Boys track and field: Hersey's Methner shooting for a 'double crown' at state
The "trifecta" of high school distance running is highly sought after, but rarely accomplished.
Soren Knudsen of Minooka did the nearly impossible two years ago when he won the Class 3A state cross country title (14:02) in the fall of 2016 and then followed that up by winning both the 3,200-meter run (9:03.41) and the 1,600-meter run (4:10.51) in the Class 3A state meet in the spring of 2017.
Talk about a dominating (long distance) run over just one school year.
"That's the triple crown," Hersey long distance star Josh Methner said. "It doesn't happen often and that's why it's so awesome."
Methner would be happy for a "double crown," so to speak.
The junior has put himself in position to win the two longest races in IHSA long distance running in a single school year as he competes this weekend in the IHSA state boys track and field meet at Eastern Illinois University in the 3,200. Methner already won the Class 3A state cross country championship (14:11) in the fall.
Although also rare, a "double crown" happened just last school year as Danny Kilrea of Lyons won both the Class 3A state cross country title (14:08) and the 3,200-meter run (9:02.77).
"That would be awesome," Methner said of following in Kilrea's footsteps. "I'm just hoping to do my best. I'm feeling fresh and confident and my goal is to keep the pressure on the entire (race)."
Methner, who will be joined at the state meet by Hersey's 4x800 meter relay team along with more than 30 other athletes across the Northwest suburbs, has been nursing some nagging leg injuries this season but has made rest a priority over the last few weeks. He says he is ready to go, and ready to make a big jump from his performance at state last year as a sophomore when he finished fourth in the 3,200.
Of the three runners who finished ahead of Methner last year, one graduated (Kilrea), one moved out of state and the other is senior Tommy Brady of Maine South.
Brady, who finished third last year in the 3,200-meter run at state with a 9:06.13, edged Methner (9:06.88) by just .75 seconds. The two have met up in races for years and are very familiar with each other.
Methner's state-qualifying 3,200-meter run time this year (9:17.70) bested Brady's time (9:17.78) by .08 seconds.
They will be chasing Jack Roberts of Downers Grove North, who clocked a qualifying time of 9:11.54 to lead the field.
"We see each other a lot," Methner said of Brady. "We always want to beat each other. He's fun to race with and it's definitely good to have a rival like that, someone to push you. I think it's had a good effect on both of us."
Being pushed early in his career also benefited Methner.
He was brought up to varsity about halfway through his freshman year, but was intimidated at first. At 5-foot-4 and about 120 pounds, Methner doubted his physical prowess.
"I was scared to work out with the varsity kids. They were taller and bigger and intimidating," said Methner, who is about 5-foot-8 now. "But they helped me along the way and my coaches were always encouraging me and telling me that I was capable of competing at that level."
He fits in fine now
At one time, Joe Boyer of Rolling Meadows wondered about how he would fit in with the track team as well. He had never done track before getting to high school.
A senior now, Boyer is making his state track debut this weekend and he is among an exclusive list of athletes competing at the boys state track meet in multiple events.
Boyer, Rolling Meadows' school record-holder in the indoor shot put, the outdoor shot put and the discus, will arrive at Eastern Illinois with the top qualifying distance in the shot put with an even 62 feet. He will also be competing in the discus after throwing a 174-10 to qualify.
"It's been a lot of hard work put into this," Boyer said. "We've been going light this week to try to be fresh. We want to be ready. It would be incredible to win state."
Boyer's personal best in shot put is a 62 feet, 1 inch but he says it might take a 64-foot or 65-foot throw for a state championship.
"I felt like I could have gone higher at the sectional meet," Boyer said. "I've thrown longer in practice, but I've scratched some of them. I think a 64 or 65 is definitely possible if everything goes right."
Boyer is also optimistic about his performance in discus. He raised his personal best an entire 10 feet in the sectional meet last week, tossing a 174-10 to qualify. However, the top qualifying distance of 193-9 by Jordan Johnson of Quincy will be tough to chase.
"I'm really happy about my (sectional) throw in discus," Boyer said. "It was really big to set my PR by 10 feet and to also set the school record. I feel really good about that."
Besides Boyer, John Moellenkamp of Prospect is another Northwest suburban athlete competing in multiple events at state (long jump, 21-4 ½ qualifying and the 200-meter dash, 27.43 qualifying).
Ryan Dykes of Barrington will compete in the long jump (21-3½) and the high jump (6-1) while Tim Szylak of Rolling Meadows (14.96, 39.62) and Justin King (15.44 and 40.26) of Fremd will both compete in the 110 high hurdles and the 300-meter intermediate hurdles, respectively.
Andrew Diversey of Prospect will compete in the pole vault (14-1) and the triple jump (43-2).
And, the Knight;' Charley Smith will run the 100-meter dash (10.98) and the 200-meter dash (22.44).
And, there's more
Other Northwest suburban athletes competing in the state meet are:
Ben Triffo of Maine South and Joey Gurskis of Barrington (long jump); Charlie Woods of Rolling Meadows, Jim Leahy of Fremd and Luke Fissinger of Fremd (pole vault); Brian Brown of Maine South, Damon Street of Maine West and Jonah Walton of Hoffman Estates (high jump); Peter Skoronski of Maine South, Sebastian Swistak of Prospect, Mark Di Iorio of Barrington and Luke Goodwin of Barrington (shot put); Xavier Andrews of Fremd (triple jump); Devaughn Tillman of Elk Grove (discus); Richie Jacobo of Palatine (3,200-meter run); Munkhorgil Tuvden of Fremd (110-high hurdles); Jorge Corona of Palatine and Patrick Sarad of Leyden (800 meters); Tuwayne Gunn of Maine East, Jon Peici of Buffalo Grove and Alan Wagner of Hoffman Estates (400 meters); Joey Kasch of Maine South (1,600 meters); EJ Darlington of Barrington (200 meter).
In relays, Prospect, Hersey and Barrington have qualified for the 4x800 meter; Prospect qualified for the 4x100 meter; Prospect, Maine South, Hoffman Estates and Barrington qualified for the 4x200 meter and Maine East and Fremd qualified for the 4x400 meter.