Mike Schmidt couldn't have asked for a better 45th birthday present.
Not only did Schmidt's Burlington Central boys track team blow out the candles on the birthday cake for their coach, they did so in explosive fashion. The Rockets, a 30-point favorite coming into Thursday's Big Northern Conference meet at Byron, blew away the competition, scoring 150 points, winning seven championships and setting one meet record. The championship is the Rockets' fourth straight in the BNC.
Winnebago finished a distant second with 73.25 points.
Junior Clay Musial put his name in the BNC record books, winning the 3,200-meter run in a conference record time of 9:40.
Central junior Lucas Ege was a double winner, taking both hurdles events as expected. Ege, a threat for a Class 2A state championship in both events, won the 110 highs in 14.88 and the 300 lows in 38.75.
Senior Matt O'Connor won the 800 in 1:58 and the Rockets took firsts in three relay events.
The team of Ege, Travis Panariello, Jason Berango and Casey Matthews won the 400 relay in 43.55; Ian Napiorkowski, Panariello, Berango and Connor Moore won the 800 relay in 1:31.87 and Ege, Kyle Neubauer, Napiorkowski and O'Connor took the 1,600 relay in 3:24.59.
"It was a great team effort," said Schmidt, whose team is the host for next Friday's Class 2A sectional that includes powerful Kaneland, a sectional BC's longtime coach calls, "the toughest 2A sectional in the state.
"We were a 30-point favorite coming in and the guys exceeded expectations. They just needed to perform and they absolutely did that."
Matthews added three second-place finishes, in the 100, 200 and 400, in addition to running on a winning relay team. Sean Kisch took second in the pole vault and David Abejide was second in the triple jump.