Hilby brings humility to the top of the track rankings

People crowd the fence around the track to see him race. He’s asked to sign autographs.

The Aurora city council resolved to declare this July 23, his 18th birthday, in his honor. The Illinois High School Association named him Academic All-State, first team.

He has an NIL deal with New Balance.

Patrick Hilby does not let it all get to him.

“It’s definitely a lot easier to stay humble once you put it in perspective,” said Hilby, a senior track athlete at Aurora Central Catholic. “All that stuff is going to go away at some point. You’ve got to live in the moment.

“Next year when I go to meets no one will know who I am.”

He’ll be at Wisconsin then, on a full athletic scholarship. That’s rare in track and field, but it can happen when you are the nation’s fastest runner in your main event.

Hilby’s 800-meter time of 1 minute, 48.47 seconds March 9 in Boston at the New Balance Nationals Indoor led the country this indoor season and ranks fifth all time among high school boys indoors, according to Track & Field News.

“It’s just surreal sometimes. I can’t even believe it myself,” Hilby said.

“It’s very positive, and it’s also some added pressure. Being No. 1 in the country, everyone’s expecting you to keep that. And with all the great competition it’s going to be difficult to do.”

Well, maybe. The site says Hilby has won every regular-season 800-meter race, indoors and out, since the start of his sophomore year in 2022.

“He has turned the 800 into a glamour race in high school,” said 37-year Aurora Central Catholic coach Troy Kerber, adding that Hilby owns ACC boys indoor and outdoor records over 400, 800 and 1,600 meters.

Coming off his 2023 Class 2A 800-meter win in a 2A-record 1:50.49 — his fifth all-state honor, four in track, one in cross country — Hilby ran a personal-best outdoor time of 1:48.81 at the HOKA Festival of Miles in St. Louis, second by .22 seconds to former Hinsdale Central superstar Dan Watcke.

  Aurora Central Catholic’s Patrick Hilby in the 800-meter run at the IHSA Class 2A state boys track and field championships at Eastern Illinois University on Saturday, May 28, 2022. John Starks/

Hilby has pedigree, the oldest of four children of mother, Anne, who ran at Loras College; and father, Chuck, who ran at Wahlert Catholic High School in Iowa and is the longtime hurdles and horizontal jumps coach at West Aurora High School.

Patrick’s sister, sophomore Ceci, placed sixth in the Class 2A 800 a year ago in Charleston. Last fall she placed 16th in 1A cross country, all-state her first season in the sport.

A three-sport athlete at ACC through his sophomore year and still in basketball as a junior, Patrick took up long jump and triple jump in fifth grade at Holy Angels Catholic School in Aurora, where his mother teaches preschool.

He did short sprints early in high school while keeping an eye on the 400 and 800. After he ran the lead leg of the Chargers’ ninth-place Class 2A 3200 relay his freshman year, Hilby figured he’d focus on the 800.

Hilby credits Kerber’s coaching and his teammates’ support for his success. He is invested in relays.

In addition to winning the 2A 400 in 49.32 seconds at the Illinois Top Times Indoor Championship on March 23, he joined Bernard Fellows, Jacob Gay, Tom Keller and David Valencia on first-place 1,600 and 3,200 relays.

“He’s an extremely coachable kid, a program athlete,” Kerber said. “The great leaders take their teammates with him, they don’t leave them behind. We don’t always see that with athletes his age.”

On Thursday, Hilby will leave for California, where on Saturday when he’ll run the 800 at the premier Arcadia Invitational in California.

There, and throughout the season, he’s got his sights on Watcke’s 800 time of 1:47.70 last June 24 at the Rose City Mile in Oregon, and an ultimate goal of reaching the 28-year-old all-time boys national high school time of 1:46.45.

His main goal this spring is more humble.

“I think my No. 1 goal is to try to enjoy the rest of my senior year in high school with my teammates,” Hilby said.

Speaking of No. 1

On March 29 the National Wrestling Hall of Fame emailed its monthly girls national high school wrestling rankings it conducts along with USA Wrestling and FloWrestling.

For March, Batavia’s Sydney Perry was at No. 1 in the country at 145 pounds, up from No. 3.

Glenbard North junior Gabby Gomez was No. 6 at 115, three spots higher than Loyola Academy junior Harlee Hiller at No. 9. Lockport sophomore Morgan Turner earned a No. 1 ranking at 105 pounds.

Perry concluded high school undefeated, with three straight state titles at 145. She also won her bracket in 2021 when the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials ran a state tournament.

Including Perry’s 41-0 record this season, officially she finished 96-0 at Batavia. However, Batavia girls wrestling coach Scott Bayer will also count the 21-0 mark Perry compiled in the 2021 season affected by COVID-19, for a total 117-0 record.

  Batavia’s Sydney Perry controls Goreville’s Alivia Ming in the 145-pound bout at the girls wrestling state finals at Grossinger Motor Arena in Bloomington on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. John Starks/

Reflecting her national standing, in 2022 Perry beat Clarissa Agostini of Michigan in a 13-12 grinder at 144 pounds at the 2022 Junior National Championships in Fargo. Perry lost in the 2023 144 final 12-10 to Maryland’s Nebi Tsarni, FloWrestling with the coverage.

Internationally, Bayer said that as a member of the Team USA juniors, in 2022 Perry took Under-17 silver at the Pan American Games in Buenos Aires, and fifth in U17 at the world championships in Rome.

Perry, whose brother, Tyler, was a Class 3A runner-up at 170 pounds in 2022 with Marmion, is undecided about her college path, Bayer said. North Central College and the University of Iowa are candidates, he said.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.