Boys track and field: Despite change in scenery, Kaneland takes team title in Peterson Prep

Kaneland's Davids Valkanov wins the 3200 Meter at the Peterson Prep Invitational by Kaneland on Saturday, April 20,2024 at West Aurora High School in Aurora.

AURORA – It may not technically have been a home meet, but Kaneland’s boys track and field team felt right at home on West Aurora’s track.

The Knights had 11 athletes finish on the podium en route to 114.5 points and a team title in the 51st annual Peterson Prep Invite on April 20.

Kaneland coach Andy Drendel said he was proud of not only how his team performed, but also for putting on a competitive and safe meet.

“The win shows that it doesn’t matter where we go, it ultimately comes down to our program,” Drendel said. “We did it for Bruce Peterson. We wanted to honor him not just by competing as hard as we could, but by putting on the best meet possible.”

The invite, which usually is held at Kaneland, was moved to West Aurora after Drendel, Kaneland principal David Horne and athletic director David Rohlman deemed Kaneland’s facilities to be unsafe to hold competitions March 7. The decision came a week after a Kaneland athlete suffered a hand injury after his spike got caught in a crack on the track, causing him to fall.

West Aurora coach Cortney Lamb said that when Drendel approached him about hosting the meet during the Central Rocket Indoor Invite on March 8, it wasn’t a hard call to make.

“I had seen some pictures that he had sent out about the condition of the track,” Lamb said. “It’s one of my favorite meets of the year, so of course I said, ‘Yes, no problem. We’ll do whatever we can to help you out.’ ”

Kaneland posted flyers around the spectator stands leading to a petition for the Kaneland School Board to resurface the track so the Knights can again hold competitions.

Kaneland had six events April 20 in which it had two athletes score in the same event. The Knights saw the most success in the 800 meters, where Collin Reutimann came all the way from ninth place to pass teammate Evan Nosek in the final stretch to win in 2 minutes, 2.19 seconds. Nosek held on to finish second in 2:03.19.

“My coaches told me to just hang on to the pack for the first lap and then go for it in the last 300 and try to pass as many guys as I could,” Reutimann said. “And that’s exactly what I did. And then I tried to keep up with Nosek and I just ended up passing him at the end.”

Reutimann also led off the Knights’ 4x400 relay, which ended up finishing third and securing six more points.

Reutimann said being the leading scorer for the winning team was a good feeling.

“I know this program is capable of so many things, even if we don’t have the tools or resources that other teams do,” Reutimann said. “Heck, we don’t even have our own home track anymore, but we’re still going to get things done because we still work hard.”

The Knights also had wins in the 3,200 and high jump.

David Valkanov used a second-half surge to win the 3,200 in 9:27.73.

Freddy Hassan won the high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 2 inches.

Drendel said the main focus for the Knights was beating their projected seed times and he felt the team did that consistently throughout the day.

“There’s a bunch of guys that stepped up and knew what they needed to do,” Drendel said. “We talk about covering and beating your seed, but ultimately track comes down to being a competitor. We want to come out as fast as we can and do the best we can and the guys did a great job doing that.”

Yorkville threatened for the lead late into the meet but ended up settling for second with 90 points. The Foxes did not bring their whole team to the event because some athletes were competing in Distance Night at Palatine. Coach Nolan McCue said the second-place finish was still a great showcase.

“It really showcased our depth as a team,” McCue said. “We were a little bit short-handed and honestly I thought that the team really stepped up and performed well.”

The Foxes got 53 of their 90 points in the field events. Dominic Vashkelis-Benson secured 16 points for the team with a win in the shot put with a throw of 53 feet, 11.75 inches and a third-place finish in the discus with a throw of 154-2.

“Vashkelis-Benson is a gamer and he’s really stepped up for us,” McCue said. “But that group in general has really been a part of the backbone of our team this year. They’ve been extremely reliable and it showed today.”

St. Charles North finished fifth in the meet with 67 points. Nathan McLoughlin got the only win for the North Stars. He was first in the pole vault with a leap of 14-2.

Geneva finished seventh with 39 points. Its best finish came in the 3,200, where Julian Hipp ran a personal-best time of 9:50.21 for third place.

Yorkville's Charlie Albertson competes in the Pole Vault at the Peterson Prep Invitational by Kaneland on Saturday, April 20,2024 at West Aurora High School in Aurora.