Boys track and field: A championship weekend for Grant, Thormo
CHARLESTON -- Two weeks ago, Grant senior Jason Thormo was dealing with his second injury of the track season, a sprained ankle suffered playing soccer in gym class.
The defending Class 3A champion in the 400 meters, who had a hamstring injury two weeks before hurting his ankle, was worried.
"I got really nervous," Thormo said. "I was kind of afraid, (thinking), 'I don't know if I'll come back from this. I really messed myself up.' "
Not to worry, though. Thormo was back in vintage form during Saturday's state finals at Eastern Illinois' O'Brien Field. First he repeated as 400 champ with a time of 47.97 seconds.
Then he took the baton on the anchor leg of the 1,600 relay and used a ferocious kick to give the Bulldogs the first relay state title in program history. The team of Michael Smith, Alex Alva, Justin Splitt and Thormo finished in 3:19.44.
Thormo's performance didn't surprise Splitt.
"It's crazy," Splitt said. "I remember handing him the baton in third (place) and I was not worried. I knew he was going to catch (the front-runner). As soon as I saw at the 200 he was in first, I knew it was over.
"That is Jason being Jason."
Thormo also anchored the Bulldogs to sixth place in the 400 relay, one of the six races he ran on a hot, humid weekend.
"I slept like a baby (Friday) night," Thormo said, "And I've been chugging Pedialytes. Woke up a little nervous about how tired I was. Then I got (to the track) and I was the Energizer bunny, 'let's go, let's go, let's go.' "
Now Thormo heads off to run for the University of Illinois. Splitt, among others, will try to carry on his legacy.
"I just want to be the athlete that everyone looks up to," said Splitt, who added a sixth in the 800 (1:56.85) as Grant finished fourth with 28 points.
"Everyone at Grant knows who Jason Thormo is. I just want to be that kid."
Also making a name for himself was Antioch junior Charlie Smith, who finished second in the 3A 1,600 at 4:18.27.
"Last year, I was like 24th (at state)," Smith said. "I'm just blessed to be able to run."
Smith credits much of his success to late Antioch assistant cross country coach John LaPointe, who died last August. "The most inspirational guy I ever met," Smith said. "There's no way I'd be here without him."
Zach Grindley cleared 6 feet, 5 inches to take third in the high jump and Chase Becker was eighth in the discus (172-3) to help Antioch tie for 12th with 17 points,
Warren earned the best relay finish in program history as its 3,200 team took fourth in 7:51.02.
"I can't be disappointed with the result," anchor runner Bryan Holland said. "Our execution was perfect throughout the weekend."
Also earning medals in 3A were Mundelein's 3,200 relay team, which was sixth, and Stevenson's Naema Njongmeta, who took ninth in the discus.
Carmel's Sam Wahlers finished ninth in the 2A pole vault.