Sometimes it is hard to put together your best relays. In a normal meet, you have to balance what athletes need to do in individual events and the team score. Therefore, it is a nice change of pace to go to a meet where we can put everything aside except the relays and just try to post up some great times with our best relays. This was the point of the annual Mustang Relays at North Central College on Monday night. Three relays run with some of the best teams in the state pushing each other to some fast times.
The night began with the 4 x 800 m relay of Dakota Getty (Sr.), Ryan Kennedy (Sr.), Zach Kinne (Jr.) and Tyler Bombacino (Sr.) running in the fastest heat with some tough teams. Despite getting shoved around a little at the start, Dakota got right into the mix of the race. Then, after the first lap, Dakota clipped another runner and nearly fell. However, the fall seemed to wake Dakota up a little and he charged right back to pace finishing his leg in just over 2 minutes. Ryan then took the baton and ran a very smooth race as he slowly reeled in the pack and put us right into the thick of the race, with a blistering last 150 m to finish his leg just under 1:59. As Zach took the baton, he was in good position to move the team up even further and did just that as he worked his way up toward the lead. Zach ran tough and smooth even though he was not feeling well and brought us right behind the leaders, finishing with another leg just under 1:59. A determined Tyler would race hard to catch the leader and sat right on that position for as long as he could, pushing himself to finish with a solid 1:59.6 split and a 2nd place finish to Downers Grove North. The team's overall time was 7:57.74, which is faster than the state qualifying time, is presently the #2 mark in state and is the second fastest mark we have ever run in the 4 x 800 m at the Mustang Relays.
Sometimes it is best not to be in the fastest heat, especially in the 4 x 200 m relay. The fastest heats can be crowded and the traffic can slow you down. When we put in the lineup, we were not sure if Kai Larson (Sr.) would be able to come back from illness. As a result, we seeded our team based on the fact that we might not have our team at full strength. Our thought was that we could not lose: if we were not at full strength, we would be in the right heat. If we were at full strength, we could run free in the lead. When Donovan Turner (Jr.) took off out of the blocks and accelerated down the back stretch, it was obvious that he was on a mission. By the exchange, we were in the lead and Donovan had clocked a 23.2 split. Kai would take over for the second leg and would show that his illness was behind him. Our team increased the lead and Kai put down a 22.9 split, even with some awkward exchanges. Ife Oketona (Sr.) would continue to press for the third leg and would stretch the lead with a near perfect stride to give him his fastest 200 m split ever. By the time that Myles Gascon (Sr.) took the baton, the race was really a time trial and Myles took the heat with a comfortable lead and another sub 23 second split. The team finish in a time of 1:32.06 which was much faster than we expected to run. Now we had to wait for the last two heats to see how we stacked up to the rest of the competition. Heat 5 was strong, but no team bested our mark. As we watched Heat 6, we saw similar splits to ours, but with far more bumping and traffic and as Minooka's team came down the final stretch, we watched the clock tick past our time and knew we had won the 4 x 200 m from one of the slow heats and secured a mark that is presently #2 in the state.
Hoping to capitalize on the success of the previous two relays, the 4 x 400 m relay team of Jonah Covarrubias (Jr.), Kel Foley (Jr.), Kai Larson (Sr.) and Donovan Turner (Jr.) stepped to the line. Jonah got out strong, but was not able to get into his normal rhythm and after a rough exchange, Kel was not able to move up much. Kai would take the baton and with the thoughts of illness behind him, would push toward the lead, passing other runners with ease and bringing us near the lead of the heat. Kai finished his leg with a 51.9 split and gave the baton to Donovan who would take the lead near the end of the first lap and never relinquish it. Donovan's 52.9 split would be his fastest 400 m of the season and our time of 3:34.78 also be a season best for the team. Even with us not running our best, we were still able to put up the 21st best time in the state right now.
Complete results from the meet can be found at the website below.
We finish our regular indoor season this Saturday with an open meet at York and then it is back to North Central College for the DVC Indoor Conference Championship!