This week in Illinois boys track & field

~~ Fantastic miles on Friday night ~~

It is amazing when all the stars line up and provide wonderful weather for athletes to perform in. That was the case on Friday night. Within 1 hour on Friday evening, there were some fantastic 1600 Meter Races in the Chicago area.

Let’s start at the John Davis Titan Invitational. In a talent packed race, Leland Later (New Trier, Winnetka Ill) ran the fastest time in the state running 4:10.7 to win. Todd Ford (Loyola Academy, Wilmette Ill) finished second in 4:16.0, Aron Sebhat (Niles North, Skokie Ill) finished third in 4:16.7.

At the McCarthy Memorial meet at Hinsdale Central, Malachy Schrobilgen (Oak Park-River Forest HS, Oak Park, Ill) ran an impressive 1600 running basically by himself. He won running 4:12.1, a meet record, and sixteen seconds ahead of Jack Feldman (Central, Hinsdale Ill).

Perhaps the most competitive of all the races this weekend was at the Lake County Invite. Erik Peterson (Barrington, Ill) was able to edge Pat Juras (Lake Zurich, Ill) 4:12.47 to 4:12.68, by 21 hundredths of a second. Martin Martinez (Warren, Gurnee Ill) and Billy Bund (Lake Forest, Ill) were both under 42:0 in this race.

The DuPage County Meet can not be left out of this discussion. Mike Lederhouse (Glenbard West, Glen Ellyn, Ill) started to push the pace with 700 meters to go and withstood a challenge from Aidan Askin (North, Wheaton, Ill) to win in 4:13.38. Overall, there were 7 runners that were under 4:23 in this race.

So why so many fast times in this race last Friday?

Besides the good conditions, most of the “name” distance runners participated in the event on Friday. I think it also has a lot to do with the fact that we are heading into the last three weeks of the season and this could be the one chance for some runners to get that fast time in the event if they will be competing in the 3200 in the state series.

Part of it may also be from the mild winter that we had and from the fact that the athletes have benefitted from that. So far this season, we’ve had eleven runners at 4:16 or faster and nineteen overall under 4:20. Fastest times that Illinois has seen at this time in the season in at least 32 years.

~~ Shift of Power ~~

There could be two schools that could place in the top three schools at the state meet in three weeks in Charleston and most likely it will not be schools from the Chicago area.

Maybe all three.

On Wednesday night, Edwardsville stamped itself as a state title contender by winning the powerful Southwest Conference Meet at Belleville. The Tigers scored 152 to edge O’Fallon by thirteen points with Belleville West fourteen more points behind in third. All three schools will be in the hunt in Charleston.

Edwardsville is deep with strong sprint relays, Garrett Sweatt in the distances, and strong and deep in the field events led by Pole Vault Tom Schuette and Vincent Valentine in the Shot Put.

Belleville West looks like they will be strong in all four relays. This is a traditional staple in the program that Patton Seagraves has developed in this suburban St. Louis school. Throw in Jamion Nash in the horizontal jumps and this team could be in the mix.

O’Fallon looks like they are peaking at the right time. They will be strong in the distance events led by Alex Riba and Patrick Perrier. Chris Wiggins looked strong in winning the 100 (10.76), and the weight events will be strong for the Panthers led by Nick Barrett and Dan Ryan.

Reality check: 3A power could be moving south of I-80 in 2012.

~~ Some of the things that we have seen around the track ~~

Do you know the term “ a runner that ran like crap” ? (That is the polite way of saying it.) Well, it happened at a meet on Friday night. A coach was relaying results to a fellow coach who had to stay at home. He asked how a particular athlete ran? The coach at the meet replied well, he ran like crap. The coach at home replied, “What was his time?” The coach at the meet said, “No, you do not understand. He stopped in the middle of the race and…”. Well, I’ll let you imagine where the runner went. When he entered back on the track, numerous reports said that the coach at the meet just had his arms in the arm exclaiming “What happened?”

The athlete responded he had two choices and you see which choice he took.

To credit that athlete, he came back the next day and achieved a PR in the event he was racing in.


At another meet in the preliminaries of the high hurdles, a runner knocked over a hurdle and fell to the ground. He bounced back up, and went to go over the next hurdle. His left shoe flew off as he went over that hurdle…and he did finish that race.


I am sure all of you have been told by a coach to concentrate on the race and the finish line. At the conclusion of a 3200 Meter race, a runner was approaching the finish line and he looked up at the scoreboard to see what the time was that he was running.

Little did he know as he was looking, another runner was passing him on the right. He did a double take and could not keep that runner from passing him.

Lesson of the day: finish the race….then look around.

~~ Correction ~~

Last week, we put out a list of competitions that athlete could participate in over the summer. Paul Vandersteen of Neuqua Valley e-mailed us and remined us of the night meets that they put on in the running crazy community of Naperville. Neuqua Valley does a great job in reaching out to the youth in the area and it would not be right to mention the meets that will be held in the Naperville area this summer.

An updated listing of summer meets can be found here.

~~ This weekend ~~

I am not going to list all the conference meets that will be going on this weekend. It looks like the weather will be cooperating so we should continue to see an avalanche of excellent performances. The countdown is on heading towards the state meet. The waiting is the hardest part!

~~ In memorandum ~~

Terrance (T.J.) Shirley, head coach of the Boys Track Team and Athletic Director at Thornridge High School in Dolton, died on Sunday at the age of 53. He was complaining that he was not feeling good on Friday night and did not attend his team’s meet, the Bill Jackson Invitational, in Lockport.

His son went to check on him on Sunday and found him in his bed.

Shirley was the pulse of the Thornridge athletic program. According to Assistant Principal Brad Beilfuss, Thornridge has been around for 51 years, Shirley had been the track coach for 26 of them.

A memorial service has been scheduled for by the school on Thursday May 19 at 10:30 AM. We send our deep thoughts and prayers to the Shirley Family, the Thornidge staff and students, and the Thornridge Community.

The SWSC Red Division Conference Meet is scheduled for today at Thornridge. It will be run with a heavy heart, but it will be contested in the spirit that Shirley would have wanted it to be.

More on Shirley can be found in this article from the southtown star.