Boys track and field: Meet Wheaton Academy’s one-man vault program

CHARLESTON — Wheaton Academy’s pole vault program consists of two athletes

There’s senior Canyon Roberts, and his sister, Sophie. She competed last week in the girls state track and field championships, and on Friday Canyon was there at Eastern Illinois’ O’Brien Field doing the same in the Class 2A preliminaries.

He trains once weekly at Rise Pole Vault, and rents poles or borrows them, since Wheaton Academy doesn’t have pole vault equipment.

Just starting the event in January of his junior year, he was slightly surprised when on his first attempt at 4.10 meters, or 13 feet, 5 inches, he cleared it to enter Saturday’s 2A finals.

“I guess a little bit, I’m learning the technique so fast,” said Roberts, who also qualified in the 110-meter hurdles. “But I have good speed and strength.”

Surprises, good and bad, are a part of the final weekend in boys track and field.

Downers Grove North senior Vince Davero was the top seed in Class 3A long jump, and the No. 2 seed in triple jump, a candidate to clear 25 feet in the former, and 50 feet in the latter.

He had already qualified into Saturday’s long jump finals in the fourth position, at 6.96 meters (22 feet, 10 inches), but on his final attempt he stayed down behind the pit and grasped his left hamstring. He did not compete in the triple jump preliminaries.

Cary-Grove’s Reece Ihenacho, the only person to surpass 200 feet in discus during the regular season, nearly did it again with a throw of 190 feet, 2 inches that has him atop the 3A finalists.

A rain delay, which never a surprise, struck at 2:04 p.m. and lasted about an hour, until the Class 3A 3200-meter relay was able to get rolling at 3:20 p.m.

A longer delay occurred at 7:30 p.m. still with two heats remaining of the conclusive 1600-meter relay. They weren’t run until 10:15 p.m., with Naperville Central qualifying in one of those heats.

Hinsdale Central will be there, too, after anchor Aden Bandukwala raced from third to first in the last 400 meters.

“They (teammates Braden Tingler, Smith Maxwell and Jack Parkins) got me the baton in a good spot,” Bandukwala said. “The first 200, I felt pretty good. I was planning on waiting (to kick), but I ended up catching up to them. Once I got out, I ran faster than I thought.”

Huntley’s Tommy Nitz battled Barrington’s Joe Bregenzer in the 1600, passing Bregenzer with 500 meters left, only to fall temporarily back into second place.

The Huntley junior passed Bregenzer again with about 200 meters to go. Both qualified into the finals.

“It was a fun race. I loved it,” Nitz said.

“The crowd got into it. It wasn’t enough, but I still got the job done.”

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