Boys track and field: Schaumburg’s Gbenyo stays busy during banner day at Lake Forest invite

Schaumburg’s Michael Gbenyo had a busy day Saturday at the Lake Forest invitational, competing in four events. While he said it can be a difficult task, his mother, who is a nurse, helps him take care of his body and be ready to compete.

That worked on Saturday, as he was awarded as the meet’s top athlete with a first-place finish in the high jump (6 feet, 1 inch), second place finishes in the triple jump (12.51), and 100-meter dash (11.44 seconds), along with taking fourth in the long jump (5.88).

“I am just proud,” Gbenyo said. “I am happy that I picked track over gymnastics. This is going to take me really far. I see my ability and I think I can get better and better.”

He was one of three Schaumburg athletes to achieve a first-place finish. David Valencia won the 400 with a time of 51.38 seconds and Blake Ackland won the pole vault with a jump of 13 feet, nine inches. Oak Park River Forest, however, won the meet.

In the 3200 relay, Palatine has fielded several different lineups for this race this season. With several runners out due to the Distance Night in Palatine event later in the day, it was up to Abe Hernandez, Chris Quick, Ethan Trujillo, and Keaton Fletcher to step up.

After sitting in the middle of the pack after the race’s first lap, Hernandez finished his leg in first place and the team led the rest of the way, finishing in 8 minutes, 37.54 seconds.

“The second lap I saw the pace die down, so I kind of just took it and went ahead of the Schaumburg guy,” Hernandez said. “I was just trying to get my team the lead. I felt really good because I knew I got us in the race.”

Trujillo and Fletcher helped give the Pirates squad some distance and Quick maintained the lead.

“I was just thinking the guy behind me is going to catch me,” Trujillio said. “I can’t let my teammates down. They started off strong and I just had to hold on and make sure I didn’t lose that lead for us.”

In the 110 hurdles, Benet’s Will Yacullo admitted it wasn’t his best race. However, his time of 15.78 was good enough for first place, just edging out Schaumburg’s Anthony Barcenos (15.98) and Libertville’s Chase Running who tied for second.

“I just felt a little off balance,” Yacullo said. “I don’t know what happened. It might be the wind, the coldness. Overall, though a dub is a dub.”

He nicked several hurdles with his trail leg at the end of the race, allowing Barcenos and Libertyville’s Running to keep it close, but it wasn’t enough to keep him from finishing in front.

Among the most exciting races of the day was the 200, with Libertyville’s Cole Mitchell and Schaumburg’s Valencia neck and neck with 50 meters to go. Mitchell managed to pull ahead at the finish line with a time 22.91 seconds, just ahead of Valencia’s 22.92.

“It was pretty intense,” Mitchell said. “It is pretty hard to keep running at the end. I was just so tired. (I was thinking) keep going, don’t give up.”

Oak Park-River Forest won the meet.

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