Nick Matysek's evolution as a middle-distance runner for Jacobs continued in smashing fashion Saturday at the 45th annual Carlin Nalley Invitational, Saturday at Benedictine University in Lisle.
Owning the brawny arms and thick torso of a shot put thrower or sprinter -- which he was his first two years in high school -- Matysek stormed to the 2A/3A 800-meter title of the two-class meet hosted by Lisle High School, winning in 1 minute, 57.32 seconds.
Matysek drew from his 400-meter experience in breaking from the pack to take the lead and hold it.
"I know what I can do at the end," said Matysek, who last year at the Nalley meet finished fifth in the 400 at 52.44 seconds. "That's what I used to do when I was a freshman and sophomore running the 100, 200, 400. I'd just wait, wait, then I'd take over the last bit."
The Golden Eagles' soccer goalie in the fall, Matysek achieved his goal of running the 800 in under 2 minutes. He's leaned on Jacobs distance coach Kevin Christian to cut time.
"I'm new to this mid-distance, endurance work," Matysek said. "My coach tells me, sit in the middle of the pack, keep within striking distance for the first lap, lap and a half, and then do what you would do if you were running this like a 200 or 400 -- just out-kick and out-power people."
Jacobs and Lincoln-Way East finished in a tie for fourth in the 2A/3A portion each with 42 points. Bolingbrook repeated as the big-school champ with 103 points. Walther Lutheran won the meet-ending 1,600-meter relay to wrest the 1A title from eight-time defending champion Oregon.
Senior Grayson Meunier placed fourth in Matysek's old race, the 400, while Dom Blake shook off three days of inactivity with shin splints to win the 300 hurdles.
Blake, recording a solid time of 39.64 seconds but dismayed to fall shy of Danny Trevor's program record of 38.9, admitted to some conceit "like I had no one behind me," he said.
"I finally found out I had competition."
And sooner rather than later. Blake needed to overcome Evergreen Park's Chris Cheatham to beat him by .2 seconds.
"I just really thought about taking long strides in between (hurdles) to catch up to him, and leaning, actually, like I was going to do a 110 hurdles," Blake said. "That helped a lot when I was going over the hurdles, using the technique for 110s. I felt like that made me win today."
Likewise, Golden Eagles senior William Hennessey survived a dogfight with Marist's Kyle Hauser in the 1,600. Hennessey initially sat in the upper group, then took the lead, then required a mad dash around the final turn and into the straightaway, shoulder to shoulder with Hauser, to nip him by .02 seconds at 4 minutes, 21.37 seconds.
"Going into the last 200 I hear a guy behind me grunting," Hennessey said. "We have a couple guys on our team who do that when they start to kick" -- perhaps Ryan Ross, who finished sixth -- "so I just instinctively think, OK, somebody's trying to kick, I've got to make a move soon or I'm going to get eaten."
Hennessey, whose day ended with a leg on Jacobs' third-place 1,600 relay with Meunier, Blake and Matysek, wasn't going to let anybody eat him.
"I actually remember hearing the announcer, 'Oh, we've got a battle!' Then I just remember trying to find that extra gear and pushing it in."