Boys track and field: Kaneland claims Interstate 8 crown

Andy Drendel's vision for the Class 2A boys track and field state tournament is simple - a big bus heading to Charleston filled with Kaneland athletes.

The Knights started down that path Friday at Sycamore by finishing with 184.67 points to win the Interstate 8 meet, holding off the host school.

"I want to get a yellow bus down. I don't want to drive the activity bus," said Drendel, Kaneland's boys track coach. "Let's get that yellow bus down there. We're going to have a whole lot of fun."

The Spartans finished second with 150.67 points, while Sandwich - which got a school-record run from its 4x800-meter relay team - took third with 63 points.

Sandwich coach Bolaji Adeoti said Dayton Beatty, Johnny Rizzuto, Max Cryer and Wyatt Miller have been at around 8:35 all year, but that has also been in colder conditions. With temperatures in the mid-80s on Friday at race time, the group got the weather it had been waiting for and clocked an 8:18.58, beating by about 4 seconds the old record set in 1994.

"We wanted to wait and see the good competition," Adeoti said. "And tonight was good competition. So we're set up for next week ready to go."

Sandwich's Dylan Young went 1.83 meters in the long jump to edge Kaneland's Nathan Rebcaz (1.78) in the high jump. He also won the 110 hurdles for the Indians, finishing in 16.95.

Rebcaz had a big day for the Knights, helping the 4x100 take first in 42.81 along with Chris Ruchaj, Lucas Bass and Sam Gagne. He won the long jump with a leap of 6.45 meters, just ahead of teammate Lucas Bass (6.42) and Sycamore's Pierce Reinhard (6.39).

David Valkanov won the 3,200 for the Knights (10:12.06), Jai Sekhon won the 300 hurdles (42.62) and Sekhon, Palmer Behrends, Ruchaj and Sam Gagne won the 4x400. Ethan Stoker (3.95) and Brayden Farmer (3.65) went first and second in the pole vault and Elijah Pflipsen won both throws, going 45.77 in the discus and 16.24 in the shot.

"Sycamore is a real good team," Drendel said. "We came in with every bullet in our chamber. We told the guys if we do what we're capable of doing we should be right there in the mix. And they did that today. I'm really proud of them."

Noah Schmidt had a big day for the Spartans, winning the triple jump (13.14) and anchoring the winning 4x200 team of William Stewart, Alec Garcia and Brandon Siebens (1:32.58).

Schmidt said the Spartans were really hoping to come away with the win on Friday.

"We were trying to plan it out so we could win," Schmidt said. "Everyone has their off days and it is what it is. We're going to move on and focus on sectionals now."

Rochelle, Sycamore and Kaneland head to Rochelle for a sectional Wednesday, while the other five schools will be at Plano on Friday.

Caden Emmert won the 800 for Sycamore in 1:59.31, Kyle Huber took the 400 (50.71) and Oestreicher captured the 200 (22.54), just ahead of Morris' Myles Johnston (23.06)

Sycamore coach Pete Piccony said the Spartans will turn their attention from the team-oriented goals of the conference tournament to the individual ones of the sectional.

"It's hard to come in here at home and perform to what we're supposed to do but I think we did a great job," Piccony said. "We were seeded about where we ended up. We were behind Kaneland looking up at them going in. We thought there were a couple places we could get them. No offense to them. They are no slouches. They came and they brought it. Second place, we'll take it."

For Morris, Johnston turned the tables on Sycamore and won the 100 in 11.32, just finishing ahead of a pair of Spartans, Schmidt (11.51) and Oestreicher (11.53). Kaden Welch won the 1,600 for Morris in 4:36.22

"That didn't happen the way we wanted to but we kind of came back in individual events with Myles Johnston taking first in the 100 and second in the 200," Battersby said. "The distance duo we have with Matt Clark and Kaden Welch were second and third in the 3,200 and Kaden took first in the 1,600. So that's nice to see heading into sectionals that they ran really good races and that was Kaden's best."

Morris was fourth with 49 points, Ottawa took fifth with 39, Rochelle was sixth with 23.67, LaSalle-Peru was seventh with 18 and Plano was eighth with 16 points.

Ottawa coach Trent Swords said he was glad to see the temperature go up for the first time, but that might have made a negative effect on the athletes.

"The change in temperature was welcome in terms of the warmth over the cold," Swords said. "It's rather drastic so it's taken our athletes a little time to get used to it. I thought they responded well to the adversity and performed well."

Kaneland's Brayden Farmer competes in the pole vault Friday, May 13, 2022, during the Interstate 8 Conference Championship meet at Sycamore High School. Mark Busch/
Kaneland's Logan Ehlers competes in the triple jump. Mark Busch/
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