Boys track and field: Olenek, Jones jumping right in at state meet
CHARLESTON -- It's track and field, not science fiction, but they are distorting time and space.
Though a long jumper all four years at St. Edward, Zach Olenek has been triple jumping less than two weeks.
Timothy Christian's Danardo Jones is in his first year in track and field, that "year" essentially three months since basketball is his main sport. And due to work conflicts the senior has missed more meets than he's made.
Still, after Thursday's Class 1A preliminaries of the 125th boys track state finals at Eastern Illinois University, Olenek is seeded first in triple jump entering Saturday's finals with Jones seeded third.
"It just felt so much more like I was coasting through the air rather than individual jump movements. It all kind of flowed together," said Olenek, whose third attempt Thursday led the field at 46 feet, 1 inch. Not counting fouled attempts, including the Metro Suburban Red meet on May 10 he's recorded a total of six triple jumps.
Olenek also is tied at No. 3 in long jump at 22-2½. Marks in jumps carry over from preliminaries to finals.
"I always thought it'd be a hard transition technically from long jump to triple jump, but it wasn't too bad," said the Lewis University-bound Olenek, who drilled on videos of Olympians. "Also, I used to do gymnastics and the skill, the whole formation of triple jump, came from that. I'm pretty flexible."
Green Wave coach Mike Olenek, Zach's father, a former jumper at Providence Catholic and Benedictine University, thinks Zach's got more in the tank.
"This is all in the past week and a half. And now he's got the best jump in the state. And truthfully, he's not there," Mike Olenek said.
Timothy Christian's Jones wasn't always there, missing three meets this spring due to working at Chick-fil-A in Lombard on top of a hard commute from his home in Chicago.
At sectionals, however, his top triple jump of 45-3½ led all Class 1A jumpers by a foot and a half. Thursday at Eastern Illinois' O'Brien Field Jones improved on all three attempts to sit No. 3 entering finals at 44-1½.
"One of the theories I had was he was not going to understand the magnitude of the state meet as compared to the other meets. What I'm hoping is today was like a practice state meet and Saturday he'll have that under his belt," said Trojans coach John Vander Kamp.
"We want him to really reach down and see what he can accomplish on Saturday."
In pole vault, Westmont returning state qualifier Gavin Carr set a new school record and personal best at 13-6, among 15 Class 1A finalists.
Harvest Christian's 3,200-meter relay of Sam Morris, Carson Welsh, Cannon Lambert and Mathew Olech advanced to Saturday, running the seventh-fastest time at 8 minutes, 15.85 seconds.