This week in Illinois boys track & field

There are sometimes where you search for things to write about. Last week, things were falling into my lap. Last weekend was the busiest weekend of the indoor season with schools participating in conference meets and some big down state invitationals. Some schools were chasing qualifying marks for this weekend’s IPTT Classic. Others were wrapping up their season and using the weekend’s meets as a building block for outdoors.

It was funny. As I was inputting the results into our database Saturday night, I leave my Facebook messenger on just in case a coach needs to contact me on something. Well, two athletes came on and asked me if I had seen the performance of a certain athlete from last weekend.

Here is the thing. I do appreciate the messages that I do receive. But there are sometimes I cannot write about everything that happened in the last week. For those things, I make a little note for hopes that I will use it in a future recap.

So guys, don’t be discouraged if I do not mention everyone who ran great in the last week. It is however heartwarming to see someone have a great performance and to see the jubilation that they have afterwards

~~ A fast mile north of the border ~~

This is the weekend where milers went wild throughout Illinois.

While I was watching the Mid Suburban League in Naperville, I received a message that Will Brewster of Grayslake Central had run 4:14 in a small invitational at Wisconsin-Parkside. I got home and no results were in my mailbox so it was a matter of contacting anyone I could to get those results up.

It was amazing to see the results and that Brewster had run this 4:14 1600 SOLO. No help with the pace. No one to push him. Second place in that race was his teammate Kevin Boyle, who ran a good 4:41. It will be interesting to see what Brewster will run with someone pushing him.

The story does not end there. As a freshman, Brewster finished 9th in the 2A State Meet in the 3200 Meter Run. The following winter, Brewster shattered his leg playing intramural basketball. His doctor told him he would never run the same way that he did. The doctor basically said that this was it.

Well, this young man from Grayslake is not running the same way that he did before the injury. He is running better. Through a ton of hard work, a stubbornness to not believe what the doctors were telling him, and the strength of his faith, Brewster has rebounded and now is one of the elite distance runners in the state.

It is a testimony of never giving up on your dreams or for the people who were his support group, never giving up on him. A good lesson today that maybe we should focus a little more on when we want to stop when the going gets rough.

~~ Some fast miles south of Chicago ~~

We have talked about the great 1600 that was turned in by Tyler Schneider of Conant at the MSL Invitational (read about it here). There was some great 1600 races at the Charleston in both the small school and large school meet. In both races, it was a matter of friendly rivals throwing down some fast times.

In the small school race, it was the first time that Grant Nykaza of Beecher and Steve Schroeder of Monticello had met since last November when Schroeder ran away with the 1A state title. Last Saturday, Nykaza went under 4:20 for the first time running 4:19.74 for a IL#7 time. Schroeder was close behind in second also running a PR of 4:21.00. It will be great to watch them race against each other when they return to Charleston in May.

This was the third time that Garrett Sweatt of Edwardsville and Michael Clevenger of Decatur MacArthur have raced this winter. Each race has been memorable. The race in the Lantz Fieldhouse was no exception and I guess the third time was the charm for Clevenger. Sweatt set the pace for the majority of the race. Clevenger just waited and waited, probably a little bit more than he has against Sweatt. It made the difference as Clevenger ran 4:16.81 with Sweatt a close 2nd in 4:17.65. Both times were PR’s indoors for Clevenger and Sweatt.

~~ Distance races gone crazy at MSL ~~

I think some fans were shocked by how fast the times were at the MSL Invitational last Saturday. While the meet was going on, former Schaumburg Head Coach and current Harper College Head Coach Jim Macnider summed it up as simply as he could. “Some of the MSL schools are not used to running on a big track. Some of the schools do not even have a track in our conference, “ said the Illinois Hall of Fame Coach. “So when they get to a big track like this, it is like boom…fast times.”

The times were extrodinary. How would you like to be Andrew LeTourneau of Rolling Meadows in the 3200 Meter Run. He ran in the “slow” section of the race and ran 9:38.54 to win his section. In any other year, it would have him placing in the top 3. On this day, it was only good for 8th. All together in that race, 20 runners made the Dyestat TFX Illinois Boards.

A note on the winner of that race Erik Peterson of Barrington. Before the race, his coach Ty Gorman said that he was running with a little chip on his shoulder. That chip came from a performance at last November’s state meet where he placed 8th, a little lower than he wanted.

Peterson has been a changed runner according to his coach. “You have to remember that Erik really did not start running until his sophomore year,” Gorman said. “Now, I see him running with more confidence. He has gained that through races and training.” You could see that in his race on Saturday. It was normal “Peterson fare” to wait until the last moment and kick in for the win. In the MSL 3200, he took control of the race after the 1600 and pushed the pace and refusing to let Anthony Gregorio of Palatine take it away from him. He still kicked, but this was more from strength.

Peterson is also relishing the chance to run the 3200 Meter Run in the state meet this year. Last spring because of the talent that the Broncos had in the 4x8, Peterson made the sacrifice and ran for his teammates instead of the race he loved.

“I kind of gave it up last year and I did not get a fair chance to run it,” Peterson said after his race at MSL. “I really only ran 9:20 and I wasn’t satisfied with that time. Hopefully I can get close to around 9:00.”

Early wish would be at Prospect. There, Peterson may run against Garrett Sweatt of Edwardsville. Last year, Sweatt did run at the Wanner Knights Invitational. It could be a fast race if these two got together before the state series.

~~ News and Notes ~~

  • How about Eric Gordon of Normal Community West! What a week he had. He won the Big 12 Indoor Meet at Bloomington on Tuesday vaulting to a personal best of 16’ 1”. He one upped that PR at Charleston last Saturday winning the Pole Vault in 16’ 2 ¾”. That vault took him to #6 in the nation indoors. He will have one last chance to better his indoor PR at the IPTT Classic this Saturday.

  • Oak Park-River Forest proved at the West Suburban-Silver Meet in Elmhurst that they should be a school to be watched at the state meet in May. The Huskies can score power points from Malachy Schrobilgen in the distances, Carl Heinz in the Triple and High Jumps. The big surprise for Coach Tim Hasso has been Evan Fisher. Normally a 400 meter runner, Fisher has stepped up to the 800 and now ranks among the state’s best in that event. Along with those three, Harrison Gay could score some points in either of the hurdle races and the Long Jump.

  • The one big surprise in the team chase in 2A could be Providence Catholic. They showed their strength by placing 2nd at the Chicago Catholic League Championships and have some quality individuals that could place high in Charleston in May. Chad Weaver remains one of the favorites in the Pole Vault. They should get great points in the dashes and the Long Jump from Troy Sheppard. The Providence relays should remain strong. They could also get points from Jessie Long in the weight events and Andrew Helmin in the hurdles. Put that all together and you could see the team coming back from Charleston with a trophy in May.

~~ This weekend ~~

It is the windup to a indoor season and with the way the weather has been, I am sure athletes are looking forward to racing on the outdoor ovals. There is some unfinished business in meets under the roof.

  • The big meet of the weekend is the Illinois Prep Top Times Classic at Illinois Wesleyan this Friday and Saturday. We will have previews up on our site late Thursday.

  • Great invitational action at Proviso West High School with the Pirate Indoor Classic on Saturday. Also look for the Bolingbrook Fast Times meet at Lewis University.

  • The outdoor action has already started around the St. Louis area. The Southwestern Illinois Relays will be held on Saturday at Edwardsville. Garrett Sweatt of Edwardsville is scheduled to compete at this meet.

~~ And finally… ~~

Yes, I am a greedy track fan who would like to see all off the top players at the Illinois Prep Top Times Meet. Even though I am a part of the meet, I more than understand some of the thinking of some of the coaches that choose to have their athletes compete at this weekend’s meet.

“It is a matter of philosophy,” said Wheaton-Warrenville South’s Girls Coach Rob Harvey. “We are on spring break this week and then we have a meet outdoors next weekend in Moline.” That is the same reasoning I have heard from other coaches. The main goal for their athletes is to have them ready to go in May for the state meet. This meet just does not fit into our training schedule are some of the reasons I have heard.

Am I bitter that these athletes will not be competing? Not at all.

For Garrett Sweatt, he may get some heat for not running against some of the best runners in the 1600 & the 3200 this weekend at Bloomington. Instead, he chose to start his outdoor season at a home invitational. “Garrett has never competed in this meet (SWIL Relays),” said Edwardsville Coach Chad Lakatos. “He wanted to run in this because it was his senior year and this was his last chance to do so.”

He has his priorities straight.

I do not think that there is a right or wrong philospophy on the approach to this weekend. Some coaches use it for athletes to get exposure in a big meet and to get them ready from that for May. I do think if your priority at the beginning of the year is to get to the IPTT Classic, well then it may be time to reevaluate. Use it as a stepping stone to get from point A to point B. Don’t make it the end all of you did not qualify for it. Think of the big picture and how you will achieve it. Do not get down because you are not on the track at the Shirk Center this weekend.

We should have some great competition there on all 3 levels this weekend. Hope to see some of you there.

~~ One important note ~~

Former Olympian and former Evanston T&F Coach Willie May recently underwent a heart transplant surgery in Minnesota. There have been complications with his recovery. Please keep Coach May and his family in your thoughts and prayers over the next week. I know it would be greatly appreciated.

Comments or questions? Send them to me at newman.dyestatIL@gmail.com.