By Mark Gregory
As Minooka heads into the IHSA Class 3A state track and field finals in O’Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, they are doing so after a dominant sectional where the Indians advanced 10 participants in nine events, winning the sectional title with 112.5 points.
Neuqua Valley was second with 104, while Oswego was third with 42.
The Indians qualified all four relay teams to the state meet, all four heading down as sectional champions.
The 3200-meter team of Jake Swank, Jordan Freese, Chris Drey and Soren Knudsen won the title in 7 minutes, 52.77 seconds.
“We had a plan setting in to just run our best race the first three legs and I think Chris Drey ran one of the best races I have ever seen,” said Knudsen, the anchor of the relay. “He separated us and it was just Neuqua in front and I was feeling tired coming in, but my teammates were yelling at me and I knew I had to bring it in.”
Drey knew he just needed to get it in a good position for Knudsen to close it out.
“In the beginning I wasn’t sure of myself, but I just thought about the guys that want to get down there and I fought for them,” he said. “This feeling is amazing and this is why I went out.”
Swank was the one that led off the race and the meet for the Indians and said he had to fight nerves.
“I was nervous before the race, but I just knew I had to do my job and stick with the first pack and I did,” he said.
If seniors like Drey and Swank were nervous, the nerves for Freese, a freshman, had to be off the charts, but he said the upperclassmen prepared him.
“I am working with some of the best in practice and that is what made me run the way I ran today,” Freese said. “All year, I was pushing myself past my limit, or where I thought my limit was – that is what got me here. And thinking of the seniors and how bad they wanted this it really made me go for it all.”
In the 400, Colin Marchio, Maceo Findlay, Brandon Adams and Justin Wolz posted a time of 41.68 and a sectional title, while in the 800, Wolz, Findlay, Adams and Matt Dlugopolski teamed up and ran a 1:26.58.
The 1600 group of Aaron Arroyo, Adams, Dlugopolski and Wolz won in 3:18.10.
Wolz collected his fourth sectional gold with a win in the 300 intermediate hurdles in 39.15.
“With the relays earlier, the 300 was a little tough, but the goal today was just to get to state and rest up for next week,” Wolz said. “It feels nice. The 4×1 and 4×2, it was the first time in a while we had our best performance and it was nice to do what we knew we could do. That 4×8 had a 20 second (personal record) and that just set the tone for the whole meet right there. After that, you want it even more and then the next guy wants it after that.”
Wolz is looking to rebound from last year’s state meet, which fell below his expectations.
“I am still thinking about last year when I didn’t quite have a great state meet,” he said. “But everything is falling into place and I have to keep this going.”
He is also looking to get the Indians one of the three team trophies presented at state.
“That is only going to add to everyone’s motivation at state,” Wolz said. “It is state and you are going to give your best no matter what, but when an individual medal and a team medal are on the line, that just adds to it.”
Knudsen advanced in his second event when he won the 1600 run in a time of 4:18.57.
Minooka was just as dominant in the field events.
In the pole vault, both Brennan Loughran and Marcus Hayden cleared 13-feet, 7-inches to advance, with Loughran taking the title on criteria.
Steve Lasinis set the school record in winning the long jump with a leap of 44-06, while Kevin Lam was second in the shot put with a put of 54-09.
Joliet West and Central both competed in the same sectional, but did not advance to state.
At the Downers Grove North sectional, Lockport advanced nine events to state, taking second in the meet with 88 points. Sandburg won with 98 and Downers Grove North was third with 75.
The Porters advanced the 400 relay team in 42.38, while the 800 relay team advanced in 1:27.69.
Individually, Derrius Rodgers won the 100 dash in 10.73 and took the title in the 200 in 21.47.
In the field events, Wade Walder won the pole vault, clearing 13-7, while John Meyer was second in the discus with a throw of 165-0 and Jesse Bustami was third in the long jump in 22-04.50.