Scouting Fox boys track and field

  • Nicholas Fortino is hoping to help Batavia compete for the Class 3A boys track and field state title this spring.

      Nicholas Fortino is hoping to help Batavia compete for the Class 3A boys track and field state title this spring. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Batavia's Jalen Buckley competes in the triple jump event during the Class 3A Batavia Boys Track and Field Sectional on Thursday, June 10, 2021.

    Batavia's Jalen Buckley competes in the triple jump event during the Class 3A Batavia Boys Track and Field Sectional on Thursday, June 10, 2021.

By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 3/31/2022 4:57 PM

Jonah Fallon was as succinct with his thoughts as his athleticism was apparent after he crossed the finish line of the 400-meter dash at the DuKane Conference boys indoor track and field championship earlier this month.

"We've got our eyes on being state champs," the Batavia senior said after breaking the indoor league record with a dazzling time of 49.94 seconds.


With the notable exception of standout long- and triple-jumper Jalen Buckley, Batavia athletes were conspicuously absent from the Top Times Invitational last weekend in Bloomington.

But the Bulldogs have already served collective notice of their intent this spring when the outdoor season commences in coming days: Memorial Day weekend in Charleston is on their minds.

Batavia, seventh last year at the truncated Class 3A state finals at Eastern Illinois University, enters the outdoor season ranked behind only Minooka, the reigning state runner-up, by

"I think this team can be No. 1 in the state and overtake Minooka," Batavia sprinter Jacob Hohmann said.

"Minooka is our biggest rival right now," said fellow senior Scot Parker.

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Hohmann and Parker are returning members of the Bulldogs' defending state-championship 400 relay; Fallon was not only fourth in the open 400 but also played the central role in Batavia placing second in the 1,600 relay.

Yet Dennis Piron also boasts an impressive backing array of additional sprinters, middle-distance and distance runners; top-fight hurdlers round out the Batavia track crew, and the six field events feature a similar depth-and-balance dynamic.

"I think we have fantastic depth in the 200 and 400," said Piron, the Bulldogs' veteran coach. "Going outdoors, we're going to get even stronger. The three events we are adding (the 400 relay, 300 intermediate hurdles and discus) don't hurt us; they really help us out a lot."

"I think we are going to be able to score in at least three to four field events and at least five sprints," Hohmann said of the Bulldogs' intended state haul. "We're almost like a family as a team. Our depth is really nice."


Plainfield North captured the Top Times' metric-mile relay in 3:29.78 last Saturday, but the Bulldogs' quartet of Parker, Hohmann, Quintin Lowe and Fallon were nearly six seconds faster two nights earlier in their final indoor appearance.

"(Fallon) is pulling crazy times right now," Hohmann said.

""We are hungry and we're going to keep working all outdoor season," Fallon said.

In addition to his triumvirate of returning all-state sprinters, Piron also has such indoor-conference-sprint-relay alternatives as Vincie Solano, Andrew Gerke, Tyler Jansey and Jacob Baxter to complement his three relay quartets between 400 and 1,600 meters.

"I think it's the job of those athletes to make my job hard," Piron said of determining the sprint-relays' pecking order for the state series. "They are quietly having those conversations already. We have great versatility in the long sprints."

"It's going to be insane outdoors," Parker predicted. "We are already rocking really good times."

Buckley was bested only by league rival Desmond Horton of Lake Park in his final outdoor tuneup in the triple jump in Bloomington.

Nicholas Fortino is another wild-card in the Bulldogs' quest for their first team state hardware.

The pole-vault specialist is committed to improving upon his ninth-place finish from last spring.

The Bulldogs will begin their quest for a top-three state finish with their annual home invitational, the Les Hodge, on April 8.

"We have a chance to get a trophy, for sure," Fallon said.

"It's not a bad thing to talk about," Piron said of the possibility. "But you can't think about any of that kind of stuff until you get to May."

Fox boys track scouting report

Top teams: Batavia, Burlington Central, South Elgin, St. Charles North, Huntley, Hampshire.

Top athletes: Niraj Abraham, Marmion, sr., distance; Yusuf Baig, Burlington Central, sr., distance; Lucas Bass, Kaneland, sr., sprints, jumps; Daijuhn Boyd, Larkin, sr., sprints, jumps; Jalen Buckley, Batavia, sr., sprints, jumps; Isaiah Duffy, Bartlett, sr., sprints; Otis Duncan, St. Charles North, sr., sprints; Carter Eid, Bartlett, sr., distance; Josh Evans, St. Charles East, jr., sprints; Jonah Fallon, Batavia, sr., sprints; Tyron Ferguson, Aurora Christian, sr., sprints, jumps; Nicholas Fortino, Batavia, sr., pole vault; Paolo Gennarelli, St. Charles North, sr., throws; Evan Gronewold, Huntley, sr., sprints, jumps; Patrick Hilby, Aurora Central Catholic, so., sprints, middle distance; Tyler Hoeft, Marmion, sr., pole vault; Jacob Hohmann, Batavia, sr., sprints; McKale Hood, Huntley, jr., sprints, jumps; Campbell Hughes, St. Charles North, sr., sprints; Jordan Jones, South Elgin, sr., sprints, hurdles, jumps; Henry Kennedy, Dundee-Crown, jr., sprints; Ryan Kries, Burlington Central, so., distance; Seth Kunio, West Aurora, sr., sprints, middle distance; Dylan Lainez, South Elgin, sr., distance; Cannon Lambert, Harvest Christian, sr., sprints, middle distance; Alekzander Ledezma, Dundee-Crown, sr., sprints; Nathan Lehman, Geneva, sr., middle distance, distance; Quintin Lowe, Batavia, jr., sprints, middle distance; Ben Ludlum, Jacobs, sr., sprints; Clem McCullough II, Elgin, sr., sprints, jumps, pole vault; Nolan Milas, Burlington Central, jr. sprints, jumps; Scot Parker, Batavia, sr., sprints; Zach Petko, Cary-Grove, sr., throws; Elijah Pflipsen. Kaneland, sr., throws; Dylan Pratt, Geneva, sr., sprints; Ty Rogers, West Aurora, sr., sprints, jumps; Jack Rummell, Hampshire, sr., sprints, jumps; Konrad Sacha, South Elgin, sr., sprints; Talon Sargent, Huntley, so., sprints; Zac Schmidt, Burlington Central, sr., sprints, middle distance; Vincie Solano, Batavia, sr., sprints; Jamarion Stubbs, Larkin, sr., sprints, hurdles; Hayden Swim, Huntley, sr., throws; Bryce Thomas, St. Charles North, jr., sprints, middle distance; Nathan VanWitzenburg, Crystal Lake South, jr. sprints, jumps; Jaheim Vincent, Larkin, so., sprints, jumps; Micah Wilson, St. Charles East, sr., distance; Daniel Winkleman, Harvest Christian, jr., middle distance, distance; Devin Yeats, Hampshire, sr., sprints; Jacob Zastrow, Huntley, jr., sprints.

Scouting report: Micah Wilson is on a mission to leave no questions unanswered regarding extreme-distance-running supremacy in Illinois.

Otis Duncan and Paolo Gennarelli are eager to demonstrate West Point is far more than a military academy.

Seth Gronewold is convinced, like his coach, that the boys outdoor track and field season vastly supersedes its indoor counterpart.

Konrad Sacha and Jamarion Stubbs have the historic legacy of the Upstate Eight Conference to uphold.

For the 14 Fox Valley Class 3A programs, the upcoming outdoor track season promises to abound in local excellence.

In the fall of 2019, Wilson played an instrumental role in the St. Charles East cross-country championship a sophomore.

Wilson had an electrifying year in 2021 -- after the global pandemic essentially brought 2020 to its athletic knees -- as the Wisconsin recruit not only captured the Class 3A 3,200-meter run in Charleston but later added an individual cross country championship with a dominant effort in Peoria last fall.

"I couldn't feel any more confident," Wilson said of his final semester of prep competition in the aftermath of sweeping the 1,600 and 3,200 runs at the DuKane Conference indoor championships earlier this month. "Everything is just clicking. I can do anything I put my mind to. I want to definitely defend my championship in the 3,200 run."

Duncan and Gennarelli, meanwhile, have also placed their names in elite categories following the indoor season as the twin engines for St. Charles North.

Duncan bested Wheaton Warrenville South senior Reece Young, third and fifth, respectively, in the 200 and 100 dashes last spring in Charleston, for league supremacy in the DuKane Conference at 55 and 200 meters.

"Indoor is a great preseason," Duncan said. "It's a great measurement of what happens next, but at the end of the day, though, outdoor is a totally different ballgame. I definitely feel I will be in the picture (among elite sprinters at the state level). There are a lot of great athletes out there. I just have to make sure I do my part."

Gennarelli, who is also committed to play football at West Point, is hovering around a significant milestone

Third in the shot put last June, Gennarelli was down to his last bullet at indoor conference before unleashing a personal-best throw of 59 feet, 11 inches to edge Lake Park senior Cooper Cerese by two inches.

"I think it's going to be fun at state," said Gennarelli, who also figures to contend in the discus. "I just want to put some pressure on those guys. We have a bunch of dudes who are going to be throwing over 60 (feet). Since the spin is coming around in the shot this year, the transition in that will help my throws in the discus."

Gronewold, a Huntley senior, and Sacha, in his final season at South Elgin, have designs on denying Batavia state-leader Jonah Fallon in the 400 dash.

Gronewold was state runner-up last year for the Raiders; Sacha earned the first Top Times individual championship in Storm history last week with his time of 50.32, 38 one-hundredths behind the Fallon time.

"I don't put much emphasis on the indoor season," Huntley coach Chris Maxedon said of Gronewold seeing limited action. "He told me once we got back from Spring Break that he would be ready to roll."

"(Sacha) is probably one of the most versatile guys we have," South Elgin coach Anthony LaRue said. "He is primed and ready."

Stubbs was fifth in the 300 intermediate hurdles last spring for Larkin.

"I want (Stubbs) to be in the top three," Larkin coach Bob Borczak said. "If we do so, he would be only the second Royal to medal twice at state."

In Class 2A, Burlington Central senior Zac Schmidt is a force at 400 and 800 meters for the Rockets, who were fifth in state last year.

Schmidt was runner-up in the 400, the Rockets' 1,600 and 3,200 relays -- with Schmidt as their primary catalyst -- were second and fourth.

Yusuf Baig won the 3,200 run in Bloomington for Central over the weekend.

"We have pretty much a complete team," said Central coach Mike Schmidt, whose squad missed a state trophy by two points last June. "I think Zac is only going to get better. I think he is right up there in the open four. Our four-by-eight is ranked No. 1 in the state. (Baig) is one of the best distance runners in the state."

Kaneland and Marmion have both been reclassified to 2A by the IHSA.

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