By Mark Gregory
CHARLESTON – In a 1600-meter race that saw a sprint to the finish line end in a dramatic triple crown for Minooka’s Soren Knudsen, Downers Grove North senior Alec Danner coasted across the finish line of O’Brien Stadium in fourth place, having already made his big move to put him in position for a top-five finish at the Class 3A state track and field meet on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.
“I felt pretty good,” Danner said. “I knew coming through at about 2:09, I knew it was going to be a fast finish and I am not really well known for my finish, so I really tried to make moves in that third lap and get up with that pack of three and I think it worked out in my favor. Soren is such a talented guy and all those dudes just did their thing and at the end of the day, they just have more speed than I do.
“I have to make my own race strategy for myself. It is definitely a big mental sport out there. This is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical for me.”
Danner finished the race in 4 minutes, 14.66 seconds to earn the 10th medal for the Trojans ever in the 1600.
“My coach said he thought I was in about 4:10 to 4:12 shape, so I was happy with the 4:14,” he said.
Danner claimed one of four medals at the state finals, as the Trojans brought home a trio of seventh-place hardware.
In the 3200, sophomore Matt Moravec took seventh in 9:15.36.
“Holding on to people is usually beneficial in races and stay with the group and let them help you out a little bit,” he said. “I did have a little bit of trouble holding on at the end of the race, but being in the pack did help.”
As a sophomore, Moravec knows he has two more years to get higher on the medal stand, but he wasn’t in Charleston this year for the experience.
“Being here was a great experience and I think it will be beneficial moving forward,” he said. “However, I wasn’t just here to tag along and just enjoy it. I was here to compete and I was happy with my race.”
Senior Joe Keys ran the 300 low hurdles in 38.80 and also joined senior Andrew Marszewski, junior Brendan Lockerby and senior Robert Falconer to post a time of 3:20.29 in the 4×400 relay.
Keys has the distinction of earning the school’s first-ever medal in the 300 hurdles, and also being part of the first-ever top nine finish in the 1600 relay.
“The 300 was a really quick field,” Keys said. “I didn’t get a PR, but it felt good and the great competition pushed me.”