The maturation of Wheaton Academy track athletes Matt Ruff and Noah VanDyke continued at Kaneland's annual Peterson Prep Invitational.
A year ago in Maple Park neither finished higher than 10th place in their events. Saturday, neither finished lower than VanDyke's seventh-place 400-meter dash, his second and final event of the day.
Ruff, third in the 400, a race in which last year he qualified for state in Class 2A as a sophomore, set a new personal and school record, at 50.86 seconds. That was a flash faster than his prior PR of 50.89.
No wonder he thought it went by so quickly.
"I actually thought it went much faster than usual," Ruff said. "Just running the race, it didn't feel as long as other ones, so I guess that was really nice. And I thought I ran pretty well."
Just a half-second behind winner Ryan Olsen of Burlington Central, Ruff's fast time came despite a left foot he said has been hurting. He attained his goal of a top-three finish.
"Good competition makes it better, so it definitely was the competition today. It felt really fun today," Ruff said.
VanDyke, a 2012 state qualifier in the 800 as a freshman, took third in that event. Sycamore's David Emmert took it out fast and VanDyke was in fifth with 300 meters left. He kicked from fourth to second with 200 left before Oswego East's Rene Salinas pushed him back a notch.
The 400 likewise went at a decent clip, for VanDyke in his first try at it against larger schools.
"They went out fast. I didn't have my best race, but it was a learning experience for me. Coming that we're a 2A school against these 3A guys, there's some fast kids here," VanDyke said.
"I'm proud of Matt," he said. "I was just watching him the whole time. From the first 300 I was back there quite a bit. I reeled a few guys in, but overall that race was fast."