Matt Ruff's wait to hear his 400-meter time may have been more taxing than the race itself.
Wheaton Academy assistant coach Chris Felinski had 50.97 seconds on his stopwatch after Ruff took second in the Class 2A/3A 400 at the 45th annual Carlin Nalley Invitational on Saturday at Benedictine University. But he needed the timing-system results to know if he'd set a program record.
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"I've always thought I'd be getting it and then just coming up short," the sophomore said. "So now I feel like I actually got it. So I'm pretty happy -- but nervous still."
Ruff shortly learned he ran the lap in exactly 51.02 seconds to eclipse Mark Gaydaychuk's 2002 time of 51.23. To earn the school record, Ruff waited till the straightaway to explode.
"I just try to go as fast and keep up with everyone else the first 300-ish and then with 100 I just give it all," he said.
Warriors freshman Noah Van Dyke again nearly deposed Hunter Long as the Warriors' 800-meter record holder, but Van Dyke's fifth-place time of 2:00.34 remained short by less than a second.
Four seemed to be Benet's number. Anton Vershay (slicing more time off his 3,200), Stephen Hubona (discus), freshman Austin Dzik (300 hurdles), Andrew Acuff (pole vault) and Benet's 800, 1,600 and 3,200 relays all placed fourth in 2A/3A.
Running in the 1A level of the two-class, 31-team meet, Timothy Christian's Luke Washington, Jake Hooker, Rich Medina and Joel Brouwer lowered the program 400- and 800-meter relay records a second time this season -- 43.71 seconds in the first relay, a victorious 1:31.62 in the second.
"One day the coach (John Vander Kamp) just came up to us and told us that we're going to do it and we're like, OK, we'll try it," Washington said. "And then we won, so we were like, maybe we can go somewhere with this, and we've just been running with it."
Hooker also placed fourth in the Class 1A 110 high hurdles and won the 300s, handily, at 40.92 seconds. Senior Alex Sweatman finished second in the 1A 3,200.
Immaculate Conception high jumper Dan Vatch hadn't even heard of a jumpoff, but suddenly he was in one with Walther Lutheran's Jeff Walker after both cleared 6 feet but not 6-2. The bar was set to four heights, twice at 6-2, before Vatch exhausted Walker at 6-1.
Asked how many jumps he took to win the event, Vatch said, "Way too many."
Lisle coach Ken Jakalski said the Lions got a "lift" from Tyler Young reaching the 1A 100-meter finals. For him, though, the highlight was a third-place 3,200 relay of Jefferson Chan, Tony Benedetti, Ben Buchelt and Ryan Kilroy, who also took fourth in the 800, third in pole vault.
The retiring Jakalski, honored with his family during a noontime break, got to hear "Happy Trails" played over the sound system at the end of his 26th Nalley Invite.
"This has been a big part of my life for a long period of time," he said, "and as much work as this is you realize how enjoyable it is."
Bolingbrook repeated as the 2A/3A champ with 103 points. Walther Lutheran won the 1,600-meter relay to earn the 1A title over eight-time defending champion Oregon.