Heading into the final race of the night, senior John Andraschko knew he had just one job to do.
And it was a big one: Anchor the Broncos' 1,600-meter relay relay to a win.
That was the position the Broncos were in as two-time defending Mid Suburban League boys track champion Fremd held a 114-109.5 lead before the final race started.
"We just had to focus on what we could control," Andraschko said. "Our focus was on ourselves and about going out to try and win the race."
Andraschko anchored the group that included Brendan Melynchuk, Curtis Monahan, and Adam Phillips to a win in 3:28.07. The Broncos then got help from second-place Hersey (3:28.84) and third-place Palatine (3:29.56), all of which added up to a Barrington victory in the MSL meet.
By one-half point.
Barrington won its first conference title since 2007 with 119.5 points. The two-time defending champion Vikings were second with 119 points followed by Schaumburg (96.5), Palatine (73) and Hersey (71).
"We knew if we won the 1,600 relay that we could win the meet," Andraschko said. "Whether it was a half of a point, it didn't matter -- anything for a conference championship."
To win a conference as challenging and as talented as the MSL takes depth and the occasional unexpected performance or two. Barrington got just that from senior Jake Herb in the 3,200. Though he wasn't expected to win it, Herb still figured to factor into the race enough to help in the team race. It turned out Herb was anything but a bit player in the race -- he stole the show.
Herb took the race out early and jumped to the lead at the one mile point. With 300 meters to go, Palatine's Graham Brown passed Herb and it looked like he would have to battle for second.
Instead, Herb rose up with 150 meters to go, overtook Brown, and won going away in a personal best 9:24.25 -- more than 20 seconds faster than he'd ever run. Reminders of their battles during cross country fueled Herb's resolve.
"I just knew that today was my day," Herb said. "I had a moment there at the end where I remembered when I raced Graham last fall and he out-kicked me at the end. I just told myself that I couldn't let that happen again."
Friday night also marked the return to form of junior sprint standout Scotty Miller. In one of his best performances of the season, and now fully recovered from a virus that sapped more than 15 pounds off of him in mid-season, Miller captured the 200-meter dash, edging out Shandall Thomas of Schaumburg in 21.94. Earlier, Thomas topped Miller to win the 100 in 10.85.
"This was the first time this past week where I was able to work out and lift and get back to normal," Miller said. "I felt like I had so much more power and explosiveness back tonight."
Barrington senior Parker Deloye captured a pair of event wins for the Broncos taking the high jump (6-5) and the 300 hurdles (40.49).
"We told our 4x4 that you win the race, you win the meet," said Barrington coach Todd Kuklinski, who captured his third conference title as head coach. "A lot of strange things happen on the track, but our kids went out and performed at a high level and I couldn't be prouder of this group."
Fremd didn't lose the meet Friday night as much as Barrington was just a half of a point better. Vikings junior Jawan Gaines saw to it that Fremd would do all it could to hang on to the crown. He exploded in the 400 dash, shattering the Vikings school record in 49.18. Gaines also helped the Vikings to a third-place finish in the 400 relay (42.81) and a third-place finish in the 200 (22.71).
"We have the utmost respect for Barrington -- they were great tonight," Gaines said. "We knew it was going to come down to a few events there at the end."
Tom Mayer was also a conference champion for the Vikings, clearing 13-9 to win the pole vault.
The 400 and 800 relays were again record-setters for Schaumburg on Friday night. The Saxons took down a pair of records as they won the 400 relay in 41.81 and the 800 relay in 1:27.69. Thomas, Stacey Smith, Tom Ciupka and Jarmon McMillan made up the record-setting foursomes for the Saxons.
Smith won top honors in the long jump (21-9.75) while Edwin Kelly was a conference champion in the triple jump (44-7).
Led by standout junior Zach Dale, Conant earned a pair of event wins. The Cougars were very impressive taking the 3,200-relay in 7:51.51. Shujaat Sultan, Jack Hutchison, Hugh Hutchison and Dale made up the winning foursome.
Dale then ran away from the field in the 1,600, winning comfortably in 4:16.71.
Other conference champions included Justin Phillips of Prospect in the shot put (53-10), Joe Bellafiore of Hersey in the discus (164-0), David Rodriguez of Hersey in the 800 (1:56.67), and Tindale Dahnweih of Hersey in the 110 high hurdles (14.96).