Boys track and field: Yorkville’s Owen Horeni takes fourth, Oswego’s Dontrell Young fifth at state

Yorkville’s Taelor Clements, Oswego East 4x800 relay, Sandwich’s Simeion Harris seventh

Yorkville’s Owen Horeni takes fourth place in the Class 3A 800-meter state championship on Saturday, May 25, 2024 in Charleston.

CHARLESTON – Yorkville sophomore Owen Horeni had championship experience on his side on Saturday afternoon.

With the blazing heat – and a swarm of cicadas affecting all the competitors – Horeni was set for his second dominating and memorable showing at the Class 3A state track and field meet. Horeni clocked the fastest 800-meter sectional time to position himself for another run at a state title, but this time in an individual event.

Horeni battled a tough field to finish with a stellar time of 1:52.34 for a fourth-place medal in the 800 field. The power-packed run featured a stunning first-place showing and comeback in the final 400 meters by Hinsdale Central’s Aden Bandukwala (1:51).

“I’m pretty happy with it, but I definitely would’ve liked more,” Horeni said. “I’ll take it. I learned how to have fun and enjoy myself. Last year I was more tense. I think I learned to be happy with what I get and move on.”

Horeni, who placed eighth in the 800 last season and ran a leg in last season’s 4x400 relay first-place team, said earning three state medals in his first two seasons is a good start to his career.

“I think it makes me want more no matter what,” Horeni said. “I have to work for more. My coaches deserve a lot of thanks for helping me.”

Yorkville junior Taelor Clements improved on last season’s showing at state, jumping 1.95 meters in the high jump for a seventh-place effort on Saturday.

“I feel pretty good because it was two marks up from last year when I tied for ninth,” Clements said. “I improved my numbers and had a pretty good season with some ups and downs. I learned to be more comfortable and less stress, so that helped today. My coaches helped me a lot.”

Yorkville thrower Dominic Vashkelis-Benson also placed seventh.

Oswego East’s 4x800 relay had a strong showing, finishing in seventh place in a time of 7:48. Senior Dhairya Trivedi, a three-time state qualifier, was the lone returnee from last season’s 11th-place relay.

“We didn’t perform like we wanted to last year in the finals,” Trivedi said. “I’m glad we all stepped up, trusted our coach and we were able to have a really good team. It’s been upward in a good way since my sophomore year.

“It means so much because we’ve all worked so hard. It’s been a grind, but we wanted to do well today.”

Oswego East junior Austin Ward ran the opening leg, helping set the tone with a solid opening for a relay with three new runners compared to last season’s veteran team.

“The first leg was pretty tough because everybody got off the line pretty fast, and I got caught off, so I had to kick it in gear in the second lap,” Ward said. “I had to get our team in a good spot.

“I never thought we would run this fast, even in the state finals at the beginning of the year because last year we had such a good team and a lot of people left, but everybody stepped up.”

Oswego’s Dontrell Young competes in the Class 3A 400 Meter State Championship on Saturday, May 25, 2024 in Charleston.

Oswego East senior Jack Schultz said he wanted to set the relay up for a top showing.

“I felt I had an easier leg because my teammates put me in a good position, so I just made it my goal to stay with the pack and hold on and get in the top seven group,” Schultz said. “Coming into the season, we didn’t think we would have a relay. I’m a two-mile runner and a mile is my shortest distance and he was a two-mile runner.

“We thought we probably won’t have a four by eight relay. We did well at the start of the season and really stepped it up and here we are.”

Oswego East senior Eddie Bozett said his three teammates put him in a good position for the anchor leg.

“I was seventh I think when I got the baton,” Bozett said. “I just had to put all my worries behind me and just focus on the race to make sure I could do the best I could for my team. I was happy with my second lap. I was able to make all my moves. I was happy with my race.”

Oswego freshman Dontrell Young continued to showcase his immense potential by ending the season with a fifth-place time of 49.05 in the 400 dash.

“I’ve been running my whole life, but running at state is new,” he said. “I felt good in prelims, but I was little sore today, but that’s no excuse. I still got fifth place, so I’m happy. I have to work harder. This was a learning experience.”

In 2A, Sandwich junior Simeion Harris took seventh place in the 400-meters in a time of 50.39.