Morgan Park brought home their second consecutive championship (Morgan Park athletics photo)
The pundits thought Morgan Park was just a basketball and football school. Wrong! Over the past three seasons the argument could be made that the Mustangs could be a track school as well.The far southside of Chicago school has won two city titles, one runner up finish, and one state finalist trophy. Morgan Park could be on their way in collecting one of the three state plaques down in Charleston later this month. Head Coach Corey Shannon has done a magnificent job with program mixing in a variety of athletes from different sports like football, basketball, and volleyball. The athleticism is easy to see when the Mustangs compete. Perhaps, it is taking a slice of predecessor Lexie Spurlock's template who served as football coach/athletic director or maybe it could be the motivation that hall of fame girls coach Derrick Calhoun has provided that has elevated Shannon's program. Regardless of what the circumstances are the Mighty Mustangs galloped over the competition. The so-called tight battle really wasn't close as Morgan Park scored a hearty 106 points to easily beat Lane Tech who scored 81. Whitney Young and upstart Taft both placed third with 60.
Lane Tech won the freshman-sophomore level once more ensuring the future will be bright. The Indians scored 129 points to outdistance Whitney Young 69.
Windy conditions called for strategic times-
4x800: The favorite Whitney Young semi loaded the relay with three top legs Keduse Worku, Anthony Tuman, and surprisingly star Clayton Mendez. The opening legs went through in 2:05 against tough wind conditions. By the time anchor Mendez got his opportunity it was a cruise fest. The winning time was just 8:36.97.
4x100: As expected it was Morgan Park, Phillips, and Lane stayed true to the form charts. Lane had a slight advantage on anchor but the Mustangs Malik Adams stayed relaxed and sped past Phillips and Lane for the win in 44.27. The time was nearly two seconds slower than the Mustangs season best.
100: Myles Davis (Payton) did not semi-finals leader Rodrick McMiller (Perspectives) to contend with. He had a hard charging Adams though. With a strong tail wind the race was tight and Davis won in 10.89.
110HH: It was ironic that Lane Tech senior catalyst Michael Banks was a co-favorite with Morgan Park star Jawon Denton. Banks, is a Morgan Park area native and key to Lane's title hopes. Banks battle each barrier with Denton and appeared ready to close out the race. However, it was Denton's strong push that nudged him for the win over Banks 14.70-14.72.
800: The state's #4 ranked Arthur Santoro of Jones was expected to win this one. Mendez had other ideas and the fact that he participated in the 4x8 made his chances of winning even less. A strategic opening 400 in 58 seconds changed things and set it up for a kicker's race. Payton's Alejandro Vargas took to the lead and held until the last 200. Santoro tried to muscle the win with his leg speed but Mendez's momentum too strong as he powered for the win in 1:59.15.
Jawon Denton and Cameron Hope put the final dagger into Lane Tech's heart with 1-2 hurdle finish
300H: The moment of truth arrived here. It was still a close battle between Morgan Park and Lane. Lane would need a strong finish from Banks and Xavier Josephs. It did not happen. Denton and Hope made quick work of them going 1-2 in an "18 point thrashing" 39.52 and 40.14.
1600: Jaimie Marcos (Von Steuben) had earlier won a hard fought 3200 (9:43.10). But a battle with Mendez would be a tough one indeed. Both runners separated from the pack early. Mendez and Marcos fought hard but Mendez was in control the entire way and won in 4:22.92. Marcos held in 4:25.52.
200: Denton cemented his CPS track legacy with a resounding personal best win over Davis 21.51-21.90.
4x400: Taft needed a maracle performance to in order to earn a historic top 3 finish. They got with a come from behind winner over Whitney Young down the final stretch. The Eagles won in 3:31.09.
Field: Aaron Austin (Steinmetz) upended defending champion Jeremiah Olojo (Lane) for the shot put title with a personal best 49-4 effort. Austin did the same in the discus (148-6). Lane's David Oluyadi improved from his prelim triple mark and leaped 44-0 to win his first title.