Boys track and field: West Aurora leaves Upstate Eight on top
The West Aurora boys track and field team went the distance Thursday to secure its last-ever Upstate Eight Conference title.
The Blackhawks, who will shift to the Southwest Prairie Conference next year, have made their name over the years with sprinters and jumpers. But at Thursday's meet, it was the distance runners that held serve en route to 126 points, 9 better than runner-up East Aurora.
Senior Calvin Watts led the way with a personal-record 4:33.42 winner in the 1,600-meter run, while junior Will Nicholas took first in the 800 run at 2:01.49. Jesus Nava from East Aurora won the 3,200 run in 9:47.69, but West Aurora junior Jackson Morrill took second (9:58.31) and Jarod Golwitzer finished third (10:02.88).
"We're a well-balanced team," Blackhawks coach Cortney Lamb said. "We had been known for field events and our sprinting, and now our distance corps is coming around, so we're scoring points in a bunch of different events. We're scoring points in events we weren't traditionally scoring points in."
Watts, who settled in with the leaders at the outset of the 1,600 run and made his move in the final lap to edge Nava by 4 seconds, credited distance coach Nolan McCue with Thursday's success.
"He's really kind of turned the distance team around," Watts said. "He's given us a winning attitude more than anything. The training has obviously helped, but I think what coach McCue has done better than anybody that has ever coached me, is helped with the winning attitude."
McCue, in his third year as distance coach, said he's worked hard to develop a winning culture.
"We didn't have that necessarily in the past, from the distance standpoint," he said. "It was always sprint- and jump-heavy. Distance was holding our program back. With everyone believing in themselves more, it's different than it used to be."
West Aurora also got a conference championship from Moshe Rogers in the long jump (20 feet, 11.25 inches), while Rhadarious Lomax took second (20 feet, 10.25 inches). Hezekiah Salter (42 feet, 4.75 inches) and Davaris Cheeks (42 feet, 1 inch) took second and third in the triple jump.
South Elgin, third with 107 points, walked away with conference championships in all four relays -- 400 (42.97), 800 (1:31.64), 3,200 (8:28.38) and the meet-ending 1,600 relay (3:34.88).
That last event was perhaps the most impressive, as junior Ryan Harvey, senior Mario Hallom, senior Matt Jacobson and sophomore Elijah Patrick pooled their resources to slip past Bartlett by less than a second.
"It was a big win," Patrick said. "It was hard coming into this race because it was cold and there was a lot of sitting down, so I had to keep moving and train my body to stay with the weather."
Added Jacobson, "Basically, our mindset all the time is to run and have fun. We're just here to run and do what we do."
Senior Jacob Todd finished first in the 100 dash in 11.41 for the Storm.
Larkin was sixth with 44 points and was led by senior sprinter Jahari Stubbs, who won the 110 hurdles (15.47) and the 300 hurdles (41.94). He also ran the final leg on the 1,600 relay that took third (3:36.33).
"To be honest, personally, I didn't think I did that good time-wise, but I was happy with the finish," he said.
Glenbard South took fourth with 87.5 points, and the Raiders were led by senior Stevan Plavsic, who recorded three second-place finishes -- in the 110 hurdles (16.28), high jump (5 feet, 11 inches) and shot put (46 feet, 10.5 inches).
Plavsic, who said he "had a lot of the aggression today," also threw a personal-record 116 feet, 9 inches in the discus. His teammate, senior John Madison, won that event in 132 feet, 2 inches.
Glenbard East got a banner day from senior Austin Salek en route to a fifth-place finish with 64 points. Salek won both the pole vault (12 feet, 8 inches) and the high jump (5 feet, 11 inches).
"Today was a great day with the wind; it's at your back, so you're getting more speed," he said of the pole vault. "I've been doing it for four years and I didn't think I'd be at this point ever."