Pollack, Miller enjoy friendly rivalry
Just because it was a Tuesday track meet didn't mean there was no rivalry stuff going on.
In high jump Batavia senior Jake Pollack, a returning state qualifier, and junior Erik Miller of coed dual meet host St. Charles North were the last men standing. They respect each other but certainly didn't want to finish second.
"We know each other from basketball and previous track meets," said Pollack, who also gave long jump a first try before electing to save a stiff hamstring for high jump. "He's a great guy and a great competitor. He's obviously got a lot of height. It's fun to jump against him."
Last weekend at Glenbard West Pollack matched his personal-record of 6 feet, 5 inches. On April 6 at Batavia, Miller reached a new PR, also 6-5.
After Miller survived a pair of misses at both 5-10 and 6-0 and Pollack's leg kick cleared 6-4 on his last attempt, both were staring at 6-6.
Each had good attempts but those next personal-bests will have to wait, Miller winning by clearing 6-4 on his first try.
"I know I have the height," said Miller. "It's just the form midair that I need to work on the most. That's what I've been practicing. I have a little knee problem but that's not too bad. I know I have the height and my goal is hopefully to get 6-8 and higher."
A knee bruise is cake compared to the labrum problem and surgery that knocked Miller out of his entire sophomore season.
"Taking that year off, that really got at me," he said. "And watching, last year, Oshay (Hodges) jumping 6-8, it really got to me and I was like, look, I know I have the height. I've been dunking a basketball since eighth-grade, now let's just put it in my form."
While Miller has Megan Butler helping coach him, on his side Pollack has Batavia head coach Dennis Piron and retired Glenbard South coach and Batavia resident Andy Preuss, who once held Illinois State's high jump record.
"With me, my coaches all say it's technique," Pollack said. "I have to work on keeping my hips up, holding them, and getting my head back and holding it because I always snap right on the bar. That's my biggest problem."
Pollack noted: "Coach Piron wants us to take every meet seriously — we can always do better, we can always improve. This was a workout day, but he also wanted us to go for our personal bests and we worked hard for it."
In a similar vein St. Charles North boys coach Don Spencer had his A-teams running, bad weather having knocked out last weekend's meet at Metea Valley.
That meant, among others, Zach Kirby in the 400 meters and the principals of the North Stars' sprint relays — Kirby, Grant Loess, Jack Feeney, Connor Larson, Josh Phelan and Tyler Ingham — honing form.
All of them are seniors. On the girls' side, freshman Hannah Schilb already shows senior form. Sprinting down the long jump runway and expertly hitting the board, her distance of 15 feet, 6½ was just 5 inches off her best and a half-inch off the distance that won last week at Geneva.
Preparing for this weekend's 800 relay at Batavia, Schilb ran the 200 dash and won her heat of that, too.
"When you're going into a race you have to have a good attitude," she said. "In this cold weather, you can't think about that. You just have to forget about what's going on around you and focus on the race."
Batavia girls coach Justin Allison rested many of his varsity track athletes to focus on junior varsity depth, though field types such as high jumper Pauline Szakiel and throwers Catherine Fink and Amanda Wilson remained in action. Allison also has a pair of solid freshmen in triple jumper Sam Bradle and Addison "Adi" Alley.
"She's been phenomenal for us, filling in. Running the 300 hurdles for us the last few weeks and just doing a stellar job," Allison said of Alley.
"Adding that extra depth to our team we can basically move pieces around, so on a relay or if somebody goes down injured or we want or rest them that meet we can bring in a freshman or sophomore and wouldn't miss a step," he said.
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