Lake Park walks the walk
CHARLESTON -- Upon sailing 50 feet, 6¾ inches in triple jump, Lake Park senior Zach Ziemek looked in the direction of the bleachers and yelled, "I told you so!"
No one watching the 117th boys track and field state finals on Saturday at O'Brien Stadium doubted Lake Park. Yet by repeating as Class 3A state champion with 74 points to 43 for runner-up York, the Lancers blew away even last year's lofty standard.
Ziemek scored 30 points himself. His preliminary long jump of 23-8 stood to capture first, joined by his triple jump mark. The Wisconsin-bound senior added another personal-record in pole vault with a first-place height of 16-6.
"I had no idea I'd be able to do that," Ziemek said of his triple crown. "I thought my legs would be done, but I just went out there and competed and got PRs."
Jermaine Kline's state-record shot put of 66-5¾ from Friday's preliminaries held up, then with nearly a 20-foot improvement over Friday he won discus at 188-1. Brother Jeremy Kline stayed pat in third in shot put while his discus, at 185-10, was surpassed only by his twin.
Scott Filip and Kevin Spejcher added cushion with fifth- and sixth-place marks, respectively, in long jump and high jump.
"After I heard how Zach was doing, and all that, I just got pumped," Jeremy said. "I think it's more fun the second time."
"It's unbelievable. I'm so proud of the kids for what they've gone through this year," said coach Jay Ivory, whose Lancers won a third title and became the first big-school repeater since Cahokia in 2006-07.
"They've had a target on their back, so to speak, all year long, and to step up the way they've done all year long, and then to come do it here at this meet, do it again, spectacular, just awesome," Ivory said.
There were no nerves, said Ziemek, who tried to eclipse the state pole vault mark of 17-1 -- his only unsuccessful endeavor -- and surpassed 49 feet in triple jump all three times.
"All year long we've been told to compete," he said. "Today we were told to compete at the state meet. I didn't feel nervous at all. I don't think anyone felt nervous, because we've been doing this all year."
York's Jack Driggs became the first since former Duke Sean McNamara in 2005 to win the 3,200-meter run and come back to win the 1,600 title. York earned its sixth trophy in seven years by also placing at least top six in all four relays.
In both instances Driggs ran with the pack of all-state finishers -- including Neuqua Valley's Mark Derrick and Hinsdale Central's Billy Fayette in the 3,200 and Glenbard West's Mike Lederhouse, Hinsdale Central's Zach Withall and Wheaton Warrenville South's Collin Fedor in the 1,600 -- until kicking late.
"The mile means so much more to me than the 2-mile," said the North Carolina-bound Driggs. "I've always thought of myself as a 2-miler, and only three or four York guys have ever done this, so it's a big accomplishment."
Downers Grove North senior Ben Silver, who had run only a handful of outdoor track races since his freshman year, placed eighth in the first section of the 3,200, an uncommon feat. He had to wait two hours for the "fast heat" to see how his 9:18.91 ended up.
"It was tough to watch," said Silver, wearing the same cleats he did as a freshman.
Waubonsie Valley's Owen Saldana earned all-state in both shot put and discus while Neuqua Valley's Jake Bender finished a great second in the 400-meter dash, Naperville North's Antonio Owens claiming eighth.
"I'm extremely happy," said Bender, who ran a 48.04. "I knew I had it in me and I gave it all I got. My legs started hurting the last 50 (meters), more than they have before. I pushed it that hard."
On Friday WW South had qualified a 3A-best 10 entries into the finals but couldn't score enough points to keep up with the leaders.
Senior Charlie Pinedo placed sixth in the 200 and ninth in long jump while leading all-state finishes in the 400 and 800 relays.
"We've got a great group, and we just have fun, do our best, and we compete with each other," said Pinedo, one of 32 seniors on the WW South squad. "And that's the reason, I think, our team is pretty good."