After eighteen years in the Upstate Eight Conference, our team began this season knowing that there would be challenges as we moved to the DuPage Valley Conference (DVC). The teams are more competitive, have more athletes and in many cases have field houses where they can train. Despite all of these factors, our debut in the DVC Indoor Championships was marked with great successes as we captured the championship at Frosh-Soph and Varsity levels.
At the Frosh-Soph level, we scored 95 points to edge out Wheaton-Warrenville South with 89.25 points for the title. At the Varsity level, we scored 105 points, which was 33 points more than Wheaton North at second place.
The meet began with a quartet of Frosh-Soph athletes in the 4 x 800 m relay showing that we were serious about competing. The team of Danny Winek (So.), Chris Keeley (Fr.), Ryan Kennedy (So.) and Tyler Bombacino (So.) ran away from the field besting second place by nearly 20 seconds. Their time of 8:25.96 broke both the Frosh-Soph School record and the Frosh-Soph DVC record. The Varsity 4 x 800 m relay team of Caleb Ferguson (Sr.), Matt Milostan (Jr.), Patrick Wolak (Sr.) and Alan Poe (Jr.) were narrowly edged out of the top position and took second. This team was only three seconds away from the DVC record.
The distance squad continued to dominate the meet in the 3200 m with Zach Kinne (Fr.) and Alex Johnson (So.) taking 1st and 4th places, respectively. Kinne broke with the field early and finished 22 seconds ahead of second place and was only 5 seconds away from breaking the Kyle Gibson’s (Naperville North) DVC record. On the Varsity side, we welcomed Connor Horn (Sr.) back racing with an incredible season debut with a conference title in the 3200 m with a time of 9:23.74. Horn makes the third Neuqua Valley athlete to run the State Qualifying time in the 3200 m this season. Dominic Dina (Sr.) held off a challenge to secure 2nd place and 18 points for the team.
Moving to the sprint events, Chris Muoghalu (Sr.) captured the conference championship with a mark of 6.60 in the 55 m dash. This mark broke the longest standing school record that we had at the Varsity level. Ben Kittleson set the record in 1998 and went on the become one of the best sprinters in the country. Myles Gascon (So.) ran an outstanding race and took third, only .07 seconds from breaking the school record as well.
The 800 m run saw the return of Tyler Bombacino (So.) only a little more than an hour after he ran in the 4 x 800 m. Bombacino took home the conference title by holding off a challenge in the last stretch. In the Varsity 800 m, Isaiah Robinson (Jr.) took the lead from the gun and never looked back, winning in a time of 1:58.74, only about 1 second from the DVC record. Josh Mollway (Jr.) finished in 4th with a season best 2:01.89.
Our Frosh-Soph 4 x 200 m relay of Alex Xiong (So.), Norman Dong (So.), Donovan Turner (Fr.) and McKenzie Mitchell (So.) took 4th place with a great anchor leg by Mitchell, holding off several teams. Myles Gason (So.), Jacob Sampson (Sr.), Ryan Lukas (Sr.) and Chris Muoghalu (Sr.) finished 2nd at the Varsity level with an amazing charge by Muoghalu at the end nearly stealing 1st Place. The depth of our sprint crew really showed in this race as two of our top 200 m runners did not run as they were in other events.
The Frosh-Soph 400 m dash showed the rise of Joe Hanneman (So.) who took 4th and has been demonstrating great competitive spirit over the past few meets. JaQuere Williams (Jr.) took 3rd at the Varsity level with a time of 51.24. The top three finishers in the Varsity 400 m were all under the DVC record.
Ryan Kennedy (So.) and Danny Winek (So.) surged away from the pack about halfway through the Frosh-Soph 1600 m run to take first and second respectively. The duo ran a negative split race which had them both finishing nearly 10 seconds ahead of 3rd place. Scott Anderson (Jr.) ran a season best time of 4:26.77 to capture the Varsity title with a controlled and steady race. This mark is close to the time needed to qualify for the State Meet.
The 200 m dash was one of the most competitive events of the evening with the top 11 athletes finishing within .6 seconds of each other. Jacob Sampson (Sr.) took 4th place with a time of 23.52 seconds which was only .27 seconds from first place.
The running events concluded with the 4 x 400 m relay and our Frosh-Soph team knew that they needed to run well to secure the team title. Alex Kiefer (Fr.), Norman Dong (So.), Kaden Smith(Fr.) and Joe Hanneman (So.) pulled us to fourth and kept us close enough to Wheaton-Warrenville South to make sure that the team title was ours. The Varsity race saw us filling in for some athletes that were experiencing some tightness and Dan Gaynes (Sr.), Vince Ventura (Sr.) JaQuere Williams (Jr.) and Isaiah Robinson (Jr.) took 3rd with a mark of 3:31.24. Williams and Robinson ran splits that would have placed them in the top 3 of the open 400 m.
In the field events, twins Tom Cwiok (Sr.) and AJ Cwiok (Sr.) took 5th and 6th in the Shot Put respectively, with marks of 52’ 4.75” and 50’ 4.75”. AJ’s mark was a season best by nearly 5 feet. Ife Oketona (So.) managed to place 3rd in the Frosh-Soph High Jump with a jump of 5’ 9” and 2nd in the Frosh-Soph Long Jump with a jump of 20’ 0.5”. Ife had to keep moving back and forth between the two events as they took place at the same time. Zach Laipple (So.) took 4th place in the Pole Vault with a jump of 10’ 1”. Finally, our Triple Jumpers excelled at the meet. McKenzie Mitchell (So.) jumped a season best 41’ 11”, taking the conference title. Fikayo Akinbo (Jr.) and Dan Gaynes (Sr.) took 3rd and 4th respectively at the Varsity level with jumps of 41’ 11.5” and 41’ 11”.
On Tuesday, the rest of our Frosh-Soph and JV team will compete as we close out the indoor season. As we move to outdoors, we cannot ride on the successes of the indoor season but we must rise to the new challenges that outdoor season will have for us. We will need to be ready to face these teams again as we move toward the Outdoor Conference Championship. However, in the mean time, we can savor our first DVC Championship and know that our hard work is paying off.