Jon Davis (left photo; Jr., Oakwood) first handles hard pace and then Pavlo Hutsalyuk (right photo; Sr., Chicago Lane Tech) at The Champaign Centennial Charger Invite.
The fourth edition of the Champaign Centennial Charger Invitational went down in the books as one of the best run meets of this indoor season. The three-tiered meet is essentially a three level meet (F/S, JV, Varsity) when it comes down to times and personnel. Of course coaching staffs can deploy what ever line-ups they want in the "A", "B", "C" format. The "A" level is considered varsity though with A going last. But keep in mind the relays are one level and they are called "A."
One of the reasons this meet is such a painless process is because the founder and outgoing Centennial head man Greg Walters along with facilities manager Eric Vetter of the University of Illinois. They are a great tandem that produced literature prior to the meet and they stuck to the schedule. The meet would end on time despite the stadium clock going out.
-Key meet highlights
- The race of the day was the 1600m featuring the aforementioned Jon Davis and Pavlo Hutsalyuk. The hype surrounding the race was at a fever pitch just prior to start time. Meet announcer Dirk Stirrett did that well. After the first two levels were in the books, it was time. The race immediately got off to the start that all parties wanted with Hutsalyuk and Davis glued together for the first 400 in 63.1. Plainfield South senior Kenny Peters came along for the ride a few short meters back. By the next circuit it was a two man race between Davis and Hutsalyuk. At the halfway point, both young men were locked virtually even in 2:08.0. Davis appeared comfortable with the pace being sub-4:20. "I feel like i'm ready to go 4:20," Davis said prior to the meet despite not racing since the Footlocker Cross Country Final. The third "quarter-mile" was where the race would be defined for both runners. Hutsalyuk seemed hell bent on forcing the issue against Davis by trying to lead and unnecessarily pushing the pace harder than it needed to go. Davis reached the 1200 mark in 3:14.7 and Hutsalyuk was right there with him. However, it was the point in which Davis sensed the danger zone and took off. "Something just clicked in me and I thought 'not again,'" said Davis afterwards. That 'not again' refers to breaking down at Footlocker because of pneumonia. Davis would finish 37th out 40 competitors. He was not going to let another golden opportunity pass him by again. Davis turned on the jets against the fading Hutsalyuk and won in a fine fashion 4:16.77. The time is now a new state best and it gives Davis all the confidence he needs in moving forward. Hutsalyuk on the other hand had to settle for second in 4:27.12.
- Cary Lockhart is a baby faced man child who quietly took care of business for his Bloomington team last year in the 3A state title with three all-state medals. Lockhart is a sophomore and he did damage in the 100, 200, and 4x1 relay as a true freshman. This season Lockhart is showing some superstar capabilities as he won the 60 (6.99) and 200 (22.40). He beat the 60HH winning senior Isaiah Michl of Edwardsville by a ton in the 200 (22.94). Michl did cop the #1 spot in Illinois in his hurdles race (8.12); juinor DeVaugh Hrobowski of Plainfield North ran the second fast time of the day in level "B".
- Other quality performances included Wes Schoenthal (Sr., Edwardsville) who held off a hard charging John Partee (Jr., Plainfield South) in the 800m 1:57.71-1:57.79; Oswego's Steve Strange ran a big personal best in winning the 400m in 50.35. Strange got to the pole first and pulled away from the field; Tyler Kirkwood (Jr., Waubonsie Valley) had to run a hurdles race in between high jumping. Kirkwood would take second in the "B" 60HH (8.66), The "A" long jump proved to be better as Kirkwood won in 6-4 on less misses against David Black of Centennial; Peter Johnsrud (Sr., Oswego) hit the first mile in a pedestrian 4:47. But it was the second half that propelled him away from a close battle against Jack Sebok (Jr., Plainfield North) and Alex Keeble (Jr., Mahomet-Seymour) to win by four seconds over Sebok in 9:32.48.