Boys track and field: Yorkville’s Owen Horeni, coming off running top 800 sectional time, has high state hopes

Two-time state medalist as a freshman leads Kendall County medal hopefuls

Yorkville's Owen Horeni takes the lead to the last lap of the 800 Meter Run during the Matt Wulf Track and Field Invitational at Yorkville High School in April 2024.

Owen Horeni has the state experience to understand what kind of emotions the Yorkville sophomore will feel ahead of this weekend’s races.

Yes, there will be butterflies.

“Definitely nervous. That is what one would expect coming into a state meet,” Horeni said. “With my experience from last year I feel ready to go out there and do it again.”

Horeni is indeed well-positioned for a big weekend in Charleston.

A two-time medalist as a freshman, including a member of Yorkville’s 4x400 relay state champion last year, Horeni takes Class 3A’s No. 1 sectional time in the 800-meter run into the IHSA state track and field meet at Eastern Illinois. Horeni is the top medal contender among Kendall County area athletes. Class 1A preliminaries are Thursday, Class 2A and Class 3A prelims Friday with finals in all three classes Saturday.

Horeni, eighth in the state 800 as a freshman, ran a personal best 1:53.84 at sectionals last week in Moline. Grayslake Central senior Trey Sato, who ran the second-fastest time of 1:54.01 last week, has run the fastest time in the state this spring of 1:50.71.

“My coach wanted me to get out there and see what I could do,” Horeni said. “I went out and pushed myself, went 26 seconds in the first 200 and pushed my way through. I was really glad that I had some competition in the race, pushed me through the 400-meter mark.

“I was really happy with it. I knew that it would put me in a good position for state. Now I’m in the final heat of prelims. I just have to hit my time or win to make finals. It’s exciting for me.”

Horeni has raced a diverse schedule this spring, only running the 800 a few times. He won the event at Yorkville’s Matt Wulf Invitational and at Distance Night in Palatine in April, and at conference and sectionals this month.

“I was really only in the 800 a few times, and each time I had a good showing. I showed progression in my mile [1,600] and consistently, along with my 400,” Horeni said. “Running the 800 just a few times, that way I wouldn’t get stuck on a time in the 800, consistently run one-time barriers.”

Also a two-time state runner-up as an eighth-grader in the 400 and 4x400, Horeni understands to expect the unexpected in the big meet.

“There is always going to be an outlier; you never know who will come out,” he said. “That experience makes me more confident about the weekend, but I have to come in there and be ready for anything.”

Also in Class 3A, Oswego East junior Austin Ward comes into state with the eight-fastest 400 sectional time of 49.34 and Oswego freshman Dontrell Young 12th with a 49.51, Oswego East’s 4x200 relay of Aiden Fell, Stephen Sarfo, Andrew Pohlman and Nigel Grisby posted the ninth-fastest sectional time of 1:28.29, Oswego East’s 4x800 relay of Ward, Dhairya Trivedi, Jack Schultz and Eddie Bozett posted the third-fastest sectional time of 7:51.75 and Yorkville junior Taelor Clements cleared 1.94 meters in the high jump at sectionals, tied for 10th-best, among top area medal hopefuls.

In Class 2A, Plano’s 4x200 relay of Johnny Espino, Tristan Meszaros, Waleed Johnson, Christ Keleba posted the 11th-fastest sectional time of 1:29.98, the second-fastest time in school history, and the same four in the 4x100 relay are seeded 12th with a sectional time of 42.98.

“I want to keep improving, break some records and bring some medals home,” Johnson said going into the postseason.

Sandwich’s Simeion Harris is seeded 19th in the Class 2A 400 coming out of sectionals.

The area’s top medal contender in Class 1A is Newark junior Logan Pasakarnis in the 800, who had the 13th-fastest time of 2:00.28 at sectionals.