Boys Track: Lake Park, Leo look to defend crowns at state
Updated: May 23, 2012 6:13PM
The faces have mostly changed, but the goals mostly haven’t for Leo and Lake Park’s boys track teams.
The Lions and Lancers head back to Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium this week as defending champions who figure to be in the trophy mix, if not the title hunt, once again. But they’ll be doing so without many of their big guns from the past few seasons.
Lake Park, which has won the past two Class 3A titles, graduated multi-talented Zach Ziemek, a four-time state champ in his career, along with twins Jermaine and Jeremy Kline, who accounted for eight medals and three titles in the throws.
Leo, meanwhile, must find a way to replace the points scored by Bruce Gray, who took first in the 100 meters and won four medals in leading the Class 1A Lions to their sixth state title a year ago.
This season, both teams look to rely more on their depth than on a star or two. “We have four kids who can place in every meet and some good relay kids around them,” said Ed Adams, who has coached five of Leo’s title teams.
One of them is Keith Harris, the top seed in the Class 1A 100 and 200 and a key member of Leo’s top-seeded 800 and third-seeded 400 relay teams. Harris, a Northern Illinois football recruit, ran on medal-winning 400 and 800 relays as a sophomore but missed last year’s state series after getting hurt playing basketball.
The Lions will also look to Theodore Hopkins, who won three medals last year in the 200 and sprint relays, along with discus thrower Hakeem Chatman and 110-meter hurdler Marlon Britton. Both are seeded third.
Lake Park returns a pair of medalists in Scott Filip, who’s seeded in the top six in all three jumps, and second-seeded high jumper Kevin Spejcher. The Lancers also have the top-seeded triple jumper in Shawn Koch and will be hoping to get points from pole vaulter Derrick Smith, long jumper Marcus Jegede and discus thrower Scott Karlis among others.
“We have to reinvent ourselves to a degree,” Lake Park coach Jay Ivory said. “We’re looking at it like we’re in the mix. We have a chance to take home another trophy, but it’s going to be a fight.”
Also in the Class 3A trophy hunt are teams such as Wheaton North, led by top-seeded long jumper Zach Gordon; Neuqua Valley and Oak Park-River Forest.