In Track and Field, sometimes history repeats itself. For some reason, the night of the Bob Cohoon Invitational at Downers Grove South is cold. We warned our athletes that it would start out seeming like a nice night, but by the end of the night, they would need to be prepared for the arctic. This past Friday night was no different. History also repeated itself in our team place. Both this year and last year we took 3rd out of a field of 16 tough teams. When you consider that we took 2nd in the State last year, this puts the challenge of this meet into perspective.
The finals began with the 4 x 800 m relay team of Josh Mollway (Jr.), Caleb Ferguson (Sr.), Dominic Dina (Sr.) and Matt Milostan (Jr.) stepping up alongside a strong field. Josh Mollway led off with a first time sub 2:00 leg, which was followed by Caleb Ferguson’s leg bringing us into the lead. Dominic Dina ran a personal best leg to keep us in the race and Matt Milostan gave a large effort to secure 4th place in a time of 8:07.99 against some quick anchors.
Myles Gascon (So.), Kevin Sager (Sr.), Dan Gaynes (Sr.) and Chris Muoghalu (Sr.) charged ahead to a 4th place finish in the 4 x 100 m relay with a mark of 43.72 despite some awkward exchanges. Our short sprinters continue to improve with Chris Muoghalu taking 6th place in the 100 m dash later in the meet with a mark of 11.23. Myles Gascon would run 11.25 in the prelims, showing how close this race would be. Congratulations to Josh Eiker (Sr.) from Galesburg for his meet records in both the 100 m and 200 m with marks of 10.48 and an amazing 20.83 respectively.
The 3200 m at the Bob Cohoon Invitational is always an event that draws some of the top distance runners in the State. Nostalgia set in as the meet record was announced to be held by Neuqua Valley alumnus Chris Derrick in a time of 8:48.9. Connor Horn (Sr.) and Scott Anderson (Jr.) would represent Neuqua Valley. The race went out for the first mile at a tactical pace given the wind and cold, but quickly ramped up in the second mile where Connor Horn took over the lead and Scott Anderson continued to move up in place. The race would come down to kick between Horn and Oak Park-River Forest’s Junior Irwin Loud. Loud would take the race with Horn taking 2nd in a time of 9:15.56. Scott Anderson would take 5th in a time of 9:21.28.
The 800 m would also feature a tactical race given the conditions and Isaiah Robinson (Jr.) positioned himself perfectly from the gun and through the first lap. Robinson ran a strong second lap to take second in a season best open time of 1:57.03. Our long sprinters also continued to score points in the 400 m with JaQuere Williams (Sr.) taking 4th in the 400 m dash with a time of 50.66.
Aidan Livingston (Sr.) and Patrick Wolak (Sr.) would take up the 1600 m race against many of the same distance runners from the 3200 m. After three strong laps, Livingston made a strong move with Wolak following behind. Both runners would secure personal bests with Livingston taking 5th with a mark of 4:26.66 and Wolak taking 7th with a mark of 4:28.17.
Our throwing continues to be a source of success with Tom Cwiok (Sr.) and AJ Cwiok (Sr.) scoring 18 points between them in the Shot Put and Discus. The duo took 2nd and 3rd in the Discus with Tom putting up a mark of 167’ 6” and AJ throwing 155’ 6”. Tom also placed 4th in the Shot Put with a throw of 52’ 3.25”. We rounded out our field event points with Nick Beatty (Jr.) taking 3rd place in the Triple Jump with a jump of 41’ 9.5”. Beatty’s solid performance came on the heels of his surprise participation in the 4 x 200 m relay.
Our final event of the night was one we hoped would punctuate the meet in just the right way and our 4 x 400 m team of Isaiah Robinson (Jr.), Dan Gaynes (Sr.), Kevin Sager (Sr.) and JaQuere Williams (Jr.) did not disappoint. Robinson started us out strong pulling us within striking distance of the lead only to have Gaynes take over the top spot in his first Invitational 400 m. Sager and Williams ran strong to further extend our lead and capture the win in a time of 3:22.64.
Thanks to all of the athletes, parents and fans that came out to support the Varsity squad at this meet with our annual “tailgate”! Also, thank you to the anonymous parents for providing food for the entire team!
Next week we have our last invitational meet at Waubonsie Valley with their Red Ribbon Invitational.
A week ago, our meet in Illinois was cancelled due to cold weather. Only one week later at the Metea Valley Invitational, the weather was warm with little wind and our team was ready for the outdoor season. The team scores showed as much with our Varsity team winning the meet with 140 points, nearly doubling Plainfield North’s 2nd place score of 73. The young but determined Frosh-Soph squad took 3rd in a relatively close battle with Wheaton-Warrenville South and Plainfield North who took 1st and 2nd respectively.
With the field events in full swing and the preliminary sprint events finishing, we began the meet finals with the Frosh-Soph 3200 m. Coach Vandersteen would call this event “The best Frosh-Soph 3200 m in school history” as Danny Winek (So.), Ryan Kennedy (So.) and Zach Kinne (Fr.) all were entered with marks under 10:00. Winek and Kennedy were together at the front for the entire race and finished with a 64 second last 400 m with Winek grabbing the top spot at the line with marks of 9:44.06 and 9:44.22 for the pair. Kinne took 4th with a time of 10:03.38.
Moving into the 4 x 800 m, our Varsity team of Connor Horn (Sr.), Scott Anderson (Jr.), Josh Mollway (Jr.) and Isaiah Robinson (Jr.) put some of our best 3200 m runners with our 800 m runners for a group that ran away from the field early with Horn’s 1:58.4 first leg, leaving the team well out in front for the rest of the race. As Robinson took the baton, the race was really a solo time trial and Robinson pulled in for the win with a 1:57.8 anchor leg.
Our sprint crew would now take over for the 4 x 100 m relay. The team of David Alvarado (Fr.), Joe Hanneman (So.), Jordan Matthews (Fr.) and Alex Xiong (So.) took 3rd with a mark of 46.60. Alvarado’s strong opening leg was a sign of things to come, as later in the meet he would win the Frosh-Soph 100 m with a mark of 11.95. Our Varsity team of Myles Gascon (So.), Jacob Sampson (Sr.), Kevin Sager (Sr.) and Chris Muoghalu (Sr.) ran 43.34 for 4th, but was able to better our time from the Arcadia meet.
It was back to the distance events for the Varsity 3200 m. Jack Sebok from Plainfield North came in with the best seed time by a large margin but the trio of Patrick Wolak (Sr.), Jackson Jett (Jr.) and Dominic Dina (Sr.) went out with him for the first few laps. As the race progressed, Sebok pulled away from our team until Wolak surged to the front of the chase pack and began to close the gap between himself and Sebok. Wolak’s efforts were enough for a 2nd place finish and a 7 second personal best with a mark of 9:43.02. Jett took 4th with a personal best time of 9:49.93.
The 800 m featured a strong field from Neuqua Valley and in the Frosh-Soph race, Tyler Bombacino (So.) took the lead from the gun and never looked back, taking the win in a time of 2:04.38. Alex Johnson (So.) would add to the point total with a personal best time of 2:09.21. The Varsity race featured a group of athletes from all schools that finished in a bunched up pack as they came down the final stretch, but it was a set of strong kicks from Alan Poe (Jr.) and Caleb Ferguson (Sr.) to secure 2nd and 3rd places respectively with marks of 2:02.37 and 2:02.50.
The incredibly strong field of the 4 x 200 m featured Plainfield North and Plainfield East, both of which tied for 3rd place at the State Meet last year. After we shuffled the relay around due to some athletes cramping up in the warmer weather, we landed on the lineup from Arcadia and bettered our time by nearly a second. The team of Myles Gascon (So.), Dan Gaynes (Sr.), Ryan Lukas (Sr.) and Chris Muoghalu (Sr.) ran 1:29.50, just .16 seconds from the State Qualifying Mark. This team is presently ranked 8th in 3A. Watching Dan Gaynes run in this race, it was no surprise that he would run 22.60 in the open 200 m to take 4th place out of the slower heat later that day.
Neuqua Valley has always had a strong tradition of 400 m runners and this meet showed out depth. With three of our athletes in the Varsity fast heat, our strength in this event was apparent. However, it was the emerging Joe Hanneman (So.) that started us out with a 54.51 time for 4th place in the in Frosh-Soph race. In the Varsity race, Isaiah Robinson (Jr.) and Kevin Sager (Sr.) went 2-3 with personal best open 400 m marks of 49.50 and 49.57 respectively. This means that we now have three athletes that have run under 50 seconds in the 400 m.
Earlier in the meet, Ryan Dierking secured a personal best in the 110 m High Hurdles but really made his mark in the 300 m Intermediate Hurdles at this meet. Running nearly a second faster than his personal best which was only set last Tuesday, Dierking took 3rd with a strong but smooth race and a mark of 41.44.
For our last distance event of the day, Matt Milostan (Jr.) took 3rd place with a 4:32.24 time in the 1600 m. This mark was a personal best for Milostan.
Throughout the meet, the field events were racking up point for our team. In the throws, we had a team first with the twins Tom Cwiok and AJ Cwiok taking 1st and 2nd place in both the Shot Put and the Discus. In our team history, this has never happened at an invitational meet. In both events, Tom took 1st but AJ was close behind. In the Shot Put, Tom threw 48’ 8.5” and AJ threw 48’ 2.5”. However, in the Discus, Tom threw 159’ 6”, which is past the State Qualifying Mark for the second meet in a row. AJ continues to throw near the mark as well with a throw of 147’ 3”. In the Frosh-Soph throws, Mark Thigpen (So.) took 4th place in the Discus with a throw of 113’ 9”. In the Pole Vault, Ryan Demas (Jr.) took 4th at the Varsity level with a mark of 10’ 7”.
Allowing us to enter three athletes per event at this meet proved to be a huge advantage for us in the Triple Jump where we scored three athletes at the Varsity level. Fikayo Akinbo (Jr.), Nicholas Beatty (Jr.) and Dan Gaynes (Sr.) took 2nd, 4th and 5th respectively with jumps of 42’ 8”, 42’ 4” and 42’ 3”. At the Frosh-Soph level, Mckenzie Mitchell (So.) took the win with a jump of 41’ 10” and Darren Huang (So.) took 3rd with a jump of 40’ 1”. In this meet alone, we had 5 athletes in the triple jump with a mark over 40 feet. In the next weeks to come, these athletes could surpass the State Qualifying Mark.
Rounding out the field events, Ife Oketona (So.) won the Frosh-Soph Long Jump with a mark of 20’ 1.5” while Dan Gaynes (Sr.) took 3rd at the Varsity level with mark of 21’ 5.5”. Throughout the day, Gaynes scored in two field events and two relays!
Complete meet results can be found at the website below.
Our next meet is a special one, the Bob Cahoon Invitational at Downers Grove South. This meet will be a Varsity only meet, but we have a tradition of tailgating at this meet. We are hoping to see our entire team at this meet to support the Varsity squad. A parent donation has made it possible for us to provide food and drinks for those that attend. In the past, we have had parents, athletes and alumni come out to support the team. One year, our fans lined up one entire curve of the track! We hope to see you there!
(Note: All references to State 3A Marks are from Dyestat Illinois and Athletic.net as of the publishing of this post.)
The 49th Annual Arcadia Invitational was one to remember. National records fell as usual, but two things were different. It rained on and off for three straight days in Arcadia, California, a town that normally receives next to no rain during this time of year, and Neuqua Valley sent the largest group ever from Illinois to the prestigious two-day meet.
The meet began with the Friday Night Relays, where they run some events that are not normally contested in high school meets as a fun way to kick off the event. Our 4 x 200 m relay team of Myles Gascon (So.), Dan Gaynes (Sr.), Ryan Lukas (Sr.) and Chris Muoghalu (Sr.) finished 3rd in the rated heat and are currently ranked 4th in 3A with a time of 1:30.42.
One of the ways to show the strength of a team is to compete in a medley relay where athletes run different distances. This certainly was the case in the 1600 m Sprint Medley (200 m-200 m-400 m-800m) relay of Kevin Sager (Sr.), Dan Gaynes (Sr.), JaQuere Williams (Jr.) and Isaiah Robinson (Jr.) who now have the leading time in 3A by almost 6 seconds with their 3rd place in the seeded heat and time of 3:29.64. Isaiah Robinson ran the anchor 800 m leg in a personal best 1:54.8, making him the 3rd fastest 800 m runner in school history and if compared to the open 3A lists, he would be ranked first in the State!
Our final event of Friday night was the 4 x 1600 m relay, an event to test the depth of the distance crew. Aidan Livingston (Sr.), Scott Anderson (Jr.), Patrick Wolak (Sr.) and Connor Horn (Sr.) turned in a near-record setting performance with a 9th place finish in the invitational heat and a mark of 17:37.54. The school record in this event is held by four of the members of the 2007 National Champion Cross Country Team including now professional athlete Chris Derrick. Connor Horn’s anchor leg was his best effort over 1600 m with a split of 4:14.992. This mark is less than one second off of Chris Derrick's school record of 4:14.36. Comparing this to both the open marks in the 1600 m and Mile, this mark would be ranked 2nd in 3A! Also, congratulations to Great Oaks High School’s relay which broke the national record in this event with an incredible time of 16:55.85, which is an average of 4:14 per leg!
Saturday morning saw the beginning of the more traditional meet and Neuqua’s sprinters were there for the 4 x 100 m relay. Coming in with a time of 43.41, Myles Gason (So.), Kevin Sager (Sr.), Dan Gaynes (Sr.) and Chris Muoghalu (Sr.) posted up the current 8th best time in 3A despite some handoff challenges. Shortly after the 4 x 100 m, Dan Gaynes headed over to the long jump to become our first ever field event athlete to compete at Arcadia.
As we moved into the afternoon, JaQuere Williams (Jr.) experimented with some new racing strategies in the 400 m dash, running 50.27 which is the presently the 4th best mark in 3A. Shortly after, Isaiah Robinson (Jr.) returned for his second 800 m of the meet and ran 1:58.50 in a tactical race. This effort from Robinson is ranked 3rd in 3A, which means that he ran two of the fastest marks for an Illinois athlete in two consecutive days.
The team of Patrick Wolak (Sr.), Ryan Lukas (Sr.), Aidan Livingston (Sr.) and Ryan Kennedy (So.) which have been dubbed by Milesplit Illinois as the “Young Guns”, took on the challenge of the Distance Medley relay (1200 m-400 m-800 m-1600 m). While not a well contested event in Illinois, these athletes now hold the top spot in the State in this event by almost 9 seconds!
One of the premier events in the Arcadia Invitational is the 3200 m. Athletes from around the country come to run fast times under the lights in the normally perfect weather. Despite some puddles on the track, the Neuqua Valley crew of Connor Horn (Sr.), Scott Anderson (Jr.) and Jake McEneaney (Jr.) stepped onto the track to post some great times. In Jake McEneaney’s first race back after injury, Jake toughed out a 9:37.34. Scott Anderson took over the lead of the rated heat and pushed the pace for a few laps before turning in a personal best of 9:15.24 which is good for the 4th best time in 3A. Connor Horn ran very tough in another tactical race in the seeded heat to run 9:09.72 which is a personal best and is the second fastest time presently in 3A. The announcer during this race correctly mentioned that this race was faster than most state finals.
The final race of the night was the invitational 4 x 400 m relay and the team of JaQuere Williams (Sr.), Isaiah Robinson (Jr.), Ryan Lukas (Sr.) and Kevin Sager (Sr.) finished up two days of competition for Neuqua Valley with a time of 3:23.39, good enough for 3rd in 3A.
This meet showed us that we could compete with some of the best teams in the country, but it also showed us that have quite a bit of work to do to get ready for the end of our season. It will be great to see the entire team back together again at the Metea Valley Invitational this weekend.