Boys track and field: Minooka takes title at Southwest Prairie Conference Meet

Nate George, Dejay Smith shine for Minooka; Plainfield North has solid showing

Minooka's Dejay Smith

JOLIET – The Southwest Prairie Conference Meet came and went Wednesday with some of the best teams in the area showing out at Joliet West. It was ultimately a close contest for first place, but only one team could come out on top.

Minooka finished as SPC champion with a team score of 118. Plainfield North was just behind the Indians with 114, while Yorkville took third with 94.

There were plenty of competitive events throughout the day, including a 100-meter dash that saw a friendly rivalry between teammates finally settled ... for now. Minooka’s Nate George and Dejay Smith battled it out after already competing in other races, with Smith saying he’d been looking forward to the opportunity.

“I’ve been looking forward to that race for a really long time,” Smith said with a smile. “That was the second 100 in my entire high school career. I’ve always thought I could beat this guy, so I wanted to put it to the test.”

Smith finished by saying George “showed me what he’s got.” George did, but just by a hair as George took first place with a time of 10.91 seconds, and Smith finished second at 11.01.

“I give him a lot of credit,” George said. “He just came off a dominant hurdle race before. It was a great competition, and we pushed each other to the limit. We’ve got bright futures ahead of us.”

That last part is particularly true. George helped the 4x100 relay team win with a time of 42.50 seconds, 0.24 seconds ahead of Plainfield North and 0.31 seconds ahead of West Aurora. Smith crushed the 110 hurdles with a time of 14.49 seconds and later won the 300 hurdles at 40.70.

It was also George who pushed Minooka over the first-place finish line as a team. Plainfield North had moved ahead of Minooka before the 200, but George’s victory with a time of 22.05 seconds gave Minooka the final points it needed.

In addition to George and Smith, Cooper Bowman took first place in the pole vault with a height of 4.37 meters.

Plainfield North spent most of the day with only one first-place finisher, Keith Cyracus. The junior took home the gold in the long jump with a distance of 7.01 meters.

It was the final race of the day that saw Plainfield North take home another gold medal, as the 4x400 team took first with a time of 3:21.96. Minooka managed to finish second in the event to keep the distance it needed to preserve the overall win.

It was also a solid day for several Plainfield South Cougars. Camryn Viger took the gold in the 1,600 with a time of 4:16.23, just 0.44 seconds ahead of teammate Dylan Maloney. The 4x800 team ran a 7:52.36 to take home the gold as well.

“We got out strong with the first runner,” anchor Gavin Borger said. “I knew I was fit enough to double back and still run a solid time. It’s just about doing it for my team, really, to try and get as many points as I can, bring up the morale and try to get a conference win.”

Borger’s lifelong friend Joshua Cygan had a great day, as well. The senior and recent Wisconsin-Milwaukee commit broke the meet record in the discus with a distance of 54.59 meters.

“It feels great,” Cygan said. “I’m hoping to achieve my goal of becoming a state champion at the end of my high school athletic career.”

One other notable result came from Joliet Central, which saw senior Zion Kostyra take first in the triple jump with a distance of 13.63 meters.

Oswego’s Dontrell Young (400), Yorkville’s Owen Horeni (800), West Aurora’s Samuel Rocio (3,200), Yorkville’s Dominic Vashkelis-Benson (shot put) and West Aurora’s Kewon Marshall (high jump) were the other individual winners. West Aurora won the 4x200 relay.

Oswego finished seventh as a team with 47.5 points, while West Aurora finished tied for fifth with Plainfield South at 80 points.

Oswego East won the freshman/sophomore meet with 103 points, while Minooka (87.5) and Plainfield North (87) took third.