Following his sixth race of the night, all Schaumburg junior Shandall Thomas wanted to do was sleep.
Figure that Thomas and his Saxon teammates ended up sleeping quite well, especially following one of the top performances in the history of prestigious Knights Wanner Invitational at Gattas Field at Prospect High School on Friday night.
Not only did the Saxons 400 and 800 relays break that had lasted 28 years, they did so in such dominant fashion that the usually prominent distance events took a back seat to the sprints.
The 45th annual edition of the meet was so sprint-strong that even meet champion York, which has a long history of distance success, flashed impressive sprint depth.
"It was one of those kinds of nights where we put up the kind of times we wanted to put up, and didn't win the events," said York coach Stan Reddel.
York still amassed 155 points to win the team title, while Schaumburg was a distant second and Naperville Central was third.
"One thing we have this year is we've got more sprint depth than we do distance depth," Reddel said.
Even with the impressive efforts by the Dukes in the 400 and 800 relays, they still had to take a back seat to Thomas and the Saxons relays.
Thomas teamed with Stacey Smith, Jarman McMillon and Tom Ciupka to win the 400 relay in a meet record 41.52. That is the fastest time in the state so far this spring and among the top 50 times in the country.
The Dukes team of Alex Teague, Jeff Ostling, Greg Gornick and Josh Farrar ran second in the second-fastest time in the state this spring, 41.86.
As impressive as both teams were in that event, it was only a precursor to the 800 relay. The only change for Schaumburg came at the anchor leg, as McMillon anchored. His final leg crossed the line for the Saxons in an incredible 1:26.61. That's among the top 20 fastest times in the nation to this point of the season.
"We had talked all year that if we corrected a few exchanges here and there and fine-tuned some things that we could run much better times," said Schaumburg coach Ryan Senica. "In the 400 relay, Shandall closed and did a great job. The 800 time really kind of caught me off guard."
York ran 1:27.92 with the same relay team, except that Jake Sacksteder replaced Teague on the 800 relay.
The Dukes also had top performances in the field events as well with Reid Smith clearing 6-8 to win the high jump and 13-3 to win the pole vault. Schaumburg also had outstanding field performances, with Edwin Kelly winning triple jump with a season-best mark of 46-1 and Smith taking top honors in the long jump with a season-best 22-3.5.
York's distance standouts also excelled. Alex Bashqawi ended up with top honors in the 1,600 (4:13.61), but finished second behind exhibition runner Zach Dale, a Conant junior. Dale broke the meet record set by Nick Farina of Barrington in 2006 by running 4:12.09. The Dukes' Kyle Mattis took home the top spot in the 3,200 in 9:20.01 and Matt Plowman was the best of the field in the 800, winning in a quick 1:54.27.
Schaumburg's Thomas ran to an individual title in the 100, tying a meet record in 10.69. He closed his night with a second-place finish in the 200 (22.21).
"To be honest, each time out we want to beat the time we ran before," Thomas said. "The more we beat the times from the meet before, the better we see ourselves and the closer we get to our goals."
Naperville Central senior Michael Jopes may be one of the few in the area that is not ready for the cooler temperatures and damp conditions to go away. The Illinois State-bound Jopes excelled in all three of his events Friday night.
In the 110 high hurdles, not normally a strong event for Jopes, was certainly that this time out. He edged out a very hard-charging Tindale Dahnweih of Hersey in 14.74.
The 300 hurdles was an even more dominant performance for Jopes. In a race that saw Jopes locked in a great battle with Jarvis Hill of York and Max Roberts of Libertyville, Jopes pulled away at the very end to win in a season-best 39.22.
"(The 300 hurdles) has been my race since freshman year," Jopes said. "The first time I ran this race I knew it was my race."
Jopes closed his night by anchoring the Redhawks 1,600 relay team that included Matthew Meier, Christian Schafer, and Daniel Spaccapaniccia to a win in 3:23.58.
The signature event of this meet has been the 3,200 relay, and it lived up to its reputation again. Lane Tech ran the best time in the state so far this spring, winning in 7:49.57. But it was the third leg from Hersey senior David Rodriguez that nearly stole the show, as Rodriguez split a 1:55 flat leg that helped the Huskies team that included Matt Dini, Kevin Kovach, and Kevin Ziegenhorn to a third-place finish in a season best 7:53.72. Prospect ran fourth in 7:57.36.
Other individual event winners included Joe Bellafiore of Hersey in the discus (154-8) and Brad Ruehrdanz of Fremd in the shot put (54-7). Roberts was the top individual finisher for Libertyville, running third in the 300 hurdles (40.31).