Boys track and field: Neuqua Valley comes alive at DVC championship
Neuqua Valley was in a peculiar position, particularly as the defending Class 3A boys track and field state champions.
For much of the spring, however, the Wildcats had been conspicuous at not generating the acclaim normally granted to such a traditionally potent program.
But that all changed Friday night at Naperville Central as the Wildcats received contributions from an assortment of sources to capture the DuPage Valley Conference championship with 170 points.
Naperville Central was runner-up with 135 points, followed by Waubonsie Valley (126), Naperville North (115), Metea Valley (68) and DeKalb (55).
All six programs had champions of a high-state-level caliber.
"We emphasize to (our athletes) that coaches do not win trophies," Neuqua Valley coach Mike Kennedy said. "We have some big jobs to do -- and they did them. We perform at the right time."
"I did it for (my teammates)," Neuqua Valley metric-half-miler Connor Boehm said after he nipped three runners to win the 800-meter run in one minute, 59.92 seconds.
The Wildcats' Patrick Conniff lost the 100 dash to Naperville North senior by one-hundredth of a second with his 11.01 posting.
Conniff was also runner-up to the Huskies' Nate Jacobs in the 200 dash.
But his points were nevertheless invaluable to the Wildcats defending their league title.
"We focus on the now and come out and perform," Conniff said. "No matter if we are seeded last or first, we come in like we are champs."
James Ammenhauser lived up to the family legacy in the triple jump.
The Neuqua Valley junior, whose older sister Riley won three consecutive state titles in the event, emerged as the league champion with his 44 foot, 5.25 inch effort.
"I want to break the school record," Ammenhauser said. "It's 46-5."
Naperville Central received back-to-back championship efforts from Foster Shelbert and Graham McAninch in the 400 dash (49.1) and 300 hurdles (39.64).
Shelbert bettered Neuqua Valley reigning all-stater Max Mitchell.
"Last year at DVC he beat me by four seconds," Shelbert said. "I just knew I had him tonight."
McAninch won his title after falling short against Metea Valley twin-hurdles all-stater Jalen Johnson, who blazed to a 14.72, in the 110 highs.
Naperville Central returning discus all-stater Maverick Ohle won his specialty event with an effort just shy of 168 feet.
The Redhawks' Chris Fleschut soared 14-2.75 to claim the pole vault.
Waubonsie Valley won three field events as Wyatt Otto and Jaisnav Rajesh cleared 6-6 and 6-5, respectively, to sweep the high jump.
"I have been high jumping since seventh grade," said Otto, a senior. "I had to clear my head."
The Warriors' Brody Squires (22-11.75) and Sam Mika (55-7.5) were victorious in the long jump and shot put.