Charleston, Ill ---There he stood by the awards tent talking to his fellow competitors with a slight smile on his face. You could tell that Steve Schroeder (Monticello, Ill) did not have much energy left in his body. This day could have been about him trying to accomplish a 3200 /1600 double to go along with his cross country title in the fall. Not that many runners had accomplished that.
He made this championship Saturday at the IHSA state meet more about his teammates and what he wanted for them. Instead, he added the 4 x 800 Meter Relay to what he would run. If Monticello’s 4 x 400 Meter Relay would have qualified, he would have run that as well.
“My teammates have been working so hard and they have been improving over the season. I believed in them,” said Schroeder. “I wanted to do it for them. I knew I could do it for them and they did it for me. We did it for each other. I wanted to give the experience of being a champion. I am not the only champion at Monticello this year. There are three other guys that I get to share that with.”
At 11:00 AM, the competitors stepped out onto the track for the 4 x 800 Meter Relay. It was a close battle through the first two legs as Monticello, Elmwood, and Tolono Unity switched off the lead. On the third leg, Elmwood’s Issac Ramsey took the lead and tried to stretch out the lead. The goal for Monticello’s third man Jesse Galaway was to stay close for Schroeder’s anchor leg. Gallaway accomplished that staying within a second of Ramsey as he handed off the baton to Schroeder.
This race was set up perfectly for Schroeder. There was no doubt of that in the packed stands at O’Brien Field. Schroeder 1:55.1 anchor brought home the title for the Sages four seconds ahead of Erie.
One hour later, Schroeder took the track again ready to go after the 3200 title that eluded him in 2011. The pace was fairly quick running 2:19.1 for the opening 800. Schroeder, Jesse Hahne (Schlarman, Danville Ill), and Scott Woodward (Unity, Tolono Ill) had already opened up a 15 meter lead ahead of the pack. After the 1200 meter mark, Hahne made a move to test Schroeder and how he was feeling. Nothing changed as the Schroeder stayed closely on Hahne’s shoulder for the next three laps. The trio were at 4:43.3 as they passed the 1600.
The weather was taking affect on the race at this point as runners started to slow down succumbing to the stifling heat. With 3 laps to go, Schroeder felt like it was time to go. Within the next lap, Schroeder ran a 74 second 400 but had opened up a four second lead. This race was in. No dramatic kick was needed. It was just survive and finish. Schroeder covered the last 1200 in 3:41 as he crossed the line nine seconds ahead of Woodward and a state championship, his second within an hour.
“This race was more of an endurance test for me. The race was mostly tactical. I know the time wasn’t impressive, it was just getting the points for the team.”
Schroeder came back on to the track three hours later. He knew he would company in his quest for the triple in Grant Nykaza (Beccher, Ill) in the 1600 Meter Run. Nykaza took the lead immediately at the start and Schroeder immediately content to let Nykaza do the work. The duo passed in 2:09 opening up a six second lead. There was still no change over the next 400 meters. Schroeder was just sitting there waiting to make his move to open the lead up. Or was it the other way around?
Schroeder stayed close to Nykaza, but was laboring to do so. The Beecher junior could sense that. At 200 meters to go, Nykaza exploded away from Schroeder with the distance between the two growing wider and wider. Nykaza’s last 400 was 61.5, 28 seconds for the last 200 as he ran 4:18.34 for a four second win over Schroeder.
The win for Nykaza was redemption in the season for him. “I’m ecstatic right now. I had injuries during this season and I had only two mile races heading into the state meet. My confidence was low,” said Nykaza. “I needed a good time at sectionals to get confidence. Everyone was telling me that Steve would be tired. But it’s the state meet. You never give up. No matter how tired you are. It is a mental thing and you just put it past your head.”
“I was telling myself over and over again I was ready for it and I just had to keep myself mentally upbeat that I could do this,” Schroeder said. “I just tried to stay with Nykaza. I waited to make my move and he made his even stronger. It will keep a chip on my shoulder as I head into college.”
The future is bright for this young man. What is next for Schroeder is an appointment to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. He will report on June 28 and is looking forward to the new challenge. “The Naval Academy just fits me. I feel good when I am among the Midshipmen. I visited there during my junior year. My career I really want to be an officer in the Navy in Special Forces. That is the goal in my life and it toughens me up to go out here and burn it all out on the track on a hot day over and over that is mentally and physically. I think I can set my mind to whatever I decide to do in the Navy. It will be good for me.”
Schroeder’s efforts helped Monticello earn a third place trophy. For the team title, Leo Catholic had to wait during the final event the 4 x 400 Meter Relay. It had no more events and had to wait and see what the only team left with a chance to beat them, Newton, would do in that event. Newton would need a fourth place finish for the team championship, fifth for a tie.
Newton finish 6th in the race, securing a back to back title for the small Chicago Catholic League School. Leo Catholic was paced by a win by their 4 x 100 Meter Relay (42.76) and all state performances from Keith Harris (100 – 4th , 200 – 7th), Theodore Hopkins (100 – 6th, 200 – 6th), and Marlon Britton with a second place finish in the 110 Meter High Hurdles.
Other News and notes:
Newton’s second place finish was powered by a first and fifth place tie for finish by Mitch Mammoser and Brandon Goode-Tolliver. Mammoser easily won his second straight Pole Vault championship clearing a personal best of 15-11. He had three good tries at the 1A record of 16-2.5 but was unsuccessful. “I was a little at first. Everyone expected me to repeat. A lot more pressure heading into this meet. I knew I could do it. I just jumped like I have been,” Mammoser said. “The vault I made at 15-7 was a school record. My brother Scott had it. I thought about going after the Class 1A record, but I was not ready for that. I got 15-11 on my third jump.”
Deonte Pryor (Kewanee, Ill) last year could not run in the state meet due to hamstring problems. He had a great weekend by winning both the Long Jump and the 100 Meter Dash and finished third in the 200 Meter Dash. “Coming out of the blocks, my legs felt like jello,” said Pryor. “It’s been a long time trying to get here for the win. This year I worked harder than ever to get down here to win.”
Daniel Farmer (Johnston City, Ill) had just won the 400 Meter Dash (49.25) over Tim Doll (Westmont, Ill). He stood in the middle of the infield looking like he was not satisfied. “I really have been concentrating on the 200 this year. Myles Kettelson (Flora, Ill). Beat me the last couple of weeks and I really want to get him. But this win in the 400 feels great.” Farmer did accomplish his goal in the 200. He beat Kettelson, who finished fifth, and in the process won the 200 by five hundredths of a second over Jordan Hutchison (Peoria Christian, Peoria Ill).
Eric Leonard (Sangamon Valley, Niantic Ill) ran a 1:55 anchor to bring his team up to finish third in the 4 x 800 Meter Relay. He followed that up by capturing the 800 Meter Run in 1:54.61 holding off Britt Henderson (The Latin School, Chicago Ill) by thirteen hundredths of a second. “The relay took a lot out of me but I had plenty of time to rest. I still felt fresh but I felt obliged to get them the medals,” said Leonard. “I was just trying to win. Dakota Conrad (Auburn, Ill) went out fast. I’ve raced him before and I was expecting that. I went out where I wanted to be (55.2) and I was kind of feeling it at the end. But a win is a win.”
Adam Weidner (Bureau Valley, Manluis Ill) started his high school career playing baseball. He transitioned over track his sophomore. He finished it off on Saturday winning the Shot Put (57-10.75) by almost ten inchers over Ryan Pearce (Villa Grove, Ill). “I knew in warm-ups today I would be locked in and ready to go,” Weidner said. “I started today at 55. My coach told me to speed it up and I hit a 57. I knew I had another good one in me but I scratched. It got me the title.” Pearce came back to win the Discus (166-11) by a foot over Jake Mahin (Stanton, Ill).
Kyle Landon (Chester, Ill) was out to better last year’s second place finish and defeat the defending champion Oumaru Abdulahi (Mooseheart, Ill). Both jumpers cleared 6-10 but Landon was awarded the win on less misses. Landon followed that up with a second place finish in the Triple Jump behind Heath Byom (Knoxville, Ill) trailing only one and a half inches (43-10.75 – 43-9.25).
Colin Carver (Casey-Westfield, Casey Ill) was the only individual double winner on the track in Class 1A. He nipped Marlon Britton (Leo Catholic, Chicago, Ill) to win by four hundredths of a second. Carver dominated the intermediate hurdle races holding off Noel Yarngo (Mooseheart, Ill) for the win (38.71-39.32).
The last race of the day went to Aurora Christian in the 4 x 400 Meter Relay. Jake Gehman took control of the race on his second leg. Anchorman Dillon Howorth was able to hold off Bryce Willett (Monmouth-Roseville, Monmouth Ill) and Zeke Elkins (St. Joseph-Ogden, St. Joseph Ill) for a 22 hundredths of a second win. Elkins had a busy day placing fourth in the 800 and third in the 400.