is good as well with Jack Keelan (St. Ignatius, Chicago Ill) leading a field where it could take 4:15 to win.
  • A few miles down the road, the Mustang Classic will be taking place at Rolling Meadows. Tyler Schneider (Conant, Hoffman Estates, Ill) will go at it against the Grayslake Central duo of Will Brewster and Luke Zygmunt in the 1600 Meter Run. All 3 will be fresh. I think we may see something special there with possibly a 4:12 effort to win in the race.
  • The Palatine Relays is one of the oldest meets in the Chicago area and will be contested on Saturday. Host Palatine will have some top runners in the distance races with Peter Tomkiewicz, Marcus Garcia, Tim Meincke, and Tim Johnson leading the way.
  • The Jim Arnold Invitational at Glenbard West should have a special race in the 800 dependening how the weather is. Jake Mazanke (East, St. Charles Ill), Evan Fisher and Malachy Schrobilgen (Oak Park-River Forest, Oak Park Ill), Neal Omar (Niles West, Skokie Ill), and Jacob Hernandez (Bllom, Chicago Heights, Ill) lead a loaded field.
  • The Red Ribbon Classic, usually at Waubonsie Valley, will be held at Metea Valley on Saturday. The feature race of the meet will be the last one, the 4 x 4 relay. The field should be loaded with host Waubonsie Valley, Belleville West, Thornwood, Neuqua Valley, Plainfield North, and Metea Valley putting together their best for times that could go under 3:20. This race should be, need I say, a show stopper?
  • I know this meet is not a boys meet, but it could be the best meet period this weekend. The Wheaton-Warrenville South Girls Invitational has some great competition, especially in the distances. Jill Hardies (Central, Hinsdale, Ill), Amanda Fox (Central, Naperville Ill), Maddie Perez (Glenbard West, Glen Ellyn, Ill), and Emma Fisher (York, Elmhurst Ill) should headline in these events. If I did not have to be at Prospect, I would be here. So take note of this great meet.
Other meets to watch:

  • Pete Struck Eagle Classic @ Sandburg
  • Grant Invitational
  • Beacon News Invitational @ Oswego
  • Crystal Lake Central Invitational
  • Gene Ward Invitational @ Champaign
  • Spartan Relays @ Glenbrook North
  • Herscher Invitational
  • Lincoln Way West Invitational
  • McHenry Relays
  • Mike Yavorski Invitational @ Hinsdale South
  • Pekin Relays
  • Rich Central Invitational
  • Seeger Invitational @ Sycamore
  • Sterling Relays
  • Herrin Invitational
  • Jokisch Invitational @ Carlinville
Have good meets everyone! Stay warm, stay dry, stay safe, race hard!
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!