Boys Track: Lake Park takes Upstate Eight Valley titleMetea Valley's Matt Stewart competes in the 3200m Run during the Upstate Eight Conference Valley boys track meet at Streamwood High School in Streamwood, Ill., on Thursday, May 10, 2012.
| Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |
Lake Park’s dominance with five victories in six field events made Thursday’s Upstate Eight Valley boys track meet at Millennium Field look like a runaway at the start.
However, Neuqua Valley kept scoring consistently and made a run at the Lancers on the track later before coming up just short with 140 points to the Lancers’ 156.
“They came after it today,” Neuqua Valley coach Mike Kennedy said of his team. “We couldn’t make up for Lake Park’s field events, but we had some guys who had great meets.”
Neuqua Valley scored three middle distance firsts, winning the 400 meters, the 800 and the 1600.
Jacob Bender came from behind in the back stretch to beat South Elgin’s Jeff Broger by .54 seconds in 48.75 for his best time of the season.
“That’s really what I’m trying to focus on, especially going into the state meet — closing ability,” said Bender, who turned on the jets coming out of the back curve. “That’s where the race is really won at state with so many good runners. It’s an important part of the race.”
In the 800, Andy Martinez pulled off a mild upset of his own teammate by besting his previous best time this year and running 2:01.39 for first as a third seed over Roland Dewgard (2:01.99). Kennedy didn’t mind the 1-2 finish there regardless of who did it.
“That was very nice,” he said. “The time wasn’t the greatest, but it was a nice race. The thing out here at conference is it’s about competing and going for places.”
Mark Derrick turned in his season’s best in the 1,600 for first in 4:16.83, but the real surprise was teammate Taylor Soltys coming in a sixth seed (4:32) and running a 4:21.94 for third.
“We had several guys coming out like that with big efforts and personal bests,” Kennedy said. “Our long jumper, Emery Barnes, jumped 22 feet (third), (1 foot, 7 inches) better than his best before, which was great. And our discus thrower, Carlos Verela really did better than he’d ever done.”
Varela had a seed of 148-8 and threw it 167-4 for second place.
Waubonsie Valley also won three events and took third with 90 points. Metea Valley had one title and 60.5 points for fourth, and East Aurora placed seventh with 21 points and one first.
The Warriors’ Riley Kittridge won the shot at 57-9, 4 feet, 7 inches better than his previous best, and top-seeded teammate Jamaal Bearden placed second (53-3).
“I changed techniques,” said Kittridge, who is only in his second year of track. “I was spinning but I decided to change to a glide technique for the last throw. It had been off and on all season with the spin so I went with something different and was happy about it.”
Waubonsie Valley’s Kyle Schafer won the 300 low hurdles in 38.77 second, knocking .45 seconds off his previous best, while the Warriors’ 1,600 relay team closed the meet with a first in 3:25.14.
Metea Valley’s Matt Stewart won the 3,200 easily in 9:42.45.
“Time-wise it wasn’t fast,” he said. “In preparation for sectionals I’ll cut down the miles a bit and hopefully that will carry me on. I had run 9:35 last week so I’m hoping to cut eight seconds off and qualify for state.”
East Aurora’s win came in the 200 dash. Sophomore Desmond Gant ran a 22.27, .13 better than his previous best. He needed it to hold off South Elgin’s Zach Gross, who ran 22.34.
“When I came off the curve I thought I was actually in third,” Gant said. “I thought I had lost it. I wasn’t comfortable at all during the race. Usually I’m calm but it went too fast for me to be calm.
“I need to get out faster. My coach has been working on me in the blocks all year. Once I get that down, I don’t think anyone can beat me.”
Lake Park wound up winning eight events in all, including Kevin Spejcher’s 6-11 effort in the high jump to set a conference record. The old mark, by West Aurora’s Rapael Brooks of 6-10, had stood since 1986.
Lake Park’s other firsts came from its 400 relay team (42.25) and 800 relay team (1:29.97), Scott Filip in the 110 high hurdles (14.93) and long jump (23-3 3/4), Tim Ehrhardt in the pole vault (14-9), Shawn Koch in the triple jump (46-4), and Scott Karlis in the discus (170-2).