Boys Track: Leland Later cleans up at conference meet
Updated: March 16, 2012 10:56PM
Leland Later is trying something new this track season.
The state’s best distance runner added the half-mile to his racing roster this spring, and judging by Friday’s performance at the CSL South indoor meet at Evanston, the New Trier senior should be one of the best around.
Later took the early lead in the 880-yard run and held off a late charge by Maine South’s Michal Filipczak, another one of the title contenders in the event.
Later crossed the line in 1:59.4, and Filipczak followed in 1:59.5.
“That’s exactly what I expected,” said Later, the state champion in cross country who will run at Cal-Berkley next season. “The result was almost too close to call, but it was the race I wanted to run. I knew he’d there right there with me, and I had to have that half step on him at the end.”
The Duke-bound Filipczak, the runner-up in the 800 meters a year ago, also got a race he wanted in the final meet before the outdoor season starts next month.
“I was going for first place and not a time,” he said. “The indoor season has not been too eventful, so it’s good to get some competition. It’s definitely exciting because (Leland’s) a great runner.”
In a few weeks, Later will test himself against the best in the country after a rare invitation for an Illinois runner to the Los Angeles-area Arcadia Invitational on April 6-7. Later will compete in the 3,200 meters in what’s considered one of the best showcases of track talent in the country.
“I am not trying to run my fastest right now,” said Later, who won the mile at Evanston in 4:27.9. “If I do, it’s a bonus. I have been just working on my speed training and shaping up for the outdoor season.”
Xavier Levy also starred at the conference meet. The Evanston senior sprinter won both of the hurdle races, finishing in 7.55 in the 60-yard highs and 7.2 in the 60-yard lows.
What’s impressive is that Levy didn’t run either of them as a junior.
“I was not too excited about it at first,” he said. “But I like them now because I’m good at them.”
Even though he’s on a steep learning curve, Levy even believes he has a shot at qualifying for the state meet.
“I can, if I keep working at it,” he said. “If I get my technique down, I can give anybody a run for their money.”
Levy won a third event Friday with his 23.4 in the 220-yard dash, barely beating out teammate Antonio Johnson, to carry the Wildkits to the indoor title. Evanston won eight events to finish ahead of New Trier, which totaled five victories.