Boys track and field: Neuqua Valley repeats DVC title

By Stan Goff
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 5/11/2023 10:50 PM

There may not be a ton of schools in the DuPage Valley Conference, but Thursday's boys conference track meet looked a lot like a sectional meet in many regards as a number of state qualifiers put on a show at Naperville North.

Neuqua Valley defended its team title by scoring 179 points to hold off runner-up Naperville Central (147.5) and the third-place host Huskies (122.5). Metea Valley (90.5), DeKalb (71) and Waubonsie Valley (55.5) rounded out the team standings and every school had its share of strong efforts.


For the winning Wildcats, the meet closed out with a win in the 4x400 where Madhan Manikandaswamy, Connor Boehm, Nico Castrillon and James Ammenhauser clocked a 3:25.83 to edge Metea Valley (3:27.33). Manikandaswamy also ran on Neuqua's winning 4x200 squad along with Eddie Robinson, Tyreek Campbell and Austin Belle, whose time of 1:28.08 just did beat Naperville North's 1:28.33.

"It was our first time running this set of guys so we can definitely do better with the handoffs, but overall I feel like we got out and had a good race," Manikandaswamy said after winning the 4x200. "Once we get those handoffs going it can be much better but it was pretty fun overall. Going down that first stretch felt awesome and having Austin anchor and Tyreek and Eddie, it's a great set of guys. To know that we can do it, it's so exciting."

Belle, who was plagued earlier this spring with hamstring issues, won the 100 with a 10.70, while Naperville North all-stater Danny Eloe was second in 10.92 and fellow Huskie Nathan Jacobs third in 10.92.

"We always bring our A game," said Belle, who will run next year at Belmont University. "We don't get too cocky. Each team that goes against us is competitive so we put up a good race in all of our events. We stayed strong and we just kept pushing it and we got the W.

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"I'm happy. I did the 100 for the second time this season because of my hamstring injury and I went from 11.01 to 10.7 so I'm really happy about that. Hoping to bring it down a little more."

The Wildcats started fast on the track on Thursday as Ryan Palmer, Boehm, Alex Persun and Logan Brown took first in the 4x800 with a time of 8:11.49. Naperville Central was second in the race in 8:22.27.

While Eloe may have settled for second to Belle in the 100, the Naperville North sprinter was part of a winning 4x100 relay and a unit that broke a school record while taking second to Neuqua in the 4x200.

"I think we just ran our fastest relay we've ever done in terms of practice, and everything," Eloe said after teaming with Carson Marlar, Kye Williams and Jacobs in the 4x200 that set a school record with a 1:28.33. "It was crazy."


Eloe, a running back on the football team, almost skipped the open 100 at the DVC Meet but was glad he didn't.

"I was gonna hold off the 100 cause I felt a little sluggish, but after the 4x100 where I was able to hold off Austin Bellie, who's a really fast guy, I was like, I feel good. Why not run?"

DeKalb's standout distance runner Ryan Newport defended his league title in the mile with a time of 4:17.39, with teammate Jacob Barraza second (4:20.42) and Neuqua Valley's Robert Glenn third.

"I felt pretty smooth the whole time and controlled. It's nice to get back into running more miles and feeling good about them. That's a confidence builder where I can run that time and still feel like I got more in the tank," said Newport, who was all state in cross country the last two seasons and will continue his running career next year at Duke. "It really feels like I was cruising. This is obviously such a tough conference. It's anybody's day so I said let's make it mine. I went out there and tried to take it out as quick as I can and finish it as quick as I can."

In the pole vault, Naperville Central freshman Henry Kane burst onto the DVC scene with a career-best 13-8 effort to finish first. DeKalb runner-up Andrew Tumminaro was second and Neuqua's Thomas Kiefer third.

"I was pretty confident coming in, I mean anything's possible," said Kane, who topped his previous best mark by 8 inches on Thursday. "I was on some big 15-foot poles that I hadn't pushed before and it was just a great day. I've been trying to clear this all season and it's a great achievement. Plus it gets me a little more confident heading into sectionals."

Kane's teammate Foster Shelbert won both the 400 and 800 races. In the 400, he clocked a 49.47 to beat Naperville North' Muneeb Shah (49.95), then he raced a 1:55.08 in the 800, where Waubonsie Valley's Austin McInturff was second (1:57.35).

In the throws, Naperville Central's Maverick Ohle won the discus and Metea Valley's Evan Sweeney won the shot.

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