The weather has rarely been on our side this season and this was certainly evident at the Red Ribbon Classic at Waubonsie Valley this past Saturday. The cold, rain and the wind combined to produce a situation which was not conducive to putting up great marks. However, the coaches know that this type of weather could be present at the Conference, Sectional or State Meets, so we prepared our athletes to compete in the weather. We told them to dress for the worst, not worry about marks, and just compete. The result was a Neuqua Valley team that was cold and wet, but still competed to the best of our ability. While other teams were leaving during the meet, we showed our mental toughness and captured the Red Ribbon title on both levels. The Frosh-Soph team won the meet by 31 points and the Varsity team won by an incredible 61.5 points!
Field events suffer the most in the rain with slippery surfaces that hamper technique. However, our athletes persevered. Mckenzie Mitchell (So.) cleaned up in the horizontal jumps by taking 1st place in both the Frosh-Soph Long Jump and Triple Jump with marks of 18’ 4” and 38’ 11.25” respectively. Darren Huang (So.) took 2nd place in the Frosh-Soph Triple Jump, helping us to score 18 points in that event. Despite having some issues with his knee, Ife Oketona (So.) was able to take 4th place in the High Jump with a mark of 5’ 4”.
The Cwiok twins continued their success in the throws by double scoring in both the Shot Put and the Discus. Tom Cwiok (Sr.) put up throws of 48’ 8” in the Shot Put and 154’ 0” in the Discus for two 3rd places. AJ Cwiok (Sr.) took 4th in the Shot Put and 5th in the Discus with marks of 46’ 9” and 135’ 6”.
As the running events began, the rain and wind started to pick up. The Frosh-Soph 4 x 800 m relay team of Chris Keeley (Fr.), DJ Sauer (So.), Dakota Getty (So.) and Matt Jett (Fr.) pushed hard through the rain for a time of 9:03.13 and 3rd place. Aidan Livingston (Sr.) gave us a strong start in the Varsity 4 x 800 m relay with a 2:01 split. Austin Kinne (Sr.), Dominic Dina (Sr.), and Patrick Wolak (Sr.) finished up the race with 4th place against some strong teams in a time of 8:20.18.
We saw Homewood-Flossmoor earlier this season and knew that they would have some top relays. To see our 4 x 100 m relay team of Myles Gascon (So.), Kevin Sager (Sr.), Dan Gaynes (Sr.) and Ryan Lukas (Sr.) come within .08 seconds of a team that is ranked Top 10 in the State was an impressive sight. In the anchor position, Lukas showed his ability to chase and to run full speed for a long time as he nearly caught Homewood-Flossmoor’s anchor. Lukas would do the same thing later in the meet in the 4 x 200 m relay of Myles Gascon (So.), Michael Duy (Sr.), Josh Covarrubias (Jr.) and Ryan Lukas (Sr.) to come from behind and win the relay in a time of 1:34.49. It seems that Ryan Lukas has “figured it out”! The Frosh-Soph 4 x 200 m would also have an impressive finish as they won the meet from slow heat in a time of 1:40.99. Kaden Smith (Fr.), Jordan Matthews (Fr.), Jake Priser (Fr.) and Alex Xiong (So.) raced against the clock and themselves to capture the win.
Lake Central’s coaching staff revealed to us that they travelled to this meet from Indiana because they wanted to compete against our distance squad. Our distance squad made the trip worth it with some great races between our two teams. In the 3200 m, Tyler Bombacino (So.) and Alex Johnson (So) would secure personal bests and a 2-5 finish with marks of 9:55.77 and 10:09.63. On the Varsity side, Josh Mollway (Jr.) would take over the race with less than two laps to go for the win in a time of 9:42.07. Caleb Ferugson (Sr.) was nipped at the line and took 3rd with a personal best of 9:43.48. This distance domination would continue with the Frosh-Soph 800 m where Danny Winek (So.) would take the lead from the gun and never relinquish it, crossing the line in 2:03.07. Ryan Kennedy (So.) would charge in the last 200 m to take second in a time of 2:05.65 and secure another 18 points. In the Varsity 800 m, Matt Milostan (Jr.) ran a strong race to run 2:03.52 for 3rd place. Milostan is returning to form with some solid races lately. The distance events would conclude the the 1600 m where Zach Kinne (Fr.) would jump to the lead immediately and would easily win with a mark of 4:43.01. Connor Horn (Sr.) would do the same in the Varsity 1600 m and would run 4:24.75. Both Kinne and Horn’s marks are far more impressive than they sound considering the conditions and the fact that they ran by themselves.
Back on the sprinting side of the meet, we showed some great progress. David Alvarado (Fr.) and Dan Gaynes (Sr.) would win the Frosh-Soph and Varsity 100 m dash races with times of 12.07 and 11.47 respectively. This is a rare event for any team. In the 400 m dash, Joe Hanneman (So.) would take 2nd by .01 seconds with a mark of 56.00 even though he was not feeling well after coming back from an illness. Isaiah Robinson (Jr.) and JaQuere Williams (Jr.) would score another event sweep in the Varsity 400 m dash with a 1-2 finish and marks of 50.64 and 51.74. My guess is that our 400 m times could have been 1.5 seconds faster on a nice day. In the 300 m Intermediate Hurdles, Will Allen (So.) would take 4th at the Frosh-Soph level with a time of 46.73, as the puddles grew larger on the track. Ryan Dierking (Sr.) would take 3rd at the Varsity level with a time of 44.05. After their 100 m and 400 m successes, Alvarado and Hanneman would go 1-2 in the 200 m dash near the end of the meet with marks of 25.20 and 25.89. By the time that the 200 m began, we were one of the last teams that was still competing!
As the final event stepped onto the track, everyone was cold, wet and fairly miserable, but Neuqua Valley was still competing well. So many teams had left by this time that the 4 x 400 m relay would be reduced to one heat with the Frosh-Soph and Varsity combined. Our Varsity team of JaQuere Williams (Jr.), Ryan Lukas (Sr.), Tanner Karbonik (Sr.) and Isaiah Robinson (Jr.) would easily win with a time of 3:39.91. Our Frosh-Soph team of Kaden Smith (Fr.), Ryan Kennedy (So.), Will Allen (So.) and Danny Winek (So.) would take 1st place at the Frosh-Soph level, but ended up beating some Varsity teams.
This meet showed that we are capable of doing something special if we put our mind to it. We saw a rough day through to the end and this experience will serve us well as we move to our next big meet, the DVC Conference Championship.