Among the intrigue of track and field state sectionals is the element of surprise -- boys whose great performances lift themselves from the cusp of state qualification to Charleston.
DuPage County teams are filled with such stories. Here are a few.
A mysterious foot/tendon injury has plagued the Glenbard South junior on and off the past year and a half. Until last week Wold's last prep race came in the 2012 Class 2A cross country meet, which he won individually. As a freshman in Charleston he finished 11th in the 1,600-meter run; as a sophomore he anchored a third-place 3,200 relay.
By April the injury issue started to clear and Wold returned to practice. In what Raiders coach Ronn Claussen called "a great highlight," Wold made his 2013 track debut Friday at the Metro Suburban Conference meet in limited but stirring fashion. Wold ran a leg of the 3,200 relay in 1 minute, 53 seconds (Class 2A qualification time in the open 800 is 1:59.04) and a leg of the 1,600 relay in just more than 50 seconds. This is a big deal.
Addison Trail distance:
The Blazers feature Juan Valdez, and he's known for quality times in the 800, not good Columbian coffee. The junior is one second off the Class 3A qualifying time of 1:57.24. Senior Joe Atria, the West Suburban Gold champ in the 1,600, has topped out at 4:26. That's four seconds off qualifying time, but as coach Bruce Kelsay said, if Atria can ride a couple faster runners at the Glenbard North sectional, he could make it.
Addison Trail's best official time in the 3,200 relay is 8:21.6, off the qualifying mark by nearly 22 seconds. But converted sprinter junior Luis Miranda and improved 2-miler senior Kevin Otte could shave time and join Valdez and Atria to give it a shot.
Lake Park weight men:
Sure, you say, like the three-time defending Class 3A champs need help here. Per Johnson uncorked a 157-4 throw at the Upstate Eight Conference meet, his best prep mark since finishing seventh last year at 164-7.
In a difficult decision by the Lancers brain trust to decide the top two sectional throwers in discus and shot put, it's Johnson and sophomore Mike Prestigiacomo, who threw 163 feet in discus, Curtwan Evans' 53-2 and Ian Smith's 51-11 in shot. The former has narrowly surpassed the 52-11 qualifying standard while Smith has not -- but has a huge upside.
Vaulters at Fenwick:
St. Francis' strength is at least a year away. As Michael Wilson said last week at the Suburban Christian Conference meet, he's one of the Spartans' few four-year seniors on the track.
Wilson would really have to push it to qualify in a sprint at the Class 2A Fenwick sectional; in pole vault, though, he stands a good chance. Wilson has already pulled off a 13-9 vault, exceeding the Class 2A standard by 6 inches. Among his competition at Fenwick is Benet's Andrew Acuff, who's gone 13-0 this season but is capable of more. They'll battle the Elmwood Park duo, James Angelico and Ivan Stechyshyn, who've cleared at least 13-3. Those two automatic qualifying slots will be well-contested.
Glenbard North coach Mark Karwowski said his senior hurdler has come on "like out of nowhere." Heideman hit the weights for extra pop in his legs but the coach said it was more a matter of training smarter, not harder.
Friday, Heideman ran the 300 hurdles in 40.73 seconds, less than a second over state qualifying time. Clear leaps over every hurdle could send him to Charleston.
The Mendoza line:
It wasn't Glenbard South that finished second to Illiana Christian in the 3,200 relay at the Metro Suburban Conference meet, it was Fenton's line of David Mendoza, Fabiel Urzua, Axel Nava and Cristian Silva in a smart 8:19.67, a little more than four seconds over Class 2A qualifying time.
Urzua, a senior like Mendoza, is also on course for qualifying in the 1,600-meter run, needing only a second or two off his personal-best to make the time of 4:30.44.
There are many others out there -- 400 runners John Burke of Waubonsie Valley and Adam Milsap of Naperville North, Montini sprinter Michael Spangler, York distance runner Alex Mimlitz, hurdlers Nick Rizzotti of Lisle and Manny Dunleavy of Hinsdale South, Wheaton Warrenville South pole vaulter Mike Koehne, Willowbrook thrower Matt McNamara are only a few -- who are but a generous breeze away from Charleston.
As Addison Trail's Kelsay said, "You never know what can happen on sectional night."