Complete results can be found at the website below.
Right from the beginning of the meet, the State Qualifiers emerged. With the bar at 13’ 8”, Trevor Lambert (Sr.) would become the first Neuqua Valley athlete to qualify in the Pole Vault only to be joined by Alex Kiefer (Sr.) on the very next jump. Both would finish the night with jumps of 13’ 8”, with Alex taking 2nd place and Trevor taking 3rd place.
In the Discus, Matt Appel (Jr.) jumped to an early lead with his throw in the preliminaries, breaking the school record. Matt would break the same record three more times before the finals were through, finishing with a 30’ gap on the field by throwing 187’ 11” for the win, a State Qualification, and new school record. Hunter Danton (So.) joined the list of State Qualifiers in the Discus with a throw of 154’ 8”, which represents a personal best for Hunter and scored for the team with his 4th place finish.
The throwing domination would continue in the Shot Put, with Matt Appel’s (Jr.) 57’ 5” throw, breaking another school record and taking the top spot in another event. With this win, Matt punched his ticket to the State Meet in both throwing events for the second year in a row. Jacob Remack (Sr.) took 5th place, adding to the point total with a nearly 2 foot personal best throw of 49’ 11.5”. (I think someone may have double checked the tape to make sure that they were not off by half of an inch.)
In the horizontal jumps, EJ Oketona (So.) took 5th place with mark of 41’ 8.5”. While the younger group of jumpers did not finish like they wanted, it was obvious that by the end of the meet, that they possessed the resolve to return to the Sectional Meet in one year with a promise of a different outcome.
The 4 x 800 m relay team of Chris Keeley (Sr.), Nicolas Dovalovsky (So.), Michael Madiol (Sr.) and Michael O’Connor (Sr.) got us started on the track with a season best performance by almost 11 seconds and the win. Nicolas, Michael Madiol and Michael O’Connor all split in the 1:57’s to run 7:53.69 and to become the first runners of the evening to secure a place at the State Meet. With the meet time being moved up with the threat of weather, this meant that Michael O’Connor had to finish the AP Statistics Exam at Neuqua Valley, drive to Ottawa, warm up quickly and compete. From the sound of it, the exam went as a well as the race.
Both of our short sprint relays consisted of the same members, Max Rivera (So.), Jonah Covarrubias (Sr.), Christian Allen (So.) and Patrick Hoffmann (Jr.) and secured significant season bests in both the 4 x 100 m and the 4 x 200 m. The 4 x 100 m ran 43.81 to take 7th and the 4 x 200 m ran 1:31.47 to take 6th. Considering the losses that both of these teams experienced during the season, it was impressive to see these athletes run with heart from the slow heat to try to make their mark. They will be back.
In the 3200 m, Matt Jett (Sr.) stuck his nose into the top group, trying to make a bid for the State Meet. As the temperature climbed above 80 degrees as the pace increased, Matt held on for a 4th place finish in 10:00.90, missing the State Qualification but helping the cause for the team title.
With only one outdoor meet under his belt, Donovan Turner (Sr.) took the line in the 110 m High Hurdles. By the 5th hurdle, Donovan had pulled away from the field and would go on to win in a time of 14.71, making this the third year in a row that Donovan has qualified for the State Meet. Upon finishing the race, Donovan saw that Kyle Burke from Plainfield North became injured during the race and went back to support his fellow hurdler in a great display of sportsmanship. While Kyle was not able to compete for the rest of the night, we wish him the best for a speedy recovery and know that he do some great things next year at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Later in the meet, Donovan would again take the line for only the second time this season in the 300 m Intermediate Hurdles. Donovan pulled away from the field in the long stretch of the last straightaway and did not look back, covering the distance in 39.02 seconds and repeating as a State Qualifier in both hurdles for the second year in a row.
With the potential for weather, not only did the meet get moved up, but the meet was put onto a rolling schedule. This meant that Michael O’Connor (Sr.) and Nicolas Dovalovsky (So.) would not get much rest for the open 800 m after running in the 4 x 800 m relay. Despite a warm day, both athletes raced for the front and charged the entire way. Michael kicked with purpose down the last stretch to capture 2nd place in 2:00.67 and grab another State Qualification. Nicolas took fifth in 2:01.87 and both athletes added even more to the team point totals.
Often times at the Sectional Meet, we will place younger athletes into the meet so that they can have the experience of this meet so that they are ready when their time comes to qualify. However, Max Mitchell (Fr.) showed last night in the 400 m, that he is not that far away. Without being in the fast heat, Max ran a smart race and pushed hard over the last 150 m to run 53.09. When the marks from the fast heat came in, Max had secured 5th place. Not bad for a Freshman!
While two member of our 4 x 800 m relay team had already completed a double at the meet, it was now time for Michael Madiol (Sr.) and Chris Keeley (Sr.) to complete theirs in the 1600 m. Running in a tight pack at the front of the fast heat, both runners showed awesome strength as the race unfolded. As the race entered the final lap, it was going to come down to the last 300 m to sort out the places. In the end, Michael edged out Christian Knowlton from Plainfield South by .01 seconds for the win and the State Qualification in a time of 4:22.71. Chris took 3rd in 4:24.27, just missing the State Qualifying Mark, but adding 6 points to the team total.
As athletes stepped onto the track for the final event of the night, the skies looked like they were about to turn at any moment. Fortunately, the weather held off and our 4 x 400 m relay team of Kel Foley (Sr.), Patrick Hoffmann (Jr.), Jonah Covarrubias (Sr.) and Donovan Turner (Sr.) were ready. Kel got out quick but then as he entered the final stretch of his leg, a Plainfield South runner stepped onto the track right in his lane. Kel had to stop and run around this person and then finish his leg whose split was about 3 seconds off of what we had expected, putting us in serious trouble in terms of qualifying for the State Meet. The baton next went to Patrick Hoffmann (Jr.), who put us back into the race with a 49.9 split, and reminded us of how he ran at the State Meet last year. Next came Jonah Covarrubias (Sr.), a man on a mission, whose 50.4 split represented a nearly 2 second personal best and put us back into contention to qualify in terms of time. Finally, Donovan Turner (Sr.) took over and charged hard to put us in the best possible position. Donovan pushed hard down the last straightaway and ran a 49.2 split to give us a total time of 3:23.72, good enough for second place and under the State Qualifying Mark. I told the team that while I have seen many 4 x 400 m races in the past, this one was my favorite. It represented resilience, tenacity and teamwork.
We now head to Charleston next week for the State Championships with a renewed sense that we can do something special when we get there. Regardless of the outcome, I am confident that this group will give it their all.
However, for some athletes, their season or their high school careers seemed to end last night. For those that will return next year, the challenge is to make the best of this next year. Train right, eat right and sleep right and it is incredible what can happen in a year. To those Seniors that completed their high school competitive career, we wish them the best and hope that they will continue to compete in the future and that their best performances are still ahead of them. However, remember that the athletes that we send to the State Meet are simply our representatives. Anything that they accomplish as a team belongs to everyone on this team. So to everyone that thought that they were done, you still have one week left with us! Be there to see what this team can do!