Naperville Central offered outstanding individuals. Wheaton Warrenville South looked solid. Yet there was no containing Wheaton North at the DuPage Valley Conference boys track championships Friday at West Aurora.
The Falcons won big as expected, 182 points to 121 for Naperville Central, both ahead of WW South (74) and the pack of West Aurora (53), Glenbard North (47) and Naperville North (43). Wheaton North scored in all 18 events, double-scored in nine and won 10, including five of six field events.
"We just challenged them, everybody do their part," Falcons coach Don Helberg said after his second straight DVC title. "Everybody step up, do what they're supposed to do. We said, it's not going to go the way that we planned, but that's where those other guys have to step up."
On a relatively off-night for Wheaton North superstar Zach Gordon, who anchored a 400-meter relay win but needed a late 21-foot long jump to beat Naperville Central's Carson Hassler and was runner-up to Naperville Central's Sam Bransby in the 200 dash, athletes like pole vaulter Dale Hollinger and 100-meter winner Patrick Sharp did the job.
Hollinger had no-heighted three of his first five meets this year and stuck on the same-sized pole all season. Friday debuted a 180-pound test model that had him soar a foot over his seed height to 14 feet, 3 inches and finish 1-2 with teammate Shane Bruni.
With Hollinger, Gordon, high jumper C.J. Elicke, triple jumper Zac Daniels and shot put champ Jon Chapman accounting for 50 points by themselves, the sole non-Falcons field-event winner was WW South's Kyle Joyce in discus. The senior's smooth delivery and those long, strong arms produced an 8-foot personal-record mark of 156-5.
Winning DVC disc was not Joyce's initial path. His grandfather, Mike, pitched for the White Sox, and that's where Kyle's allegiance rested.
"It's exciting," he said. "I started playing baseball, so it wasn't necessarily the goal when I came into high school. It's nice to be good in two sports."
Another legacy continued in Wheaton North's 800 relay victory of Nehemiah Hecker, Matt Biegalski, Brett Rexilius and Bruni. Rexilius is the grandson of the late, legendary Falcons football coach, Jim Rexilius.
Naperville Central junior hurdler Michael Jopes, who noted the Redhawks finished dead last when he was a freshman, duplicated his DuPage County success by winning both the 110s and 300s. Ethan Brodeur took second to Wheaton North firecracker Alex Ryan in the 800 and returned to kick past Nolan McKenna in the 1,600.
That took some doing, because McKenna showed his stuff in the 3,200 with his fourth straight DVC 3,200 title spanning indoor and outdoor the last two seasons.
Bransby, second to Sharp in the 100, ran through the finish in the 200 to nip Gordon at the wire with a time of 22.10 seconds, then let loose an exultant whoop after beating Gordon for the first time.
"I really wasn't expecting to be able to pull that out against Zack, but it was fun," Bransby said.
Naperville North's Jimmy Qiao, Wheaton North's Micaiah Steele, Glenbard East's Jack Peters and Jake Hurlburt, WW South's Josh Prueter, West Chicago's Eddie Rubio and Glenbard North's Dominic Beljung and Jon Heideman were among the many athletes that made it another outstanding DVC meet.
West Aurora went 2-3 in triple jump with Aaron Kennebrew and Charles House both over 43 feet and within an inch of winner Zac Daniels of Wheaton North. Kennebrew bounced back and forth between triple and high jump, where he also finished second. In discus Donald Larson finished fourth at 143 feet.
West Aurora's highlight on the track was its 3,200-meter relay. Seniors Deonta Motley, Zach Truckenbrod and Omar Gomez teamed with freshman anchor Connor McCue to hold on against Naperville Central. McCue had earned a spot on the relay before the Kane County meet after running a split of 1:58 in a time trial.
"He's an outstanding runner, and he works hard. He's a great athlete and he's a great asset to this team," Motley said. "He wanted to show that he can compete with us. And that's what he does. He's a tough kid."
Blackhawks coach Cortney Lamb preferred to put his eggs in next week's sectional basket. So rather than standouts such as sprinter Benny Prunty taking their usual heavy load, athletes such as Nick Duy, Alex Shire, Cameron Mackey and Anthony Arcaro were rewarded for hard work in practice.
"Our triple jumpers jumped real well," Lamb said, "our 4-by-8 ran real well and some other guys got an opportunity to compete at the DVC meet, some juniors and seniors that have been with us for three and four years who don't sometimes get a chance to compete in the big meets. I thought it was really important to give them a shot under the lights tonight."