The great Sam Sikon leaves a permanent scar on the Illinois shot put scene
Let's be real honest for a second. We all thought Cahokia was a shoe in for their seventh title in a row coming into the weekend in Charleston. But several mishaps on "big blue" inside O'Brien Stadium was unforgiving for the Comanches. They would eventually fall to fifth place scoring 30 points. It was an incredible run for coach Leroy Millsap and this team. They may return in 2018 in great shape, but if they don't we should all remember and respect what his team has done for the sport. It was intensity, competitiveness, and class that we all can take from.
Freeport and Normal (University) did not share much in common other than they are in the same classification for track and field entering the championship. In taking advantage of Cahokia's downfall, Freeport and Normal U High fought their way to a championship. Both teams scored 37 points to share the state title. Maple Park (Kaneland) took third with 33 points.
Freeport junior Deion McShane added several more weapons to his arsenal. The state's top long hurdler was also ready a force in the 110s, but since adding the long jump and 200 he has become deadly. The beginning started in the pit for McShane. He was able to maintain his fifth place spot (22-4). He was able to gain on a field full of 22 footers and certainly not the winner senior Myles Aldridge of the competition Normal University. Aldridge was the only jumper over 23 feet at 23-4.5.
The Pretzels picked up points in the shot put on the strength of senior Jared Allison's fifth place finish. Allison threw the 12-pound steel 53-7. The great Sam Sikon (Sr., Carbondale) won his third title in a row, this one was a class state meet record 63-6. Although Sikon did not reach his 70-foot target or the state lead, he leaves the Illinois scene as the 2A all-time best shot putter. In addition, Sikon added a 2nd place medal in the discus thrower with a solid 172-9- just ahead of Clayton Hannula (Jr., Kaneland). He was just short of winner Connor Weckerly (Sr., Sycamore) who threw 176-10.
Normal U High continued to attack with Aldridge, the Indiana State University signee, win the triple jump on his final attempt. 47-8.5 was the verdict for Aldridge who beat Seth Groom (Jr., Aurora Marmion Academy). That win seemed to shark the Pioneers for their first race on the track which was the 4x8 relay. Though they had some resistance on the first leg by Sycamore who used their man Evan Jacobs and 1:53.6. After that it was easy pickings that lead to a 7:48.13 and the 7th fastest time in Illinois.
Freeport countered one more time after Bret Dannis (Jr., Peru St. Bede) won his second straight 110HH title in 13.93 (+0.4). McShane was not happen with two second places. So on to the 300H where everyone was expecting a sub 37.00 clocking. What we received was an incredible performance that dropped chills on many areas of the body. McShane went over the first set of hurdles like a smooth operator. He maintained the same step pattern all the way around the curve until the penultimate hurdle. It was here where he lost his steps. But he quickly rebounded. Though not a perfect race, it was a perfect effort and new all-time record 36.53. It was a wrap for the competition. McShane concluded his day in the 200 that was just around the bend for 2nd in 21.93.
4x100: Rich Central came into the final as the top choice running 42.68. Montini Catholic followed closely by and then Chicago Morgan Park. Rich Central would have nothing of it on Saturday with a chillingly fast performance that left the field in the dust. The Olympians roll 42.16 over Montini 42.58 followed by Morgan Park in 42.83. Expect Rich Central to be back in the catbird sleep next year as the entire unit returns.
3200: The competition in this classification was a little lacking this season. Only leader Brayden Hamblen (Sr., Rock Falls) had broken 9:20 this season. Argueably, Hamblen would have had more competition if he were to stay in Class A this season where the winner Logan Hall (Jr., Arthur) battled to a 9:13 win. As it were Hamblen and challenger Matt Richtman (Jr., Maple Park Kaneland) decided early that from a 4:47 opening mile, it was going to be a kicker's race. 74s and 75s until the penultimate lap was when Hamblen dropped a 68 to reach 8:25 on the bell. Hamblen sped a fast 57.5 bell lap to narrowly hold off Richtman 9:22.90-9:23.47.
100: "I had to take a vacation" said sectional leader and then prelim time boss Rodrick McMiller (Sr., Chicago Perspectives/Leadership) who has been in and out of the track scene. Well, he was online Saturday when the gun went off McMiller was already out front and held on easily against Mitch West (Sr., Lombard Montini Catholic) in 10.85 (+0.4).
800: Coming into the weekend this was a must see event with class leader Chris Stanley (Sr., Cahokia) in it. But unfortunately an injury forced him to bow out. Evan Jacobs (Sr., Sycamore) ran the fastest prelim time 1:56.24. Jake Gillum (Sr., Metamora) took his coach's advice by going out aggressively but let the race come to him the first lap. After the early leaders began to fade Gillum took charge. Gillum ran well and pulled away from Jacobs to win in 1:53.74- good for IL #5. 10 of 11 finishers broke the 2:00 barrier.
4x200: Rich Central made it 2 for 2 with a close win in 1:28.71. It appeared as though Peoria HS and then Cahokia would take the gold and silver medal on the third legs. The Olympians had other plans as they rocketed home down the final stretch to seal the deal.
400: Rich Central continued on their roll with junior VanHarvey Vance. Vance gave up his 4x2 spot to a teammate as to maximize points. The gamble paid off as Vance rocketed out to a very fast start before cruising home in 48.76.
1600: Jake Gillum came back to finish off a very good double. Remember that he won the 800 title earlier. Four races in less than 18 hours in argueably the most grueling double in the state. Gillum battled upstart Jacob Gebhardt (Jr., Sterling) for a while until pulling away in the third lap to win in a personal best 4:14.28.
4x400: It was a bit odd not seeing a Cahokia sighting here. Last year's third placer Geneseo knows the pain of disappointment when a hurt warrior could not uplift them to a better placement. This time the goal was to win. The time was 3:21.27 ahead of the hard charging Thornridge crew that rebounded from a last place finish in the 4x8.
PV: Freshman Tyler Carrel of Urbana adds his name alongside his brother Brandon and coach as a state champion with a fine clearance of 15-0, making him the #1 in that age group category in the country. Don't be surprised to see the young Carrel go after 3A champion Bloomington junior Zach Bradford's records in a few years.