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.