Boys track and field: Eli Crome, Sycamore finish in style with 4x400 relay state championship

Chrome takes third in 400, DeKalb’s Jacob Barraza third in the 1,600

Sycamore’s Eli Crome celebrates an uncontested 1st place finish in the Class 2A 4x400 Meter Relay State Championship on Saturday, May 25, 2024 in Charleston.

CHARLESTON – Sycamore senior Eli Crome closed out his high school career in style.

After placing third in the Class 2A 400-meter run Saturday, Crome had one final job left in his two-sport season before heading off to the Navy: running the anchor leg in the 4x400 relay.

With teammates Dylan Hodges, Matthew Rangel and Devin Karda all running quality legs, Crome finished the deal with a strong 400-meter run to lead the Spartans to a first-place time of 3 minutes, 19.21 seconds. The Spartans nudged out second-place finisher Carbondale (3:21.13) and Aurora Central Catholic (3:21.21), which was led by Wisconsin-bound Patrick Hilby on the final leg.

Sycamore rode the 10 points from the relay to finish in seventh place in Class 2A with 29 points at Eastern Illinois University.

“We all ran great and all the work and training really showed today,” Crome said. “It was a great race.”

Crome also added that he was satisfied with placing third with a time of 49.50 in the 400-meter run. Crome, who also plays soccer, said his first individual state performance was a memorable experience.

“This feels great, especially since I was going for top three,” Crome said. “I’m glad how I did. I thought I did pretty good in the first 200. My goal was to keep up with the guy outside of me and pull it off the best I could at the end.”

Sycamore junior Aidan Wyzard had an uneventful day. Wyzard pulled his left hamstring during Friday’s Class 2A preliminaries in the long jump, forcing him to miss the prelims in the individual 100-meter dash and two relays along with Saturday’s finals in the long jump.

Even so, Wyzards first jump in the prelims of 6.91 meters was good enough for a second-place medal.

“My first jump [Friday] was my best jump,” Wyzard said. “I had to scratch all of my events. I was upset and mad because I didn’t want to let my team down. I had to anchor for two relays. We were seeded high. I was also seeded third in the 100.”

Wyzard, who also plays football and basketball, said he’s highly motivated for next season’s state track meet, especially after also placing second in the long jump last season.

“I felt great on my first jump,” he said. “Me and my coaches decided since conference that since I’ve been getting faster and been running through the board that we decided to go 80% or 70% and get that safety mark, that safety jump. I’m hoping to come back for my senior year and win state in four events.”

Sycamore junior Braedon Shaner scored valuable points with a sixth-place medal in the pole vault (4.35 meters).

Dekalb’s Jacob Barraza rounds a turn in the Class 3A 1600 Meter State Championship on Saturday, May 25, 2024 in Charleston.

In Class 3A, DeKalb junior Jacob Barraza, a three-time state qualifier, walked away from the blue track with a satisfied feeling, earning some valuable experience and motivation for next season. Barraza, who earned all-state in cross country, finished with a third-place medal in the Class 3A 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:14.74. Downers Grove North sophomore Philip Cupial won the event in 4:13.57.

“I didn’t get out of prelims last season, but cross country was a big motivator for me,” Barraza said. “That was a confidence booster, and my family pushed me to do the best I can today.

“The new thing for me is to take it from the start. I’m usually a kicker but starting fast has been working for me lately. I have more confidence to bring me through next season and hopefully I can place even higher.”

Kaneland junior Evan Nosek wanted to make a lasting memory on Saturday afternoon.

With Kaneland making the jump to Class 3A, Nosek and his teammates had a difficult transition battling tougher competition from bigger schools.

Nosek learned really quickly how to carry a bigger load on the track – and off it.

While taking pictures next to an IHSA banner outside O’Brien Stadium, Nosek grabbed his teammate, David Valkanov, and lifted him and held his across his arms for a picture to celebrate both of them earning a state medal.

Valkanov recorded an eighth-place time of 9:10.76, with Nosek finished ninth in a time of 9:12.54.

Nosek broke his previous personal record, achieved at sectionals, by seven seconds. Nosek said the jump from Class 2A to 3A pushed him throughout the season and in Saturday’s morning race.

“It’s a struggle with everything from 2A, but it doesn’t disappoint me,” Nosek said. “I’m really happy with the big competition. It’s a nice range of competitors. I’m really excited to raise these people next year.”

Nosek said he was happy with his performance.

“My coach has a very good system and training program. He tapers at just the right time. I have to give all thanks to my coaches for that. I had a lot of plans going into this. I had a blast. I feel my pacing was good. The summer is going to be a blast, a good training program.”

Valkanov, who also was all-state in cross country in November, said he was thrilled to finish his prep career with a medal. Valkanov placed fifth last season in the 2A 3,200.

“It was tough competition but I’m grateful to be in 3A because I wouldn’t gotten this amazing time,” he said. “I’m thankful me and Evan both got all-state. I had great teammates and coaches that helped me. In today’s race, I just stuck with the pack and made sure not to go out too quick. Me and Evan were scared that we weren’t going to make it because the competition was crazy, so I’m so happy and thankful we made all-state.”

Kaneland junior Fredrick Hassan flashed his skills in the high jump, earning a seventh-place medal (1.95 meters).

“It felt amazing because my goal was to make all-state and get a medal,” Hassan said. “The key for me was staying consistent in everything I did and also staying calm.”

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