Boys track and field: West Aurora's Donatlan wants state high jump record

 
By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 5/24/2018 1:18 PM
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  • West Aurora's Camron Donatlan, the defending state high jump champion, is poised to challenge the state record this weekend at the state finals in Charleston.

      West Aurora's Camron Donatlan, the defending state high jump champion, is poised to challenge the state record this weekend at the state finals in Charleston. Rick West | Staff Photographer

Camron Donatlan will don a West Aurora uniform for the final time this weekend at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston at the boys track and field state finals.

"I can't think of anyone else who has excelled in three sports like he has," said West Aurora legendary broadcaster Neal Ormond, who has covered the school since 1964, on Donatlan.

Last year at O'Brien Stadium, Donatlan established a career-best 7-foot clearance in the high jump to defend his Class 3A state championship in the event.

With one day of practice following the Blackhawks' supersectional loss to eventual Class 4A boys basketball champion Belleville West, Donatlan won the Upstate Eight indoor conference championship at 6-10.

Donatlan, who will continue his career at Wyoming next fall in both football and track, has a single-minded purpose for his final prep appearance.

"I am concerned with breaking the state record," Donatlan said. "What is going to be on my mind is being the best that I can."

Tom Smith (Heyworth) set the state benchmark in the high jump in 1985 by clearing 7-3.5.

"I have to be focused," Donatlan said of his quest. "I I have to keep doing what I have been doing all year."

The Blackhawks have finished no worse than fifth the last two seasons at the state finals behind their superlative field-event athletes.

West Aurora athletes (Donatlan, DaVion Cross and Chris Walker) have stood atop the Class 3A podium in all three jumping events the last three years.

At the St. Charles North sectional last week, Donatlan (high jump), Kevin Sylvester (long jump) and Moshe Rogers (triple jump) continued the trend with championships.

"(Sylvester) made me more motivated with what he hit (23-1)," said Donatlan, who also qualified in the event. "I have to get a state medal for long. That's what I have been focusing on a lot."

In Class 2A last year, Iowa-bound Marmion senior Seth Groom was runner-up in all three jumping events for the Cadets.

Groom is primed for another big weekend after sweeping the three events in leading Marmion to a 96-91 Genoa-Kingston sectional championship win over Dixon.

"(Groom) went to state as a sophomore, produced as a junior, now let's win the (darn) thing," Marmion coach Dan Thorpe said. "He's a ridiculous competitor."

Like Donatlan in the Class 3A high jump, Groom is the No. 1 seed in the triple jump (46-8.25).

"For the most part I am the oldest jumper there," said Groom, who also is seeded third in the long jump (22-4). "Everyone wants the same goal -- to win. The biggest difficulty (for the preliminaries) is trying to hit a big jump in the long and triple early. Then I won't have to take all my jumps. At high jump, I have no choice but to keep on jumping."

After sweeping the two throws at the St. Charles North sectional, Kaneland senior Clayton Hannula (the third seed in the shot put and No. 4 in discus) makes his Class 3A state debut.

"The guys are ready to compete," Kaneland coach Andy Drendel said.

Batavia hurdler Sam Conger also looks for state hardware in the 110-meter highs and 300-meter intermediates as the third and seventh seed, respectively, in Class 3A.

"(Conger) has had a really good career," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "We have a huge contingent going down. (State is) a season-long award for excellence. We have battled through a lot of adversity."

South Elgin, in the 3A 400 relay, and Burlington Central in the 2A 1,600 relay, look to continue their success.

Jake Todd, Matt Jacobson, Jerlon Teems and Desmond Lockett are ranked sixth for the Storm (42.08 seconds).

"We just have to do what we have been doing," South Elgin coach Anthony LaRue said. "No magic. They have got the ability."

Connor Wagner, Michael Kalusa, Jacob Teets and Adam Kries ran the third-fastest sectional time (3:23.43) for Central in the final event.

"We think they can certainly contend for a state championship," Central coach Mike Schmidt said.

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