Strength in numbers buoys Barrington at Palatine
The best thing Barrington's boys track and field team had going for it Saturday during the 83rd Palatine Relays at Chic Anderson Stadium was incredible depth.
While that facet of the team was somewhat in question to start the season, the emergence of juniors Jack Nicoletti and Scott Johnske and the continued improvement of Matt Haller was a big reason the Broncos were able to capture the team title.
Barrington had 138 points to 109 for runner-up Fremd. Defending meet champion Palatine finished fourth (97 points).
"Pretty much this was a team win for us," Barrington coach Todd Kuklinski said. "The kids are performing at a high level. At this time of year you need kids to step up and we had that today."
While Johnske, Nicoletti and Haller were major contributors, the stars were still the stars for Barrington. Senior Scotty Miller captured event wins in the 100-meter dash (10.90) and the 200 dash (22.29). He also added a pair of second-place finishes, earning Miller the G.A. McElroy co-athlete of the meet award alongside Jawan Gaines of Fremd, who also had a terrific day. Gaines captured three event wins, breaking two meet records in the process.
"Scotty was terrific again today with what he did," Kuklinski said. "But if you would have told me Haller or Johnske would be close to state qualifying at the end of the season, we wouldn't have seen it then."
Johnske led the way in the long jump, leaping 21 feet, 4 inches for a personal best. He also contributed to a relay group win in the triple jump, where his individual effort of 42-5 was the meet's best.
Haller started the day by clearing 6-7 in the high jump -- a personal best by 5 inches.
"I struggled with my form a little early in the year but have practiced a lot lately and started to get the higher heights," Haller said.
On the track, Barrington also captured the 800 relay as Nicoletti, Griffin Claes, Brandon Melynchuk and Mark Landwer won in 1:30.96.
For Gaines and the Vikings, it was just nice to be back in competition. Gaines, who has battled injuries through most of the early part of the season, certainly looked fresh and ready to race Saturday. He took top honors in the 400 (49.84).
Gaines then led the Vikings to two meet records and a school record in capturing the 400 and 1,600 relays.
Gaines, along with Kenny Lyke, Kyle Lewis and Darius Burchette, ran a school record 42.41 to win the 400 -- breaking the meet record in the process.
Gaines then anchored the 1,600 relay in a thrilling finish that saw Fremd edge recent Illinois signee and Barrington senior Konrad Eiring at the finish line. Gaines, joined by Kyle McMahon, Lewis, and Lyke, ran a season-best 3:20.52. Barrington, which also had Melynchuk, Miller, and Nicoletti on the relay with Eiring, also had a season-best (3:21.19).
"I still think that we have not reached our peak yet," Gaines said. "We can still improve -- we are going to improve from here."
The host Pirates got their top performance came from senior Jake LaRocca in the pole vault. He cleared 15-9 to break the previous meet record. Senior Graham Brown showed that the Pirates' distance corps is still as good as ever as he took the 1,600 in 4:23.14.
Jacobs' top performance of the afternoon came in the 3,200 relay. Eastern Illinois-bound senior Matt Goldby anchored the Golden Eagles to a win in 8:05.70. Joe Sipiorski, Kyle Ross and Alec Bognar teamed with Goldby on the relay.
Conant captured two relay event wins. The Cougars' 440 high hurdle relay team of Joel Almodivar, Tim Engebretsen, Jake Bean and Brian Modelski won in 1:07.42. The distance medley relay team led by Illinois-bound senior Zach Dale won comfortably in 10:31.31, as Shujaat Sultan, Jason Guiliano and Zinkha joined Dale.