Boys track and field: Grayslake Central dominates Lake County invite
Finally, a nice day for a track meet.
Local competitors have been running most of the spring in cold, rainy, sometimes miserable conditions, so temps in the 60s and sunny skies at Thursday's Lake County Invitational seemed like a blessing.
Grayslake Central wheelchair competitor Brannon Duffin took advantage of the pleasant evening by racing a solid 18.48 in the 100 meters on his home track.
Duffin put his stamp of approval on the conditions, saying that racing in the rain can create some problems.
"For me, as a wheelchair athlete," said Duffin, "usually my rims will be pretty slick and I can't push. I'll be swimming pretty much because I can't get any traction, basically just going nowhere.
"Mostly it's a mental game (for me) more than anything," he added. "Just staying in the moment in terms of where I want to be, and knowing how hard I want to push."
Duffin, a senior, has been a star performer for his entire career for the Rams, according to GC coach Brent Pitt.
"He's a hard working kid," said the coach of Duffin. "He's a six-time state champion in the 100, 200 and 400, he's won that state series all three years. He comes out focused and knows what he needs to do."
Host GC won the meet with a total of 122 points. Warren was second at 86.5.
Senior Jaden Turner gave a big assist to the runner-up finish of the Blue Devils. He finished second in the 100 meters at 11.22.
Turner actually won the fifth and final heat, but was just out-finished by Matthew Brooks of North Chicago, who was first in heat 4 at 11.19.
Still, it was a stellar performance by the senior.
"I had to come in prepared for the 100," said Turner, "because I knew there were some fast people out here.
"My coach (Josh Williams) got me ready to compete. I felt good (during the race) but I felt like someone might be catching up to me so near the end I just hit the next gear."
Coach Williams gave a big thumbs-up to the effort of Turner.
"He's worked really hard the past couple of weeks to be running the times he is now," said the coach. "To see him come out and do what he did today is pretty cool.
"Jaden is probably the toughest kid in our program. He's a warrior, he's not afraid of the big moment, and he's not afraid to put in the work and put it all out there when he races. Having a guy like him is big time for us."
Turner said that it's a little poignant knowing his time on the high school team will soon be coming to an end. He'll be moving on to Iowa Western College in the fall, where he'll play football.
"It is bittersweet," said the senior, "and knowing that this was one of my last couple of meets, I wanted to make the best impact I could for my team."
Barrington won two relays, the 4x100 and the 4x400; Vernon Hills took the 4x800 relay; Marcus Caselberry of Stevenson (15.49) triumphed in the 110 hurdles; while Caleb Levy of Warren (1:54.23) was fastest of all in the 800.
Warren was first in the 4x200; Jake Slavish of Vernon Hills (39.91) was the victor in the 300 hurdles; while Trey Sato of GC won the 3200 in 9:22.94, and the 1600 in a time of 4:22.43.
The field event winners were Davion Wright of Waukegan in the discus, Jaydin Kante of GC in the shot put, Paul Migas of Lakes in the pole vault, and Kaiden Miller from GC in the long jump and the triple jump.
Kosta Zografos from Wauconda and Randy Clay of Stevenson each hit 1.90m in the high jump.
It was a stellar night as well for GC's Duffin in the 200 and 400 as well. He posted a 33.06 in the 200 and a 1:08.68 in the 400.
Duffin was another competitor who had thoughts, late in the season, about his prep career coming to a close -- but with an optimistic view of the future.
"The thing I've learned in the past three years or so of doing track," said Duffin, "is that you should never waste chances because you never know when it's going to be your last.
"I went through a phase where I was unmotivated due to some life factors, and some people would understand. I've just got to stay motivated."