Boys track and field: Lakes' Ruiz doubles up; Borowsky, Wells are state champs
CHARLESTON -- It felt so good for Lakes junior Cameron Ruiz that he couldn't help but do it twice -- a back flip, that is.
When Ruiz completed his final triple jump in the finals of the Class 3A boys track and field state championships at O'Brien Stadium at Eastern Illinois, the excitement of the result led to not one, but two backward flips.
You'd have to say he earned a 10 on the flips.
The triple jump? Well, that was pretty good too.
Ruiz's effort measured out to 50 feet, 6 inches -- good enough for a state championship.
All this for a kid that picked up the event just four weeks ago in the hopes it would make his long jump better.
"I just didn't know what I was feeling at the time," Ruiz said of the back flips. "I hadn't done that in almost a year so it was the first thing I thought of -- spontaneous, I guess."
Whatever Ruiz did to improve his triple jump also seemed to pay off in the long jump. Earlier in the day, he hit 24-0 in his first finals jump, and that stood up to earn a first individual state championship for both Ruiz and Lakes.
"I guess it's all a matter of how you approach it," Ruiz said. "I took the approach toward the triple jump that it would improve my long jump, and it did help me a lot."
Then it was on to the track, where Ruiz battled in the 400 meters to a sixth-place finish in a blisteringly fast final. His 48.89 time was just .4 out of second place.
Finally, to wrap it all up, Ruiz teamed with Robert Kuhlmann, Brandon Thiel and Jordan Mercure for his fourth medal of the weekend. Their time of 3:20.10 earned them an eighth-place finish.
The efforts of Ruiz and his teammates netted Lakes a fifth-place finish in the 3A team standings with 34 points. East St. Louis captured the team title with 54 points to 42 for defending 3A champion and runner-up Edwardsville. Sandburg, which established a national mark in the 3,200 relay by running 7:37.36, wound up third (40 points). Cahokia won its sixth consecutive Class 2A title with 61 points.
"This whole day just feels surreal to me," Ruiz said. "Believe it or not I do feel like I can do so much more. Scary for the guys I compete against, I guess."
Lakes senior Cooper Jazo also medaled on Saturday as he cleared 15-6 to finish second in the pole vault.
While it likely won't hit Ruiz until sometime later, it may take even longer for Stevenson senior Jared Borowsky to ultimately get his arms around his finish in the 3,200-meter run.
In a race that featured distance royalty, Borowsky settled into the pack and let the leaders do most of the early work on the hot and windy day in Charleston. With just over a lap to go, Borowsky surged to the top then sprinted his way away from the field.
His 56-second final lap concluded with the Colorado-bound Borowsky lifting his arms into the air as he crossed the finish line as a state champion in the event. His time of 9:07.47 was also a personal best by over 10 seconds for Borowsky.
"My goal all year was to close on this race in under 60, and I did that," Borowsky said. "I still can't believe it. This has been my biggest dream since I started running."
Borowsky outkicked one of his rivals in Grayslake Central junior Jack Aho in the final 400 meters for the win. Aho ran second in 9:11.20. The two also hooked up in the 1,600 with Aho besting Borowsky in a ninth-place finish (4:24.01).
The surreal nature of the state finals and winning a state championship wasn't lost on Grant senior Octavian Wells, either. A heavy favorite to win the 400-meter dash, Wells left no doubt early as he quickly separated from the field. Into the final 50 meters it was clear that another gold medal was headed to the Wells family trophy case.
The Loyola-bound Wells crossed in 47.39 -- nearly a second ahead of the runner-up -- to earn the first running event state title in school history. His brother Jonathan won the state championship in the high jump and long jump in 2014.
"I am just grateful," Wells said. "I have worked so hard over the years and put in so much work in the off-season. It's nice to know that all that work paid off."
Grant also earned a 4x400 relay medal from Wells, Ben Schram, Timmy Brundidge and Kemar Miller. The foursome ran 3:19.51 and finished sixth overall. Senior Tyler Schaefer also contributed an eighth-place finish in the triple jump (45-9.25) as Grant finished tied for eighth with Neuqua Valley at 26 points.
It was the second medal for Wells and the third for Brundidge, who placed fifth in the 110 high hurdles (14.24) and fifth in the 300 hurdles (38.49).
Vernon Hills completed one of its best medal hauls ever with an 11th-place team finish in Class 2A. The Cougars amassed 21 points behind the efforts of senior Noah Agnew and junior Tim Krashevsky.
The Tennessee-bound Agnew finished second in the high jump to new state record holder Darryl Sullivan of downstate Marion. Agnew cleared 6-9 in his finish while Sullivan broke the previous state mark by clearing 7-1½.
Krashevsky teamed with Caleb Ju, Trevor Moyers and Shane Williamson to finish fourth in the 3,200 relay (8:07.30).
Senior teammate Joshua Williams earned his first medal with a sixth-place finish in the 200 (22.54). Antioch junior Landon Keefover earned his first state medal by placing seventh in the 110 high hurdles (14.93).