For much of Friday’s Class 2A Plano Boys Track and Field Sectional, the participating athletes not only had to battle tough competitors, but also adjust to strong, gusty winds.
Streator junior Aneefy Ford said the wind didn’t really bother him as much as not advancing in the 200-meter run.
However, Ford will be heading to next weekend’s state finals individually after claiming the title in the 100 (10.59 seconds), as well as part of the Bulldogs’ 4x100 relay team that placed second but set a school record in a time of 43.77.
“It was a close call for sure,” Ford said of the 100. “I was terrible out of the box, so I had to just rely on getting to my top speed as quickly as I could. It also helps in situations like today when there are so many other fast kids in your heat, it just makes you push even harder.”
Ford then teamed up with senior Cade Stevens, sophomore Collin Jeffries and freshman Quentin Goforth in the 4x100.
“I think we’ve all had some kind of injuries we’ve had to deal with at different parts of the season. I think today was about as healthy as we’ve all been at the same time, and hopefully it stays that way heading into next week at state. Our handoffs have improved so much over the season, although mine could have been way better today, but other guys picked things up.
“Now it’s just go down there and see what we can do.”
Benet Academy’s Jack Chvatal has only been high jumping for two years, but the senior made the most of his last prep season by winning the high jump in a leap of 1.92 meters.
“I definitely had to change a few things I normally do today because of the wind being in my face on my approach,” Chvatal said. “One thing was taking longer strides to help pick up my speed before my takeoff. This was a personal best for me, and to do it at sectionals is awesome. Hopefully at state it’s a little less windy, but if it is windy, I guess today should help me as well.
“A few of the later heights I was able to go first because of the rankings and make it right away. Being in that position I think took a lot of pressure off me and helped me relax and start thinking about the next height.”
The Joliet Catholic Academy sophomore duo of Adrian Washington and HJ Grigsby finished 1-2 in the long jump, with the former posting a best jump of 6.82 meters and the latter registering a 6.45.
“I knew I had to change where I normally start after a couple of warmups,” Washington said about the wind factor. “I probably start closer to the pit than most guys, but today I had to move back. The wind was tough for sure, but I think it was more a mental thing to get over. I scratched on my first jump, but my second attempt ended in a very good PR of .4 meters.
“I think that both HJ and I are pretty lucky, because we have each other to help push each of us. Hopefully we can both can go even jump farther at state.”
Grigsby agreed the wind changed how he approached his runs.
“There was a cross breeze, and you kind of had to wait and hopefully start your run when the wind died down a little,” Grigsby said. “I just tried to go a little bit stronger at the start of my runs, but also stay consistent in what I was doing. I didn’t get a PR I was hoping for, but I’m going to state, so that’s great.”
In the 110 hurdles, La Salle-Peru junior Brett Aimone punched his ticket to state with a fourth-place finish, but a qualifying time of 15.17.
“We knew it would be close, he’d have to make [qualifying] time, and this would be probably the fastest race he’d ever run in up to this point,” L-P coach Adam Spencer said. “He was ranked fifth coming into today, and those four guys ahead of him are tough. He’s been battling a groin and hamstring injury basically the whole season. He’s overcome a lot.
“He had run a 15.4 last week at Ottawa despite hitting the last hurdle, so he knew if he could keep the run clean, he’d have a good shot. He did that, and hopefully now he can not only take everything in experience-wise at state, but he can also have another good race down there. I’m super excited for him to get this opportunity.”
The Sandwich 4x800 relay team of senior Johnny Rizzuto, juniors Dayton Beatty and Wyatt Miller and sophomore Max Cryer led from start to finish to win the championship in a time of 8 minutes, 44.05 seconds.
“I really wish I could have pushed harder on the back straight running into the wind my first lap, but I felt like I needed to conserve my energy for the last one,” said Rizzuto, who runs the second leg. “I always want to run my first lap two seconds faster than the second, but today with the wind wanted to make sure I had something left in the tank for the final 300 meters for a kick. It’s why I run the second leg, just in case we are trailing after the opening 800.
“I’ll be honest, I’m more of a chaser. That gets my adrenaline going, chasing someone down, so to be ahead of the pack is a little uneasy. I looked back on the second-to-last turn and saw the kid behind me was kind of close and said to myself, ‘This is my senior year. I can’t not win this race today.’
“We reached our goal ... we’re going to state.”
Other sectional champions included: Morris’ Myles Johnston in the 200 (22.51) and Kaden Welch in the 1600 (4:35.72); Benet’s Aiden Dentice in the discus (48.56); Marmion Academy’s Connor Carlson in the 3200 (10:14.45); and Providence Catholic’s Ryan Ondracek in the 300 hurdles (40.07). The Benet 4x100 relay of Michael Baker, Carson Schneid, Owen Takahashi and Chris Carter also won a title in 43.59 seconds.
Advancing with individual runner-up marks were Morris’ Johnston in the 100 (10.62) and Matt Clark in the 1600 (4:36.39); Marmion’s Jackson Burroughs in the 400 (50.13), Ryan Anderson in the pole vault (4.26) and Bryce Langkan in the discus (43.40); Benet’s Griffin Schneid in the 800 (2:04.16) and Jason Huang in the 110 hurdles (14.67); and Coal City’s Collin Dames in the shot put (14.06).
Moving on via qualifying times/distances were Marmion’s Tyler Hoeft in the pole vault (3.96 meters), Streator’s Cade Stevens in the 100 (10.94 seconds), Joliet Catholic’s Josh Boatd in the 100 (11.04) and Coal City’s Christian Micetich in the 300 hurdles (40.55).
The Benet 4x200 (Baker, Kyle Moede, Danny Keating, Carter, 1:32.70), 4x400 (Carson Schneid, Griffin Schneid, Takahashi, Huang, 3:32.81) and 4x800 (Grant Ross, Sean Kingston, Jonah Koplinski, Tommy Naughton, 8:56.40) relay teams all placed second.
Benet won the overall team sectional title with 97 points, with Pontiac (73) second and Marmion (62) third.