CHARLESTON -- All through his senior season and for most of his career at Grant, Jonathan Wells hasn't been known for being much of a showman.
Wells always went about his business respectfully, with the class of a champion.
But on Saturday, during the Class 3A boys track and field state finals at O'Brien Field, Wells decided to give the people what they wanted -- or at the very least, take his father's advice.
"My dad always told me that when you are the best at something, give the people a show," Wells said with a smile. "So I tried to get the crowd going, and it worked for me."
During his final efforts in the high jump, before each attempt Wells turned to the crowd and started clapping his hands in the air. The O'Brien Field crowd followed Wells' lead, and they were rewarded for their cheering.
First, there was a clearance of 6 feet, 11 inches to secure the Illinois-bound senior's second consecutive state title in the event. Then came another crowd-participation session as Wells took aim at 7 feet.
That one worked too, as Wells cleared 7 for the first time outdoors.
"It definitely felt good to hit 7 feet," Wells said. "I haven't hit that mark all year outdoors because of injury and the weather. It was a great way to go out."
Before he competed in the high jump, Wells had one last chance to win the long jump. On his final attempt, he jumped 23-0.75, tying Cole Henderson of Pekin. But because Wells had a better series of jumps, he was declared the winner, earning him his first state title in that event.
Grant finished 12th in the team standings behind eventual champion York. Four-time defending champion Lake Park and Edwardsville tied for second.
While Wells became the first multi-event state champion at Grant in school history, Purdue-bound Vernon Hills senior Ben Mohrdieck did something that has never been done at Vernon Hills.
By winning the Class 2A 1,600-meter run in 4:20.71, Mohrdieck earned the first state title in boys track for Vernon Hills.
"I knew that no one had one a title here before, and I knew it was a tall order," Mohrdieck said. "But I didn't let that get to me. I just ran my race."
Joining Mohrdieck on the medal stand was fellow senior Kyle Whitney, who took home a sixth-place medal in the Class 2A 3,200 after finishing in 9:41.35.
Though he didn't earn the medal he wanted, Grayslake North junior Titus Booker made his own history on Saturday. He's the first Knights competitior to earn more than one medal at a state meet, along with becoming the first Grayslake North athlete to earn a running event medal.
Booker battled in the 100 dash, running second to two-time champion Cole Henderson of Pekin. Booker finished in 10.64, breaking his own school record. In the 200, Booker ran 21.81 and finished fifth.
"I don't like to place anywhere other than first, but I can say I am happy with my times today," Booker said. "Earning two medals is a great accomplishment."
Booker's teammate Alex Shulga broke his own school record in the 400 dash, running 48.71 as he finished ninth and earned his first state medal.
Shulga finished just behind Lakes junior Corey Hertz. Hertz dropped almost a full second from his prelim effort in the 400 and placed fifth in 48.26.
"This race was so much faster today," Hertz said. "I took a different approach and tried to go out a little slower, which made me a bit fresher in the end."
Hertz teamed up with Jake Balliu, Alex Murray, and Brandon Theil to help the Eagles' 1,600 relay finish eighth in 3:20.35. Junior Ryan Mullen finished 10th in the shot put for the Eagles while freshman Cameron Ruiz took eight in the long jump (22-0).
Other individual medalists from Saturday included Kevin Barbian of Libertyville, who earned medals in the shot put (seventh, 54-6.5) and in the discus, where he moved up from eighth place to fourth with a final throw of 164-6.
Lake Zurich freshman Matt Pereira competed in his first state meet and earned a seventh place medal in the 3,200 (9:27.09).
Jake Bychowski and Kyle Hatton of Grant also competed in Saturday's finals.