Boys track: Ryan Schaefer, Glenbrook South, have a day to remember
Ryan Schaefer arced cleanly over the bar, sprang off the high jump pit and put both hands to his head, amazed at his accomplishment.
It was that kind of day for the Glenbrook South senior at the John Davis Titan Invite May 5 in Glenview.
Schaefer won his three individual events, setting personal records in each, and ran on a winning relay that also dropped time.
He began by winning long jump at 6.79 meters (22 feet, 3 inches), and won high jump at 2.01 meters (6-7¼) -- 4 inches over his personal best, with solid attempts at 6-8.
Schaefer then gathered his gear and bounded over to join Caleb Jung, Ben Freidinger and Thomas Zambianchi to prepare for the 400-meter relay. Glenbrook South won that by 10 meters.
Schaefer finished his night running the 300 hurdles. Currently No. 1 in Class 3A and No. 2 in Illinois at Athletic.net, he dropped his time to a victorious 38.72 seconds.
"My last ever meet here, so many memories here, just having fun with my friends. That's probably the thing I'll remember most, how many high-fives, hugs, and jokes and laughs that I've had today, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I had a blast," Schaefer said.
The grand moment came in high jump, where Schaefer thrilled his parents, Julie and Jon, and grandparents, Carol and Tim Downs. Ryan Schaefer surpassed Titans coach Kurt Hasenstein's high jump mark at Peoria Heights High School, and broke Terry Webb's 58-year-old Glenbrook South record of 6-6½ from 1965.
"I talked to my head coach a bunch about clearing 6-5, that was his high school personal best," Schaefer said. "So when I cleared it I was just super happy. He was watching from far away and I was just overthrown with emotion. From 6-foot-5 to 6-7 my mind was just blown."
Glenbrook North blew some minds in the final event, the 1600-meter relay. Seeded first just off the Class 3A state-qualifying time of 3:28.30, Glenbrook North's Brian Pekala, Makoto Majoros, Trevor Bowles and John Ihrke combined to win in 3:25.53, tied for 14th in Illinois. In second place, New Trier's Jameson Rick, Sam Teppo, Caden Pfister and Tucker Anglemyer also broke the state standard at 3:27.47.
"We're going to state!" Ihrke yelled among a mass of Spartans who swarmed the foursome -- though that will be determined at the Deerfield sectional May 18.
With Ihrke running the anchor leg -- and getting split times like Majoros' 50.07 seconds -- his claim is not far-fetched.
In essentially a speed workout for the 800 runner, in Ihrke's last open 400 of the season the junior made up the stagger by 200 meters and cruised to first in 50.96 seconds, nearly a second ahead of Loyola's J.T. Kurtzweil.
"I go at every 400 the same way," Ihrke said. "Run as fast as you can for as long as you can, and 'die' as little as possible."
At Distance Night in Palatine on April 22, Ihrke set Glenbrook North's 800 record at 1:55.72.
"It feels really good. They've got all those records up in the field house. I'm just waiting for them to put mine up," he said.
As Glenbrook North coach Sean Brandt predicted, both senior Mac Roth and junior Bowles scored points in the 300 hurdles out of the second of three varsity heats, the third group being the fastest on paper.
Glenbrook South won its own Titan Invite, repeating as champion from 2021 since last year's was canceled due to bad weather. The Titans scored 125 points to lead Loyola (98.33), New Trier (75), Hersey (65.33), Niles West (56.5) and Glenbrook North (31.5) in the 12-team meet.
The Titans' Jordan Wyman won discus at 40.30 meters (132-2). Zambianchi won the 200 (22.61 seconds) and also anchored Glenbrook South's winning 800 relay with John Economy, Andrew Spilios and Jung.
In the 200, Zambianchi overcame a slight lead by Niles North's Dylan Parker as they entered the straightaway. Based on experience, Zambianchi foresaw the outcome.
"I came off the turn, he was in front of me, that was expected. I saw him reach his top-end speed, I said mine's faster. I just got him at the line. But it took me awhile to catch him. Kick and move," Zambianchi said.
Loyola likewise had winners in both track and field. Junior Emmanuel Ofosu, coming off injury, ran relaxed to capture the 100 dash at 11.37 seconds, with Freidinger .12 behind.
In the 1600, Loyola's James Lombardo and William Simon let New Trier's Teppo and Oscar Dueno-Alda and Glenbrook South's Andy Ordway do the early work. The Ramblers duo bid their time until kicking with about 300 meters left to finish first and third, respectively. Teppo took second, Ordway fourth.
Lombardo improved his seed time by about 7 seconds, at 4:20.67, winning by about 5 seconds.
"Kicking is all we do," he said while sprawled on the stadium turf. "If we can smell them, we're in the race."
It was a pivotal meet for Ramblers junior Credo Mlope. Not that serious about track as a sophomore, he reassessed his attitude and checked his teammates' marks. Mlope saw he was "getting left behind."
Not on Friday. Mlope won triple jump at 12.52 meters (41 feet, 1 inch) and trailed only Schaefer in long jump.
"I knew if I didn't do good at this meet I think it would have been all downhill from there, possibly. I think I can do way better, even after my performance today," Mlope said.
New Trier earned victories with pole vaulter Seth Snower, its 3200 relay of Felix Hekster, Jonathan Piotrowski, Kyle Fix and Andrew Hepner, and Ben Crane in the 3200.
A sophomore, Crane held about a 20-second advantage in seed times over Hersey's Zach Frayder. It played out that way on the track, though as Trevians distance coach Matt Sloan said, Friday's warmth was not optimal.
Crane led by a wide margin after a 4:19 first mile, but fell off the pace to win in 9:35.25. He's aware it will likely heat up during the state series. He'll have to adapt.
"Yeah, there's a lot of things you can do," he said. "I'm going to work hard at those things and then be ready to race in Charleston."