Glenbard South is one of those boys track programs that reloads. A month into this outdoor season, though, it's still unclear what the Raiders have.
Two years ago at Glenbard West's Jim Arnold Invitational Glenbard South scored 78 points to win the meet, an astounding feat for a Class 2A team surrounded by Class 3A Wheaton North, Lake Park and Oak Park. The meet was rained out last year, and Saturday the Raiders scored 6 points to tie for last of 14 teams.
What's frustrating for first-year coach Ronn Claussen is the pieces are there -- just not in place. Of the top eight athletes Claussen listed at the start of the season only three competed Saturday -- sprinter Jarius Shannon, hurdler Jeremiah Ratliff and 800 runner Erik Greenwell. A source said 16 athletes missed the meet for reasons ranging from injury to relatives' graduation ceremonies.
"We're still working on that," Shannon said of getting all hands on deck. "I think by Friday we're going to get everybody that's really strong and it'll help us a lot to run that meet Friday at the DuPage County meet."
Most vexing of the absentees are distance runners John Wold and Joe Singleton. They finished first and fourth individually, respectively, in Class 2A cross country and helped the Raiders to a third-place 3,200-meter relay in 2A track last year.
Singleton was right there with Jones Prep's strong distance group April 6 at Glenbard South. Saturday he was out hurt. Wold's last race was the 2A cross country meet.
Claussen got good news last week when Wold returned to practice. The mysterious foot-leg injury that's flared up the past two years has been identified and treated, a tendon that runs from foot to knee.
With all this going on it didn't look good when Ratliff hobbled off the track Saturday, a case of one too many triple jumps on top of the 300 hurdles.
"I believe in pushing myself way too much," said Ratliff, who believed he'd just need a day or two rest.
Regardless of the injury bug, all-stater Shannon said the goal remains a top-three finish in Class 2A. Both he and Ratliff said there's a lot of work left to do.
"I feel like everybody has to kind of break down and really focus on their race and really do what they need to do on the team and off the team," Ratliff said. "Like eating healthy and working out strength training, all that stuff. Like Jarius said, to place in the top of the state is going to be a challenge this year considering we don't have the guys that were a lot of the playmakers last year. The thing is, where those playmakers stepped off we've got guys coming up and stepping in, doing what we need to do."