Boys track and field: Newman 4x800 streaks to Class 1A state championship in Charleston

Morrison wins three relay titles

Sterling Newman’s Lucas Schaab hands the baton off to Lucas Simpson in the Class 1A 4x800 relay at the IHSA State Meet held Saturday, May 25, 2024, in Charleston.

CHARLESTON – Newman Central Catholic senior Lucas Simpson managed to keep his emotions in check at Saturday’s IHSA Boys Track and Field State Meet.

As a nearly sold-out crowd was cheering on the final leg of the Class 1A 4x800-meter relay, Simpson had a sizable lead in the final 250 meters. Yet even with a state title within his grasp, Simpson stayed even-keeled and focused, showing little emotion in the final 200 yards, leading by almost 100 meters for the last part of the race. Simpson cruised around the final turn, blowing away the rest of the field for the second-fastest time in state history in Class 1A.

Newman clocked a winning time of 7 minutes, 53.72 seconds.

“I wanted to keep it low and not show emotion because there were a lot of great teams that could’ve been up with us, but we just ran a great race today,” Simpson said. “I’m very happy with our time. Last year getting sixth, we knew we had three guys coming back. We worked hard to win this.

“It was a very achievable goal we knew we could do, especially after winning indoor (state). We just missed the state record. I looked at the 200 and knew I had to go. It’s a great feeling. We broke our school record at prelims and broke our own record today.”

Newman narrowly missed the 1A state record of 7:53.69, but topped its mark of 8:02 in Friday’s preliminaries. Simpson admitted he glanced at his time right before rounding the final turn, looking up at the scoreboard on the bend. Simpson also added a seventh-place medal in the 400 (51.69).

“After winning state indoors, our main goal was to win it again, and our second goal was to break the state record,” Simpson said.

Cody McBride capped a stunning run to the state title with a solid opening leg. McBride, who also plays football and basketball, joked that “track is probably my best sport since we’re state champs.”

McBride did not pick up the relay until later in the outdoor season, making his showing even more remarkable.

“I didn’t run indoors, so it was kind of an adjustment for me running outdoors,” McBride said. “I liked going first because I knew I would be pushed no matter what. I knew I wouldn’t be able to win the first leg today because there was a lot of fast guys. I just paced myself, and overall it went pretty well.”

On the second leg, Wyatt Widolff said his primary objective was to put Lucas Schaab in a good position.

“We got the baton in a good place,” he said. “My goal was to get it to our third leg in first place. I just tried as hard as I could. I tried to give it my everything, but this environment and with all the people in the stands, you just naturally run faster. I feel great and am very happy.”

Schaab, a senior, said he was driven to earn a first-place medal in the event after the relay missed a top-three showing in each of the previous two seasons. Newman earned sixth last season and fourth in 2022.

“We had the same position in prelims,” Schaab said. “We were right in first or second place. I just tried to get out fast and into first.

“I felt pretty happy with my race. I knew I had to finish face. This means everything. We’ve been going for state for a couple of years. It feels amazing to win state. This was the goal and what we wanted at the start of the year.”

Besides the prolific effort by Newman, Morrison also pieced together a strong effort on the blue track. Morrison scored 39 points to place fourth in the final team standings in Class 1A.

Morrison’s Brady Anderson lunges forward for 1st place in the Class 1A 4x100 Meter Relay State Championship on Saturday, May 25, 2024 in Charleston.

Morrison had a day to remember, especially in the relays. The foursome of Camden Pruis, Levi Milder, Zach Milder and Brady Anderson zoomed to a first-place time of 42.42 to win the 1A 4x100 relay. The same four doubled their first-place medal count by hitting the tape in a time of 1:28.08 to capture first in the 4x200. Zach Milder, Pruis, Chase Newman and Anderson capped the day by winning the 4x400 relay in 3:21.89.

Pruis admitted he was the most shocked by his performance, mostly because Winnebago star sprinter Supreme Muhammad was in the relay. Muhammad won the 100 in a scorching time of 10.72.

“We were pretty scared how Supreme ran the 100s,” Pruis said of the 4x100 relay win. “This was my first time running track, so this was a special day. I didn’t go out for the first three weeks, but my coach gave me a hard time, so here I am.”

Levi Milder said he knew he had to push it during his 4x100 leg.

“I saw it was going to be a close race, and I had to really push to make it happen,” he said.

Zach Milder had a showing for the ages during his leg, helping Morrison seize control.

“I had to really make up some ground and run really hard,” Zach Milder said. “I knew I had it in me to do well. It felt pretty good to set up Brady.”

Anderson, who admitted he was disappointed in his fifth-place medal in the 100 in a time of 10.84, bounced back to lead Morrison to the first of two relay state titles.

“I knew (Muhammad) was fast, because we ran against him a couple of times this year,” Anderson said. “I knew it was close, so I had to go. I could hear the announcer during the race.

“This feels good to win this relay.”

Levi Milder took sixth in the 200 in 22.38 seconds. Milledgeville’s Parker Krogman was fifth in the 300 hurdles in 40.87. Forreston’s 4x200 relay of De’Angelo Fernandez, Micah Nelson, Brock Soltow, and Noah Dewey was third in 1:30.66 and the 4x400 relay of Nelson, Hayden Vinnedge, Soltow and Dewey was eighth in 3:256.93.

Bureau Valley junior Landon Hulsing, a three-sport athlete, finished seventh in the 1A discus (45.32 meters) to set himself up for a big season next spring. Oregon’s Leo Cardenas was seventh in the pole vault (4.10 meters).

“I did get a personal record quite a bit (better) from last year earlier this year, so I’m happy with how I did this whole year,” Hulsing said. “Placing at state is awesome. I’m happy. I know I want to do better and come back. It won’t be easy.”

In Class 2A, Sterling tallied 19 points for 13th place, led by Dale Johnson’s second-place medal in the 3,200. Johnson, who placed 11th in the 1,600, clocked a time of 9:14 to earn the runner-up medal. Marion’s Dylon Nalley had a big showing to win the event (8:56).

Sterling senior high jumper Andre Klaver added to his legacy by notching a third-place medal in the high jump with a top leap of 1.99 meters.

“I’ve been working hard all year, so it’s kind of crazy, because my coaches helped me and it showed by coming out and getting a personal record twice in one event in the most important event of the year,” Klaver said.

Klaver, a three-sport athlete competed to Maryville University for basketball, said he was happy to make state for the first time this season.

“It’s a great feeling to do well for my family and also myself for the work I put and pleasing my coaches,” Klaver said. “I didn’t start doing track seriously until my junior year.

“The atmosphere was unreal here. It was a great opportunity for me.”

Bureau Valley’s Landon Hulsing throws the discus during the IHSA Class 3A Boys State Track and Field Championship meet on Saturday, May 25, 2024, at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
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Bob Narang

Bob Narang is a contributing sports reporter to Shaw Local News Network