IHSA Boys Track and Field State Meet: Cary-Grove’s Reece Ihenacho wants huge throw in Class 3A discus

McHenry vaulter Zeke Galvicius, Dundee-Crown and Huntley sprint relays are thinking big

Cary-Grove’s Reece Ihenacho throws the discus during the Fox Valley Conference Boys Track and Field Meet on Thursday, May 9, 2024, at Huntley High School.

Cary-Grove’s Reece Ihenacho wants more than the Class 3A discus title at this weekend’s IHSA Boys Track and Field State Meet.

The Trojans’ senior is the decisive favorite with his 59.91 meters (196 feet, 9 inches) effort from last week’s Huntley Sectional, but Ihenacho yearns for more distance than that.

Ihenacho has seen giant throws this season on which he has either fouled in competition or cranked out in practice. He is eager to drop one of those from the ring outside of Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium in Charleston.

“I just have to stick with my training and not get in my head for pressure or ‘What ifs?’ That sort of stuff,” Ihencaho said. “That’s happened some this season. Try not to get in my own head before I throw and trust my training.

“I can do it in practice, so I don’t see why I can’t do it in the meet.”

Class 1A competition began Thursday, with Class 2A starting Friday morning and Class 3A in the afternoon. Saturday’s finals will have flights or races in order, 1A, 2A and 3A throughout the day.

Ihenacho, last year’s runner-up who will throw at Illinois, gained almost 50 pounds this year. He had a throw of 201-1 at a Fox Valley Conference triangular meet this season, his career best, but has been past 190 in the FVC Meet and the sectional.

Being C-G’s second discus state champion, along with Trojans’ throws coach Josh Freeman, comes first for Ihenacho, who is seeded 13 feet ahead of the next competitor. But he could set the state meet record set by Edwardsville’s AJ Epenesa (62.76, 205-11) in 2016.

“In the moment it would mean a lot and be exciting,” Ihenacho said. “For me, it would be like I knew I threw as far as I could on that day, and wouldn’t have any regrets. I would know I put everything out there.

“I know I have it in me. During practice I can make those go all day long. If I can get it in a meet, I would feel like I literally can’t do any better and I’d be so happy.”

Freeman, who won the 2012 Class 3A shot put and discus state titles, knows it is in there, Ihenacho just has to make it come out. Ihenacho wants to throw around 210.

“The state record was one of those loftier goals he had set for himself, but one that is totally attainable,” Freeman said. “All he has to do is cut it loose, which seems simple, but that’s one thing he hasn’t really done this year, get into a meet and get after it.

“I really think with this being the end of the road, this is the perfect time for him to unload on some throws and see what he can get. It is a lofty goal and it takes a lot of things to go right. The more you think about it, you can be at risk for paralysis by analysis. The more he can just get in there and trust everything he’s done to this point and let it go, I think that’s how we’re going to see it.”

In a meet this season, Freeman said Ihenacho fouled on what would be a state record. As it is, the IHSA has Epenesa, former Lake Park state champion Dan Block and former Huntley standout Marcus Popenfoose listed as the others who have thrown 200 feet.

“There were a couple throws this season I threw away, not stepped out, scratched it,” Ihenacho said. “I had one of 65 meters, and I stepped out because I watched it go instead of focusing on staying in. I had another that was 63.

“I’ve had those in practice, pretty consistently and if I can get that in a meet, I know I would have nothing left to give. That would be a great feeling for me.”

Ihenacho is likely to have sophomore teammate Logan Abrams in the rings of both finals with him. Abrams is seeded fifth in shot put and seventh in discus out of sectionals. Ihenacho is seventh in shot put, where both Trojans threw their personal bests last week.

“These guys have been working for this all year,” Freeman said. “We knew their goals after what they did last year, especially with Reece as runner-up. These guys have put in the work to be ready for the challenge and be ready to go.”

More on C-G: Sophomore Jameson Tenopir ran a 1:55.90 at the sectional meet to break a 38-year-old school record. Tenopir also was a state qualifier in the 800.

That means that all C-G records are now held by athletes coached by Layne Holter, who is stepping down after 30 seasons as the Trojans’ boss.

Dundee-Crown’s Oreoluwa Sobodu lets out a yell as his team wins the 4 x 100 meter relay during the Fox Valley Conference Boys Track and Field Meet on Thursday, May 9, 2024, at Huntley High School.

Sprint heavyweights: Over the past 10 seasons, sprinters around the FVC have made a huge impact in the state meet. Dundee-Crown won the 4x100 at the FVC Meet and Huntley was second.

Now, those two sit as the top seeds in the Class 3A 4x100. D-C is fifth in the 4x200 and Huntley is seventh.

D-C has Terrion Spencer, Kali Freeman, Torrion Bell and Oreoluwa Sobodu in the 4x100 and Jeremiah Stewart replacing Bell in the 4x200. Huntley has the same group of Vinny Costa, Dom Giuseffi, Lex Giron and Talon Sargent in both races.

D-C is looking for a big meet after suffering disappointment last season. Henry Kennedy, the Chargers’ top sprinter, suffered an injury that knocked their 4x100 and 4x200 teams, both ranked in the top three, out in the preliminaries.

A natural: Woodstock senior Charlie Gilmore qualified in the Class 2A high jump, which is remarkable given that Gilmore has jumped for only four weeks.

Gilmore played football and basketball and used to play baseball in the spring. He asked coach Lisa Kunzie if he could high jump on senior night and was a natural, clearing 1.75 (5-7) in his first meet. He made 1.85 (6-1) at last week’s Ridgewood Sectional to qualify.

“I don’t really know how I picked it up so fast,” Gilmore said. “I’m a three-sport athlete, so that probably helped. It’s really exciting.

“When I started doing it, I knew I could get higher, and my goal was to hit state-qualiying, and I got it,” Gilmore said. “Now, my goal is to get higher than that and place. It’s been really exciting.”

Huntley’s Tommy Nitz cruises to a first place finish in the 300 meter run during the Huntley IHSA Class 3A Boys Sectional Track and Field Meet on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, at Huntley High School.

Noteworthy: McHenry senior Zeke Galvicius went 5.03 (16-5) in the pole vault last week to win the sectional title and finished third in Class 3A at state last year.

Galvicius is chasing Lakes’ Paul Migas, who has jumped 5.28 (17-4 1/2) and is headed to Tennessee. Migas won the Class 2A state title in 2023, and Lakes was pushed up to 3A this season.

Huntley junior Tommy Nitz continued his impressive season with a 9:12.10 in the 3,200 and a 4:16.59 in the 1,600 at the sectional. Those have him seeded fifth and sixth in those races this weekend.

IHSA Boys Track and Field State Meet
Local Class 2A Qualifiers
Harvard: Bernhard Bahnsen (110HH), Braden Wittum (SP).
Johnsburg: Brett Centnarowicz (discus).
Marengo: Rune Boyd (discus).
Prairie Ridge: Will Gelon (4x800, 1,600), Gerrit Dam (1,600, 3,200), Keel Brossard (110HH, 300IH), Nick Flaugher (4x200), Ben Stech (4x200, 4x400, PV), Jack Demakis (4x200, 4x400), Eli Shoufer (4x200, 4x400), Daniel Cardenas (4x400), Evan Gilleland (4x800), Kevin DeGroot (4x800), Bodhi Lee (4x800).
Richmond-Burton: Jack Martens (100, 200, 4x100, 4x200), Max Loveall (200, 4x100, 4x200), Oscar Bonilla (800, 4x400), Ryan Wisniewski (300IH), Ethan Hile (4x100), Noah Gammel (4x100), Nick Kyes (4x200, 4x400), Joe Kyes (4x400), Jayson Wold (4x400).
Woodstock: Nolan Van Hoorn (100), Aryan Patel (800, 4x800), Ishan Patel (1,600, 4x800), Ellery Shutt (1,600, 4x800), Cohen Shutt (4x800), Tyler Moon (SP), Charlie Gilmore (HJ).
Woodstock North: Braelan Creighton (PV), Landan Creighton (TJ).
Local Class 3A Qualifiers
Cary-Grove: Reece Ihenacho (SP, discus), Logan Abrams (SP, discus), Jameson Tenopir (800), Grant Bond (300IH).
Crystal Lake Central: Jackson Hopkins (800), Gavin Fujino (PV).
Dundee-Crown: Terrion Spencer (100, 4x100, 4x200), Kali Freeman (200, 4x100, 4x200), Torrion Bell (4x100), Oreoluwa Sobodu (4x100, 4x200), Jeremiah Stewart (4x200), Kyle Brents (HJ).
Hampshire: Gage Homola (SP, discus), Josh Maya (400), Vince Scott (TJ).
Huntley: Tommy Nitz (1,600, 3,200), Vinny Costa (100, 4x100, 4x200), Dom Giuseffi (4x100, 4x200), Lex Giron (4x100, 4x200), Talon Sargent (4x100, 4x200), Jeff Cruickshank (HJ), Zach Rysavy (TJ), Ryan Schroeder (300IH).
Jacobs: Matt Andreano (1,600, 4x800), Andrew Beyer (4x800), Max Sudrzynski (800, 4x800), Isaac Pepin (4x800), Devan McTague (300IH), Prince Barnes (discus), Khristos Oludimu (HJ),
McHenry: Zeke Galvicius (PV), Hayden Stone (HJ), Doug Martin (800).
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