Schaumburg, Ill --- Maine South’s Mihal Filipczak has had almost 11 months to think about the last time he ran an 800 Meter race on an outdoor track. It was at the blue oval at the IHSA state meet in Charleston.
“I was really nervous for that race last year,” he said as he reflected on the 2011 second place finish. “I ran too conservative. I was afraid to do what I did today.”
The race at Saturday’s Saxon Invitational was the type of race that he wanted to run at state last year. He stayed aggressive throughout the race. He passed by the 400 in the lead at 56.1.
“My coach (Greg Nordahl) told me to kick with 300 meters to go,” Filipczak said. “Last year I would let people go by me and I would procrastinate and wait until 100 to go.”
On this day, he would not let Jacob Hernandez of Bloom and Minooka’s Dan Popek get the chance. He kept the lead and finished in 1:53.35, the second fastest time in the state behind Belvidere North’s Will Crocker and the 1:52.67 he ran later in the day at Arcadia.
“My coach thought I could run 1:53.96 today,” he continued. “I thought no. But when I crossed the line and the announcer said that I ran 1:52.9, I was happy.”
During the indoor season, Filipczak did not think that this season would happen. He hyper-extended his knee and was forced to miss 3 weeks of training. He gained more confidence after running in his conference meet. After competing in Maine South’s 4 x 800 team, he came 30 minutes later and finished second in the 800 to state cross country champ Leland Later of New Trier.
“I realized after that race that I did not really lose a lot of training to that knee injury. I thought I had a chance to do well this season.”
For Filipczak, the goal is pretty simple: the state championship in the 800 that eluded him last season. Also, to break Jason Van Swol’s record of 1:49.71 in the process.
“I need to run the same way at state that I did today. I am not going to make the same mistake this season,” Filipczak concluded.
Other notes from the Saxon Invitational:
In their first outdoor invitational of the season, Neuqua Valley flexed its muscles by winning this invitational. They showed that they have the strength up front along with the depth to contend for the state team championship in 2012.
The Wildcats were paced by wins in 4 events. Mark Derrick ran 9:20.10 to win by 5 seconds over teammate Taylor Soltys. Right before that, Neuqua’s 4 x 100 meter relay won by half a second over conference rival Bartlett.
Jacob Bender, off of a strong 800 Tuesday at York, came back on Saturday to easily win the 400 in 49.43, the fourth fastest time in the state so far this spring. The other Neuqua win came from junior Brad Mikulecky winning the Triple Jump with a jump of 43-1.5.
In one of the most excruciating races to watch, no one seemed to want to take the lead in the 1600 Meter Run. Prairie Ridge duo Mitch Wilkins and Joe Cowlin took the pace through a sluggish 2:17 for the first 800 and 3:25 with a lap to go. Cowlin took off at the gun lap and looked like the race was his. Way back in 8th sat Minooka’s Joey Santillo who looked seamlessly out of this race. He started to pick off runners on the back stretch. He passed Cowlin in the last 50 meters to win in 4:27.23.
“When I got close to him, I could tell by the way he was breathing that he was getting tired,” Santillo said after his race. “The pace was comfortable for me. I knew in the last lap that I could do something with that.”
Perhaps the showstopper in this meet was the 4 x 400 Meter Relay. The last time Minooka and Waubonsie Valley raced against each other, it was in the IPTT Classic. Minooka had finished ahead of Waubonsie, but it was disqualified for cutting in early. Also throw in a powerful Neuqua Valley team and you have a great race.
Neuqua Valley changed up their lineup a little bit. Jacob Bender, usually the Wildcats’ anchor man, ran the second leg on this Saturday which kept them in the lead through the second leg. On the third leg, Minooka’s Dan Popek captured the lead for the Indians with Neuqua and Waubonsie breathing down Popek’s neck.
On the final leg, Waubonsie’s John Schafer split a 48.6 to overtake Minooka’s Tevin Hopkins and Neuqua’s Julius Garcia down the final stretch to win in 3:20.94. The three schools have the fastest times in the 4x4 after this race in 3A.