By Mark Gregory
CHARLESTON – No matter the sport, no matter time, winning a triple crown is milestone for any athlete.
That is what Minooka’s Soren Knudsen pulled off last weekend at the Class 3A boys state track and field meet in O’Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.
Last Saturday, the Indian senior won the 3200-meter run in a time of 9 minutes, 3.41 seconds and also claimed the title in the 1600 run in 4:10.51.
Those two, together with his win the cross country finals in the fall, give him the distance triple crown – something that has not been done in the state’s largest class since 2013 when Jack Keelan of St. Ignatius completed the feat.
“I can’t really put it into words,” Knudsen said after the race. “There was a lot of stress in the last half hour (leading up to the 1600) and I haven’t completely gathered my thoughts. I am usually really calm and joking around and lacking in the nervousness and I tried to still be like that in the two mile, but it was very nerve wracking.”
While Knudsen ran away from the field in the 3200, the 1600 came down to the wire.
“Illinois is the real deal,” he said. “Especially in that 800, 1600 and 3200 distance. The two mile, I was extremely confident in. I almost knew I was going to win, but the mile was uncertain. There are a lot of different competitors out here with a lot of different race strategies and they are different kind of runners than I am. In Illinois, you never do know. If we run this race 10 times, I don’t win 10 times and that is what makes this so special.”
Only a rare accomplishment like what Knudsen earned is enough to trump another incredible performance by Lockport junior John Meyer.
Meyer won the Class 3A shot put title with a put of 65-feet, 10.5-inches. It was his second-straight state championship in the shot put.
Meyer hit his best put during Friday’s prelims.
“I was feeling pretty confident (after that), I knew I just had to go over 65 (feet),” Meyer said. “Usually I get my best marks in prelims and coming into finals, I just wanted to get the state record ( ) but I couldn’t. I was out of tune with my body, but there is nothing I could do. There are points where you just say forget it and just try and throw your hardest and that doesn’t work as all. That last throw I tried to throw as hard as I could and that didn’t work at all. I didn’t stay as calm today.”
Meyer then went on to place second in the discus with a throw of 189-05.
Those two were not the only locals to earn state medals, as Minooka senior Brennan Loughran placed ninth in the pole vault, clearing 14-0.
Another Minooka senior, Colin Marchio, placed ninth in the 100 dash in 10.95 seconds.
A pair of Indians advanced to the finals, but did not finish in the top nine and earn a medal.
Senior Steve Lasinis was 10th in the long jump with a jump of 22-04.25 and junior Dominic Ruettiger was 11th in the pole vault, clearing 14-feet.
There were also several locals who competed in the state meet, but did not advance to the finals.
Lockport junior Conor McCarthy competed in the long jump (20-11.25) and the triple jump (40-06.25).
In the pole vault, Lockport senior Andrew Novak missed on the opening height, as did Joliet West senior Dalin Lockman in the high jump.
In the shot put, Lockport’s Kevin Pokorski (51-11.25) and Joliet Central senior Angelo Villanueva (50-10.50) both competed in the finals.
Joliet Central junior Oswaldo Guzman posted a time of 1:57.32 in the 800 run, while Minooka junior Brandon Adams ran a 49.23.
The lone area relay was the Minooka 4×400 team of junior Aaron Arroyo, freshman Hector Ramos, junior James Sanchez and junior Brandon Adams, who posted a time of 3:22.85.