Titans' finish in CSL South boys track meet is a first

It's no secret, Noah Shapiro said after the Central Suburban League South boys indoor track meet wrapped at Evanston.

The last couple of years Glenbrook South has been "really good" in track, he said.

But never as strong indoors in the CSL South as the Titans were March 18.

By winning the final event, the 1,600-meter relay, around the tight, 160-meter oval at Willie May Field House, the foursome of Ryan Schaefer, Shapiro, Michael Jerva and Brian Hiltebrand clinched the Titans' 137-136 conference victory over the host Wildkits.

New Trier placed third with 94.50 points, followed by Niles West, Maine South and Glenbrook North.

Glenbrook South, fifth outdoors in Class 3A last year, won its first indoor boys CSL South title, at least in the 31 years Titans coach Kurt Hasenstein has been with the program.

"The plaque comes second to the culture we've created on this team of the older guys giving back to the younger guys, and the younger guys learning to take their places," said Shapiro, also second in high jump and on a winning 800 relay with Ben Freidinger, Schaefer and Scott Peters.

"It comes down from the coaches and then down to us, and I think the significance of the plaque and winning is if we continue to create that culture of passing it down and working hard, it just rewards what we've done," Shapiro said.

Noah's twin brother, Nathan, won the 55-meter dash ahead of Auburn-bound Evanston star Matt Cless, clipped Evanston's Vorn Ellis to take the 200, edged Niles West's Sam Burns in the 55 low hurdles, and placed second to teammate Schaefer in long jump.

"I came in optimistic. I wanted 40 points, ended up with 38," said Nathan, noting that Evanston and New Trier will still be around, and hungry, when the state series comes in May.

"This is just a sign we've been working hard, we've been doing the right thing. But we've got to keep doing it. There's an outdoor season ahead of us, and if we do it like we did our indoor season, good things could come," he said.

Shortly after New Trier won the 3,200-meter relay with Atticus Miller, Oscar Dueno-Alda, Schuyler Cox and Gabriel Nosek, and Maine South's Joe Karlesky took the open 3,200 in 9 minutes, 53.45 seconds, Glenbrook South senior Brian Hiltebrand made the 800 run a battle for second place.

Fifth individually last year at the 3A meet in Charleston, Hiltebrand gained a big lead early and won his first CSL South indoor 800 title by more than 4 seconds, at 2:00.11.

Glenbrook North's John Ihrke chased Hiltebrand in second the entire time - until with 20 meters left Glenbrook South's Brendan Tanaka surged down the straightaway to nip the Spartan by less than half a second.

Tanaka had played tennis his prior three years at Glenbrook South. After joining the cross country team last fall to help his endurance and "get more involved in things my senior year," Tanaka said he decided to convert to track and field.

In his seventh indoor race, Tanaka moved from seventh place to capture the runner-up spot in the 800.

"I had a good strategy, didn't go too fast, felt my rhythm, and was confident to go," he said.

New Trier's Ronan O'Neill also is a track newbie.

"I've been playing soccer all four years of high school, decided to come out for track senior year because I had nothing else really going on. I've loved it for the seven weeks I've been here. It's been great," he said.

Big and strong, O'Neill likewise came on down the last straightaway to catch Evanston's Ellis in the 400, winning by .01 at 52.56 seconds.

Not lacking confidence, O'Neill stated he was "definitely going to state" this outdoor season, and also hopes to go as part of a relay. He anchored the Trevians' 1,600 relay for Jack Brewer, Patrick Jamieson and Caden Pfister that trailed only Glenbrook South.

"Playing soccer, it's really a perfect fit for track," O'Neill said. "You get a bit of everything (speed, endurance), so you're really able to do kind of whatever you want in track once you switch over - or do both."

Ihrke's big effort in the 800 highlighted Glenbrook North's performances along with other third-place finishes by Brian Pekala in the 400 and Shea Nenadov in pole vault, an event won by New Trier's Wyatt Wellehan at 3.71 meters, or 12 feet, 2 inches.

"The results weren't what we wanted them to be. But I'm proud of how all of our guys worked," said Glenbrook North junior Nathan Sever.

"Everyone came out here on a late night on a Friday during spring break, and everyone worked their butts off to do the absolute best they can and beat all their PRs (personal records). So I'm proud of the work of everyone here, especially the work everyone did during this past week to hold each other accountable and to hopefully, during outdoor, get to where we want to be," he said.

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