First practice is Tuesday, January 21st!!
Please use the link below to register.
First practice is Tuesday, January 21st!!
Just like the Frosh / Soph squad traveled to the York Invitational this past Monday, a select group of 23 juniors and seniors trekked to Culver Academy in Indiana to test their meddle against teams we ordinarily do not race. The result was a 5th place finish for the Varsity squad and a complete domination for our open, or "reserve," crew.
Without Nicolas Dovalovsky leading the way in the Varsity race, the 6 remaining competitors chose to pack up and take on the race in a group effort. Quinn Kennedy led the way through the first mile, pacing the group at 5:25 on the water-logged course. Aidan Stone then began his move through the masses, eventually moving up approximately 40 places to finish in 15th for 17:25. Kennedy was next in at 28th place for 17:42. Leif Anderson and Vasant Fong held together for the last two miles, finishing just seconds apart - Anderson at 38th for 17:53 and Fong at 40th for 17:54. Stephen Smilie (50th, 18:01) and Luke Suman (53rd, 18:04) rounded out the day. The weather and the course conditions were definitely a challenge, but the commitment to the pack and one another throughout the race was the difference maker and a sign of progress with this team.
The "Reserve" race closed out our day at Culver, and these men raced like anything but reserves. Of the top 6 places, Neuqua walked away with 5! And of the top 30 racers receiving medals or ribbons, 13 members of our team placed!!! A special shout out has to go to Luke Mennecke for executing his race plan to perfection and winning in 18:08. After the race all he could talk about was how much faster he knows he can be. Sam Stuart was a man on a mission on Saturday. His intensity before the race was palpable and a true example of getting "dialed in" mentally. He came away with the runner-up position at 18:16. Finally, Alex Majus took a year away from running and decided to rejoin the us this season. With every race, he gets better and better. He was 6th overall in 18:37, and we could not be happier for him. He has a special talent, and we believe he can be a major contributor down the road.
The Neuqua Valley squad returns to action this coming Saturday, October 4th, for the Lockport "Locktoberfest" Invitational. And the Naperville Twilight Invitational is just around the corner as well - Wednesday, October 9th, at Naperville North High School.
Full results of the Culver Invitational can be found HERE!!!
On the first day of fall at Berens Park in Elmhurst, Henry Golden swung his leg anxiously. Two days after a sweltering Open race on Detweiller, he was taking the line in the annual Gary Goss Freshman/Sophomore invitational. After fully committing himself in the summer, Henry was anxious to better his mark from the previous year, when he finished 28th in a field of 216. He was making progress, and he saw an opportunity.
Right from the gunshot, Henry raced with purpose, and his Open teammates followed. They were resolute in their race plan and devoted to one another. We’ve been waiting for this, their posture seemed to say. Let’s see what we can do.
The freshmen, banged up by some tough track workouts, raced twenty minutes later. Once again, the gregarious Nico Castillion (14th, 10:56) let his legs do the talking, followed by Andres Lopez (18th, 11:00), Joseph Cyrus (11:03), Logan Brown (11:09), and Connolly Corbin (11:20). The freshmen finished 4th in a talented field, with Matthew Gutierrez (11:23) and Ryan Palmer (12:13) rounding out the top seven.
For the rest of the underclassmen, the Open race was a chance to show the depth of their program and the volume of their training. Golden (10:57), Ian Kim (11:01), and Cory Papasthathis (11:01) packed together and held together, finishing 1st, 3rd, and 4th respectively. They were soon joined in the chute by fellow sophomores Ben Serna (11:23) and Josh Kubicki (11:25). Other sophomore stalwarts included Ashwin Rajan (11:39), Alex Del Genio (11:58), Wei Jiang (11:43), Angelo Lavacchi (12:01), Zach Thompson (12:08), Blake Fleming (12:44), Prithvi Thakur (13:36), Patrick Conniff (13:47), and Hisham Alam (13:47). As for the freshmen, honorable marks were established by Sam Hotchkiss (11:37), Nick Lapetino (11:37), Brady Gudauskas (11:47), Connor Boehm (11:57), Zephyr Windmiller (12:05), Clark Minnerick (12:10), Jacob Neal (12:19), Kyle McGladdery (12:27), Matthew Xu (12:37), Colin Benjamin (12:51), John Xu (12:54), Ben LeGrand (12:55), Tyler Pham (13:11), Alan Wei (13:31), and Ethan Hung (13:56).
Last year, the champion of the Open Race was Aidan Stone. He was coming off a serious injury and unsure of the stability of his knee. But Aidan, too, saw an opportunity. A year later, firmly ensconced in the Varsity, he ran a PR on Detweiller. It’s a good lesson for Golden, the other sophomores, and the freshman squad. A lot can happen in a year. Let’s see what we can do.
The night before the race, nervous coaches poured over the weather forecasts for the greater Peoria area. The screen showed a pulsing green map slowly overtaken by a yellow and red blob. “That’s not good,” said Coach Vandersteen. “We may be in for a wet day.”
And then, as often happens in meteorology, the forecast changed. The rain would hold off until the mid-afternoon. We had a window.
What we did in that window was important, for it was happening on the legendary Detweiller course. The park, a simple emerald postage stamp a few ticks south of the Caterpillar plant, is hallowed ground for distance runners, the harrier equivalent of a Midwestern battlefield. Ghosts are on that course, the remnants of great teams running gutsy races. Every runner wants to write their name on its November ledger.
The work started with the Varsity race, which featured some of the state’s best squads. As he has done all season, Nicholas Dovalovsky (4th, 14:38) carried our banner, making impressive moves in the final 800 to chase down several decorated runners. He is the first runner in our program since Chris Derrick to break 14:40 on Detweiller in September. Once again, he was trailed by junior Aidan Stone (54th, 15:34) and senior Quinn Kennedy (15:40). The junior trio of Vasant Fong (16:04), Leif Anderson (16:08), and Stephen Smilie (16:08) closed the door for the Wildcats, who finished 9th overall.
The Freshmen/Sophomore squad took the baton next, with a few scratches in the lineup due to injury. Nevertheless, the team committed to one another and found blue and gold jerseys to pack with through the back field. Charlie Rook (16:51) was the low stick, followed by Nathanael Howard (17:03) and Sachin Fong (17:08). Jacob Nauman (17:22) thundered in next, and the redoubtable Andrew Gutierrez (17:30) shut the door, with a respectable 39 second compression. Freshmen Connolly Corbin (17:39) and Andres Lopez (18:26) put down respectable markers for their first three-mile race.
But the Open Race yielded the greatest harvest of P.R.s, as many runners ran their fastest in the humidity of early afternoon. A pair of Lukes—Suman (16:14) and Mennecke (16:16)—led the way, followed by Brian Jett (16:21) and Josh Rodriguez (16:26). Strong performances were also recorded by seniors Sam Stuart (16:30) and Ethan Lockwood (16:43), juniors JD Hastings (16:46), Ryan Horn (16:47), Alex Majus (16:59), Avik Vaish (17:31), Kevin Saju (17:41), Daniel Gutierrez (17:46), and Andre Park (19:46). Sterling underclassmen included sophomores Liam Dorsey (17:30), Alex Del Genio (18:22), Cory Papasthasis (18:15), Ben Serna (18:22), Zach Thompson (19:55), Angelo Lavacchi (20:19), and Prithvi Thakur (21:57), as well as freshmen Matthew Gutierrez (18:41), Connor Boehm (18:46), Logan Brown (17:48), Brady Gudauskas (19:12), Sam Hotchkiss (18:51), Nicholas Lapatino (19:12), Ben LeGrand (20:51), Kyle McGladdery (20:46), Clark Minnerick (19:44), Jacob Neal (19:51), Ethan Hung (23:17), Matt and John Xu (20:52, 21:05), and Alan Wei (24:28).
As we gathered for a team meeting, the clouds finally opened and made their deposit. We boarded the buses and aimed for home. Freshmen, wearied but excited; seniors, saddened but proud. It’s a small window, these four years. So much can happen in between.
This past weekend, we took 45 athletes on a road trip to St. Louis for the Forest Park Invitational. When other coaches hear that we take this trip with such a large team, they cannot believe it. They worry about the risks, but we think about the benefits. For us, this trip gets us ready for travels in the future, for example, to Peoria for the State Meet. There is something magical about being removed from your usual surroundings. It levels the playing field for everyone and allows our team to bond during an adventure and the challenge of a race.
Unlike our first trip last year, this year was not marked by a mud fest on the course. This year, we had dry conditions and the presence of the Sun, nearly guaranteeing better times than last year.
The Varsity team went first and had a plan. Nicolas Dovalovky (Jr.) would do his own thing and the rest of the group would get out quicker than last week, pack up as a group and run hard through the last mile. While we did not out as quickly as we would have liked, we did pack up well and race the last part of the race. At the first mile, the team was in 10th place but by the second mile, we had moved into 2nd place. In the end, Nicolas Dovalovsky (16:03.1) would take 4th overall and after moving from the pack after 1.5 miles, Aidan Stone (Jr.) (16:51.2) charged during the last mile to take 15th. The leader of the pack, Quinn Kennedy (Sr.) (17:14.8) took 40th and was followed closely by Leif Anderson (Jr.) (17:17.2) in 42nd place, Stephen Smilie (Jr.) (17:17.4) in 43rd place and Vasant Fong (Jr.) (17:18.1) in 44th place. Luke Mennecke (Jr.) (17:29.1) would round out the Top 7 in 54th place. The team race came down to three teams, Liberty, Neuqua Valley and St. Louis University within two points of each other. Liberty took the win with 140 points followed by a two-way tie with us and St. Louis University at 142 points which was decided by the 6th man tiebreaker, giving us the advantage and 2nd place.
In the Junior Varsity race, it was obvious from the beginning that Neuqua Valley would be at the top of the team race with so many of our athletes near the front. We did just that with a winning 28 point total compared to Liberty’s 49 point total for 2nd place. After about 1.5 miles, Noah Schalliol (So.) pulled away from the rest of the group and never looked back. Noah finished nearly 35 seconds ahead of 2nd place for the win in a time of 16:53.0. Luke Suman (Jr.) (17:40.7), Josh Rodriguez (Sr.) (17:46.1) and Brian Jett (Jr.) (17:55.9) would all place in the top 10 with places of 3rd, 4th and 8th, respectively. The remaining members of the top 7 included Charlie Rook (So.) (18:07.3) in 12th place, JD Hastings (Jr.) (18:12.4) in 17th place and Sam Stuart (Sr.) (18:22.2) in 22nd place.
When the Freshmen began, we were not sure what to expect, but it was obvious that the Freshman group from Kickapoo was solid. As their young runners passed us, they were moving like Varsity runners. But then, we saw our Freshmen chasing them down. Our Freshmen runners were running without fear and kept looking forward trying to pass the next place. While they beat us in the end, our Freshman were excited by what they had been able to accomplish in their first time racing in Missouri and were already looking forward to returning in a year. Our top 7 Freshmen all placed in the top 20 overall. Nico Castrillon (Fr.) (10:45.1) and Connelly Corbin (Fr.) (10:46.9) took 6th and 7th place while the trio of Joseph Cyrus (Fr.) (10:50.4), Ryan Palmer (Fr.) (11:01.1) and Andres Lopez (Fr.) (11:03.7) took 9th, 10th and 11th keeping our scoring runners in the top 11. Logan Brown (Fr.) (11:10.2) and Matthew Gutierrez (Fr.) (11:16.9) would finish 16th and 17th and complete the top 7.
As we look toward next week and the Richard Spring Invitational at the State course in Peoria, it is time reflect on the lessons that this trip has taught us as we prepare to take another trip. However, this time it will be to run on the fabled course in Detweiller Park and take another step forward toward the end of the season.
Complete results from the meet can be found at the link below.
There’s a Zen parable called “Good Horse, Bad Horse” that comes to mind at the beginning of some seasons. It has to do with the value of pain and struggle. In the parable, a Zen master is touring a livery and learning about horses. The stable owner tells him that there are four types of horses: excellent ones, good ones, poor ones, and bad ones. The best horse will run slow and fast, right and left, at the driver’s will, before it sees the shadow of the whip; the second best will run as well as the first one, just before the whip reaches its skin; the third one will run when it feels pain on its body; the fourth will run after the pain penetrates the marrow of its bones.
“The bad horses feel the most pain,” said the stable owner. “They know the most suffering.”
“Yes,” said the Zen master. “And that is why THEY may actually be the best horses!”
The point of the parable is that when you learn too easily, you’re tempted not to work hard, and you’re surprised by struggle. The “worst” horse can be the best, for if it perseveres, it will have learned the art of running in every screaming nerve.
This is a good lesson to keep in mind after the shock of the first race, where a burning set of lungs and heavy pair of legs overwhelm the senses. Tough workouts and steady long runs are one thing, but there’s no substitute for the jolt of the gunshot. You feel it in the bones, and your bones are learning.
It helps, of course, if the weather is as nice as it was on Saturday, when we returned to the Hornet/Red Devil Invitational for the first time in two years. The day began with a blistering Varsity race, showcasing the defending State Champions. The Tigers looked every bit as dominant, as senior William Hauernstein edged out Nicolas Dovalovsky (14:55) by 0.3 of a second. Fellow Junior Aidan Stone (15:44) finished 16th in his first Varsity race, while senior Quinn Kennedy (34th, 16:10) and juniors Stephen Smilie (44th, 16:26) and Luke Mennecke (55th, 16:41) each ran impressively at different points of a race in which the Wildcats finished 4th. The top seven was capped by juniors Vasant Fong (16:44) and Daniel Gutierrez (16:49), who PRed by more than 40 seconds. Also notable in the opening tilt were Austin Burke (16:59), Josh Rodriguez (17:01), Ethan Lockwood (17:04), Sam Stuart (17:12), JD Hastings (17:18), Joey Spencer (17:30), Alex Majus (17:34), Dominick Gramarosso (17:52), Kyle Kretovic (18:31), Akshat Maheshwari (18:38), and Jack Wharton (18:48), and Ethan Smetana (19:56).
The sophomores had never run Katherine Legge before, and so every root, drumlin, and creekbed was a new shudder.But they picked up where they left off, showing courage and ambition. Led by the frequently mispronounced Noah Schalliol (4th, 16:04), the Wildcats placed five in the top 30 to finish 2nd overall. Charlie Rook (20th, 17:06) and Sachin Fong (22nd, 17:12) surged at key points, while Jacob “Stick Man” Nauman (28th, 17:27) and Nathanael Howard (30th, 17:30) stayed close enough to hold off our rivals. Strong races also came from Liam Dorsey (17:37), Iam Kim (18:00), Andrew Gutierrez (18:07), Henry Golden (18:08), Adam Johnson (18:16), Ben Serna (18:18), and Josh Kubicki (18:30).
But it was the freshmen who had the most to learn as they laced up for their first high school race. In one of the most talented fields in years, the neo-Wildcats earned their jerseys and a 6th place finish. Nico Castrillon (16th, 10:41) led the way, followed by Joseph Cyrus (30th, 10:58), Andres Lopez (41st, 11:07), Logan Brown (43rd, 11:13), and Connolly Corbin (52nd, 11:21). Also showing surprising moxie were Sam Hotchkiss (11:40), Connor Boehm (11:44), Ben Nylen (11:48), Matthew Gutierrez (11:52), and Nick Lapetino (11:53).
Perhaps the most exciting moment of the day was the first, when Nicolas Dovalovsky was edged out in a final lean. It’s the sort of moment that every runner despises, to have a fifteen minute gauntlet determined by a fraction of a second. But it’s often the best thing for a horse who wants to be the best. It hurts. But we remember and learn.
Mike Newman Recap Results MilesplitIL Recap NCTV Video
The link to register for fall sports has been opened early! This year all online registrations will be done on the 8 to18 website.
Go to the link located here and create an account to register.
First day of cross country practice will be Monday, August 12th from 8:00am-10:00am. We will meet at the NVHS track. Come ready to run and with a water bottle! Please note that we have changed the Tuesday, August 13th practice time. See XC Schedule tab above
Keep in mind, to be able to participate athletes need an updated physical on file with the school. If athletes do not, they will not be able to practice or race until they do.
Appointments fill up very quickly at this time of year so make sure to set up an appointment with your doctor/clinic at Walgreen's, CVS, etc. in plenty of time to get this completed before Aug. 12th. Be sure to KEEP A COPY for yourself before turning in the original physical form.
The $200 athletic participation fee will be paid on pushcoin.com. We will no longer be applying the $200 fee to PushCoin accounts – instead you will need to go to the “webstore” on PushCoin and SELECT the fee you want to pay.
1. Go to https://www.pushcoin.com/ and log in
2. Click on the webstore link underneath the student’s profile picture.
2. SELECT the fee (2019-20 Neuqua Girls Cross Country)
4. The $200 fee will be deposited into your cart and then you will need to check out as if you were purchasing something online.
1. If you choose to pay with a credit card – PushCoin will add a small fee.
2. If you choose to pay with an e-check/bank transfer there is NO FEE
Congratulations to Crete-Monee on their State Championship as well as Homewood-Flossmoor and Oak Park-River Forest for claiming the other two trophies! Even these top teams suffered some misfortunes at this meet, showing how unforgiving the State Meet can really be.
Matt Appel (Jr.), who came down to the State Meet last year for the first time but did not make finals, not only made the finals in both the Shot Put and the Discus, but scored in both and was two time All-State. Matt placed 4th in the Shot Put with his record setting throw from yesterday of 58’ 9”. In the Discus, Matt took 3rd place with a throw of 176’ 9”.
Despite coming into Day 2 with the best mark from Day 1, our 4 x 800 m relay team of Chris Keeley (Sr.), Nicolas Dovalovsky (So.), Michael Madiol (Sr.) and Michael O’Connor (Sr.), took 7th with a time of 7:52.76. In a race where every leg took it out fast for the first 400 m, our distance runners pushed themselves to catch up and had some admirable efforts even though this was not how the usually race. Regardless of position, they did not give up and their efforts proved enough for the relay team to earn All-State honors.
In the hurdles, Donovan Turner (Sr.) had a rough day. With a bad start in the 110 m High Hurdles, and going over some of the hurdles with the wrong leg, he struggled to regain ground on the field and finished 9th in a time of 14.84. He had similar issues on the 300 m Intermediate Hurdles where he could not find his rhythm early and took 8th in 40.17. However, Donovan earned All-State honors in both events for the second year in a row.
In the final event of the meet, the 4 x 400 m relay team of Kel Foley (Sr.), Patrick Hoffmann (Jr.), Jonah Covarrubias (Sr.) and Donovan Turner (Sr.) fought hard for every place to improve the team standing. At this point, we knew that a trophy was just out of reach, but the team charged ahead and took 6th place in 3:23.22. This team, which was made up of three of the legs from last year, repeated as All-State, adding to the large number of All-State 4 x 400 m teams from Neuqua Valley.
As we get ready to say goodbye to our Seniors, we hope that they have influenced the underclassmen to challenge themselves to be back to Charleston in one year to make their own stamp on the State Meet. The preparation for next season starts this Summer!
While everything did not happen as we had hoped for today, we had a great preliminary day at the State Track and Field Meet. We advance six events into Day 2 and are presently seeded to score 40 points, which would be the second highest point total in team history. However, what matters for us and all of the other teams is what happens tomorrow when the points actually matter.
In the pole vault, Trevor Lambert (Sr.) jumped 13’ 6” and just missed qualifying for the finals at 14’. Trevor and Alex Kiefer (Sr.) completed their high school careers today, but we know that their best jumps are somewhere in the future.
Matt Appel (Jr.) moved on to the finals in both the Shot Put and the Discus. His throw of 58’ 9” in the Shot Put is currently ranked 3rd and broke the school record in the Shot Put again! In the Discus, Matt is currently ranked 2nd with a throw of 176’ 9”. Hunter Danton (So.) had a respectable throw of 129’ 9” in his first State Meet and is determined to be back next year with his eyes on the finals.
The 4 x 800 m relay of Chris Keeley (Sr.), Nicolas Dovalovsky (So.), Michael Madiol (Sr.) and Michael O’Connor (Sr.) won their heat to automatically qualify for Day 2. Their time of 7:50.40 is the best mark going into the finals and Michael O’Connor and Michael Madiol did not run their open events today to stay fresh for the finals tomorrow.
Donovan Turner (Sr.) will return to the State Finals for the second year in a row in both hurdle events. Donovan is currently ranked 3rd in the 110 m High Hurdles with a mark of 14.25. Despite a rough start in the 300 m Intermediate Hurdles, Donovan ran 39.33 and is currently ranked 6th.
In our last event of the day, Kel Foley (Sr.), Patrick Hoffmann (Jr.), Jonah Covarrubias (Sr.) and Donovan Turner (Sr.) qualified for Day 2 with a courageous run in the 4 x 400 m relay. The team ran 3:22.40 and is presently ranked 6th.
Of course, no points are on the board. Tomorrow has to happen first. What is exciting about this team is the trajectory that they are on. We could not win the conference and we were not even ranked in the top 10 in the State. However, we dominated the Sectional meet as a team and now we are ready to compete and give our best showing among the best teams in the State. We are ready, and in less than 24 hours, we will be ready to look ourselves in the mirror, knowing that we will have given everything we had.
We did not win the Indoor Conference Championship. We did not win the Outdoor Conference Championship. However, last night at the IHSA Sectional Championship, our Varsity team captured the Sectional title, scoring 113 points, more than double the number of points of second place. The team qualified for the IHSA State Meet in nine events and had double qualifiers in two events. It looks like things are coming together at the right time.
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!