Boys Track: Lyons Township looks to bright futureMatt Harris, of Lyons, competes in the Class 3A Long Jump at the Track & Field State Finals, Saturday, May 26th, 2012 in Charleston, IL. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 28, 2012 9:17PM
Jimmy Mitchell was truly happy to make his first trip to the Class 3A state meet last weekend. It almost didn’t happen.
The Lyons junior nearly missed the entire track and field season after suffering a torn labrum in his left shoulder near the end of the football season in the fall. He competed in only two meets, the West Suburban Silver meet and the Concordia University Sectional, where we was able to qualify for the state meet by finishing in the top two in the discus.
Mitchell didn’t have an outstanding state meet. He admitted to not having the “right attitude” and threw 129-feet-7 to finish 28th at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
“It was a wake-up call to see all the competition,” Mitchell said. “I got somewhere outside of the conference, but [state] was very overwhelming overall.”
Mitchell, a La Grange Park resident, plans on returning next season and perhaps adding the shot put. He missed state qualifying for the shot put by finishing third at the sectional, three inches short of second place and a guaranteed berth to state.
Lyons did not have a single senior state qualifier looks to be in good shape for more next season after junior Matt Harris (23-8 1/2) placed second in the long jump and junior Lino Mogorovic (39.37) placed fifth in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles. Mogorovic became the school’s first medalist in the 300 hurdles and Harris became the school’s highest finishing long jumper since Rick Smith was second in 1974.
Harris next season can attempt to become Lyons’ first state champion in long jump since Tom Atkinson won three consecutive titles from 1960-62. Lyons’ only other long jump champ was three-time titlist William Brown from 1897-99 much more than a century ago.
“Obviously, I was happy. I went for it; I gave it my best shot. I didn’t leave anything behind,” Harris said.
Harris, who is gaining attention as a Division I football recruit as a defensive back, made his third state meet appearance, but went 23-8 1/2 in his third attempt in Friday’s preliminaries. He finished fourth in 2010 as a freshman, but could not advance to the finals in 2011.
“I couldn’t get a mark down,” Harris said about 2011.
Saturday’s Class 3A long jump champion was Wheaton North junior Zach Gordon (24-0 1/2).
Harris was 12th in the 110 hurdles (14.91) and the 400 relay (43.21) placed 26th with Harris, Giovanni Young, Quentin Sanchez and Mogorovic. Harris will likely return this summer to compete with the Zephyrs AAU club track team based in Hinsdale.
Lyons’ other state qualifier was freshman Alex Lima (1:58.11), who took 17th in the 800.
Mitchell made the most out of a second chance to his junior year. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound offensive lineman from football, played through his injury while in the playoffs. But rehabilitation alone did not help afterward. He had surgery on his shoulder Jan. 31. He is a right-handed thrower, but was limited to footwork drills during the track and field season.
“I hurt it in the last game of the regular season, but I played in the playoffs with it,” Mitchell said.
His older brother, Ryan, was Lyons’ quarterback a few years ago. Ryan now plays at Penn and Jimmy hopes to attend a summer camp at Penn, along with a few other Ivy League schools this summer.
Because Mitchell will not be cleared by doctors for contact drills in football until late summer, he plans on working out more in the discus and shot put this summer, perhaps even joining and AAU track and field team such as the Hinsdale-based Zephyrs club. Mogorovic, Harris and Sanchez already compete for the Zephyrs.