Great day for the Titan boys at their own track and field sectional
Another year, another great night of Glenbrook South boys sectional track and field.
At their own Class 3A sectional at John Davis Stadium on May 19, the Titans qualified eight individuals and two relays into this weekend's Illinois High School Association state finals.
After not winning a boys track sectional until 2021, last Thursday Glenbrook South won its second straight, compiling 108 points to Prospect's 91 and ahead of New Trier (74), Evanston (58), Loyola (44) and 11 others.
Coach Kurt Hasenstein's 2021 team, fifth in Class 3A, had advanced eight positions to the state meet. This year's squad will miss the likes of Ryan Faut, who scored big in Charleston by winning discus and placing sixth in shot put.
Then again ...
"Nathan Shapiro's day today was one of the greatest days a Glenbrook South track and field athlete has ever had, honestly," Hasenstein said May 19, right before receiving the sectional championship plaque from Glenbrook South athletic director Tom Mietus.
"And it's not singling him out -- but it is. It was an unbelievable performance. We had a lot of fun," Hasenstein said.
Shapiro snapped a 33-year-old Davis Stadium record in long jump, flying 24 feet, 4 inches, or 7.42 meters, the longest mark in Illinois this year.
He ran the 100-meter dash in 10.59 seconds, for a day the state's fastest time until it was equaled May 20 at 2A Plano and eclipsed by two boys at 3A St. Charles North. That's possibly another stadium record, depending on how Hasenstein weighs Shapiro's fully automated time against two existing 10.4-second hand-timed efforts.
Shapiro also broke 39 seconds to again qualify in the 300 hurdles, in which he placed fourth in 3A last year. He also ran on the Titans' qualifying 400 relay with Ben Freidinger, Thomas Zambianchi and twin brother Noah Shapiro.
"I'm ecstatic. Four great events. I clearly had a great day, so many PRs (personal records). All four events. Just really happy," said Nathan Shapiro, set to run for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"Just a little bit nervous coming into here, trying to qualify in four events, but I'm glad I got it done."
Brian Hiltebrand fought off a challenge by New Trier's Patrick Jamieson to win the 800 at 1 minute, 58.04 seconds; in 2021 Hiltebrand placed fifth in Class 3A in the 800. The Creighton-bound senior returned to anchor the Titans' qualifying 1600 relay, with juniors Ryan Schaefer and Mateus Alkhas and gutty senior Michael Jerva.
Schaefer may be the wild card the Titans need to accumulate points in Charleston. He also qualified in the 300 hurdles and in long jump, soaring 6.85 meters, or 22-5, on his last attempt in finals.
"My buddies over at Lake Forest got a clap going and I just said, 'Now or never.' I popped a jump and now we're going," Schaefer said.
Then there was Noah Shapiro, whose lean at the wire in the 200 turned into a skin-scraping, headlong sprawl across the line. Once at rest he sat up, held up two fingers, and he was right -- second-place among five state qualifiers at 22.05 seconds. It was his second straight 200-meter qualification.
"That was the most fun I've had in a 200 race. That was awesome," said Noah, headed for Washington University's quality track program in St. Louis.
Senior Elie Nassif's pole vault qualification gave Glenbrook South a nice surprise, as well.
New Trier's Nick Falk, reining Gatorade Illinois cross country runner of the year, ran to an easy 3200-meter win in 9:19.06, qualifying along with teammate George Cahill and Maine South's Luca Arcuri.
Falk looked good for the 1600-meter win until Loyola senior Aidan Simon had other ideas with about 250 remaining, surging past Falk for the victory in 4:17.98. Nonetheless, both Falk and the improved Cahill each again qualified.
Trevians sprinter Jack Brewer also made it down in that fast 200 heat at 22.20 seconds.
Falk, headed for Duke, has run Illinois' fastest 3200 time this year, 8:53.44 at the Arcadia invite in California. He hopes to make amends for an eighth-place finish downstate in 2021, running while "a bit sick," he said.
"I definitely want to get revenge in that two mile from last year. I had the top time coming in and I was definitely pretty sad after that performance. This is redemption," he said.
"I'm just excited. I've got my teammate, George, doubling with me, too, so that's pretty exciting."
Along with Simon, Loyola's Max Makowski placed second in discus to qualify. Fellow Ramblers senior Clinton Ofosu saved his best for last in triple jump, punching his ticket to Charleston on his last try in finals, a first-place 13.67 meters, or 44 feet, 10¼ inches, just off Loyola's record.
Ofosu, who will compete at Illinois State, was the defending sectional champion. Coming off a dislocated patella this football season, he's back at 100% and ready to exceed last year's 17th-place state finish.
"Right now the plan is just to go and do better than that. Put all my effort and everything in it," Ofosu said.
"The experience, I'm already used to it, used to the environment and everything. Now all I've got to do is just focus on my training and put it out there."
Glenbrook North sophomore John Ihrke hung right with the Titans' Hiltebrand -- "an inspirational runner," Ihrke said -- through the first half of the 800 before falling back to fifth.
Ihrke hopes he and returning Spartans such as junior Makota Majoros -- seeded 11th in the 400, he finished ninth -- can break through to the state level in 2023.
"I'm a better runner, a better racer, a smarter racer. It feels good to race smart and to win," Ihrke said after leading off the Spartans' 1600 relay for Brian Pekala, Michael Abrams and Majoros.
"I hope I can keep that going next year and the year after. Hopefully I can finally get downstate."