Boys track and field: Marmion wins first state title
CHARLESTON -- Seth Groom was in a commanding position entering the final day of the Class 2A boys track and field state finals on Saturday.
"I kind of showed up not expecting to jump at all (in the long and triple jumps)," Groom said.
The Marmion senior, bound for Iowa, elected to take one jump apiece in the two events.
Groom had the luxury after his Friday preliminary marks left him in first place by a considerable margin entering Saturday.
The two marks held as Groom captured the triple and long jumps with respective distances of 48-3.5 inches and 23-5.
Groom then battled Clinton senior Austin Roach in the high jump before settling for a second straight runner-up finish in the event at 6-9.
But Groom saved his most important contribution to Marmion in his lone running event: the 200-meter dash.
"My coach (Dan Thorpe) said we needed 5 points," Groom said.
Groom was sixth in the event, but the 4 points he earned was truly the difference in the Cadets' first state championship.
Marmion upended Mahomet-Seymour 44-40 Saturday at Eastern Illinois University to win its second state championship in school history; the Cadets' swim team won the 2000 IHSA title.
"I would say the triple jump (was the most satisfying championship)," Groom said. "I never expected to jump 48- (plus feet). It was more than a foot PR."
Groom was personally responsible for 32 of the Cadets' 44 points, but Michael Ronzone, headed to Kansas, anchored the Marmion 3,200 relay to fifth place and later duplicated the result in the 1,600.
"I think when we came in we knew we were a trophy team," Ronzone said. "I don't think winning (state) would have been something we were surprised with. Seth obviously had a great day in the jumps."
"Ronzone had to come through in the mile," Thorpe said.
Sean Galle earned the Cadets' final points with his eighth-place finish in the 3,200 run.
In Class 3A, Camron Donatlan was poised for the most memorable of finals weekends.
The West Aurora superstar supplanted Neuqua Valley senior Ife Oketona to win his third career state championship, this time in the long jump with at 24-1.75.
But Donatlan -- seeking to join Lockport shot putter John Meyer and Bloomington pole vaulter Zach Bradford as the first field-event champion to win three straight largest-class titles since 1962 -- had his bid in the high jump fall short.
"I'm not going to make any excuses," said Donatlan, who finished fourth after bowing out at 6-8. "I wanted to be a three-time high jump state champ. I had a bad day at the high jump. The first (long jump) felt really good. I knew I was going to PR."
The Blackhawks' Kevin Sylvester was sixth in the long jump as West Aurora (20 points) had a third straight top-10 finish in Class 3A with its tie for seventh.
In the Class 3A 110 high hurdles, Batavia senior Sam Conger fulfilled a dream.
Conger, who later placed in the 300 hurdles as well, exploded over the final two barriers to ease to the state championship in the highs at 14.02 seconds.
"I went out really hard and had the confidence," Conger said. "I really felt it. This feels even better than I thought (it would). I just wanted to do the best I could."
In the Class 3A throws, Kaneland senior Clayton Hannula was third in the shot put (58-4) and fifth in the discus (168-1).
Huntley senior Ben LItwin one-upped Hannula to finish fourth in the discus at 171-7.
Cary-Grove throwers Andrew Stokes and Jason Petko were seventh each in the shot put and discus.
"I competed the way I should have, whatever I got I was pretty satisfied with," Hannula said.
"This is my first time qualifying," Litwin said. "It was a great weekend."
Charlie Wade (St. Charles East) and the Dundee-Crown 3,200 relay team were third in their respective finals.
The Burlington Central 1,600 relay team was runner-up in Class 2A behind two-event all-stater Adam Kries.
"I really wanted it," the Central junior said. "We got third last year (in the 1,600 relay). I'm really glad to have (runner-up) this year."