Boys track and field: Lake Park's Michelini shines at Red Grange invite
Tucked away in the northern corner of Red Grange Stadium, just behind the concession stand, Lake Park senior Tyler Michelini was worked on his craft.
With a small pocket of light allowing him to work on his shot put in the practice pit, right near a row of trees, Michelini wasn't getting ready for any of his events.
He already had captured first place in the shot put and discus, making him a double winner in Friday's Red Grange Invitational at Wheaton Warrenville South. On the team side, Evanston cruised to the title with 184 points. York notched second (138), Lake Park placed third (127) and Grayslake Central snagged fourth (114).
Still learning the ins and outs of shot put and discus, Michelini was one of the stars of the night.
Michelini, who committed to play football at Grand Valley State, is rapidly turning into a track athlete to watch this spring. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Michelini said he had never dabbled in track.
The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Michelini said he played football, wrestling and baseball.
"I didn't start track until last year," he said. "I have high expectations for myself, but it's kind of weird because I just started track and am producing some good numbers. It's starting to become more of a passion for me, just because when you turn out to be good at something, it's a lot more fun.
"I always lifted in the offseason, but never really had an offseason because I was in season for a sport. I ended up doing track after COVID. I wanted to get bigger and stronger for football. Track helped, but then I turned out to be pretty good."
Michelini, a defensive tackle, said shot put is his best event, but he admitted he "choked bad" at the state track meet last season in Charleston. Right now, he's among the elite in the state in shot put. He was encouraged by his first-place toss of 17.88 meters (58-8) in shot put and 50.61 meters (166-0) in the discus on Friday.
"I changed some things up and tried to get some more feet because we're chasing national numbers instead of state numbers," he said. "It just hasn't been working out for me, so I think we're going to go back and get back to my (old) form. My discus was better. Today wasn't great weather, but I'm not disappointed with my discus. I'm just chasing numbers right now. I want to win shot put and discus at state."
Wheaton Warrenville South senior Colin Nelson received a rousing welcome at the finish line following the end of the 1,600-meter race. He clocked a first-place time of 4:22.31 to nudge out Metea Valley junior Austin Brown (4:22.61).
"Coach told me don't be conservative in the race, so in the first 100 I was looking around and noticed no one was there," Nelson said. "I just wanted to settle into the race and let someone do basically the first couple of laps. I pushed it on the last lap."
In the 800, York senior Aidan Hill had a memorable two laps around the track, helping stir up the crowd on a cold night. Hill placed first in a time of 1:57.35, while Oswego senior Jett Breed took second place (1:59.62).
"I felt I could've run faster, but the wind was brutal and slowed me down a little bit," Hill said. "I felt good, but it was little harder to finish. We have a month left in the season. I think I will be really strong by the end of the season. I feel like things are just starting to get running. I have the perfect time to get in shape. I have big goals this year."
St. Charles East senior Matthew Hall had a unique ending to his 300 hurdles race. He smiled and stumbled at the same time on the final hurdle, but still managed to win the event with a time of 41.11. He claimed sixth in the 110 hurdles (16.33).
"I thought I had it and was counting my steps the whole time but didn't have it at the end with my legs," Hall said. "I knew I didn't really have it at the end, but I'm extremely happy."
Glenbard West sophomore Mason Ellens was busy throughout the 18-team meet, which featured teams from all over the Chicago area. He collected second place in the 200 in a time of 22.77, Daniel Pere of Metea Valley got third (23.06) and Grayslake Central's Elliot Bond snagged fourth (23.27).
"I really liked my open 200 time," Ellens said, a safety on the football team. "That was the first time doing the open 200 outdoors, so I'm happy with my time. I just want to keep grinding to get better and more notice."
Evanston senior Miles Granjean was one of the top performers on the night, winning the 200 (22.49) and the 110 hurdles (14.73). He placed second in the 100 (11.15). Naperville North senior Emmanuel Wang had a big showing with a first-place medal in the triple jump (13.71). York had a dominant effort in the relays, winning the 400, 800 and 1,600.