This week in Illinois boys track and field

It was not the worst conditions for the first weekend in April. There have been years where we have not had any meets because there has been snow on the ground. No snow and the athletes responded to the conditions. I think I have said it before and I think I will say it again: can’t wait until the end of May.

So while I am dreaming about that blue oval on the campus of Eastern Illinois University, let me give you some of the things that happened on the boys side in the last week.

~~ How high can they go? ~~

Last year at the Hinsdale Relays, Carl Heinz of Oak Park-River Forest cleared 7-0 for the first time in his high jump career. “I was excited to come back here. I had success here last year,” Heinz told George Wilcox of Chicago Sun Times / Pioneer Local.

He one upped himself last Saturday. He cleared on his first attempt at 6-10. The bar was raised to 7-0, which he cleared nicely on his second attempt.

The bar was raised to 7-1. On his third attempt, he cleared and the crowd around the pit went crazy. He made 3 attempts at 7-2. Looking at the video, his calf hit the bar each of the three failed attempts. I would not call it failed. But I would say that he is close to making the next step up. The 7-1 clearance ties him for #1 in the nation with Alex Austin (San Marcos, TX).

The only jumper to defeat Heinz so far this year has been Kevin Spejcher of Lake Park. The University of Wisconsin bound High Jumper started off his outdoor season by clearing 6-10 at the Best Four Invitational at Wheaton North.

Like I said, dreaming about the end of May.

~~ Keep an eye on the Jones College Prep distance guys ~~

Last fall at the Detweiller Park, Jones College Prep finished 7th at the 2A state championship with an all underclassman crew. Jamison Dale has been the one runner that has been in the spot light having placed 6th in that race and then a few weeks ago running 4:20 at the IPTT Classic.

He has company now from a few of his friends, especially after some great performances at the Glenbard South Open last Saturday in Glen Ellyn. In the 3200 Meter Run, Dale led a 1-4 Jones sweep. Dale won running 9:28.60. Junior Luke O’Connor finished second running 9:32.0, Junior Kirby Lawson finished third running 9:43.5 with Freshman Kyle Maloney closely behind in 9:47.5.

Dale came back later in the day to win the 1600 in 4:22.7.

Fans this summer will be talking about the possibility of a Belvidere North four-peat. Those fans should take note of this Chicago Public League school.

~~ Some more news and notes from the Belleville West Invitational ~~

I’m glad that I made the trip down to this meet last Friday. Thanks to Patton Seagraves and all the people at Belleville West HS for the hospitality that was given to me . Coming to this meet gave me a chance to see some of the top teams in the state in this high powered invitational. Besides wanting to see the distance races like I always do, I like to see some good relay action.

I was not disappointed last Friday.

East St. Louis-Senior is back. Some impressive performances in the sprint relays against some great competition. The Flyers looked good in the 4 x 1. Their handoffs I would have to say were safe in this race. They still had enough distance to hold off a charging Belleville West squad to run 41.97. They have room to drop their time in thi race even further.

Collinsville won the 4 x 2 with an impressive 1:28.74, but Belleville West Coach Patton Seagraves came running across the infield very excited. Even though the Maroons finished second in this race, Seagraves was more than happy about the 1:29.03 that they ran. “We had two freshman (Romello Hatter & J’Vont Hammond-Williams) running in that relay today,” he told me after the race. To show the depth of their team, they did not have 2 of their top sprinters Raymond Scott or Jeremy Randolph in that quartet. It will be interesting to see how this team improves during the season.

Cahokia looked so strong in the 4x4. Hard to say if anyone in 2A will touch them in this race if they are running 3:20 this early in the season. In the 4x8, take a look at the splits that they ran last Friday: (2:02, 1:58.6, 2:03.5, 1:56.5). Belleville West had command of the race until that last leg. I believe Darren Payton anchored for the Comanches. They will contend also in May in this relay.

~~ Some more on Arcadia ~~

Some of the neat splits that the people at EPI sports gave for this meet:


7 Will Crocker 12 Belvidere N (Il) 1:52.66

55.40 (55.40),1:52.66 (57.27)

1 Mile Run

2 Luke Zygmunt 12 Grayslake Cen(IL 4:14.90

1:04.14 (1:04.14),2:06.46 (1:02.32),3:10.19 (1:03.73),1500-3:57.31 (47.13),4:14.90 (17.59)

7 Will Brewster 12 Grayslake Cen(IL 4:15.77

1:04.99 (1:04.99),2:09.05 (1:04.06),3:13.42 (1:04.38),1500-4:00.60 (47.19),4:15.77 (15.17)

9 Garrett Lee 11 Belvidere N (Il) 4:17.75

1:04.93 (1:04.93),2:09.25 (1:04.33),3:13.76 (1:04.51),1500-4:01.93 (48.18),4:17.75 (15.83)

3200 Meter Run

5 Michael Clevenger 12 MacArthurGen(IL) 8:54.12

67.14 (67.14),2:19.54 (72.40),3:27.31 (67.78),4:34.49 (67.19),5:41.26 (66.77),6:49.60 (68.34),7:54.97 (65.38),3K-8:25.45 (30.49),8:54.12 (28.67)

11 Leland Later 12 New Trier (Il) 8:55.61

66.08 (66.08),2:18.52 (72.45),3:26.82 (68.30),4:34.68 (67.87),5:41.40 (66.72),6:49.55 (68.15),7:55.45 (65.91),3K-8:26.17 (30.73),8:55.61 (29.44)

12 Jack Keelan 11 St.Ignatius (Il) 8:55.86

66.43 (66.43),2:20.38 (73.95),3:27.96 (67.59),4:35.13 (67.18),5:41.68 (66.55),6:49.76 (68.09),7:55.69 (65.93),3K-8:26.45 (30.77),8:55.86 (29.41)

21 Tyler Yunk 11 Belvidere N (Il) 9:03.09

66.88 (66.88),2:20.29 (73.42),3:27.62 (67.34),4:34.23 (66.62),5:41.78 (67.55),6:50.70 (68.92),7:59.22 (68.53),3K-8:32.52 (33.30),9:03.09 (30.58)

Great job guys!

~~ Let’s try something different ~~

Something that I would like to see in more of the dual meets that are out there are coaches taking chances and trying different things.

Last May, I went to a triangular with district rivals Metea Valley, Neuqua Valley, and Waubonsie Valley putting the majority of their distance runners in the 3200 Meter Run. Many of the runners in that race achieved PR’s.

Last Saturday, York and Palatine put together a great Distance Medley.

The track geek that I am, I would love to see some more different things tried. What about a 4 x 1 Mile? Or even a Sprint Medley?

My one wish would be having a Distance Medley at the Midwest Distance Gala. I would be great to see the top teams in Illinois battling it out for the championship in a race like that. Make it a big deal. Get the top schools there. See O’Fallon battle Palatine. The matchups are endless.

With my imagination running wild, what would a Neuqua Valley team look like? Would you run Jacob Bender in the 800 with Julius Garcia running the 400, or do you keep Bender in the 400? They would be a team that I think could run sub 10:10 right now.

I guess my dreams will be dreams right now. Anyone want to take a chance and make them a reality?

~~ Coming up this weekend ~~

This is the first weekend where we will have great meets on both Friday and Saturday. Have not decided where I will be. So many to choose from. Here are some of the meets to watch for this weekend. Sorry if I missed your meet if it is not included here:


Fremd Throwers Invitational

Patriot Relays @ Stevenson


Al Joyner Relays @ East St. Louis

Galesburg Invitational

Granite City Invitational

Gus Scott Invitational @ Naperville North

Lee Farmer Invitational @ Proviso East

Matt Wulf Invitational @ Yorkville

Minooka Invitational

Orphan Relays @ Centralia

Ottawa ABC Meet


Bartlett Invitational @ Streamwood

BATE Invitational @ Buffalo Grove

Bud Mohns Invitational @ Downers Grove South

Capitol City Classic @ Springfield

Freeport Invitational @ Freeport

Geneva Invitational

Haake Invitational @ Glenbard West

Homewood-Flossmoor Invitational

Hub Relays @ Rochelle

John Bell Invitational @ West Aurora

Metea Valley Invitational

Palatine City Challenge (Palatine/Fremd) @ Palatine

Urbana Open


~~ And Finally ~~

Luke Decker is a Sophomore on the track team that is a co-op between the schools of Palestine and Hutsonville HS located in southern Illinois. On Tuesday while running the 3200 Meter Run, medics said that Decker had basically had a heart attack while running the race.

Doctors at the hospital said that this young man is going to be okay, but was moved to Indianapolis to have some tests run on him.

This is a close knit community.The school enrollment at Palestine is 106 students. Hutsonville has an enrollment of 110 students. There are only 17 members on the boys track team. So when something like this happens, it is mind numbing especially to some one young like this.

All we can hope is that there is recovery in Luke and that there is recovery in the school and the community. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, and everyone in the Palestine and Hutsonville communities.

I wish I could say more on this. All I know is that sometime we take granted some of the things that are given to us. Completing a competition is a blessing. There are sometimes where we think it is a given that we will finish the race.

Thank you to Blake Hale of Robinson HS for alerting everyone to this on his Facebook account. Hopefully, we will get some great news soon on Luke. It would be great to see him back on the track and going after personal bests.