Like each of the contenders at Wednesday's Suburban Christian Conference boys track championships, Marmion coach Dan Thorpe pre-scored the meet based on seed times and distances. He was surprised only by the margin of victory.
"Seed times, we had it scored us winning by 12 (points)," Thorpe said. "We had kids step up. Most of our kids got their seed place and that's what tonight is about, place."
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Hosting the meet in Aurora, the Cadets reached the same place they've been each of Thorpe's seven years heading the program -- first. Winning actually for the eighth straight year, Marmion racked up 150 points to beat main competitors Aurora Central Catholic (105), Montini (84), Walther Lutheran (71) and Aurora Christian (59).
Marmion scored in 17 of 18 events and double-scored in 10 of them. Pete Stefanski earned an SCC record with his high jump of 6 feet, 8 inches; Jake Ruddy's long jump 22-foot, 9-inches set another SCC mark.
Thorpe commended Ruddy for making "a commitment to track." Stefanski would have equaled his personal-best of 6-10 had his calves not grazed the bar on the way over.
"It feels good to have the record -- to not only win but have the record," said Stefanski, who also trailed only teammate Ben Cole in triple jump.
"It's always a close conference meet with us and Aurora Central, so we pretty much try to scrape up every point that we can get," Stefanski said.
Marmion got 67 points in the field events -- Blake Mickey and Oscar Garza went 1-2 in shot put -- and won the 3,200 with Matt Choice and the 800 with Nolan Dickson, a former triathlete specialist who will run for UCLA. Dickson overcame a fast opening lap by Wheaton Academy freshman Noah Van Dyke to win in 1 minute, 56.58 seconds.
"Our school record is 1:55.6 and I told myself I've got to go out in 57 (seconds)," Dickson said. "Well, turns out that Wheaton kid went out a little faster and then my plan was just taking that second lap and that's what I did."
Marmion also won the 3,200 relay and Freddy D'Escoto took the 300 hurdles.
Dickson and ACC's Matt Meyers went 1-2 in the 800, and met again in the 1,600. This time, Meyers took the lead from Choice after one lap and held off Dickson's surge over the last 120 meters, basically diving over the finish line to win in 4:29.78.
"I knew he had speed because we ran the 800 earlier. I really had to dig deep in that last 100. I found something," said Meyers, who also found a minor case of road rash and numbness in his hands after crashing to the track.
"That was fun," he said.
Despite placing behind Marmion and ACC, Montini's Anthony Taylor was named athlete of the meet. He beat ACC's Joe Fese in both the 100 and 200 dashes, and anchored a victorious 800 relay.
"It means a lot," said Taylor, whose sprint times were 11.25 seconds and 22.86. "I've worked on it all four years to finally be at the top of each event that I run. This training all the time, just staying focused and mentally tough through each race, it really helps."
Broncos teammate Peter Barrett looked like the most disconsolate pole vaulter to ever set a conference record, going 14-6: "I know I'm a 15-6 vaulter, though." Another Bronco, Brady Powers, won discus.
Four days after setting Wheaton Academy's 400-meter record in Lisle, Matt Ruff dropped more time to win the event. Aurora Christian's Johnathon Harrell had a big lead but Ruff poured it on down the stretch to win in 50.89 seconds.
"I wanted to finish around the same time as last time, around a 51," Ruff said. "But I also wanted to win. I really didn't have much of a strategy, I guess."
Ruff's sights were set on the finish line and on the back of Harrell, who later anchored the Eagles' victorious 1,600 relay, a crisp 3:24.11.
"I had to catch him, I needed to. I just wanted to win really badly," Ruff said.
St. Francis, which got points by Scott Stiff in the 3,200, Michael Wilson in pole vault and Kevin McShea in triple jump, placed ninth.
Immaculate Conception was 10th, with individual-event scorers Dan Vatch and James Janowski in high jump and Tim Hipskind in long jump.
St. Edward's Kevin Olenek had an edge on Marmion's Fred D'Escoto in the 300 hurdles, but Olenek's trail leg knocked the last hurdle. Momentum waned just enough for D'Escoto to win by .05 seconds.
"It all just comes down to my form over each and every hurdle and how I continue my race after each hurdle," said Olenek, just one click off his personal best at 41.95. "And that, I can fix before sectionals and hopefully make it to state."
St. Edward placed eighth at the meet, Olenek also scoring in the 110 hurdles and leading off a fifth-place 400 relay. The Green Wave's John Gotheridge placed in both shot put and discus.