Wheaton North senior Zach Gordon said Falcons coach Don Helberg's message entering Friday's DuPage Valley Conference indoor track and field championships was simple.
"Just go out and get a PR and everything would be good," Gordon said.
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Personal records or not, Wheaton North is good. The Falcons successfully defended last year's DVC indoor title, scoring in all 15 events and double scoring in nine of them at North Central College's Al B. Carius Track in Naperville.
Completing a three-level DVC sweep, Wheaton North's 140 points bested West Aurora's 93 and Naperville Central's 86.
"I knew that the kids would step up and perform. I knew tonight was going to be a good night," said Don Helberg, whose brother, Ken, directed Wheaton Warrenville South to fourth place.
As far as those PRs went there were Falcons like weight men Jon Chapman and Connor Grace, who each broke 50 feet in a 1-4 shot put finish, sandwiching Glenbard North's Mitch Siver and West Aurora's Shaquille Redmond.
Among the Falcons' state-caliber athletes was Gordon. The 2012 outdoor long jump champion, Gordon won that event at 22 feet, 6 inches. He followed with wins in the 55-meter dash and anchored a DVC-record 800 relay with Marcus Charles, Matt Biegalski and Patrick Sharp.
Gordon overcame severe pressure from Naperville Central's Ben Andreas in the 55.
"As soon as the gun came off the kid right next to me, Ben, he was just gone out of the blocks," Gordon said. "So I was like, all right, let me try to make it up, and I caught him right at the end. So I kind of got lucky."
Luck had nothing to do with Nolan McKenna's landmark 3,200 meter victory. The junior, who won that race indoors and outdoors in the DVC as a sophomore, led the field start to finish. His time of 9:18.24 broke a 33-year-old DVC indoor record, oldest on the books, by more than six seconds. McKenna topped runner-up Ethan Brodeur of Naperville Central -- who returned to win the 1,600 in a battle with WW South's Luke Schroer and Wheaton North's Paul Steeno -- by 23 seconds.
"This is just a building block," McKenna said. "Yeah, it was a good race."
Field event highlights included victorious Wheaton North pole vaulter Dale Hollinger soaring within an inch of a school-record 13-8 despite vaulting for the first time in three weeks due to a groin injury; Naperville North high jumper Marco Montani cleared 6-5, the only athlete there to exceed 6 feet.
Naperville Central coach Steve Wiesbrook expected to score 61 points, not the 86 his boys earned. Among the surprising bounty was Michael Jopes' 55-meter hurdles win and Sam Bransby taking both the 400 and 200 dashes.
"I had about 10 minutes in between the two," Bransby said, "so to get into the blocks it was just like, Oh, I have to move my legs now."
West Aurora coach Cortney Lamb anticipated a second-place finish behind Wheaton North. He got it but was pleasantly surprised when the Blackhawks' point total was about 14 points higher than he'd figured.
"That's a good thing, that means guys were stepping up in their individual events, an extra point here, an extra two points there. It adds up throughout the meet," Lamb said.
The trio of Deonta Motley, Graham Isaacson and Zach Truckenbrod ran on two of West Aurora's three second-place relays, while Shaquille Redmond's third-place shot put distance of 50 feet, 4 inches was a nice touch. Speedsters Marquette Sanchez and Benny Prunty went 3-4 in the 55 dash, Prunty fourth in the 200.
No surprise was Aaron Kennebrew winning triple jump, though his distance was a big bump over the past. Kennebrew held his second phase well to fly 44 feet, 11 inches, nearly nine inches farther than he had before. He and Charles House went 1-2 in the event.
"Today was just like an extreme breakout," said Kennebrew, a 2012 state qualifier. "I just hope to build from that, hopefully keep getting better each meet. It's pretty much me against myself every meet."
In the 800 West Aurora seniors Brandon McKay and Alan Martinez played off each other. Seeded fourth and fifth, McKay won in 1:59.56 with Martinez finishing third behind Glenbard East's Jack Peters, who surged from fifth.
"He's a great teammate," McKay said of Martinez. "We work together really well in the (3,200 relay) and the 800. Just overall a great race, good competition, and got our school record, so that's good, too."