Boys track and field: Neuqua Valley is dynamite on track
Max Mitchell had the ultimate hard-earned pleasure Saturday afternoon.
The anchor leg in the 1,600-meter relay for Neuqua Valley, Mitchell -- with Nicolas Dovalovsky earning the boys track and field equivalent of a best-supporting actor role moments earlier -- secured the DuPage Valley Conference championship with grace.
When Mitchell crossed the finish line, not only was it the fourth league title for the Wildcats' junior but it also marked an equal number of relay championships for the storied power.
Neuqua Valley claimed nine of the 14 track titles at Metea Valley in Aurora to earn a 137-123.5 victory over Naperville North.
Naperville Central was third with 94.5 points, followed by Waubonsie Valley (91), DeKalb (64) and Metea Valley (44).
"I think it was very important for us to win all four relays," said Mitchell, a junior who also authored double-individual gold medals in the 200 and 400 dashes in respective times of 21.87 and 49.77 seconds. "I think we're going to do really great things for the four-by-four (1,600)."
Earlier on the hot, sun-splashed afternoon, Kevin Saju and Patrick Conniff were members of the Wildcats' unvanquished sprint-relay quartets at 400 and 800 meters.
Dovalovsky, meanwhile, certainly justified his status as a Big Ten-bound athlete by winning the open 1,600 run after beginning his day with another impressive coronation in the 3,200.
Highly regarded Naperville distance runners Tommy Peltzer (North) and Arthur Graham were left in his wake in the two longest races.
"I love the competition and whatever I can do to help the team win," said the Illinois-bound Dovalovsky, who seized the lead over Peltzer at the gun lap in the metric mile in cruising to his second open title in 4:17.31. "I like to get into my offense. I know the coaches are worried about it, but I love the heat."
Neuqua Valley senior Austin Burke added the open 800 for the Wildcats, and Goutham Baskaran pushed the Wildcats' victory total to double digits with his triumph in the pole vault.
Metea Valley hurdler Jalen Johnson (39.51-39.53) outlasted Waubonsie Valley counterpart Sean Kirkwood in the 300 intermediate variety after doing likewise in the 110 highs.
"I have run with Sean since middle school," Johnson said. "I know the type of athlete he is. I am satisfied with (the 300s) and am pretty sure it is a school record."
"He's always been a great runner," Kirkwood said of Johnson.
Naperville Central freshman Maverick Ohle stole the field-event headlines by launching the discus 157 feet-7 inches.
"We knew from a long time ago he was a guy who was itching to get into the ring," Naperville Central throws coach Tony Colletti said of Ohle. "To him, the fact he is a freshman is a minor detail."