Boys Track: Local schools looking for medal haul at state meet
By Gene Chamberlain For Sun-Times Media May 24, 2012 5:22PM
Elgin's Dennis Moore (left) and South Elgin's Jeff Broger compete in the 400 relay during the Class 3A boys track sectional at St. Charles North last week. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 3, 2012 9:17AM
School records are nice, and certainly many area track and field athletes have achieved them this spring.
Something even more enduring, however, is a state medal. A handful of area athletes in two of the three classes at this weekend’s state meet have real shots at bringing home serious hardware. It starts with Burlington Central’s 3,200-meter and 1,600 relay teams in Class 2A, and includes Elgin’s 800 relay team and South Elgin 400 runner Jeff Broger, among others.
They start competing Friday morning at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston for spots in Saturday’s finals.
Central came into the outdoor season with high hopes after winning the 3,200 relay, taking second in the 1,600 relay and also having senior Mike Gulik take second in the 800 at the indoor Prep Top Times state meet. They’ve done nothing to disappoint outdoors.
The Rockets have the second seed (3:21.7) behind Cahokia (3:18.84) in the 1,600 relay, and their 3,200 relay is fifth seed at 8:01.44, although that 3,200 relay time was deceiving.
“Our 4 by 800 is pretty much in second position because we’ve run a best time of 7:56,” Central coach Mike Schmidt said. “We wanted to save our stud 800 runners, Gulik and (senior Clint) Kliem, at sectionals so we had them hold back some in the relay so that they could come back in the open 800 and in the 4 by 400 relay.”
Sophomore Matt O’Connor runs leadoff and senior Joe Gannon the third leg in the 3,200 relay with Gulik and Kliem. In the 1,600 relay, senior Ben Damisch and junior Ryan Olsen run with Kliem and Gulik.
“Ryan is a hurdler and sprinter and didn’t get into the 4 by 400 until about April,” Schmidt said. “He’s very talented and he has been one of the keys to that relay really taking off.”
Kliem is 12th seed in the 800 (1:57.87) and Gulik 14th (1:58.36) in a field that is very tightly compacted according to seed times. Just 3.32 seconds separates Gulik from the top time. On Saturday, if they make finals, Kliem and Gulik will be asked to run three races and temperatures are expected to be in the low to mid 90s.
“We were hoping for 55 and rainy or windy,” said Schmidt, who pointed out that the favorite in both the 3,200 and 1,600 relays, Cahokia, is more used to running in the heat near St. Louis.
Senior sprinter Parker DeMoss was a surprise eighth seed for Central in the 100.
“He’s been battling hamstring tightness all spring and still ran (10.95 seconds) .3 better than his previous best at sectional,” Schmidt said. DeMoss runs with Damisch, Olsen and Alex Johnson on the state-qualifying 400 and 800 relay teams.
“Our guys have performed well on the big stage at indoor meets and they have a lot of confidence,” Schmidt said.
Central’s last state gold medal came from Chris Wesson in the 2004 800, and last relay gold was from Wesson, Josh Raney, Andrew Rex and Dan Knewitz in the 2003 3,200 relay.
Elgin’s 800-meter relay team of Terrell Campbell, Derek Moorman, Dennis Moore and Devante King (1:27.83) own a fourth seed based on their school record-sectional title time. Collinsville (1:26.29), Belleville West (1:26.41) and Dunbar (1:27.71) are the only teams seeded higher.
They’re shooting for the first Elgin medal since Yosef Tewolde took fourth in the 800-meter run in 2007, the first relay medal since the 2006 400 relay team of Kenny Williams, Rashad Woodard, Lazerrich Johnson and Jordan Wells and the first Elgin state title since Tony Adams won the old 440-yard dash in 1979.
“The big key for us this year was getting Dennis to come back (after missing track as a junior),” Elgin coach Kevin Cleveland said. “And then having Terrell Campbell fall into our laps.”
Campbell is the only one of the four Maroons to make state before, but did it at Streamwood. He transferred after last season to Elgin.
The same four are in the 400 relay, but not highly seeded.
“We nail our handoffs we might have a chance in that,” Cleveland said. “It’s possible. The last meet they weren’t perfection. Two were good but one a little shaky.”
Broger was a runner at Elgin as a freshman but now is trying to become South Elgin’s first-ever state medalist. He is seeded fourth in the 400 meters with his time of 49.32. The junior is the highest seeded non-senior, but wasn’t impressed with his seed time.
“I definitely can run better,” he said. “I ran faster when I was going against Jacob Bender (Neuqua Valley), who got second in the state last year.”
Bender is seeded second (48.94) and Plainfield East’s Stepfan Thelemaque is top seed (48.9). Round Lake’s Antonio Farley ran 49.22 and is third seed.
The top-seeded area Class 3A entry is St. Charles East’s 1,600 relay team of Jake Mazanke, Nick Devor, Carter Reading and Danny Newman. Their second-seeded time of 3:18.46 at sectional was only .03 behind leader Belleville West. Mazanke’s time of 1:54.04 is the fourth-seeded 800 time.
St. Charles North’s Oshay Hodges is third seed in the high jump at 6-7.
Sectional champion Bartlett didn’t fare well seed-wise, with senior weight events competitor Kevin Bauers owning their best shots based on sectional effort.
Bauers is seventh seed in the discus (165-8) and 11th in the shot (53-11).
Jacobs’ 3,200 relay team is ninth seeded (7:51.76).