Great finish for 400 runner-up Hertz
CHARLESTON -- It was hard for Lakes senior Corey Hertz to be too upset with his performance in the finals of the 400-meter dash in the boys track and field state championships at O'Brien Field on the Eastern Illinois University campus Saturday.
Racing against one of the top 400-meter runners in the country and the defending state champion, Kahmari Montgomery of Plainfield Central, Hertz knew the challenge was great.
As the race developed, Hertz jumped out to a healthy lead. Even as the runners headed into the final stretch, Hertz and the Missouri-bound Montgomery were step-for-step. Then, all in one moment, Montgomery went from close to out of reach as he crossed the line in 46.24, shattering a 30-year-old state record.
The Northern Iowa-bound Hertz broke his own school record, finishing second in 47.53 -- a time that would normally win the event.
"I was pretty happy with my race," Hertz said. "I was even with (Montgomery) through most of the race -- then with 100 or so meters to go, he took off. The good news is he pulled me to a PR, so I can't be disappointed with that."
As a team, the Eagles finished in a tie for sixth place with Belleville West at 25 points.
Edwardsville won its first track state title in school history with 55 points. Evanston and Neuqua Valley tied for second with 37 points. Cahokia won its fifth consecutive state title in Class 2A with a record 119 points.
"I think if you look what we were able to do this weekend it was still pretty impressive," Hertz said. "Just about everyone who medaled today finished above where they were seeded, so that's pretty awesome."
Joining Hertz on the medal stand for the Eagles was Cooper Jazo, who cleared 14-9 and finished fifth in the pole vault. Sophomore Cameron Ruiz jumped 22-9 to improved from 10th place to third, and senior Ryan Mullen placed fifth in the shot put with a best effort of 56-10.
One of the Eagles' chief rivals in the North Suburban Conference, Grant, had a successful finish to their season thanks in large part to junior Octavian Wells. He ran 48.04 in the finals of the 400 to finish with his first individual medal, in fourth place. He closed the season much the same way he closed Friday's prelims, anchoring the Bulldogs' 1,600-meter relay.
Kemar Miller, Jeremy Bredwood, and Chris Hatton watched as Wells helped the relay to a fifth-place finish. What made the effort all the more impressive was that the race was contested in a torrential downpour. The Bulldogs ran 3:18.36, re-breaking the school record.
"I am just so very blessed," said an exhausted and soaked Wells. "To help my teammates to this medal is such an amazing way to end my season."
Running with the same type of fury in his last race of the season was Vernon Hills sophomore Tim Krashevsky. In the finals of the Class 2A 800 for the first time, Krashevsky thought he could medal -- then right before the race, he started to dream a bit.
"I started to think that I could maybe finish top 5, so I decided to go for it," he said.
So Krashevsky decided, with one lap remaining, to go for it. His effort paid off as he dropped nearly two seconds from his prelim to finish in 1:56.74 for a third-place finish.
"This is a huge accomplishment for me," Krashevsky said. "Last year I didn't make it down here, so to finish third and break the sophomore school record was pretty awesome for me."
Vernon Hills senior Noah Agnew made his way to the medal stand for the first time as well with a terrific performance in the high jump. He cleared 6-8 to finish second in the event.
"I felt good today, and it was a good performance," Agnew said. "I'm happy with my performance and grateful and appreciative of all my coaches and teammates."
Sophomore Jack Aho of Grayslake Central had the look of astonishment after he crossed the finish line in third place in the 3,200-meter run. With 800 meters to go, Aho was in fifth place and a healthy distance behind the leaders. But with one lap remaining, he weaved his way through the crowd and ended up with a personal-best 9:12.08.
"When I saw the guys in front of me slowing down I knew I had a chance to move up," Aho said. "This is kind of crazy -- I can't believe it."
Carmel senior David Biondo did his best to make it uncomplicated in the finals of the Class 2A pole vault.
"My coaches just told me to keep it simple to bring the swing and not drop my legs -- and it worked today," said Biondo, who became the first person from his school to medal in the event. "This means a lot to me. I try and set high goals, and I met my goals this year."
Other medalists on Saturday included Matt Sladek of Warren placing eighth in the shot put, Lake Zurich and its 3,200-relay team of Brian Griffith, Kyle Griffith Justin Shim and Matt Pereira finishing ninth, Bryce Richards of Mundelein placing seventh in the 800, and Sam Oh of Stevenson taking seventh in the 1,600-meter run.