Seeding, setting up and announcing a track meet as big as the 46th annual Carlin Nalley Invitational can exhaust a person.
It's no wonder, then, that Lisle coach Ken Jakalski couldn't recall the last time the Lions did so well in the Class 1A portion of the dual-level meet since they won it in 1982. Lifted by the likes of middle-distance runner Ryan Kilroy and freshman sprinter Aaron Harris, Lisle trailed only first-time champion Westmont on Saturday at Benedictine University.
Kilroy, who this week committed to Augustana for wrestling, won the Class 1A 800, led off the winning 3,200-meter relay and scored in pole vault. With veteran distance runners Jefferson Chan and Ben Buchelt, Kilroy welcomed sprinter A.K. Kamara to the relay.
"He really pushed himself," Kilroy said. "He was a little nervous coming in, but he performed his best and I think all of us did. We still have room to improve, so sectionals and conference should be good."
Harris, whom Jakalski has nicknamed "BMO," was a busy freshman. He joined Elijah Bester, Kyle Cleary and hurdler Nick Rizzotti on a winning 400 relay, finished second in the 200 dash, third in the 100 and seventh in the 400.
"I think I did pretty good," Harris said. " ... The 4-by-1, those clean handoffs, a good start, everybody kept the lead and nothing went wrong."
Timothy Christian senior Jake Hooker, a 1A state qualifier in both the 110 and 300 hurdles in 2012, hopes more things go right. Saturday he led in the 110 until nicking the seventh hurdle, dropping him to second. He won the 300 with ease, but his 41.73 effort was still not to his liking in terms of endurance and steps between hurdles
"I'm getting there slowly," Hooker said.
"This is my third time hurdling this year," he said. "Only time can tell, but time's starting to run out. I'm hoping with the next three weeks I'll be able to pull down near a 40-flat."
Immaculate Conception coach Bob Cronin said his sprint relays "should be competitive", and that they were. The 400 relay finished second to Lisle on the 1A level, the 800 relay finished third and the Knights ended strong with Arturo Chaidez, Brian Anzures, Silvestre Saucedo and Tim Hipskind winning the 1,600 relay. Saucedo and Hipskind ran on all three, Anzures and Sam Rose on two relays.
Hipskind, a future John Carroll wide receiver, admitted, "I'm all in for everything."
"We just came out and ran probably our best time of the year," he said. "Everyone went hard and came through and finished."
Another first-time Nalley champ, St. Ignatius won the Class 2A/3A portion. Benet took fifth, paced by Phil Parisi's 1:58.56 800-meter run and strong efforts by usual suspects.
Anton Vershay, looking to prove he could run a quality 1,600 time to add to his 3,200 load at sectional, went 4:28-flat. Austin Dzic ran across the street to Benet to study for a placement test, then ran the 110 hurdles, anchored a third-place 1,600 relay and dipped below 40 seconds in the 300 hurdles for the first time, at 39.91.
Along with Stephen Hubona's second-place discus throw, Benet's Stephen Tyznik finish third in shot put at 47-6½. Coming off Tuesday's 2-foot PR of 47-10, that meant something.
"That's a big jump," said Redwings throws coach Tim Cedarblad. "So he comes into this meet and I don't think it's something you can look for the same kind of improvement, but can you match that or was that a fluke? And he showed that it was something that he could still throw, so that was really important."
Wheaton Academy freshman Jacob Robleski trimmed 20 seconds off his best time in the 3,200. After running third at 50.98 seconds in the 400, junior teammate Matt Ruff said he had felt more tired than normal coming in. He admitted the pressure to succeed was a drag "instead of just running it for fun."
"I guess it does take some pressure off when you just are running and you get surprised by your own time, which happened for me today," Ruff said. "So I'm happy."