Glenbrook South has plenty of reasons to be proud at the John Davis Titan Invite
One often hears it called the running "community," the track and field "community." Moments like this are why.
Wheeling's Daylan Berger and Glenbrook South's Ryan Schaefer bounded down the stretch in the 300-meter hurdles, sound form and proximity pushing each to personal-best times in a one-two finish.
Sitting together, their mothers watched from the stands. Melinda Berger and Julie Schaefer are friends, former Glenbrook South track athletes and teammates one season. They ran for Melinda's father, the late coach John Davis, whose name graces the school stadium in addition to the May 21 John R. Davis Titan Invite.
The winner of that 300 hurdles race was thus the grandson of John Davis, who passed in 2001.
"I never got to meet him, but I knew he was a great man. Many stories I've been told about him, how great of a coach, father, husband he was, and I just had to show up tonight," Daylan said.
Both his grandmothers were in the stands, too, including John Davis' widow, Judy. Talking about it, Daylan Berger's chest seemed to swell.
"It's just a great feeling, it really is," he said.
"This one was for granddad. This is for him, I was thinking of him. It wasn't for me, it wasn't for my school," Berger said.
"You know, I want to put up points for the school -- we did -- that was amazing. We're all showing out tonight -- but this was for my granddad, and I hope he's watching."
If so, he was smiling.
His grandson won his race, and the Titans handily won the 11-team meet for the 11th time in 48 runnings, and the first since 2018.
"From where we were a year ago -- doing nothing -- it's a thrill to come out and watch these guys compete," Glenbrook South coach Kurt Hasenstein said.
Even with two of his top athletes dropping out due to injury, the Titans scored 133 points, well-ahead of New Trier (73) and Loyola (69).
"This is, like, the strongest team we've had in awhile," said Ryan Schaefer, who also led off the Titans' victorious 1,600-meter relay and placed second in long jump.
"We've won four straight invites, and we're looking forward to sending a lot of guys downstate. It should be exciting."
Brian Hiltebrand made the 800 run exciting. Boxed in on the inside rail, still with 500 meters remaining, he suddenly bolted outside and into the lead in a dramatic move that sent Palatine's Gentry Mabry sprawling to the track.
Free from traffic, Hiltebrand won comfortably ahead of Hersey's Remy Jankusky and Titans teammate Michael Jerva.
"I was a little frustrated because I got more boxed in than I wanted to," Hiltebrand said. "I was trying to work on tucking in, but I got too tucked in this race, so I felt like if I wanted to have a chance to win I had to make a move now or else I was stuck there."
The Titans scored in 16 of 18 events and double-scored in five. They got victories from Noah Shapiro in high jump, Stefan West in triple jump and Ryan Faut in both discus and shot put. Fellow senior Tom McDonnell also scored in both throws.
On Friday, Faut boosted his discus PR to 50.90 meters, or 167 feet. Entering the week, he ranked among the state's top 10 throwers in both discus and shot put.
Headed to throw at South Alabama, he's a student of the craft. Personal records motivate him, Faut said, but he's mainly driven to perfect technique.
"It's mechanics," Faut said.
"Everybody has footwork techniques that they need to work on, or they need to do something with their off hand, or with their hips. So I try and get everything that goes into a good throw down before I throw so I can get it through."
Palatine's Dominik Ball won three events against stiff Glenbrook competition. Ball edged Glenbrook South's Nathan Shapiro in the 100, topped twin brother Noah Shapiro in the 200 and out-leaped Schaefer and Glenbrook North's Aiden Degabli in long jump.
Ball's seed time in the 200, 23.14 seconds, came from the last time he ran the event -- seventh grade. With about 85 meters left, he felt Noah Shapiro coming up on his shoulder, but held off the Titans junior to win in 22.45 to Shapiro's 22.60.
"I saw him," Ball said, "but I've got a final kick, and I definitely put that on."
Glenbrook South got blanked only in the two long individual runs, the 3,200 and 1,600. The former was mainly a three-man race between familiar foes Spencer Werner of Loyola, Charlie Siebert of New Trier and Matt Coyle of Maine South.
Glenbrook North's Nick Ihrke, the sole sub-10:00 two-miler in coach Sean Brandt's tenure, had to bow out midway through the 3,200 when heat and humidity triggered his asthma.
"He's the toughest worker on the team, and this whole team knows he wouldn't pull himself out unless he really had to. And I know he's as disappointed as anyone," said Brandt, who saw senior Graham Paterson run a second-place 50.53 in the 400 and return with a similar split in the Spartans' fifth-place 1,600 relay.
About a quarter way through the 3,200, Werner bumped the pace and overtook Siebert for the lead. Coyle then passed Siebert, but the New Trier standout took that spot right back. With about 270 meters left, Siebert once more challenged Werner. The Loyola junior, who had been working on finishing, closed strong to win in 9 minutes, 17.87 seconds.
"I was just trying to hit my splits, and I knew that in this wind and the heat it was doable," Werner said. "I wanted to be under 9:20, and I was. It was a good race, but it was tough. It's supposed to be tough."