"Whitney Young - You Are the Hunted"
Tony’s Take: Sectional edition
by Tony Jones
Lane Tech Assistant Cross Country Coach
The moment of truth finally arrived- not on game day but the day after the regional round concluded.
The St. Ignatius Regional was a joyous time for the Lane Tech family in that several deserving and loyal runners got an opportunity to represent the team in an official post-season race. Kudos to Matt Haak (Jr.) and senior Brandon Zimny-Schmitt (Sr.) for stepping in and representing their team in a fine way.
battle for state would start on Monday after school. It was a specially warm
and fuzzy feeling because the weather was exceptionally nice: 66F and no wind!
It would be a time for the boys to get after it in what is considered one of
the most competitive workouts of the season: “The Max Test” workout. It consists of 2x800 on the track and a
one-mile threshold run on the grass. The results were interesting to say the
-The week leading up the big race-
Here are the results of the Max test:
800: Marcelo Burbano 1:59.9 (56.2), Jon Vara 2:00.9, Pavlo Hutsalyuk 2:01.8,
David Schmieg 2:02.6, Oswaldo Lorenzana
2:07.6, Mansur Soeleman “Waffles” 2:08, Christian Badillo 2:10, Bernardo
Vargas(not top 12 runner) 2:14.6, Fredy Cam-koo 2:16.9, Brandon Zimney-Schmitt
2:19.6, Jose Villabos 2:24.4, Matt Haak 2:27.6
2nd 800: Celo 2:07.4, Vara 2:07.9, Pavlo 2:09.4, Schmieg 2:10.7, Oswaldo 2:11.1, Waffles 2:12.9, Christian 2:17.7, Fredy 2:20.3, Bernardo 2:20.7 (not top 12 runner), Brandon 2:23.8, Haak 2:29.8, Jose 2:32.5
Tempo mile on grass: Vara 5:09, Pavlo 5:12, Schmieg 5:18, Oswaldo 5:19, Christian 5:20, Waffles 5:21; Freddy 5:37, Brandon 5:39, Jose 5:42, Haak 5:53
The outcome of this total workout tells me several things: 1) we are ready for sectionals and 2) the middle-distance side of things may be forecasted several months in advance. Yes, we are always thinking about track and in particular the 800m.
The remainder of the week would go well with a recovery run day mixed and another leg turnover session on Wednesday.
The team traveled to Niles West HS on Thursday for a course run through. We found out the layout would be a slightly different model. It…
-The big race-
The team arrived at Niles West several hours before game time. The girls race would go off at 1:30p and the boys at 2:30p. The team captains were now in charge of the pre-race detail up till course run throughs.
It was a little nerve racking as game time was getting closer. The notice the crowd was swelling on the course as was sound of the Niles North band. My boys started their strides and accelerations 15 minutes before the race. They would do two or three and then relax. As well, the check-in of bibs, uniforms, and race chips were complete. Finally, the pre-race hyped came to an end when the meet starter called the runners to stop doing strides and report to the starting line.
The work is now in and the Moment of Truth is finally here.
The gun signaled the start of the race and the runners are off like a thundering herd of different colors and names- all out for a similar but different cause.
But wait the starting gun pops several more times after just 100m into the race. The race was being called back but no one exactly knows why. Could it be a timing malfunction or a runner that was trampled and went down? Regardless of what the situation was I sprinted out to my team and yelled to captain Marcelo Burbano, “re-boot! Re-boot!” He immediately knew what this meant as we practiced this several times during the year. It means get the mental state in check and re-group. Burbano tells his teammates to forget about what happened and get ready to start again. The boys walked calmly back to the starting line and did another stride. They appeared ready to start again.
The second start was successful and it appeared to have the same intensity as the first one. The meet favorite Elmhurst York quickly moved up front as they had predicted in their regional post-interview. The Dukes #1 runner Scott Milling (Sr.) tracked down Jack Keelan (Sr.) of Chicago St. Ignatius just after 500m. Keelan is the odds on favorite to win the state championship. But in the meantime he had some company with Micah Beller (Sr.) of Skokie Niles North and Burbano.
The pace appeared to be fast on the layout that featured less turns but was still narrow in many places. Keelan and Milling led the first mile in approximately 4:48-49. The lead tail runners were about 4:53-4:54. My supporting cast featured Pavlo (5:02), Vara (5:03), Waffles (5:04), Christian (5:09), Oswaldo (5:13), and Schmieg (5:13). We were in good shape in my book in terms of striking position.
The second-mile became a nail-biting time with the stakes becoming more important. Marcelo was still upfront in the top 10 but he moved further away from his original group of guys and was replaced by a sea of green from York. Yes, four members of the Duke’s scoring pack were now in from of him at the 2m mark. Celo passed by the checkpoint in 10:10. My fifth runner Oswaldo struggled past in 10:52. I felt like we were in good position at the point but at the same time I was optimistically cautious. I felt the same way last year and we barely advanced.
The final mile was well underway and things were beginning to feel like 2011. York appeared to have the race completely soled up and Maine South was sitting solidly in the runner-up spot. But everything else was up for grabs. There was a mix of names from what I could see for the final three tickets to Peoria. New Trier looked strong and so did several other teams. Still, our numbers looked good and I knew that we weren’t going to get 8th place as several media outlets had predicted. No way, no how!
I sensed my coaching duties were complete with just a half-mile left in the race. There was nothing else I could do except become a spectator. I rush inside the football/track stadium to grab a spot by the finish line and count my boys finishes.
Keelan is the easy winner in 14:44 and Milling strolls in next with a solid 14:53. The team race quickly began to unfold with runners coming in like gangbusters. York won easy in my mind as they had four finishers among the top 5. Burbano finally comes home but is struggling to finish. He places 12th in 15:39. Next is Pavlo with a surprising 14th in 15:44. I felt that we were spread apart more during the middle portion of the race but it’s obvious that everyone picked it up over the final half-mile. The final scoring margin for us turns out to be our best all season- it’s just a scant 39-seconds. Vara (37th- 16:05), Schmieg (44th- 16:11), and Oswaldo (58th- 16:18) complete the scoring.
-Another controversy unfolds-
It’s so unbelievable… it’s rather unimaginable that an outcome of a wonderful cross country race could be marred by a counting error. Actually it involved us again. If some of you recall from last year, the official announcement was delayed for nearly an hour because several runners were not tabulated and/or tabulated incorrectly. The outcome sent us to the state championship and Maine South home.
This time things seemed eerily different as I got the word from someone close to the meet management. He told me that we got 6th. I said “really!!” I thought to myself ‘no way.’ I felt we had run well enough to be among the top 5 teams. In fact, I thought we were safer than 5th place.
An official to the meet results indeed confirm that we finished 6th but advanced two runners to the state meet as a consolation prize. I could only think how can I tell the team that we placed 6th and just three points from advancing? It’s the absolute worst place to be if you are a cross country team.
St. Ignatius is the 5th place team the official stated to me prior to the awards session. Our coach Kris Roof asked me if all of our kids were scored. I began to think, ‘what is wrong with Roof? Did he not hear that we finished 6th?’ Out of respect for him, I walk up to the awards table that the Niles West meet officials were setting up. There was a set of results sitting on the table and it had six finishers listed in our team scoring composite. Immediately, the name David Schmieg was missing. He was our 4th man today!! I was at the finish line and saw him sprint home hard across the line. Something was wrong and it had to be looked into.
Niles West head coach Michael Grossman noticed it too and said that he would look into it right away. The awards ceremony for a second year in a row would be delayed. It spread very fast throughout the field house that a finish line issue was the reason for the delay. When I spoke to several coaches (including St. Iggy head man Ed Ernst) they couldn’t believe this could happen again.
Finally, after nearly 45 minutes of delay the verdict was in. The video showed that Schmieg did indeed finish the race. In fact, he finished 44th overall, and in front of his teammate Oswaldo who was initially ruled as the 4th runner. The outcome pushed us into 4th overall and Glenbard West dropped down to 5th. The unfortunate loser was St. Ignatius. The Wolfpack crew moved to 6th in the revised team standings.
It is still not known why Schmieg was not captured in the initial scoring. I wasn’t told anything about it. Some rumors were floating around that he had two chips on one shoe. But the bottom line was that he fulfilled the required provisions set by the IHSA.
-One more week to go-
The awards were indeed fruitful with many well-wishers greeting the team afterwards. As well, we will have one more week together to achieve our goals and dreams in next week’s state championship. Now, it’s time to get back to work and reach those goals.
The Chicago Public League had a great weekend at state… oh boy did they have a great weekend!
Let me first start out by start out by saying that the 2012 was great for the CPS. It was a joy to see so many emerging schools have outstanding squads and actually enjoy the sport. As well, some of the schools of the past (Dunbar) put themselves back on the track radar. It was only fitting that the competitiveness among us extend to the state championship in Charleston.
For so many years, the Public League was considered a doormat. I believe this claim was justified. There was a period in which no city team scored a single point at the state meet. It was just pure apathy.
I think somewhere along the line coaches, athletes, parents, and administration just stopped caring about the sport in Chicago. It didn’t help matters that the CPS automatic qualifier allowed failure to exist. But the moment of truth would soon change.
The IHSA ridded the CPS of their automatic qualifier in 2002. So now all teams are truly on the same playing field in getting to Charleston. Of course, there are pundits out there who grumbled and thought it was unfair because of other factors not related to running, jumping, or throwing.
At the end of the day, it comes down to coaches and athletes. If you have good coaches and athletes, then you can compete with the best no matter the circumstances are.
I am not naïve though. I realize that we have a long way to go to be taken serious as a threat state-wide. I know that we need facilities at more schools; better facilities at existing park districts. We also need better coaches and more training. We need improved communication and resources among coordinators and coaches too. I am aware of this and I am sure the “Chicago United” will continue to be motivated and strive for the sport and athletes.
The ‘New Golden Age’ of CPS is here-
I’m not sure if the CPS will ever get back to the days when they entertained multiple teams in the top 10. I don’t necessarily believe that facility issues are primary reason why either. I think it happens to do more with the era. The dynamics have changed permanently. The suburbs dominate the landscape- that includes resources and most anything else you want to name. Also, look for the charter schools to make more inroads against traditional public schools.
I believe that we will have one or two really good conference type teams sending a fair amount of talent to state with an opportunity to score points and conclude the season on a respectable note. But I also see that one or two teams with supreme talent despite low to average numbers really making noise in Charleston.
In effect, we are now in the age of Chicago United. We as CPS coaches, athletes, parents, and administration must continue to support one another when we get to state. It means a lot when your league is success as a whole. It fosters sportsmanship as well as competitiveness. When athletes see one of their own succeed they will believe they can do it as well. The leagues around the state support each other. The Mid-Suburban League (MSL) actually has an informal meeting of league coaches at the end of a particular season to celebrate their achievements. The powers that be just need to realize at the end of the day, most of the kids are friends off the playing fields anyway.
As for the performances as a whole, it goes without saying that the majority of them were outstanding. I mean the numbers that the league put up can be compared to any era. Let’s take a look at what happened over the two-day state championship series.
Dunbar makes the case as the best ever CPS sprint relay corps-
Coach Glenn Johnson’s Dunbar team put on a clinic in the two relays and 200m led by super sprinter Darvell Harris. The entire state got an opportunity to see the Mightymen go to work as soon as they stepped on the track. The 4x1 and 4x2 relays produced the fastest times in the prelims with 41.77 and 1:26.11 times. It is the fastest time that a Public team has ever run in the events. Harris later used the most of his opportunity to showcase his individual talent in the 200 when he scorched his foes; he equaled his own personal best and established a new state legal best 21.34 (-0.9).
The finals for Dunbar would basically be a repeat of Friday as the Mightymen (ho-hum) decisively won the short relay in unfriendly conditions- 41.92. It wasn’t the 95 F heat that prevented them from clocking much faster times, but more of a strong headwind that negated a possible 41.2-41.3 clocking. The wind could not stop the quartet from achieving another state best and establishing itself as of the best units ever to lace them up in the 4x2. The first three runners set up Harris nicely and allowed him to glide the final turn and slingshot down the homestretch to win in a deftly 1:26.01. The mark established itself as the 12th fastest time in the country. It also moved the four-some to IL#3 all-time and the best ever to come out of the city of Chicago. Harris completed the master plan by crushing the field and the much more heralded Kennedy Mayweather of Collinsville with a convincing 21.44 (-1.7).
Other top performances-
Dakarai Howard (Whitney Young) in the 400m. Howard established himself as the city’s most consistent long sprinter. He got into the final with a perceived school record 49.08. The standout senior followed it up with a 7th place finish 49.38.
Deshuan Jordan (Jr.) North Lawndale got the heartbreak 10th spot in the prelims 49.44. He ran a solid race and should be a factor in this event next season… his teammate Imani Payton (So.) ran a respectable 39.89 in his 300H prelim. Payton should among the state’s best long hurdler in 2013.
Morgan Park’s Stedman Foster (Sr.) just missed breaking the 50-second mark by going 50.03 in his prelim.
The 800 was fruitful in terms of respect. Logan Means (Jr.) of Whitney Young left Charleston with a wealth of confidence when he ran 1:57.33. He did not make the final but he copped the school record. Robert Rose (Sr.) Lincoln Park leaves as the school’s best runner despite a little off his personal best but still solid 2:00.23.
The 4x4 relays did not get the desired results that they wanted but still doesn’t have anything to be ashamed of. Whitney Young (3:22.70), Lane (3:24.31), North Lawndale (3:24.97) clocked numbers below their seasonal bests. However, five years ago, these numbers would have been thought impossible.
Kelvin Park duo shows off big time in Charleston-
The city of Chicago has been terrorized by Jamal McNeeley and Brian Carter over the past several years. Now, it would be time for the state of Illinois to get an improved version of them. The 2012 duo edition would leave the state championship as one of the best duos city or state.
McNeeley took second and Carter third in the 100 with 10.63 and 10.69 times respectively. McNeeley would produce the day’s 5th fastest time but the 3A winning time of 10.53 was severely aided by the wind. Tavaris Binion (Hinsdale South) took full advance of the +3.7 advantage opposed to the barely illegal +2.2 of McNeeley’s heat.
The 200m results would be even better. McNeeley wins in 22.00 (-1.9) and Carter assists in getting the event sweep in second (22.33). The Panthers wound up finishing 6th overall in the team standings scoring 33 points.
Jones covers the distance arena-
Kelvyn Park held the sprints hostage… it would be Jones’ turn to hold up the distance running spectrum. In Friday’s prelim round, the 4x800 relay ran extremely well without two of its guns. Jamison Dale (Jr.) and Timothy Warren (Sr.) did not compete with the 8:10.68 running Eagles. Let’s just say had they been on it, they would have made the final.
Dale would get his first chance to strut his stuff when he set a class meet record 4:15.97. Dale pulled away from Will Brewster of Grayslake on the bell lap in heat #2.
Dale returned Saturday to place third in the 3200 behind the state’s top distance runner Michael Clevenger (Sr., Decatur MacArthur). Dale battled all the way to the end until Clevenger and then Brewster pulled away. Dale’s time was 9:22.29. His teammate Luke O’Connor would put in a surge after 5 ½ laps and win section 1 in 9:33.34. O’Connor’s mark held up and he placed 5th overall.
Dale completed his excellent weekend with a 7th place finish in the 1600 (4:23.45). Once again Dale would push the pace while others lay idly by and allow him to do the dirty work. Dale will have a monster senior season.
Other top performances-
Fenger would strut their stuff like Dunbar in the sprint relays, but on a smaller scale. The Titans placed 4th in the 4x1 (42.79) and 7th in the 4x2 (1:30.01). Speedster Shavell Lucas anchored both relays.
Brooks had a banner day in their first big state championship. Junior Malik Lee placed 9th in the 800 (1:57.83)- just behind Jeffrey Rector (Sr., Roosevelt) in 8th. Lee would later return and assist him mates in placing 5th in the 4x4 (3:23.00).
The Lane Tech 4x800 journey-
The journey of winning the 4x8 has a long list of people who contributed to it. So much credit has to go to former assistant and distance coach Pat Sullivan. He is an alum who developed the middle-distance program in the early 2000s. When he moved on after 2005, I was asked to take his spot. I thank Coach Kris Roof for trusting me and having patience in getting us where we are now.
Believe it or not, we have set some very high goals for our team. Perhaps, some were a little high. I tended to believe early on that we had the makings great units. But this team was going to be special. It was set up but last year’s solid run in which we ran 7:58. We got to state and did not run well without David Timlin. The boys decided to re-dedicate themselves over the summer. They realized they needed to get tougher mentally and stronger physically. The cross country season went well along with a trip to state in November.
The indoor season saw us build up an incredible amount of confidence without our top gun Timlin who was out with a stress fracture. The boys ran 8:07.71 at Downers Grove South Mustang Relays to place 5th. I knew that we would get Timlin back for the Illinois Prep Top Times. It allowed us to run a few reserves in several big meet situations and get them big meet experience.
The IPTT went well as we kindly took third place in 8:00.68. It was Timlin’s first time back since February and he ran a masterful 1:54.6 anchor. The rest of the guys got the job done as well.
This season almost came to a halt at the Prospect Invite. Although we were able to run and finish second to Prospect, it came with a price. Timlin could not walk the next day. He apparently hurt his ankle miss-stepping coming out of a door. It was initially ruled as a stress fracture. The injury was later down-graded to a sprain.
The post-season was set up by a two-week break between city and the sectionals. The weather had a big part in times across the state. However, there were some teams running decent times not nothing eye-popping. As a coaching staff we were a bit concerned that we wouldn’t have an opportunity to get a standout performance before state run.
We decided to hold a 4x8 intra-squad meet on Friday May 11. We lined up most of the distance runners and allowed them to pick their teams. I picked the A varsity and top frosh-soph unit. The A-team would go with Marcelo Burbano, Kevin Perez, Lucas Beltran, and David Timlin. The frosh-soph team and four other units got a 100m lead on the “A.” The future unit of our program ran well and held off the A-team until the third exchange; they would run 8:27 with Jon Vara, David Schmieg, Pavlo Hutsalyuk, and Adalberto Aviles. The varsity four consisting of Burbano, Perez, Beltran, and Timlin ran 7:59.0- 2:02.5., 2:02.5, 1:59.0, 1:55.0. I believe we are ready to compete in the upcoming state series.
The sectionals are always a nervous time because anything can happen. One bad leg could cost the team a trip to state. We had some miscues during this season that I wasn’t proud of. Our transition running has been real bad at times. During the two-week bye period we went back to the basics, working on stick play and transition running. I made the boys do workouts with batons full-time to think relay all the time. Perez even had his own baton!! We got better in practice so let’s see.
Burbano was scheduled to lead off at sectionals. He was eager all week and ready once the day hit Thursday. He of course is not our fastest runner but he is our best starter and battles well. This is essential for a lead-off runner- an absolute must!
Burbano got out fast and surprisingly did not have any resistance after the first 200 of the race. He continued to pull away and come home to Perez in 1:58.3. Perez ran his best relay effort since last year’s sectional going 1:59.5. He brought it home to Beltran who essentially ran a solo effort 1:59.2. Timlin took to his anchor carry striding hard and hit the bell in around 6:50. He would come in 7:50.22. It was a new school record and all-time CPS record- as well as the state’s top time (at that moment). Everyone quickly enjoyed the moment and moved on.
The week of state building was the same as the other weeks. We kept our mid-range run together of 6-7 miles. We didn’t taper all the way down during state xc so there was wasn’t a reason to do so now. Besides, the boys like the runs. In our last workout on Wednesday, everyone looked so slick and sharp in doing the 150m build ups that we shut the workout down a little early.
State prelims were all busy. There was no time to joke around. We needed to make the final to satisfy our season. It is as simple as butter on bread.
Burbano agreed to lead off in the prelims. He wasted little time in settling down after a rough and tumble start. But he miscalculated the closing finish of the lead pack and fell behind. Once again the transition issues popped when Perez took the stick and then ran into a statue runner instead of weaving around. It was his fault. He has to know this. Although he fought well, we were in a big hole. I estimated like 9th or 10th when Timlin got the stick. It was a great call by Coach Roof to suggest that we run Timlin 3rd leg in the prelim because of nerves. He was correct.
Timlin had an important decision to make. Would he go all out to catch up or bid his time and see what kind of runner he is?
Timlin ran one of the most memorable legs in state prelim history. He appeared to play pick off. He caught one runner and then two, three, four. It was just less than 150m left that he completely sold out and caught the lead runner instead of settling for third place. The meet announcer acknowledged the feat and so did the crowd. His split was an amazing 1:51.9.
Beltran took off in full flight mode and held on to run 1:55.5 and get us to Saturday’s final. The finishing time was 7:46.92.
Saturday is the day we all have been waiting for. The entire 5-plus months of training and sacrifice comes down to one race, one moment in time. If we get last it wouldn’t have mattered. Oh ok, it would actually hurt quite a bit. But we established a major goal of making it to the state championship. But we are greedy now. We have to finish this thing out.
Burbano once again was summoned to lead us off. He has become a steady and trusty lead man. The now experienced Burbano got out well again. He stayed on the outside and ran in 9th position but less than a second off of the leaders. He faded near the end of his run but still logged a good 1:58.3.
Perez took flight immediately and free of trouble. He moved up to the lead pack before the first 200. KP stayed there until fading a bit with about 200 to go. Hinsdale Central and Niles North got to the third exchange first and moved hard.
Beltran got the stick and moved on the field. He surveyed the first lap and then bolted on the backstretch into the lead just before the 200 mark. Beltran continued to blaze despite falling off a bit. The most important thing is he will get Timlin the stick in better comforts.
The moment of truth has arrived for Timlin and the team. We have been coming up short all season in the big time meets. Timlin was out kicked by Niles North’s Aron Sebhat at IPTT despite bolting into the lead and gaping field. We lost another close one at Prospect.
Well, Timlin got the stick with probably a one-second deficit and it was off to the races. He decided to go and run his race and not play a tactical one. He moved in front of Sebhat and then Prospect’s anchor as well as Sandburg. He put on a nasty surge and made the field come and get him. He always felt that’s his way to run in a big meet. We have held him back enough he thought! Timlin hit the first 400 in 53.9 along with a 30m lead. On the backstretch it was beginning to get tense as Prospect faded but Sebhat was coming. Timlin was still holding on. It became evident with less than 50m from the finish that the dream of all dreams would be fulfilled. He crossed in first. The time of 7:47.42 was slower than the prelim mark but it did not matter at all. What matter is the four young men who dedicated themselves over the past several years to become quality athletes and to have fun, accomplished a feat once thought impossible for the Public League. They are now state champions of the 4x800 relay.
Tears of joy instantly streamed out as I hugged the North Lawndale coaches. I met the boys down on the infield. But it was their moment and later Coach Roof’s moment. It was and still is so surreal.
I don’t want this moment to go away. In less than a month, it will be time to go after 2013. We will be ready!
First, I would like to give my sincere congratulations to all of the CPS teams and individuals as well as girls and boys competing in the state championship on Saturday. I especially enjoyed watching the outstanding performances by Jamison Dale and his Jones team in the 2A race. His 7th place finish betters the 10th that Kennedy’s Onecimo Guereca earned in 1997. The IHSA had just two classes then. I remember Guereca being a front runner from the gun. Dale is the same way. I’ve been around the CPS since 1994 and Guereca is the best I’ve seen from the CPS. Dale can be better than Guereca- especially with another year to go.
For those who made it to Peoria regardless of the competition level understands the hard work and dedication that they put in. If qualifying for state was easy as some pundits think it is then we all could do it. It is not the case. I believe that running more than any other sport exposes you. YOU CANNOT LIE about your training. If you didn’t train, you are NOT GOING TO BE SUCCESSFUL. It is as simple as that.
Leading up to state-
As far as the Lane Tech state saga goes, it was a calm beginning of the week leading up to the state championship. We really had only one hard session. On Tuesday we got on the track for our final interval session. We did a 1-mile time at max effort on the track followed by a tempo mile on the grass. Despite pretty blustery conditions I was hoping the fellas would bring it hard. It went well and probably a statement was forecasted for the track season. The spread was 4:33-5:09. Lucas Beltran led the way with 4:33.5. He has been the front runner we’ve needed although it has cost him late in cross country races. But it will bold well in track and the relays. The rest of the unit put in solid marks: David Timlin- 4:35.9, Kevin Perez- 4:38.4, Marcelo Burbano- 4:39.4, Jon Vara- 4:39.8, Danny Zimny-Schmitt 4:44.3, Mansur “Waffles”- 5:09.7. The tempo mile about 10 minutes later went 5:18-26. The remaining part of the week was solid and we just prepared to get ready for the state championship.
The day before the meet was pretty amazing with virtually all of the teams at the course doing their pre-meet routines. We did ours before heading to the hotel. Once we were done, we headed to our hotel to check in. The team unsettled and then it was off for a team dinner. The evening closed out with a team meeting. It wasn’t a “rah-rah” type of meeting. It was more of recognizing our season goal of getting here and leaving everything on the line on Saturday. Lights out…
Saturday is race day and the boys are suited up and ready. The 3A boys’ race was the last one of the day and if you were there you could feel the excitement in the air. The York High School band was playing and performing adding to the extravaganza of the IHSA State Championship. At the same time there was anxiety building in the air as the “big race” was coming up. There were a lot more people on the course, making it virtually impossible for the athletes do their strides and runs from the start line on the course. To add to the frustration, the chip and check in officials were taking forever to get the athletes checked in. But we continue to prep with 30-minutes until race time. Finally, the final run out was permitted by the meet officials. It seemed like every team was huddled up. We huddled as well as uttered the final message of why we were here. Game time was about to begin…
The plan going in for us was status quo. We didn’t see any reason in changing things up at the state meet. Yes, we could have asked Timlin, Beltran, and Burbano to go out several ticks faster than the planned 4:50-53. But Neuqua Valley Coach Paul Vandersteen told me that for every one second you go out too fast, you will lose about three seconds in the final mile. In other words, you go out in 4:45, then expect to down 15 seconds for the final mile. So we stuck with our plan that has worked all season- stay controlled for the first two miles and run with all heart in the final mile and see what happens.
The opening bell-
The race got out fast as we all thought it would. Of course, there would be some wise guy taking the pace out helter skelter style for the first 400m and then yield to the meet favorites. I heard a say “some goof went out in :59.” As the first half-mile opened up for the sea of runners I could see us in the middle of the pack with Timlin, Beltran, and Burbano making their way. The remaining four runners were in the bottom half and will have some work to do.
The first mile/backloop/2nd mile-
The first mile was negotiated in 4:40-41 by the leaders. Our guys Beltran, Burbano and Timlin were 4:50-52 just like we planned. They were in the 50’s, 60’s by my account though as they entered the “Bermuda Triangle.” The remaining guys were 5:00-5:02. There were no passing lanes in a deep and even field. The guys had to figure it out all by themselves at this point. This race was much different than Peoria Notre Dame for several reasons. One, this is the state championship, two- I think the more experienced runners and teams knew something extra that we didn’t in this environment. But we battled strong.
Coming out of the back loop, nothing really changed for our team- or anyone else in the field. It seemed as though we didn’t give up any ground, but we didn’t pick up any runners either. Burbano passed Timlin by the 2m mark in 10:05. Timlin and Beltran were 10:07. Their positions were not great, but not awful. They have set themselves up to earn respectable finishes. The remaining guys were 10:33, 10:33, 10:39, 10:39.
The final mile-
As the first runners were coming into view of the finish line, I made my way to the finish line to watch the race. I saw New Trier’s Leland Later come home victoriously in 14:17. I was counting the finishers with my watch and just hoping we could produce a stellar finish or two. But more importantly just finish the race out well. It can be scary to see runners stumble and fall before the finish line or run completely out of gas knowing there is still 200m to go. Finally, I see Timlin and then Burbano on opposite sides of the course but sandwiched between a ton of runners. Timlin crossed in 15:14 and Burbano in 15:16. Wow, just two seconds apart but 8 runners in between. This shows you the depth of the 3A class but also of the tremendous talent in the state of Illinois. Beltran faded a bit over the final mile but still ran a respectable 15:35. Our remaining four runners can home with Jon Vara in 16:04, Waffles checked in at 16:08- big personal best and our #5 runner. Zimny-Schmitt was our 6th runner- 16:12 and Perez closed out in 16:25. Overall, we finished 21st with 415 pts. Of course, getting into the top 15 would have been nice but looking how close the scores were 15-21, it’s amazing the difference was about 40 pts. Our scoring average was 15:39. This especially looked good considering we didn’t have a stud performance to enhance the average. But our 1-5 split was a little high- 55-seconds was a bit much considering we were running 44-47 seconds over the past month.
The season is officially over now for us. The boys will take some time off and then build up again for the track season. We haven’t talked about a lot of individual goals yet but preliminary we want to see what we can do in the middle distance arena. Specifically, in the 4x800m relay. We will look at the pieces we have coming back and what we want to do with the event. But I can tell you it is going to be big.
Thanks for allowing me this forum to express the feelings from inside the Lane Tech bubble all season.
Talk to you soon!
Coach Tony Jones
The second mile is where things began to pick up. Later and Schrobilgen began to separate from the field. At the same time there were multiple packs forming and runners stringing out. I could hear Coach Kris Roof yell from his perch for the boys to get moving. Timlin is off the 9:51 leader pace but his 10:18 is acceptable because he is in good company and running in the top 20 with Burbano (10:21). Beltran was 10:23. So we were looking well. The remaining scoring pack was in the top 50 overall. If we can hold this position I believe our chances of advancing would be extremely high.
The final mile looked promising as it became a dog fight. I could see a good percentage of the race from the top of the baseball fence. York had big numbers up front and appeared to be the eventual winner. However, I saw a lot of white and red tops up front. I wasn't sure if it was Maine South or Niles North. I know they had various sets of uni's as we do. But since we had three guys in the top 25, I felt we were ok. Finally, with less than a quarter-mile to go, it was Burbano to pass me as I motor down to the opening of the stadium. He was moving strong and still in the top 20. Timlin didn't look as sharp but wasn't getting passed. Beltran had the look of a runner trying to hold on. He did as far as I could see. But the key to any winning team is the back of the scoring team- the 5th runner!! ZS was our 5th runner for the entire race but he has faded late in his races. He approaches where I'm yelling with 200m left and totally out of gas. We are in trouble... but wait. Perez blows past him and continues his surge into the stadium! That's our top 6 in. I estimate that he is about 60th or so. That might be good enough. Once I get to the finish line everyone is in...
I believe we may be in. Not sure. I tell Coach Roof that it's either we are 5th or nothing. No individual either because the numbers up top appear to be kids on teams not advancing. We were too far away to send anyone. We ran the team pack route.
The host Niles West got a sneak peek and immediately began to cheer and their coach Mr. Grossman get emotional. They obviously were in although those weren't the official results (not posted anyway). I asked the Niles West official if she could display Lane Tech's results. She said "6th." I immediately dropped my head in disappointment and walked away. She yelled out "but it's a tie with Maine South!" I could not believe it as my heart raced like crazy. Sure enough, that's what the paper indicated. There is no 6th place tie. Both teams would go. Coach Roof is cautiously optimistic. He had every right to be. The results were not official until signed and posted.
It was at least 20 minutes that went by and Coach Roof called me over and said "they have to go to video review." Whoa! Why? Apparently, there was a Niles West runner who fell at the finish line and may not have been properly scored. So, finally after an hour plus, the results stated that Lane Tech was awarded the 5th place spot all by themselves and advance to the state championship with 173 points to Maine South's 174. We were as excited as can be. It was an unbelievable feeling to finally advance to state under some of the most trying circumstances imaginable. The entire team deserves this because they gave everything from the first day of practice until now. Actually this was four year plan in the making from the time this senior class were freshman. What turned out to be one of the most suspect classes is now perhaps the best unit. They stuck with it and now get to enjoy the spoils that the state championship will bring.
As for Maine South, my heart goes out to them. I chatted with Coach Nordahl for a bit afterwards. He was very disappointed but happy for us. His team showed a ton of class in dealing with this ordeal.
Coach Tony Jones