CHARLESTON -- Being at the top of the mountain since the very first outdoor boys track meet of the season made Schaumburg's 800-meter relay the team to beat.
Or, as senior Stacey Smith put it, "The hunted."
"We put up those times early in the season and we knew that everyone wanted to come out and beat us," Smith said. "That just kept pushing us to get better and better every time out so that no one could beat us."
In the end, nobody could.
In the finals of the Class 3A 800 relay at O'Brien Stadium on Saturday, Smith and teammates Tom Ciupka, Shandall Thomas and Jarman McMillon had one final test to pass. In what was expected to be a tight race, it came down to McMillon in the final leg. He held off the anchor from Thornton to give the Saxons their first state title in this event in school history.
By finishing in 1:26.16, the Saxons also earned the first sprint relay state title in Mid-Suburban League history.
"Stacey came up to me I the tent and said that I had to win it for the team," McMillon said. "He challenged me to go out and win it. This is such an incredible feeling that we were able to get this done."
Thomas and Smith medaled in other events for the Saxons. Thomas placed fourth in the 100 dash (10.80) and seventh in the 200 dash (21.92). Smith took home ninth place in the long jump (21 feet, 11.5 inches) and teammate Eddie Kelly earned an eighth-place medal in the triple jump (44-9.75).
Those efforts helped Schaumburg finish 11th in the team standings with 22 points. York won the Class 3A title for the first time since 2009, and four-time defending state champion Lake Park and Edwardsville tied for second overall.
Just behind Schaumburg in the team race was Barrington, thanks in large part to the legs of junior Scotty Miller. In only his second full season of competitive track, Miller brought home three medals, making him the first in the program to accomplish that feat.
"Not a bad weekend -- not a bad year," Miller said. "It was a great junior year. I had a lot of fun -- some ups some downs but I had fun and this is a great way to end it."
Miller took third in the 100 dash (10.74) and fourth in the 200 dash (21.58). He also anchored a Barrington 800 relay that took ninth in 1:28.53. Parker Deloye, JP Brooks, and Brendan Melynchuk raced on the Barrington relay.
While Miller battled through ups and downs, nothing compared to the roller-coaster ride of the Broncos' 3,200 relay. As the defending champions in the event, the pressure was already on. Add in losing two relay members to stress-fractures, and the uphill climb was even more imposing.
Even with that, the team of John Andraschko, Adam Phillips, Tyler Anderson and Konrad Eiring ran 7:47.11 to earn a fourth-place medal this season.
"There was a lot of stuff we had to clear out of the way with me being out and (Ryan) Perkins being out," Eiring said. "With all we went through, this is still pretty sweet."
While Conant junior Zach Dale didn't have to battle through the adversity that the Barrington relay did, he still had to battle through the steamy conditions at O'Brien Field and still make it through the vaunted distance double.
In the 3,200 run, Dale battled through a tough field to finish third in 9:07.82. After some time off the track, in the shower and out of the heat, he returned to run a personal best 4:11.28 to finish fourth in a very fast 1,600 heat.
"After the 2-mile, I was pretty exhausted but after I cooled down I felt all right," Dale said. "The mile was a loaded field, so anything within that top nine is a very respectable finish."
Marquette-bound St. Viator senior Nick Brey survived the heat in his section of the Class 2A 3,200 run to place fourth in 9:32.64.
Fremd and its 800 relay team of Richard Adugba, Kyle Lewis, Jawan Gaines and Ryan McMahon earned a medal by running 1:28.28 and finishing eighth.
Other individual competitors from Saturday's finals included Joe Bellafiore of Hersey in the discus, Adam Poklop of Palatine in the high jump, Shane Huffaker of Maine West in the pole vault, and Andrew Philipose of Hersey, Kevin and Steven Salvano of Buffalo Grove, and Billy Thomas of Hoffman Estates in the 3,200 run.