The Upstate Eight Conference's loss will be the DuPage Valley Conference's gain.
That is, the Lake Park boys track and field team, which on Thursday on its home track in Roselle won the UEC for a third straight year in the school's final year before shifting leagues.
"It feels great for it being our last conference championship in the Upstate Eight. I'm sure the team is looking forward to moving to the DVC next year, unfortunately I won't be able to be a part of it," said Scott Filip, the Lancers senior captain who finished second in the 100-meter dash, long jump and high jump and joined Mike Amerlan, Tim Ehrhardt and Marcus Jegede on a victorious 400 relay.
Lancers sophomore Antonio Shenault won both the 110 and 300 hurdles, stumbling over the last hurdle in the 300s but still scrambling ahead of teammate Austin Weil.
That was one of three 1-2 finishes for the Lancers, along with Derrick Smith and Ehrhardt in pole vault and Jegede and Filip in long jump. Lake Park scored in 16 of 18 events, double-scored in nine and, of course, racked it up in the field events.
"Everybody just came together tonight," Filip said. "We were all worried about the weather. I tried to tell everyone to keep their minds off it and just focus on what you do best and that's compete."
In a meet deciding an overall champion as well as River and Valley division winners, Lake Park's 160 points overall topped Neuqua Valley (141.5), Bartlett (101), St. Charles North (71) and Waubonsie Valley (69). The Valley stuck with Lake Park and Neuqua going 1-2 while Batavia's 204 points claimed the River ahead of Geneva (168.50) and St. Charles North (153).
Waubonsie Valley senior Riley Kittridge had one of the biggest nights in Roselle, repeating as shot put champ and also winning discus. Neuqua's Carlos Varela was second in each and Wildcat Tim Fields was third in discus with a 20-foot PR of 158-11.
In discus Kittridge threw a personal-record 181-4, sixth best in the state entering Thursday and 23 feet farther than his best this season. A minor tweak had a huge affect.
"The difference was about a centimeter difference in my finger placement on the disc. That was the only thing that changed," said Kittridge. His teammate, James Travis, went 45-8 in triple jump to finish behind champ Shawn Koch of Lake Park; Travis also took third in long jump.
Neuqua Valley's Tim Heinz shrugged his shoulders three times, adjusted his neck, jumped up and down, focused 15 seconds and bowed before takeoff. Then he won high jump by clearing 6-6 on his final attempt.
Shortly thereafter Neuqua freshman Connor Horn took the track for the 3,200-meter run. Through five laps he battled Geneva's Michael Bianchina, with Bartlett's Dan Cotton nearby, then promptly threw up on lane two of the backstretch. Relieved of the ballast, Horn took it home in 9:36.12. In March the freshman won the UEC indoor 1,600.
"I think it was just nerves getting in my stomach. After the race started I had to get rid of that," Horn said.
Bartlett showed its combination of speed and distance, plus thrower George Danek, who went 154-8 in discus for fifth place.
Alex Bailey finished second in the 110 hurdles, third in the 300s. Brandon Smith took third in the 400 and the duo of Mitch Sullivan and Matt Hess went 2-3 in the 800, behind Neuqua Valley sophomore Ty Moss.
Bartlett's Aaron Everson, seeing his most action since early April due to hamstring tightness, won the 100 dash in 11.18 seconds, placed second in the 200 by .03 seconds -- Hawk Bryce Petty was third -- and anchored an 800 relay with Kyle Garcia, Charles Mosley and Petty that followed only St. Charles North.
Big and strong and headed to Ohio Dominican for both football and track, Everson would like to get out of the blocks quicker. That last 75 meters, though, are all downhill.
"I have big, long legs, big arms, I put everything I have into it," Everson said. "Coach (Eric) Kramer, his saying is that he can see the ground move when I (use) those big strides. It's like I'm leaping, kind of, because I'm just trying to make up as much ground as possible."
South Elgin's Jeff Broger and St. Charles North's Zach Kirby dueled once again in the 400. Kirby held off the Eastern Illinois-bound Broger, 49.69 seconds to 49.81. South Elgin's Kyle Kumerow placed fifth in triple jump at 43-3.
Typifying Batavia's gutty effort was the combination of Chris Orlow and David Morrison in the 1,600. They took off together out front, doing the work as Neuqua Valley's Nick Bushelle chugged behind. Bushelle finally overtook first Morrison then, with 150 meters left, Orlow, but both Bulldogs runners recorded sub-4:28 times.
"Just attacked it with my teammate and went after it," said Orlow, second in 4:27.63. " ... It's my biggest race so far, so I'm proud of it. And same with Morrison."
Among other Batavia point scorers, a surprise came in high jump where along with usual suspect Jake Pollack, junior Nick Majka took fifth place at 6-2, just behind St. Charles North's Erik Miller.
Geneva's Tim Roels proved to be the fastest 200-meter runner, winning in 22.41 seconds. In his heat were also Batavia's Rourke Mullins, St. Charles North's Josh Phelan and Simone Sperati and St. Charles East's Jordan Duncan.
"You genuinely hope that everyone does well, like you wish everyone good before the race," Roels said. "You mean that, and you hope that they do well and you hope that it's going to be good competition. But at the same time, during the race they're your enemy basically. You want to head them out."
While St. Charles North's 3,200-meter relay win of Nathan Klair, Chris Suda, Steve Lewandowski and Ryan Joyce may have been a surprise with a 13-second personal-best of 8:05.42, the North Stars flashed their usual sprinter's speed.
From the pool of Jack Feeney, Grant Loess, Connor Larson, Josh Phelan, Tyler Ingham and Zach Kirby they won the 800 and 1,600 relays and took second in the 400 relay.
Plus, Kirby's 400 victory. Against the likes of South Elgin's Jeff Brojer and Waubonsie Valley's John Burke, Kirby said, "Let them go (and) they'll leave you in the dust."
On the other hand Kirby said he'd been starting too fast, then faltering at the end. The balance was just right on Thursday, Kirby winning in 46.69 seconds, just ahead of Broger.
"This week we practiced on slowing that (start) back a little bit, saving just a little bit," Kirby said, "and as soon as you hit that 150 mark you kick it into gear. That's exactly what I did."Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.