Geneva rallies to win own invite
The members of the Geneva boys track and field team were anxiously watching their conference rival.
Larkin paid its brethren from the Upstate Eight a huge bonus when junior anchor Jarelle Shipp passed McHenry senior Nick Shawler to capture the 1,600-meter relay Saturday afternoon at the Mike VanDeveer Invitational.
Geneva finished third in the 10-team-closing event, and the Royals' margin of victory over McHenry proved to be the difference in the final race.
The Vikings' 137-135 victory over McHenry capped an exciting day as Burlington Central, Dundee-Crown and Larkin occupied the third through fifth slots.
"Our team said the Larkin mile relay was the meet MVP," Geneva coach Gale Gross said.
Geneva did not exactly dazzle with a series of championship efforts; Kyle McNeil was a rare double-winner in the shot put and discus for Geneva.
Tim Roels' denial of Dundee-Crown sophomore Austin White of the sprint twin titles proved to be the Vikings' only other championship.
But Geneva preserved by double-scoring in a series of events to negate the significantly larger number of McHenry victories.
"That's what we preach," Gross said. "That's what we live on. (Track and field is) not about first places."
The two throwing events incorporated both elements for the Vikings.
McNeil uncorked a winning effort of 151 feet, 2 inches in the discus after earlier prevailing in the shot put with a heave of 46-7.5.
But even more important, Nathan Ballettie was second and third in the two events.
"I wanted to throw state-qualifying today (in the discus)," McNeil said. "I was hard to get a good release (due to the chilly conditions). I knew when I would get it off, it would be a good throw."
The six field events were especially lucrative for Geneva as Dan Acton and Tim Guthrie were second and third, respectively, in the pole vault.
Justin Taormina and Justin Nebel matched the finishes in the long jump, and the latter was runner-up in the triple jump.
Freshman Nolan St. John was also second in the high jump for Geneva.
On the track, Justin Davis had a third-place result for the Vikings at 400 meters.
But it was Roels who gave Geneva the lead for good.
The 200 dash in the penultimate event in track and field, and the junior was looking to chase down the Chargers' White, who earlier won the 100 virtually unopposed.
Three one-hundredths of a second separated their shared preliminary, and the final was only slightly more distant as Roels survived a late White rally to win in 23.19 seconds.
McHenry did not score in the event.
"This is the first one," Roels said when asked the number of career invite championships. "I'm really happy. You have a sixth sense (when someone is right on you as a runner). I could hear (White) breathing. I knew he was going to be right on my butt the whole time."
"I tried to pace it out," said White, who also teamed with Tavares Fowler, Sean Battin and Sam Frankowiak to win the 800 relay. "I thought I was going too fast (initially). Once it came to the 100- (meter mark), I brought it but it was too late."
White was also the Chargers' anchor on their championship 800 relay.
Burlington Central enjoyed a solid day behind its relatively youthful cast.
Freshmen hurdlers Lucas Ege and Sean Kisch were first and third in the 110 high hurdles, and the former later became to two-event champion with his victory in the 300 intermediate variety.
The Rockets' quartet of Ryan Olsen, Jason Berango, Alex Johnson and Trevor Davison were near flawless in passing the baton during their triumph in the 400 relay.
"Lots of bigger schools, which I like," Davison said of the field. "Usually, our schools that we compete with — they're good — but it's always nice to face the (Class) 3A schools."
The Royals' Shipp was not about to allow Larkin to leave Geneva without at least one gold medal.
"We came in with the first seed, and (I) wanted to leave with the first seed," the Royals' junior said of his 1,600 relay triumph that included contributions from Ernesto Garcia, Luis Subias and Dante Bonds. "I knew we had the lead (when I received the baton) and wanted to maintain it. We let (the lead) get away, but I was able to get it back."
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