Boys Track: Malachy Schrobilgen takes last run in Oak Park colors
Updated: June 12, 2012 5:06PM
Malachy Schrobilgen treated Friday night’s race at the Midwest Distance Festival as just another race.
The new Class 3A 3,200-meter run champion from Oak Park-River Forest, who graduated Sunday, had his traditional bowl of oatmeal before the race. He warmed up at exactly the same amount of time as he usually does before a race.
But the result was anything but typical for Schrobilgen, who placed ninth in a star-studded 1,600 run at Joliet Memorial Stadium.
Schrobilgen ran second or third for most of the race behind Jason Crist of Indianapolis Franklin Central, but when Notre Dame-bound Michael Clevenger of Decatur MacArthur made his move with 200 meters remaining, both Schrobilgen and Crist faded.
Crist placed eighth (4:13.73) and Schrobilgen took ninth (4:14.89) in the final event of the inaugural meet.
Clevenger (4:09.01), the Class 2A state champion in the 3,200, beat a field that included Jack Keelan (third, 4:11.15) of St. Ignatius, Todd Ford (fifth, 4:12.77) of Loyola and Mark Derrick (seventh, 4:13.65) of Neuqua Valley.
“It was fun. I didn’t have a kick, but I’m ready to start my offseason,” said Schrobilgen, who will head to Wisconsin in the fall.
The race was Schrobilgen’s last while wearing a navy blue and orange uniform.
Schrobilgen won the Class 3A state title in the 3,200 (9:03.42) May 26 and placed third in the 1,600 (4:14.17).
The Midwest Distance Festival race had more of all-star appeal than a normal track race. Meet organizers played rock music while the runners sprinted around the track and a “rabbit,” a middle-distance runner in a white T-shirt, was used for the first two laps to increase the pace for the lead runners.
“It’s nice to have someone do it. Having that guy out there takes the pressure off from taking the lead,” Schrobilgen said.
Schrobilgen’s plans for the rest of the summer is to do regular workouts with his former teammates from the Huskies.
Clevenger said he stayed behind Schrobilgen throughout the race and made his move when Schrobilgen took a wide turn into the back stretch.
“I went between Mal and the rails,” Clevenger said. “I squeezed in there. From there, I was feeling better and better and moved in on that.”
Schrobilgen’s former high school coach, Jose Sosa, watched his former athlete’s last race from the stands while taking notes on his split times.
“It was bittersweet. I’ve known him since he was in the eighth grade (at Julian). That’s five long years,” Sosa said.
Schrobilgen become OPRF’s second state champion in the 3,200 following Jim Westphal from 1987. Sosa coached both runners, but couldn’t compare the two. Sosa said Westphal was a work in progress while developing into an All-American at Loyola.
“Mal has a lot more raw talent,” Sosa said. “Westphal had to work at it a lot more than Mal. Mal came in as a natural freshman.”
Sosa recalls when Westphal played soccer as a freshman and went out for track later that spring for the first time. When Westphal changed sports and joined cross country in the fall, Sosa didn’t know him.
“Westphal told me, ‘I ran track,’” Sosa said. “I said, ‘You did? I don’t remember you.’”
But Sosa will never forget Schrobilgen, who won a school-best five medals in distance track running over three years. He won three more state medals in cross country.
“I knew he was something special from Day 1,” Sosa said.