Some athletes use track and field to get faster for football. Glenbard South junior Jack Curtis used football strength to elevate his track results.
Packing 20 more pounds of muscle than as a sophomore, Curtis led the home team to victory at the 13th annual Raider Boys Invitational on Friday.
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Curtis won the 100-meter dash at 11.17 seconds, the 200 at 23.17, took high jump at 6 feet, 4 inches, and joined Gabe Williams, Ryan Hoffman and Connor Willis in the winning 800 relay.
Curtis initially said his improvement "just happened." But not by accident.
"I just got stronger and lifted in the off-season," he said. "Football definitely helps me get stronger, faster and all that stuff. Just overall growing, and I just came back a lot more mature."
The Raiders, clinching the outcome with a third-place 1,600 relay of Chris Kautaura, Michael King, Joe Singleton and Williams, won with 131 points to St. Ignatius' 126. Off to a fast start in the field, Glenbard South got wins by Brandon Blankenship in long jump, Neven Telalovic in discus and Andre Steiger in shot put.
Willowbrook took third with 78.5 points followed by Glenbard East (71.5) and Addison Trail (58). Rolling Meadows, Jones Prep and West Chicago -- diminished by prom -- also competed.
The meet featured several top athletes in the process of recovery.
Glenbard South senior Singleton has overcome a torn plantar fascia in his foot and a torn inner quadriceps muscle. He's back up to 70 miles a week and on Friday took early command of the open 3,200 before finishing second with a kick, in a strong 9 minutes, 28.53 seconds.
"Technically, I've broken my PRs (personal records) by, like, fractions of a second," the Illinois State recruit said. "But I'm really thankful that I'm healthy again because not running is the worst thing ever."
Another worst thing ever would be for Willowbrook's Matt Burns not to be able to defend his Class 3A 400-meter title. The Illinois-bound senior took another step Friday, bursting out of blocks for the first time since a slight hamstring tear indoors. He won the race unchallenged in 51.36 seconds.
Willowbrook enjoyed a sweet victory in the 400 relay of Dylan Jones, Alex Lavorini, track newcomer Shelly Williams and sophomore anchor Josan Murphy; Burns replaced Lavorini in a second-place 1,600 relay.
"I've just got to get stronger, got to get myself in shape, that's the main thing, get my finish level up," Burns said.
Returning all-stater Jack Peters of Glenbard East took a break from the 800, in which he ran sixth in 3A last spring in Charleston. Peters, Maurice McGee, Vince Booth and Drew Mikel finished no worse than second 3,200, 800 and 1,600 relays, winning the latter on Mikel's surge past Willowbrook's Jones on the homestretch.
"It's nice to switch things up and get out of the comfort zone," said Peters, himself coming off a minor hip injury.
Addison Trail got good results by jumpers Jaavion Bradley and Ron Duhling, then won the first varsity track event with the 3,200 relay of Luis Miranda, Eric Soto, Luis Eugenio and Juan Valdez.
A returning state qualifier in the 800, Valdez battled Willowbrook's Jimmy Funteas Jr. in a third-place finish.
"I have to just pick myself up and say, got to beat him next time. Got to push myself harder," Valdez said.
West Chicago's Nate Wesolek exploded onto the pole vault scene last week by clearing 14 feet, 6 inches at Geneva. He settled for a first-place height of 13-9 at Glenbard South. Entering his senior year the Grand Valley State recruit's PR was 12-9.
"I just couldn't get past 13," he said. "And all of a sudden I sprouted, I guess."