Stevenson coach Andy Farrissey was quick to point to two big reasons why the Patriots have started to hit their stride in the final month of the boys track and field season.
It's his two senior leaders, Noah Lukz and Jonathan Powell.
"(Noah) is like 1 and Jonathan is 1A," Farrissey said. "Noah may be a little more boisterous than Jonathan is, but they and all our seniors are big to our success."
Powell and Lukz accounted for three event wins at the Lake County championships at Lake Zurich on Thursday night. Their efforts and an impressive win from Nikita Smyrnov in the 1,600 helped Stevenson win the team race. The Patriots scored 103.5 points, edging out Barrington (100.33), and the host Bears were third with 66 points.
"We came in with the goal of wanting to get this meet tonight and we got it," said Powell, who won the long jump (22-0) and the triple jump (44-8). "That's why we got excited and you see nothing but smiles out of this group."
Powell, Lukz, David Goncharov and Ahmad Dinkins won the 800 relay with a season-best 1:29.64. Lukz completed his day with runner-up finishes in the 100 and 200-meter dashes to Mundelein's Bobby Nuzzo.
Nuzzo broke school records in both races, with his 10.75 run in the 100 and a quick 22.10 clocking in the 200.
"I have played football here and run well here, so yeah, I kind of like running here," Nuzzo said of his success at Lake Zurich. "My goals now are to keep working hard and to get into that 10.60 range in the 100."
While the sprint records at Mundelein weren't safe, the distance marks at Lake Zurich seem to be re-written weekly. The latest assault on the record book came from Notre Dame-bound senior Brian Griffith in the 3,200.
In what turned out to be his first outdoors 3,200 this spring, Griffith battled with Grayslake Central senior Jack Aho in an 8-lap duel.
Griffith broke ahead early only to see the Michigan-bound Aho peel away late. Aho broke the county meet record, winning in 9:02.81, while Griffith ran 9:02.99 to take down the record set by his teammate Matt Pereira a week earlier.
"I think we both wanted to get under nine minutes tonight," Griffith said. "It was great to race against (Jack) as well. I haven't run this race very much so when I heard he was running it I was excited to race him."
Aho had looked at his race in advance and circled the third-to-last lap as the one that could make a difference for him in the coming weeks at the state meet.
"We got kind of bogged down on that fifth to sixth lap, and that is something I have to work on," Aho said. "This was a great race tonight. It was great to get a chance to race (Brian) and that will help us both."
Griffith's twin brother Kyle took the 800 in 1:56.77, and fellow senior Jake Stevens took top honors for the Bears in the pole vault by clearing 14 feet, 1 inch.
Although they were short-handed, Barrington showed it will be a team right in the mix for the Mid-Suburban League meet title next Friday. One area that is more than healthy is the dynamic shot put duo of Notre Dame-bound senior John Stefan and fellow senior teammate Brad Warman.
Stefan took the top spot in the discus with a best toss of 167-8.5. In the shot, Warman and Stefan hooked battled throw-for-throw, with Stefan coming out on top after he established a personal best of 59-7.25. Warman improved his personal best by over 3 feet with a best toss of 58-7.25 in finishing second.
On the track, too, the Broncos looked sharp -- particularly in the 1,600 relay. Louis Cossio, David Lozzio, Ellis Sawyer, Michael Curran ran a season-best 3:23.82.
Cossio showed he will be a threat downstate in the 400 with his 49.16 clocking to hold off Vernon Hills' Nikolay Kravtsev (49.46). Another outstanding performance came in the 3,200, where senior Nick Laning finished third to Aho and Griffith but ran his personal best of 9:16.83 in the process.
Other individual winners included Brandon Ellis of Warren in the high jump (6-3), Landon Keefover of Antioch in the 300 hurdles (39.06) and Josh Pollark of Grant who ran a personal best 14.59 to win the 110 high hurdles. Mundelein also started out the meet by taking top honors in the 3,200 relay, winning in 8:09.71.