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updated: 3/22/2014 12:11 AM

New league? No problem for Lake Park

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  • Lake Park's Felix Gates competes in the pole vault during the DuPage Valley Conference Boys' Indoor Track & Field Invitational at North Central College.

      Lake Park's Felix Gates competes in the pole vault during the DuPage Valley Conference Boys' Indoor Track & Field Invitational at North Central College.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer


Lake Park's boys track and field team wasted no time staking its claim to DuPage Valley Conference honors.

In its first league meet since moving from the Upstate Eight Conference, in Friday's DVC indoor meet the four-time defending Class 3A champion used points from both the track and field to score 145 points, ahead of Wheaton Warrenville South's 86, at North Central College's bright and airy Al B. Carius Track in Naperville.

Joined in pursuit on Friday were Wheaton North with 66 points, Naperville Central (64) and Naperville North (63).

"First year in the DVC, got to start it off right. It's a long way to state, so after we lost a lot of kids last year we have to step up this year, and I knew we had to come win today," said Lancers senior Joe Pierce, a three-year varsity athlete who won the 200-meter dash, led off a victorious 800 relay and placed third in long jump behind teammate Marcus Jegede and Naperville North's Tim Heinz.

All-state returner Antonio Shenault won the 55-meter dash just ahead of Naperville Central's Ben Andreas, and Shenault topped former Wheaton North superstar Adam Harris' meet record in the 55 hurdles, at 7.38 seconds.

The Louisville-bound Jegede, another all-state returner, tied a meet record in triple jump, 47 feet, 7 inches, while the Lancers double-scored in all five field events, including a 1-2 finish in shot put by Curtwan Evans and Mike Prestigiacomo.

"Changing to a new conference, it's a lot of confidence and energy coming through, especially after winning state last year. So there's just a lot pushing us forward," Pierce said.

Heinz, who represented Neuqua Valley downstate in high jump last year, also moved -- homes and schools, to Naperville North. Heinz said he'd been suffering tendon inflammation above the knee on his left takeoff leg but Friday felt good enough to win the event in his first DVC meet, at 6-7.

"It's been a little different because I was kind of used to the team at Neuqua, like the camaraderie behind it all and just knowing everybody," Heinz said. "I wouldn't say difficult, just different, getting to know everybody on the team. But I'm enjoying the team, I feel like I'm starting to fit in, so it's going well."

Few are going as well as WW South's Nolan McKenna. He'd already run 3,200 meters in 9 minutes, 9 seconds this indoor season, among the fastest in the country.

Friday McKenna claimed his third varsity DVC indoor 3,200 title at 9:17.53, breaking the meet record he set last year. He returned in the 1,600 with a winning time of 4:20.67 to eclipse the meet record held by the great West Chicago grad Tim Keller.

"It's a benchmark of where my training's at and makes me sure that everything's going well and helps me trust my coaches. I have great coaches, great support," McKenna said.

Glenbard East's Jack Peters, who Rams coach Jack Brady said had a quadriceps injury three weeks ago, fended off Lake Park's Eric Dade twice over the last 210 meters to win the 800, an all-state event for Peters in 2013.

"He looked fine, had his usual burst at the end," Brady said.

Wheaton North junior Steven Connor also looked fine, second in the 55 hurdles, topping Daniel Spaccapaniccia in the 400 and anchoring a first-place 1,600 relay to close the meet seemingly without breaking a sweat.

"I've been running the 400 for a while now," Connor said. "I kind of struggled my freshman and sophomore year and then (coach Don) Helberg and (assistant coaches Steve) Major and (Jim) Martin, they've been working really hard and they've been, like, changing me."

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